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Tag: probiotics

Treat Candida By Balancing the Gut

To have candida in the bowels is normal; the problems from too much candida arise when the environment of the gut is compromised, allowing for an overgrowth of candida or undesirable bacteria (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth “SIBO”). The worst thing we could do at this point is throw antibiotics or other toxins into the mix, further disrupting and wiping out the inhabitants of our microbiome whose job it is to keep things like candida in check.

But let’s start at the beginning.

What is candida albicans?

Candida is a fungus that lives in our bowels and, along with a trillion or so bacteria, assists in digesting what we eat. When there is a thriving, multi-strain population of bacteria in our gut, then everyone does their job of breaking down food into nutrients for delivery to our cells and all is in harmony and we feel good.

Unfortunately, common substances in our modern day world can damage and even wipe out the entire population of our personal microbiome. All those lights snuffed out in a single dose of antibiotics, for example. Puff. And there goes our digestion.

Once digestion goes downhill, you can be pretty sure that the absorption and assimilation of nutrients into our cells is compromised, too. Now deficiencies are bound to occur, forcing the body to steal minerals and nutrients from other systems in order to keep all-systems-go for as long as possible. Until there’s no more delaying the inevitable, and symptoms begin to appear.

But I digress.

Candida overgrowth does not require antibiotic treatment.

The laws of science tell us that nature abhors a void. Wipe one species out and another will move in to take their place. In a healthy gut, candida lives and works alongside bacteria to break down the food that we eat.

Since candida overgrowth and the varied symptoms that might accompany that (from vaginal discharge and itching to dysfunctional bowels, fatigue, rashes, or coating on the tongue) is an indication that our insides are out of balance, our goal for health should be to repair the environment of the gut in order to re-establish a healthy microbiome full of lots and lots of bacteria. I’ve read that we have more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body, though the National Institutes of Health now say it’s about equal. Think about that for a second: that’s still an awful lot of bacteria inside us.

Once we realize that we need more bacteria, not fewer, to heal from a candida overgrowth and regain our health, it starts to make sense that instead of reaching for antibiotics, we should focus on ingesting more probiotics to rebuild our microbiome rather than wipe it out.

I’m a fan of mixing it up and adding in as many different strains of bacteria as possible, including the Lactobacillus strain of bacteria that scientists have found keeps candida in check.

What else could cause candida overgrowth?

Anything that disrupts the gut environment. Besides antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, processed foods, soft drinks, and other artificial ingredients in our everyday foods can disrupt the functioning of our microbiome. Check out my TED Talk, “Poisons in Our Everyday Foods,” for details.

Another cause that is often overlooked could be parasitic infection. Again: antibiotics or toxic pharmaceuticals are not the best way to evict parasites because they will wipe out the microbiome along the way. One G.I. doc told me that using a toxic antiparasitic medication like Flagyl to kill parasites was like using a shotgun to kill a mosquito: you might get the bug but you’ll have a lot of collateral damage from all the buckshot.

Could just taking probiotics take care of a candida overgrowth problem?

Maybe. It depends on how much damage there is in the gut, how cleanly we eat, and if food sensitivities are causing inflammation. It may be advisable to contact me for a free initial phone consultation to see exactly what’s going on in your case.

Regardless, taking probiotics will not cause any harm, though you may have to do some trials to discover the ones that make you feel good. Be aware that many probiotic brands include a fiber called inulin that bothers a lot of people, so if your probiotic brand isn’t making you feel good, switch to another one.

Studies are linking the health of the microbiome to everything from mental health to multiple sclerosis. We should be embracing the bacteria living inside us, not trying to kill them.

A Natural Treatment for Depression: Probiotics

Participants in a study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed a reduced amount of ruminative thoughts leading to depression after supplementing with several species of probiotics for one month.Gut-brain-microbiome

The gut microbiome really is the new frontier when it comes to the science of human health, and the more we learn about our little friends living inside us, the more we are learning about our interrelationship with these “good” bacteria.

We have been slowly realizing that these good bacteria, or “pro-biotics” are essential for maintaining digestive health, but now studies are proving the link between our digestive health and our mental health.

Who would’ve thought the two would be connected?

In my own clinical experience, I notice that the majority of my patients experience a lifting of their mood as we stabilize their digestive process and reduce inflammatory activity in their bodies through a customized anti-inflammatory diet. It’s like the world becomes more vivid and full of promise.

Maybe you, too, could feel less depressed or sad if your digestive health were improved. Contact me if you’re interested in learning more about targeted ways of improving your digestive health and I will offer you a free initial phone consultation to tell you more about how to do this.

Could Your Gut Bacteria Be Making You Anxious or Depressed?

New research from neurobiologists at Oxford University shows there could be a link between the health of your gut microbiome and your emotions. The study suggests that using probiotics to populate your gut with good bacteria together with eating enough prebiotics –carbs that nourish your bacterial population– can help lift your mental state.

Gut xray

Foods high in probiotics

Foods high in probiotics include yogurt, keffir, kim chee, sourkrout, and other fermented foods.

Foods high in prebiotics

Foods high in prebiotics include asparagus, onions, leeks, grains, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, radish, and rutabega.

It seems the bacteria inside us might affect us more than we ever could have imagined.

Yet another checkmark against the” Paleo”-style diet as being the ultimate diet for humans.

My motto: Be wary of fad diets that advocate elimination or extreme reduction of an entire food group.

Could Bacteria Play a Role in Colon Cancer or Polyps?

A new study has found bacterial ‘bunches’ are prevalent on colon polyps and cancers. Perhaps we may be able to reduce the risk of colon cancer just by taking probiotics and prebiotics to help keep the levels of bad bacteria at bay. Plant-based digestive enzymes would likely also be helpful to reduce and inhibit biofilm formation. probioticsHere’s the whole article:

FRIDAY, Dec. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Dense bunches of bacteria called  biofilms can be found on most colon polyps and cancers, a new study finds.

The researchers said these biofilms were especially prevalent on the right side of the colon. The presence of these biofilms may represent an increased likelihood of colon cancer and could offer a new way to predict a person’s risk for the disease, the researchers said.

Like tooth plaque and slime on pond stones, these biofilms may coat the mucus layer of cells lining the colon, according to background information from the study. There, the biofilms may cause inflammation and some noncancerous bowel diseases, said Dr. Cynthia Sears, professor of medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers examined healthy and cancerous tissue collected during biopsies on almost 120 people. Biofilms were present on 89 percent of tumors removed from the right colon, according to the researchers. Biofilms were found on only 12 percent of tumors removed from the left side of the colon. The reasons for the difference between the right and left side of the colon are unknown, the researchers said.

The risk of developing colon cancer may be five times higher in people with biofilms on the right side of the colon, compared to those with no biofilms, said the authors of the study. “What was so striking was that these biofilm-positive samples cluster so dramatically in the right colon. In fact, it’s virtually a universal feature of tumors that appear in that section of the colon, although we don’t understand why,” Sears said in a Hopkins news release.

It may be possible to develop a noninvasive test to detect these biofilms and predict a person’s risk of developing colon cancer. Most of these cancers develop over five to 10 years “and it’s a disease that’s curable if you diagnose it early,” Sears said.

Colonoscopies are currently the “gold standard” in detecting colon cancer. But only about 60 percent of Americans get them, according to the researchers. And colonoscopies often aren’t available in resource-poor countries, they noted.

The study was published online recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information 

The American Cancer Society has more about colorectal cancer .

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, Dec. 16, 2014

Probiotics Before and After Birth Can Decrease Later Allergies

Eczema Hands
Eczema (skin irritation) on my daughter’s hands when she was 5 years old.

Supplementing babies and pregnant mothers with probiotics was shown to decrease eczema by 77%, according to a  July 2014 study published in the official journal of the Japanese Society of Allergology (JSA).

After supplementing 130 pairs of mothers and newborns with probiotics in the final trimester of pregnancy and post-partum, the researchers concluded, “These data suggest that the prenatal and postnatal supplementation of bifidobacteria is effective in primary preventing [sic] allergic diseases.” There were 36 pairs in the control group who did not get supplemented.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that up to one-third of us have some sort of skin condition stemming from an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction, and it usually begins in infancy or childhood. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in five Americans (50 million people) suffer from allergies, and allergies have been increasing in prevalence since the 1980s.

It makes me wonder: if allergies and hypersensitivities can arise from a lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract at birth, and there has been an increase in the prevalence of allergies, what has changed in our dietary patterns and food supply that is making us deficient in good bacteria?

This was the topic of my TED talk that I presented at TEDx Colorado Springs this past weekend. While I didn’t talk about this particular study, I did discuss how our food supply is riddled with hidden toxins that can cause us to become inflamed, and how inflammation leads to disease symptoms. (I’ll post the link to the talk when it is available!)

I also wonder if there is there any correlation between babies born by c-section and later issues with digestion and allergies, but the summary of this study did not include this information.