When you consider that our bodies are literal products of the food we eat, the importance of gut health can’t be overstated. Without a healthy balance of enzymes and good bacteria, even the healthiest foods can’t be broken down into usable and essential micronutrients, leaving you malnourished and prone to a host of major and minor health issues. This is very often the case when we are talking Chrohns Disease, IBS, Leaky Gut, Auto-immune disorders that affect digestion, stomach acid, nutrient absorption.
Digestive supplements and enzymes are designed to restore the balance of enzymes and good bacteria throughout your digestive tract and bring your gut back to optimal working order. They also help you to break down food. (see earlier posts) Anyone who regularly experiences the following ailments should seriously consider incorporating digestive supplements into their diet.
Throughout the course of your day, do you experience above-average:
Food enzymes (amylases, lipases, proteases, and peptidases) break down their corresponding types of food for better nutrient-absorption into the bloodstream. Supplements containing these essential enzymes, among others, will assist in preparing the food at each stage in the digestive tract for proper digestion when taken between or directly before meals.
Our digestive tracts are alive with countless microorganisms: good and bad bacteria. When the good bacteria becomes outnumbered by the bad, whether by the use of antibiotics, poor diet, or illness, it can lead to weight gain, various skin conditions, and bowel issues. Probiotics support the production of good bacteria, which in turn aids in healthy immune system function and proper digestion.
While other supplements work to restore balance to affected digestive systems, antacids provide immediate relief to the uncomfortable symptoms.
The small intestinal system and the colon both play an important role in your digestive system. Take care of them and life is much more comfortable. The average American diet can wreck havoc on the intestinal system. And an unhealthy intestinal system can lead to a host of other problems.
Small Intestinal System
Some questions to Help Know if Your Colon May Be Healthy:
Nutritional Supplements that Support a Healthy Intestinal System
Aloe Vera Liquid:
It’s normal to think of bacteria as something that’s bad for your overall health. After all, bacteria is often associated with disease.
Generally, you’d be right. However, there is such a thing as good bacteria. In fact, research shows that without the right bacteria in your digestive tract – your stomach and intestines – you’re at much greater risk for obesity, depression, and an immune system that’s less effective than it could be. So those suffering from auto-immune disorders, this is especially for you.
So while it’s a bit odd to wrap your head around the fact that you need bacteria in your diet, this is a nutritional fact you should be aware of. You get these bacteria from a host of daily foods, the most popular is likely yogurt. This dairy product contains lactobacillus, bifidus, and acidophilus. These are three major bacteria that your body needs in order to break down food and distribute the food’s necessary nutrients to the rest of your body. When you have the right amounts of these types of bacteria present your body is able to literally squeeze the most out of the food you eat, meaning less of it goes to waste.
Another great bacteria to have in your diet is called lactobacilli plantarum. This particular bacteria has been proven to give your immune system a huge boost – something we could all use, right? That’s not the only thing lactobacilli plantarum can do for you, though. It also aids in helping your body digest lactose-based foods much easier (think dairy products) so if you love cheese or milk but don’t enjoy the infrequent bouts of indigestion that come as a result of dairy consumption, adding this particular bacteria to your diet can be exceptionally helpful.
Lactobacilli plantarum is commonly found in sauerkraut, which is great news for those of you who love hot dogs at summer ball games. Consequently, sauerkraut is one of the new favorite foods of dietitians across the country.
Lastly, you’ll want to find good sources of probiotics in general. If dairy or sauerkraut aren’t your idea of enjoyable diet foods, then you should definitely look at some of the different probiotic dietary supplements on the market. These are often capsules (though some come in the form of teas) that you take with or without food throughout the day to ensure that your body has a high enough level of all of these bacteria that help your intestinal tract function properly.
While looking at bacteria – affectionately, the flora and fauna of your digestive system – as integral to your overall health goes against the grain of regular thought, it’s definitely something to remember. Without these important bacteria, you’ll have a much harder time maintaining the level of health you want – and deserve.
You’re at your favorite restaurant. You’ve just been seated. Your eyes scour the menu: barbecue bacon cheddar burger, three-cheese macaroni, loaded steak fries, Cajun chicken alfredo. Your stomach grumbles and like one of Pavlov’s dogs, you start to salivate. Can you believe it? You haven’t even placed your order yet, but the process of digestion has already begun.
Your body is a miraculous machine that knows just what to do when you give it the fuel it needs to maintain health, upkeep your internal organs and systems, and recover from illness. But how does it all work and how do you keep it all from going wrong?
Our bodies are sensitive machines.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat,” but if we want to get technical (and we do, don’t we?), a more accurate credo would be “You are what you digest.” After all, eating is a superficial part of the process while digestion goes behind the scenes to perform the latent tasks that keep us going, literally. Ever tried making through an entire day’s to-do list on an empty stomach? It’s a drag.
Eating is a conscious, voluntary act we often do more for pleasure than practicality, and that’s typically where we run into trouble. Why? Well, the most pleasurable things to eat are usually the least healthy for you: processed foods high in fats and sugar. But you eat them for the experience, or convenience, and (un)fortunately you don’t have to give much thought to what happens afterwards. Your body simply picks up the baton (your meal) and starts running with it. That is, until the first cramp hits:
o bloating and gas,
o diarrhea, heart burn,
o weight gain (or loss)
Why is your body reacting this way?
Well, as miraculous as your body is, it can’t function at optimal capacity without your help. These adverse side effects are a result of kinks in the digestive process, often beginning with your general digestive health.
And what’s one thing all healthy digestive tracts have in common? You guessed it: digestive enzymes (enzymes that specifically aid in the digestion of food) and pancreatic enzymes (enzymes produced in the pancreas). Or, more accurately, the presence and quantity of naturally occurring or supplemented enzymes that are hard at work breaking down the foods we eat.
What is an enzyme?
The digestion of food is a process of biochemical reactions that serve to break macronutrients down into absorbable micronutrients. Essentially, enzymes disassemble the complex structures of our foods, reducing them to a molecular level which can then be absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine.
For the three major macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—there are certain digestive and pancreatic enzymes that, like specially designed keys, unlock or break down a certain type of food.
o Carbohydrates Key enzymes: salivary amylase and pancreatic
o Proteins Key enzymes: protease (pepsin, chymotrypsin, trypsin).
o Fats Key enzyme: lipase.
Of course, there are many different types of digestive enzymes and agents at play in the digestive process, but these players are key in the work of providing us energy, rebuilding tissue, and cleansing and replenishing our systems.
What’s the cause of poor digestion?
Poor digestion, or the malabsorption of life-sustaining micronutrients, (especially due to the below conditions) creates lasting damage that can lead to chronic conditions if left untreated, this includes:
o Auto-immune disorders (Hashimoto’s, Lupus, Graves, Sjogren)
o Acid reflux
o Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
o IBD diverticulosis (Crohn’s disease)
What can upset the balance of enzymes? A poor diet, illness, aging, and the use of antibiotics can all throw off the digestive process, which makes the work of maintaining a healthy digestive system an ongoing and unavoidable task. Remembering that you are what you digest, don’t put off consulting an expert if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of poor digestion. Make the decision to prioritize the health of your digestive and pancreatic enzymes today and start feeling better for years to come.
Food Enzymes assist the body with the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to help prevent and relieve occasional indigestion.
When it comes to essential oils, there are a lot of questions out there. What benefits do essential oils offer? How can essential oils be used and applied? Are there any helpful recipes from the experts? What should I know about their safety?
In this guide we’ll provide the answers to these questions about the top five essential oils which you can browse specifically by clicking on the quick links below:
1. Lavender Essential Oil
With narrow leaves, short stems, and a tuft of blueish flowers, Lavandula angustifolia, or more commonly known as English Lavender, has long been used to soothe, heal, and be a disinfectant to burns. This is a popular essential oil because of the gentle and calming effects it has which makes this oil ideal for aromatherapy use.
For those interested in blending lavender with other essential oils, some great scents to mix with are floral, woodsy, spicy, and citrus oils include:
To help promote relaxation and relieve stress, use 1-2 drops of the oil and rub them between the palms of your hands then gently smooth over your pillow before going to sleep. Not only will this make your pillow smell better but can help you fall asleep.
Another option is to rub the lavender oil into the your hands, cupping them, then holding your hands up to your nose to let you breathe in the floral scent. You can also rub a few drops onto the soles of your feet where skin is less sensitive and can be absorbed easily.
Health & Safety Considerations
Before using Lavender, there are some health and safety considerations you should be aware of, such as:
Tea tree essential oil is popular for many reasons; for one, its antimicrobial qualities have been confirmed by numerous scientific studies. Tea tree oil has a fresh odor and is a clear, pale yellow color which comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, native to Australia.
Tea tree oil works well in conjunction with other woodsy essential oils such as:
Tea tree oil has a number of thoroughly studied and widely confirmed uses, and may be used for any of the following:
As with any essential oil, take these health and safety considerations into account and consult your healthcare provider before using:
Peppermint essential oil is valued for its antiseptic properties and beneficial digestive effect.
The Mentha x piperit plant, which peppermint oil is created from, thrives in North America and Europe. Its leaves can be eaten raw or cooked to be used as flavoring.
Customize your own scent by blending peppermint with minty, woodsy, earthy, herby, and citrus essential oils. Some popular essential oils to use in the mix include:
Peppermint oil can be used both topically, and in aromatherapy. Used topically, it can be a potent muscle relaxant and pain reliever. Apply one drop to the temples on either side of the head can help alleviate headaches, while applying to achy muscles or joints can help relieve tension and pain. Peppermint oil can also be used to help reduce itching from rashes. Inhaling peppermint may help clear sinuses, reduce hunger cravings, and enhance mental focus.
Health & Safety Considerations
Take these health and safety considerations into account and consult your physician before using:
Rosemary comes from the Lamiaceae family in southern Europe to western Asia. This plant grows in dry scrub and rocky places, especially near the sea. Young shoots, leaves, and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked or made into a tea. The essential oil has shown to be a remarkably strong antioxidant.
Rosemary works beautifully when blended with other woodsy essential oils, such as:
Rosemary can be applied topically to the scalp to potentially promote hair growth and help with dandruff. Topical applications may also help with muscle and joint pain. When inhaled, it may have a positive impact on memory and mental function.
Health & Safety Considerations
Take these health and safety considerations into account and consult your healthcare professional before using:
Citrus limon (Lemon) is an evergreen shrub that flowers from January to December. Lemon essential oil is much beloved for its clean, energizing scent and is widely used in cooking as well as in a variety of aromatherapy applications.
Lemon can be paired with many different types of oils including floral, woodsy, minty, spicy, and other citrus oils. A few to consider when mixing your scents are:
Apply lemon essential oil to your face to help with acne by rubbing on a drop or two of the oil with a carrier lotion. You can also add lemon to your bath water along with Epsom salts for a relaxing soak (remember to soak for no more than 10 minutes). For stimulation, rub 1-2 drops of the lemon essential oil in the palm of your hands or wrists. You can also breathe the citrus scent in for added energy and stress relief.
Health & Safety Considerations
Lemon oil, though useful, is uniquely phototoxic, so care needs to be taken when exposing skin to sunlight after a topical application. As with all essential oils, remember to take these health and safety considerations into account and consult your healthcare provider is you have any questions or concerns.
Natural antihistamines and allergy remedies are nothing to sneeze at. There are plenty of over-the counter medications out there. Not all work and often they leave you tired and lethargic. There are great herbs and supplements that work just as well without the side effects. Histablock is a great example.
You may also believe that this is only an allergy remedy. However I find great results when battling Uticaria. This is better known as hives. Very often a first system of Auto-immune disorders or other systemic illness results in unexplained hives. Histablock is a great remedy while we figure out what else is going on.
Benefits: Respiratory system support Quercetin may impact the effects of seasonal irritants and pollutants May support healthy airway passages How It Works: HistaBlock provides nutrients that support healthy respiratory function as the body battles irritants, pollutants and toxins.
Stinging nettle provides wellknown support against seasonal airborne substances. This formula provides antioxidant strength to help stabilize mast cells.
The antioxidant quercetin has been used for its reputed effects in supporting the respiratory system. Quercetin may help stabilize cells that release compounds when exposed to irritants.
Bromelain is an enzyme that works to help reduce the swelling of mucous membranes during times of respiratory stress. Bitter orange contains synephrine, which helps the body support open airways.
Ingredients: Nettle leaves, quercetin, Bitter orange fruit and bromelain.
Recommended Use: Take 2 capsules with a meal twice daily.
In order to understand the importance of the gut, you need to know how the digestive system works in general.
The moment you put food into your mouth and start chewing, enzymes in your saliva begin the process of breaking down the proteins, sugars, and fats in the food. This process continues when you swallow and the food moves down into your stomach.
In the stomach, enzymes in the food itself, enzymes that are produced by your pancreas, and hydrochloric acid further break down the food.
After about four hours, the food has been reduced to a sludgy mush in the stomach. As the sludge moves into the small intestine, we now refer to it as chyme (pronounced “kime”). The chyme mixes with yet more enzymes and now some bile to break down the sludge into tiny particles that your body can use for energy. The walls of the small intestine, which contain millions of little fingers called “villi” and “microvilli,” begin to absorb the nutrients from the chyme and move them into the bloodstream, where they are distributed to all parts of the body.
in the colon live the bulk of the beneficial microbes that line the entire digestive tract, and these microbes eat the leftovers, such as fiber, that couldn’t be utilized by the small intestine.
As the microbes in the microbiome consume these remnants, they do several things:
o They produce a fermented byproduct in the form of short-chain fatty acids that creates the vital mucus lining of the gut
o They control metabolism of the calories you eat
o They interact with your body’s hormones to give you the signal that you are full or hungry
o They manufacture important vitamins like the B vitamins (used for energy) and Vitamin K (necessary for proper blood clotting)
o They interact with both your immune and nervous systems.
Healthy Gut vs. Unhealthy Gut
A healthy gut is able to do two main things: 1) absorb nutrients from the food you eat, and 2) support the beneficial microbes that create more vital nutrients that support overall health.
A healthy gut is teeming with trillions of the right types of microbes, including bacteria, fungi. When you eat the right types of foods to support them, these microbes are in balance and perform vital functions for health.
An unhealthy gut, on the other hand, starts to resemble a no-man’s-land of dry, mucus-free gut lining and cracks that allow microscopic particles of food to enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation. In much worse conditions auto-immune disorders are turned on. What’s more, the balance of microbes has become off-kilter, and the flora that we don’t really want takes over.
Creating a Diverse Gut Microbe Population
The Western diet is one of the least helpful diets a person can consume if you want to populate your gut with a diverse population of microbes. The high fat, high sugar, low fiber aspects of our diet are actually perfect for ruining the diversity of our gut microbiomes.
While we are still learning all the ways in which the microbiome affects human health, it seems logical to pursue a better diet in the meantime, as a diverse microbe population seems to support healthy weight and better health overall. High fiber, low-glycemic foods such as raw and lightly cooked vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean meats deliver diverse microbes to the gut. Fermented foods also provide amazing beneficial bacteria. Refined foods and junk foods decimate the gut microbe diversity and cause leaky gut syndrome.
In your quest toward a healthier microbiome, you can also include probiotic supplements that will ramp up the number and diversity of microbes that line your intestinal walls.
12 Leafy Greens: A Quick Guide
When it comes to leafy greens you have many choices. We highlight 12 of the most commonly used leafy greens. What’s the difference in calories for arugula vs. spinach? Which leafy greens have a peppery taste? Which leafy greens are a good source of potassium? What leafy green is often used in Mediterranean cooking? Read below to find the answers to these questions and more.
I was watching a video my youngest daughter made and posted today. And I had a realization. People always say to us…” you’re so strong…why do you smile and make it look easy…how with all you have gone through…life is such a struggle…”
No, it is not. That’s it. It is a struggle when you fight it. There are expectations we have in life. So, for me, I thought that I would have the typical large family, house full of grandchildren for the holidays, the family we all see in movies. That was the “expectation.” The reality was so far from that truth, it took me a little while to comprehend it. But I learned to observe, to understand, to learn lessons and face a different life. So here is the equation.
Expectation – observation = frustration. We don’t have to live with this equation. We must put observation first. Meaning, see your life. Observe the actual life you are living. Appreciate what you do have. Be grateful for what you have for today, even if you need change. Understand that sometimes we get off course, for whatever reason, and life takes us in a different direction. That which is meant to be…Observe where you are going, love the journey, love who is with you. We take so much for granted and expect that everything we thought, or everything we thought we wanted to will happen. No usually so.
That’s where we become frustrated and stuck. We are saddened, angry, and hurt. Our expectations were not met. But what happens if you set goals and hopes without a solid expectation, or with observation for where you may need to go next? I don’t mean just live like Mary Poppins and go where the wind takes you (though sometimes I think that’s exactly who I am…) But observe what is working and what is not. That will allow you to be less frustrated because there will be less emotion attached to the expectation. And life will not be such a struggle. Don’t spend your life swimming upstream or caught in a riptide you can’t get out of. It’s all about the perception. When your view, or perception, comes from a place of fear it becomes unmanageable. But when it comes from a place of observance, then you can approach it with a clear mind. You will be able to see a way out. Find a way for change.
GO WITH THE FLOW. You never know where that will take you, but I can promise it will be where you were meant to be.
Since CoQ10 was discovered over 55 years ago, its effects have been heavily researched by the scientific and medical communities. Also known as Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, this molecule is often described as a vitamin-like antioxidant that is naturally produced by the body.
CoQ10 is largely responsible for energy production within our cells. Making its home the the mitochondria around a cell, this coenzyme helps feed cells. Because of its energy producing properties, CoQ10 is largely found near the organs that need the most power — the kidneys, liver and heart.
Because of CoQ10’s energy production and antioxidant properties, the heart tends to benefit the most from this coenzyme. But, as we age, our body produces less CoQ10, which can affect a number of our bodily functions, especially heart health. Here are a few ways adding CoQ10 to your diet, either through food or natural supplements, can keep your heart beating strong as you age. See how CoQ10 Helps Your Heart Health:
Reduces Oxidative Stress
Clinical studies have well established CoQ10 as a first-line antioxidant in our defense system against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens to our cells over time as free radicals roam our cells to steal electrons, deplenishing cell health. Antioxidants, whether naturally produced within our bodies or added to our diets, fight free radicals to maintain cell health.
Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Because CoQ10 is such a powerful antioxidant, it has been shown to keep LDL cholesterol from oxidation while re-energizing the mitochondria in the heart cells, which is where energy metabolism occurs.
But, CoQ10 has also been shown to thicken blood, acting similar to Vitamin K, which can cause issues when paired with blood clot medication. You should consult a doctor before taking CoQ10 to help lower your cholesterol.
Support Blood Pressure
Because of CoQ10’s energizing properties, it may assist in lowering the oxygen demands of the heart, improving the heart’s energy efficiency and supporting healthy blood pressure. Although there have been no significant study results for lowering blood pressure with the help of CoQ10 alone, the coenzyme has shown little to no side effects and may even combat some side effects when paired with other blood pressure medication.
Even if you aren’t predisposed for heart failure or don’t experience heart-related issues, CoQ10 can be a useful antioxidant supplement. This coenzyme is the only fat-soluble antioxidant synthesized by our body and capable of regeneration back to its reduced or antioxidant form through normal cellular enzyme systems, which means our bodies produce it naturally for much of our lives. But, when those processes become less efficient, our bodies may need help producing this powerful molecule.
When fighting free radicals, especially as we age, our cells can use all the help they can get. Maintaining cell health helps our bodies fight signs of aging, ward off disease, and can improve, or at least maintain, the function of major organs.
If you have a well-balanced diet and are still fairly young, a low milligram supplement can help you maintain ideal levels of CoQ10 for anti-oxidant purposes. But for those looking to supplement depleting amounts in their bodies, 100 mg CoQ10 supplements may be for you.
On a side note, 100mg (or anything above 75) in conjunction with Red Yeast Rice, a natural Statin, is wonderful for cholesterol.
Has had Hashimoto's for 13 years. I am passionate, I live and breathe, helping you to overcome your struggles with weight, stress, and chronic health issues.