Tag Archives: probiotics

Put An End to Sugar Cravings

Sugar in all its forms including fruit, milk, cakes, cookies, ice cream, sweets, and sports drinks, can be damaging when you eat a lot all at once. With the exception of whole, raw fruit, sweet foods tend to offer very little in the way of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein. They are densely packed with calories but not much else. Sugar suppresses your immune system for about two to four hours after consumption. It is also one of the causes of chronic inflammation which is the root cause of most chronic health conditions.

In the long-term, sugary foods reduce your nutrient status because you use up your stores of vitamins and minerals to process these empty calorie foods. When you are low in vitamins and minerals your health suffers and you become more susceptible to colds and flu, have slower metabolism, poor hormonal balance and are fatigued. This addiction leads to a sick cycle of adrenal exhaustion, autoimmune conditions, digestive and mood imbalances, obesity, and diabetes. Sugar is also in almost all conventional and even many natural bread, canned vegetables, yogurt, pasta sauce, hummus, sauces, salad dressings, and unfortunately even baby food and baby formula. Educating yourself on all the different forms that sugar comes in on the ingredient list is a great start to build your road map of avoiding certain products. Remember there are many other names for sugar viz. sucrose, lactose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol and barley malt.

If you’re ready to win the battle here are some tips to end sugar cravings:

Avoid Processed Foods.

Did you know that sugar and processed foods are as addictive as heroin or cocaine? Eating sugar artificially stimulates a region of your brain called the nucleus accumbens to produce dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter. Soon after eating sugar or processed foods dopamine levels drop, and you start to feel a bit “down.” You crave this “feel-good” feeling again and eat more sugary or processed food again and again, so sugar leads to addiction. . This addiction leads to a sick cycle of adrenal exhaustion, autoimmune conditions, digestive and mood imbalances, obesity, and diabetes.

Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods and drinks are one of the most important ways to reduce or even eliminate cravings for sugar and are particularly effective in this regard. The positive effects can be felt in as little as five. Remember, a fermented vegan protein can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels. You can also drink ready-made probiotic liquids for a quick cravings fix. Simply sip 2 oz. of your favourite probiotic liquid, any time a craving hits and you will be amazed at how the sour taste of fermented foods and drinks relieves the desire for sugar and processed foods. Here is another big benefit of fermented foods and liquids: If you do happen to eat something sweet, like a piece of fruit or a sweet potato, the probiotics in fermented foods and drinks will eat up the sugar, reducing the damage that sugar would do in your body.

Boost your serotonin. …
Serotonin, the hormone that affects your mood can be increased through diet, exercise, and the right sleep schedule. When you have plenty of serotonin, you are less likely to have cravings for sweets. Serotonin regulates your mood, curbs cravings and suppresses your appetite. You can boost your serotonin levels steadily with complex carbohydrate foods such as brown rice, sweet potato, plantain, nuts and fruits. These provide a more reliable energy supply and support better brain function. Serotonin also makes you feel less anxious, more emotionally stable and tranquil and even more focused and energetic.

Drink plenty of water. …

You may sometimes think that your body is asking for sugar, when in fact it’s dehydrated and really craving water. This is especially true as we get older and lose our taste for water, which manifests as hunger. Your body is mainly water and your organs need it to function properly. Lack of adequate water in your body leads to thicker blood and as a consequence, high blood pressure. We also suggest a warm cup of green tea with a little apple cider vinegar and a touch of lemon with your meals. This way, your sweet taste is satisfied.

Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

Keep your blood sugar stable by eating several small, healthy meals throughout your day instead of three large portions to avoid dips in blood sugar. Ideally you should eat your protein meals between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. as protein takes longer to digest than any other food. Your evening meal should be more digestible; that means less protein. If you do this, your body will produce more serotonin, you will feel happier, and you will sleep much better at night. Avoid foods labelled “fat free” or “low fat:” These foods usually contain more sugar than their full fat counterparts, because they have to make up for losing the flavour from fat by adding more sugar. Green drinks are loaded with nutrition, help boost your energy and reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods as well as helping hydrate the body. Drunk throughout the day these will also help stabilize your blood sugar.

Use Coconut oil

When you reduce or remove sugar from your diet, try using coconut oil and a little cinnamon to add flavour to your food, plus coconut oil is an extremely healthy fat which does marvelous things for your health. If you have a hard time leaving sugar out of your morning coffee, try blending coconut oil with your coffee for a rich-tasting energy boost.
Sweet potatoes are sweet and starchy and are a great snack when you’re craving a sugary treat. Ty are a complex carbohydrate and are best eaten later in the day. Try roasting a sweet potato and top it with coconut oil and a little cinnamon with a slice of avocado. This is one of the healthiest, low sugar snacks you will ever eat and you will get the benefits from three of the healthiest foods on the planet.

Drink Herbal tea

Keep some strongly flavoured teas like ginger or peppermint, or a naturally sweet one like licorice, at your work for a sugar-free pick-me-up during the day. Be careful with licorice if you suffer from high blood pressure. If your sugar cravings are brought on by stress or poor sleep, choose a tea blend that will help you relax and wind down before bed. Real cocoa with coconut milk and a little cinnamon is ideal. You may even add a teaspoon of black strap molasses for a slightly sweeter taste without aggravating your sugar cravings.

While any fruit can be considered nature’s candy, bananas are great. Use them to naturally sweeten smoothies or make banana ice cream. They are a great addition to the diet, helping you feel satisfied longer. They are also full of potassium which boosts your energy and help reduce blood pressure. Alternatively you can have some avocado for a delicious afternoon snack to help you power through the last bit of your workday. Dates are also highly recommended instead of most dried fruits because they are intensely sweet and rich, plus ground dates can be used in place of sugar in baked goods. Goodbye sweet tooth.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are not intended to replace a one to one relationship with your health practitioner nor are they meant as medical advice. You are encouraged to do your own research and make your own decisions in partnership with your medical practitioner.

Fermented Foods Are Powerful Medicine

Cultured or fermented foods have a very long history in virtually all native diets, and have always been highly prized for their health benefits.

Fermentation has been defined as “a biochemical change which is brought about by the anaerobic (absence of oxygen) or partially anaerobic oxidation of carbohydrates by either micro-organisms or enzymes.” This is distinct from putrefaction which is proteins being broken down.

The bacteria that live in our gut are essential. They help with digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients. Plus, they play a role in the function of our immune system. However there are ‘bad’ bacteria that also reside in the gut and the challenge is achieving the right balance between the two. When the balance is shifted in favour of the bad bacteria, symptoms may arise such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. This is termed ‘dysbiosis’ – the state in which the gut flora are out of balance. Modern diets, high in refined sugars and busy, stressful lifestyles can contribute to dysbiosis by feeding the bad bacteria, enabling them to flourish. Eliminating refined, high sugar foods and including probiotic-rich fermented foods is thought to bring the gut back into balance and support the immune system.

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lacto-fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. There are four important health benefits of traditional fermented foods that clearly explain why they are so crucial to maintaining a healthy gut:

Traditional fermented foods help balance the production of stomach acid and also  have the unique ability to ease digestive discomfort related to having either too much or too little stomach acid. When the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach is low, fermented foods help increase the acidity of gastric juices. On the other hand, when the stomach produces too much acid, fermented foods help protect the stomach and intestinal lining. As we age, our production of the digestive enzymes and juices required for proper digestion begins to decrease. Eating traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut, buttermilk, and pickled vegetables can help make up for this loss. The key is to eat a small portion once or twice daily with meals.

Traditional fermented foods help the body produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses. Within the context of digestion, it helps increase the movement of the bowel, and can help reduce constipation It also helps improve the release of digestive juices and enzymes from the stomach, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. So by helping your body produce acetylcholine, fermented foods act as potent digestive aids.

Traditional fermented foods are beneficial for people with diabetes. In addition to improving pancreatic function, which is of great benefit to diabetics, the carbohydrates in lactic acid–fermented foods have been broken down or “pre-digested.” As a result, they do not place an extra burden on the pancreas, unlike ordinary carbohydrates.
Traditional fermented foods produce numerous unknown compounds that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. Many pathogenic forms of bacteria are sensitive to acidic environments. This is true of both cholera and typhoid. In the early 1950s, during an epidemic of typhoid fever in Europe, reports emerged showing that fresh sauerkraut was an effective agent for killing the bacteria. More recently, German scientists were working with a strain of lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread, and discovered that it seemed to be more effective than other strains at killing microbes. In early lab results, it quickly eliminated the super-bugs currently resistant to most antibiotics.

The concept of using naturally occurring “bugs” to eliminate harmful bacteria is an idea that seems to be gaining speed, although it is still baffling why many conventional doctors have yet to fully grasp or accept this concept. Obviously, the pharmaceutical companies stand to make a lot more money by selling antibiotics and other medications than by recommending a daily dose of fermented cabbage.

Fermented foods are some of the best chelators available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are highly potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals from the body, especially the liver. Adding a small amount of fermented food to each meal will give you one of the biggest health benefits you will ever achieve because they can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. As long as you vary the fermented and cultured foods you eat, you’ll get a much wider variety of beneficial bacteria than you could ever get from a supplement.

Your gut bacteria play key roles in:

Behaviour. A study published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility found that mice lacking in gut bacteria behave differently from normal mice, engaging in what would be referred to as “high-risk behavior.” This altered behavior was accompanied by neurochemical changes in their brains. In fact,your gut serves as your second brain. It produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is known to have a positive influence on your mood, than your brain does.

Gene expression. A probiotic-rich beverage has been shown to influence the activity of hundreds of your genes to help them express in a positive, disease-fighting way. This makes your gut health a very powerful variable of epigenetics a cutting-edge field of medicine showing that your lifestyle plays a significant role in your genetic expression.

Diabetes. According to a study from Denmark, bacterial population in the gut of diabetics differs from non-diabetics. According to the authors, the results of their study indicate that type 2 diabetes in humans is linked to compositional changes in intestinal microbiota. A healthy diet – low in sugar and grains; high in whole raw foods and fermented foods – allows your beneficial gut bacteria to flourish.

Autism. Establishment of normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life is critical in appropriate maturation of your baby’s immune system. Hence, babies with abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems and are particularly at risk for developing ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism, especially if they are vaccinated before restoring balance to their gut flora. It has also been said that any dysfunction of the brain is usually connected to what’s going on in the digestive system, so improving the quality of the gut bacteria could benefit those suffering from the issues mentioned above.

Obesity. Probiotics may help fight obesity. Restoring your gut flora is therefore a crucial consideration if you’re struggling to lose weight. Fermented foods also reduce the uptake of sugars and starches. You will also be surprised how many symptoms of illness originate from your digestive system. Once you make this system healthy and working properly again those symptoms will start to disappear. This is especially true in relation to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, kidney problems, type i diabetes, crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, urinary conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, osteoarthritis, chronic skin conditions and inflammatory bowel disease.

Your gut is home to both good and bad bacteria, which outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to one. The challenge is optimizing the bacterial population in your gut: striving for an ideal good to bad bacteria ratio. This can help them live in a beneficial, symbiotic relationship to help nourish you and fight disease.

Here is a summary for making your own fermented vegetables:

Shred and cut your chosen vegetables. Juice some celery. This is used as the brine, as it contains natural sodium and keeps the vegetables anaerobic. This eliminates the need for sea salt, which prevents growth of pathogenic bacteria. Pack the veggies and celery juice into a 32-ounce wide-mouthed canning jar. A kraut pounder tool can be helpful to pack the jar and eliminate any air pockets. Top with a cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides. Make sure the veggies are completely covered with celery juice and that the juice is all the way to the top of the jar to eliminate trapped air. Seal the jar store in a warm, slightly moist place for 24 to 96 hours, depending on the food being cultured. Ideal temperature range is 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit; 85 degrees max. Remember, heat kills the microbes! When done, store in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.

Incidentally, there are two different kinds of pickles. When you preserve cucumbers in vinegar, you get pickles. But when you soak cucumbers in a salt-water brine, you get probiotic pickles. One pickle can contain up to 20 percent of your daily Vitamin K value—a vitamin essential to bone and heart health.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are not intended to replace a one to one relationship with your health practitioner nor are they meant as medical advice. You are encouraged to do your own research and make your own decisions in partnership with your medical practitioner.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It’s not known exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role, some of which are stress, improper digestion, and poor dietary habits. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum, somewhat like a Mexican Wave. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhoea or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools, which are associated with constipation. Excess gas also occurs if you eat too quickly or bolt down your meals, as you are inclined to swallow more air which, of course, turns into gas.photo4design.com-60814-a-woman-with-a-stomach-ache-

Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system may also play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhoea or constipation. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should not be confused with inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disorder is an auto-immune disease which affects all parts of your digestive tract and as the name implies, is caused by chronic inflammation. The two primary diseases that fall into this category are Crohn’s disease, which can affect the entire digestive tract from mouth to anus and ulcerative colitis which only affect the colon (large intestine). Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), on the other hand, is a functional bowel disorder and there are no significant physical conditions that contribute to it.

One of your body’s reflexes is the gastro-colic reflex. When you eat, this reflex kicks in and starts a process of movement throughout your entire digestive tract. Large meals and fatty meals appear to cause a greater gastro-colic response and thus may prompt the need for a visit to the toilet. This information is useful for those who are prone to either constipation or diarrhoea. For the person with constipation, a large, fatty meal in the morning may work with the body’s natural biorhythms to encourage a bowel movement. A small meal, on the other hand, would cause a lesser response and that visit to the small room would not be required in as short a period. A person who is prone to diarrhoea should therefore stick to small, low-fat meals. Having diarrhoea can drain away the good bacteria in your gut which, of course, allows the harmful bacteria to flourish. Eating a probiotic such as natural yoghurt should help, more so if you have it with a ripe banana. The time it takes for food to pass through the entire digestive system is known as the transit time and can vary from population to population, person to person, and even the same person can have different transit times depending on the type of food consumed. Transit time is also affected by race, gender, typical diet and physical activity. Normal transit times can vary between 36 hours and 72 hours. Vegetarians have shorter transit times than those who consume meat and sugary foods as plant based foods are digested quicker than dairy products and starches. For vegetarians the transit time can be 24 hours. Transit time of longer than 72 hours can indicate a possible bowel disorder..
6a00e008d618bb8834015432781119970c-800wi.jpg Coconut rice with black beans and mangoes

Although there are many foods and herbs that can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, it is important to know your dominant symptom and eat accordingly. The main symptoms are constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, gas, fatigue and gut pain. For gas and bloating, chewing fennel seeds or drinking tea made with fennel seeds can be quite effective as this causes the muscles in the digestive tract to relax, which allows the trapped gas to pass out of the body. Dill, caraway, peppermint, dandelion tea and aniseed can also be used in this manner. Sometimes even a simple glass of hot water will do the trick. Ginger is also effective and can either be consumed as a tea, chewed or added regularly to you cooking with the same effect. Parsley is another herb that can be used and activated charcoal, which works on a different principle, in that it absorbs excess air in the digestive tract as well as toxins which may be contributing to gas problems is also effective. There are a few other ways to address the issue of bloating and gas. You can engage in a full colon cleanse or consume probiotics, especially those that contain pineapples or even eat pineapples themselves. If you have a colon cleanse or colonic irrigation you must remember to re-seed your gut with good bacteria by eating probiotics, bearing in mind that probiotics make up a very large part of your immune system. If you are young and energetic you can lie on the floor on your back, raise your legs and move them as if you are riding a bicycle.

If your problem is constipation then fibre and water are your best friends. Fibre bulks up your stool which speeds up the transit time for food passing through your intestines. You should add fibre gradually as adding too much too soon can lead to gas, bloating and diarrhoea. Water is also essential in helping the passage of fibre through your system. Too much fibre without water can sometimes lead to constipation. Good sources of fibre are fruits and vegetables, especially the skin where possible. Remember also that there are two main types of fibre, namely, soluble and insoluble and they perform different functions in your intestines. Soluble fibre bulks up your stool by absorbing water which prevents constipation and eases the passage of the said stool through the intestine for ease of elimination. It also helps reduce cholesterol. Good sources are brown rice, oatmeal, apples, pears, grapefruit and sweet potato (insoluble as well), Insoluble fibre passes through the intestines undigested and helps to keep the colon clean. Good sources of insoluble fibre are grated coconut, lentils, chick peas, beans, pulses, okra, plantain, sweet potato and green bananas. It is also important that you eat small meals regularly rather than a couple of large meals each day as taking in too much food at once can overstimulate your digestive system.images.jpg black man holding stomach in pain

Reducing simple carbohydrates such as sugar, pasta, white bread, fruit juices and dried fruit is essential in treating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as high glycaemic carbohydrates, such as these, tend to ferment in the gut when the digestive system is out of balance leading to gas and bloating. You should also keep away from spicy foods as they can sometimes make your large intestines go into spasms which can cause diarrhoea. Avoid caffeine as this can worsen irritable bowel syndrome by irritating your intestines and you should also avoid foods like Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cabbage as they cause gas.

Needless to say you should reduce your intake of fried foods, processed foods, meats, certain cooking oils such as canola, vegetable and soy, margarine, dairy products and other fatty foods as these can cause your colon to contract violently which can lead to diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Finally, five good aids to reduce the frequency and severity of irritable syndrome are rest, avoid stress, take a good probiotic, drink good clean water and engage in home cooking.

Your Gut is Your Second Brain

We all have a brain although sometimes you would not believe it. It is meant to control how we think, feel, learn and move. The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord itself is made up of nerves that run down the middle of your back. Messages between your brain and the rest of your body travel through the spinal cord which starts at the base of the brain and goes down to the small of your back. The brain is protected by the bones of the skull and the spinal cord by the bones that make up your backbone. They are both also covered and protected by three layers of membrane called meninges.Gut-brain-connection

There is another nervous system known as the enteric nervous system which is located in your gut and controls your gastrointestinal system from the oesophagus to the point of elimination and can operate independently from the central nervous system although they are in regular communication with each other. In fact, the enteric nervous system is the only other part of the human body that can operate independently of the brain. Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that breakdown food to the control of blood flow which is connected to the absorption of nutrients, to elimination. Research has shown that irritation in the gastrointestinal system sends signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes in the brain.

Both nervous systems are created from identical tissue during fetal development. One part becomes the central nervous system and the other becomes the enteric nervous system and they are connected to each other by the vagas nerve that runs from your brain stem to your abdomen. This nerve has now been shown to be the primary route used by the gut bacteria to send information to the brain and vice versa, although more information is sent from the gut to the brain than from the brain to the gut.article-2303434-19105E16000005DC-780_634x356 Vagus Nerve

Although we are constantly reminded that we should think before we act, indicating that we should be rational and reason things out before taking the next step, which often involves making a decision, we often go with our “gut feeling” or “gut instinct” and there are some who will say that they have never been let down by their gut feelings. In addition to the vegas nerve he brain and the gut are connected by a network of neurons, chemicals and hormones that provide information about what is happening in our body. This information highway is known as the “brain-gut axis”.

Just as you have neurons in your brain you also have neurons in your gut including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain. In fact the greatest concentration of serotonin, a chemical that controls moods such as happiness, aggression and depression, sex, sleeping and feeding is found in your gut. Actually about 90 to 95%. This fact has been forwarded as one of the possible reasons why antidepressants which raise serotonin levels in the brain are ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help. New therapies, using probiotics (good gut bacteria) to treat a variety of diseases particularly autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease are now being developed and it is accepted that the connection between the gut and the brain is vital for maintaining homeostasis.index.jpg gutsy move for a brain

Studies have shown that babies born by caesarean section have an increased risk of developing allergies, asthma, autism and diabetes. They were also more anxious and depressed. The stated reason for this is that as they were not born naturally they were not exposed to their mother’s vaginal microbes. Apparently, the first 20 days of a baby’s life are crucial in determining the strength or weakness of the baby’s immune system. Those who were not born naturally were at risk of developing ADHD, and learning difficulties. This clearly shows how gut bacteria in the “second brain” affects the activity of the main brain A study in Denmark has shown that the make-up of gut bacteria in diabetics was different from that in non-diabetics and the same applied to lean and obese people.

If gut bacteria can influence mood, learning, memory and cognitive functions by its effect on the brain through the “gut-brain axis” this means that good gut bacteria influences the brain positively and bad bacteria would have a negative effect on the brain. This therefore brings me to the “box” culture that exists these days with regard to fast food. This type of non-nutrient, synthetic stuff that some people eat on a daily basis is not helping the good bacteria in their gut and as a consequence is affecting not only their physical health but their cognitive abilities and encouraging a host of other neuro-degenerative diseases. Little wonder that the World Health Organization has stated that by the year 2030 a new case of Alzheimer’s will be diagnosed every four seconds.