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Step 6 to a Healthy Gut

June 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Chit Chat, Digestive Health

Bad Gut Bacteria

 

Healthy Gut 6

In a healthy colon, there are billions of beneficial bacteria. Usually they multiply at a fast enough rate to keep up with the numbers that are lost during elimination. They help to keep the proper pH of the colon and therefore prevent any ‘bad’ bacteria from over growing. These ‘friendly’ bacteria are also important because, not only do they help to keep the immune system healthy, but they also synthesize many important vitamins in the digestive tract including Vitamin K and some of the B vitamins.

The ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria should be 80% good to 20% bad, however it is believed that in most people this is ratio is actually reversed.

More than a third of people who suffer with IBS have bacterial overgrowth, known as ‘bacterial dysbiosis’. This can alter the metabolic and immune responses of the body, causing the immune system to turn against the normal gut flora and is an early complication of a ‘leaky gut’.

A dysbiosis is caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antibiotics. Just one single dose of Ibuprofen can increase the permeability in the gut wall by stopping the synthesis of the protective fatty-acid prostaglandin, and leaving the gut very inflamed and highly permeable. It is also caused by stress and anxiety altering the acid/alkaline balance, food allergies, poor imbalanced diets, low fibre diets, lack of nutrients, too much sugar and alcohol.

When the balance of bacteria is disturbed the bacterial colonies fail to check each other’s growth and they go on to disrupt other beneficial bacteria making the imbalance even more pronounced. Bacterial colonies excrete many different types of waste byproducts and under normal circumstances the body manages these byproducts with little or no trouble. However as the bacteria increase in numbers, the byproducts increase, overburdening the body’s waste removal mechanisms and therefore creating even more health problems.

Bowel problems are common with dysbiosis and it may be diarrhoea or constipation or even a combination of both, also wind and bloating. However dysbiosis does not just affect the bowel but goes on to cause other problems such as chronic fatigue, colitis, obesity, acne, cancer and many inflammatory diseases.

How can you diagnose this?

There is a breath test for Hydrogen and Methane, which involves swallowing a carbohydrate and measuring bacterial fermentation of the carbohydrate through breath samples of hydrogen and methane.

What to do next?

    • It is important to replace the good bacteria but this is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Many bacteria taken by mouth do not even reach the bowel as they are killed by the stomach acid, so it is essential that there is sufficient numbers of bacteria to survive the transportation, and that they are micro-encapsulated to cope with the acid. Probiotics are supplements containing beneficial bacteria found in the human digestive tract that promote good gut health. The strains must be specific to the human and they help by normalising digestion and boosting the absorption of nutrients from the diet. They also help the body make the B vitamins which are known as nature’s own stress busters, and so help the symptoms even when stress levels are high. The most common strains are lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus sporogenes, bifidobacterium bifidum, bifidobacterium longum and the yeast saccharomyces boulardii. Of the beneficial strains, the lactobacillus species is most prominent in the small intestine, whereas bifidobacteria tends to reside in the large intestine. I use one here at The Wyndham Centre that has 12 different good bacteria to really flood the gut, and there are many others that I recommend which are good for maintaining a good flora.
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    • Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates and are important because they help to promote the growth and/or the activity of the probiotics. The most common are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin and galacto-oligosaccharides and they are found in various vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and bananas. They are relatively stable and arrive in the gut unchanged. However most of the probiotic supplements contain prebiotics as well.
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    • Vitamin D is an important supplement because most people suffering from gut problems are deficient in this vitamin.
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    • Fish oils are a really good thing to take with digestive problems because they are anti-inflammatory and so will help reduce the inflammation there.
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    • Zinc, copper, folic acid and vitamin B12 all help to repair the gut.
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    • Bentonite has the ability to get bacteria to stick to it and because it is not absorbed it passes through the colon taking toxins with it.

Step 5 to a Healthy Gut

June 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Low Stomach Acid

 

Healthy Gut 5Pharmaceutical companies persuade the public to buy antacids for what their advertising calls ‘an over-acid stomach’, but the symptoms of acid indigestion and heartburn are usually caused by incomplete digestion. This incomplete digestion, as is the case in many people with IBS, is caused by too little or no stomach acid, or the acid that they do produce is not acid enough!

Most of you have had it, the feeling that too much acid is churning up from the stomach into the oesophagus, burning, or so you think. Acid is certainly the issue, but not the way you might think, in fact what is really going on is not enough at the right strength. The body only makes one acid, hydrochloric acid with pepsin, any other acids that produce symptoms of acid reflux come from the fermentation process which are entirely different from the natural stomach acid.

For perfect digestion, acid reflux free, you need digestive juices at a very low pH, in other words, very, very strong acid. If your stomach is working at a higher pH, then when you eat combination foods like, for example, steak and potatoes, it has difficulty digesting the food properly and the food then ferments and so produces gas that bloats the stomach, causing discomfort. The next stage is a feeling in your ‘heart’ or throat of soreness partnered with that terrible burning sensation.

Antacids don’t know the difference between natural stomach hydrochloric acid and organic acids of fermentation from undigested food. They attack all acids. This is why there can be only temporary relief. As long as stomach acid is low or insufficient, the digestive process is incomplete and fermentation continues.

How can you diagnose this?

If you feel especially uncomfortable after eating, this could contribute to your problem. You can also get a stomach acid analysis done at a laboratory to discover how much gastric acid you produce and also whether you have got enough digestive enzymes.

What to do next?

To help alleviate these symptoms and the problem all together, the following is recommended, and has proven to be helpful:

  • Chew your food thoroughly, something that we have all heard from the earliest of times, your digestive process starts with chewing
  • Refrain from drinking water and sodas with a heavy meal as it dilutes your digestive juices
  • Add ginger, garlic and fresh lemon juice to your food and salads because it enhances the digestive juices
  • Use digestive enzymes – unless you have stomach ulcers – every time you eat animal protein such as steak, chicken or fish and/or starches like potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. Digestive enzymes made from natural ingredients, will immediately help your digestion do its task effectively
  • Take betaine hydrochloric acid (HCL plus pepsin)
  • Avoid ‘histamine H2 –receptor antagonists’ which reduce the levels of stomach acid and prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients from the foods you ingest. If you continuously use anti-acids, other health problems are likely to start, and in a few weeks, months or even years become more noticeable, and you will have no idea why

Some of the long-term effects of this situation are:

Tiredness, headaches, bloatedness, constipation, diarrhoea, sore muscles, eczema, short term memory problems, blurry vision, back ache, low libido, nervous tension, irritability, general lack of drive, flu, colds and kidney problems.

These conditions occur, because the vitamins, minerals and amino acids you are supposed to absorb, and utilise to build a healthy system for repair and maintenance cannot be absorbed, and are literally wasted.

You are what you eat but even more so, you are what you absorb!

Step 4 to a Healthy Gut

January 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Fungal

 
Healthy Gut 4
Yeast and mould are fungus, and there are over 200 that may live within the body. Some fungus feed off dead organisms whilst others, the parasitic fungus, feed off live organisms. These pathogenic fungus cause human diseases such as athletes foot, ring worm, dandruff, rosacea, swimmers ear, nail infections and yeast infections.

Candida Albicans, one of the most common human fungus, is a type of yeast that, at body temperature, grows filaments that burrow into, and penetrate the wall of the intestines. It is also present on the skin and in mucous membranes such as the vagina, mouth or rectum and it can travel through the blood stream and affect the throat, and even the heart valves.

Fungus lives in damp environments so that the filaments can absorb nutrients that are dissolved in water such as sugars and amino acids and then they release enzymes and toxins from that process that go on to degrade more complex nutrients for them to absorb. The toxic enzymes are then transported by the blood stream through the body causing illness.

Small amounts of yeast and fungal organisms are normally well tolerated in those people with a healthy immune system. However if the immunity is compromised in any way the body and especially the intestines may become susceptible to an overgrowth.

The immune system can be compromised by antibiotics because they destroy the beneficial as well as the harmful bacteria and leave open space for yeast to multiply. The pill and steroids also allow for the growth of fungus.

How can you diagnose this? You can have a gut fermentation test. This measures whether you ferment ethyl alcohol in your gut after consuming glucose sugars, which often happens with yeast overgrowth.

The Vega machine can also test you to see if you have a fungal infection.

What to do next? First and foremost you need to stop feeding it and helping it to grow by cutting out all sugar and yeast from your diet. When talking about sugar, I don’t mean just added sugar but high glycaemic carbohydrates as well. Cut down on your fruit especially the soft fruits that are high sugar and can become quite yeasty when over ripe.

There are some good anti-fungal remedies:
Proteolytic enzymes help to break down the fungal walls and clear the fungus from the body. They also keep the small intestine free of parasites.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic yeast that has been shown to support a healthy balance of flora in the gut. It also helps as an anti-inflammatory.
Caprylic acid is a fatty acid that has a long history as an anti-fungal and of clearing unwanted compounds from the gut.
• Herbs such as garlic, turmeric, black walnut hull, grapefruit seed, clove and oregano are proven to have potent anti-candida effects.
Aloe vera helps soothe gastric discomfort

It is also important to improve your nutritional status and build your immune system so some supplements will help with this.
Zinc
Magnesium
B vitamins
Omega-6 fatty acids to help with inflammation.
Milk thistle and a good liver support supplement to stimulate the formation of new liver cells is also a good idea, as mild liver damage is often behind a candida overgrowth.

Step 3 to a Healthy Gut

January 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Parasites

 
Healthy Gut 3
Parasites, by definition, live off other living things. These days, due to our toxic environment, we are exposed to all kinds of ‘parasites’, from other people, our own homes, the food we eat and the water we drink. There are over 3,200 varieties.

Those that infest our bodies not only live off the nutrients in the food that we eat but they actually live off our tissues stealing our energy and making us feel weak. They secrete toxins into our blood stream that circulate, and often cause damage, burdening our kidneys, liver and lymphatic systems. Many people do not realise that they have them for some time, and they can often be very difficult for the doctors to diagnose.

About one in six of us is walking around with Giardia Lamblia and one in ten is infested with cryptosporidia. The symptoms from these can be severe fatigue and mild to moderate abdominal cramps, intestinal wind, light coloured stools, malabsorption, stomach bloating and diarrhoea. The more severe symptoms can amount to severe pains and vomiting.

Food poisoning is often the cause of an irritable bowel and many people complain that since they had food poisoning their bowel has never been the same. Although the incident may have been weeks, months or even years before, the ‘bugs/parasites’ can remain within the lining of the gut and irritate on and off.

If you have a mouthful of amalgam fillings it alters the gut’s ecology so that it does not have the correct nutrients to resist the parasites. Antibiotics, steroids and anti-acid drugs also change the flora within the gut and lower its resistance.

How can you diagnose this?
You can get your stools tested for parasites at a lab or I can check you on the Vega machine, which is a bioenergetic regulatory machine. The vega is not specific to the parasite but the supplements to clear it are quite generic so will clear all types of parasite.

What to do next?
There are some great natural remedies that help to clear the parasites.

Berberine has shown some activity against parasites, fungus, yeast and bacterial infections and is found in plants such as Berberis vulgaris and goldenseal.
Artemesia is a very bitter plant and found to be helpful in expelling parasites.
Black Walnut from green hull has been used for centuries to help control and eliminate parasites from the body, it contains naturally occurring tannins and quinone compounds which are the primary ingredients for the expulsion of parasites and worms.

Once the parasites have been cleared it is really important to line the gut wall for better absorption, and to put some good bacteria back to improve the gut flora and therefore digestion.

Step 2 to a Healthy Gut

December 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Leaky Gut Wall

 

Stomach

The gut has many functions:

  • it digests food
  • absorbs small food particles to be converted into energy
  • vitamins and minerals attached to carrier proteins are taken across the gut lining into the blood stream
  • helps to detoxify the body
  • contains antibodies that act as the first line of defence against infections

The lining of your small intestine is like a sieve that, when working well, allows small particles of food such as amino acids, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids to pass through to your blood stream and on to other cells in the body, but it blocks other larger food molecules and toxins or bacteria that might cause harm. However if the lining is damaged it becomes a colander rather than a sieve and allows larger food molecules, toxins and bacteria to get through, triggering the production of antibodies that can lead to allergies and alter the bacterial composition of the gut allowing the overgrowth of fungal yeasts. The other things that can cause a ‘leaky gut’ are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, alcohol abuse, amalgam fillings, recreational drugs and prescribed drugs such as non-steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAID), and steroids.

A ‘leaky gut’ does not absorb food and nutrients properly and therefore fatigue and bloating occurs. If you are suffering from periodic hives or dermatitis, acne or psoriasis, a thrush type infection, joint problems or IBS you could have a ‘leaky gut’.

How can you diagnose this?
You can take the ‘lactulose/mannitol challenge test, a urine test. Neither of these sugars are metabolised in a healthy gut and so should be excreted in the urine after 6 hours. If more sugar than normal is taken up then you have got a gut that leaks.

What to do next:
Make sure you chew your food well because it releases epidermal growth factore (EGF), a polypeptide that stimulates the growth and repair of the walls of the small intestine.

Don’t overdo the insoluble fibre such as whole wheat, whole grains and wheat bran as they can increase gut permeability.

Take supplements to help heal the gut wall such as:

  • Probiotics or ‘good bacteria’ have long been shown to improve gut permeability, and there are lots of different strains. Choose lactobachilli, bifidobacteria, or sacchoromyces boulardi a gut friendly yeast originally isolated from the skins of lychee fruits and used to help bouts of diarrhoea and colitis.
  • L-Glutamine, is an amino acid essential for a sound gut wall, and good at repairing the mucosal lining, especially when damaged by chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Fish oils can protect the body against toxins produced in the gut and act as an anti inflammatory. Fish oils are also good to prevent injury to the gut wall caused by the drug methotrexate.
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a form of the amino acid cysteine and a powerful supplement. It is a potent antioxidant and helps to detoxify toxins produced by intestinal yeast/bacterial overgrowth. It also stimulates immune function in the gut lining, increasing white blood cell numbers. Another benefit is that NAC enhances liver function through the production of glutathione, the body’s main detoxifying chemical. This helps heal the gut as the liver can cope better with toxins, and fewer will spill into the bile to irritate the lining of the small intestine.
  • N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (NAG) is an ‘amino-sugar’, a combination of an amino acid and glucose. NAG is essential for the secretion of the mucus that creates a protective lining on top of the cells of the gut.
  • Vitamin A is important for the growth and repair of cells that line both the small and large intestine.
  • B vitamins and vitamin C, E, zinc, selenium, manganese, magnesium, and molybdenum are all important for the integrity of the gut wall.
  • Antioxidants such as flavonoids, pycnogenols and proteolytic enzymes can help to block allergic reactions that increase gut permeability and also to prevent oxidative stress that causes inflammation within the gut.

A Special Fibre to Help Fight Cancer

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

SoybeanWe have all been told, and we know, that eating fibre helps prevent all kinds of problems, but have you heard about IP-6 fibre? Recently research has shown that this dense fibre may be put to use in the fight against breast, prostate and colon cancer.

For some time studies have shown that getting enough dietry fibre helps in the following ways:

    Lowers cholesterol/risk of heart disease – the fibre latches onto the LDL (bad cholesterol) fats in your food and takes them out of the colon before they have a chance to be absorbed into the blood stream.
    Helps to detox the body – the fibre latches onto any toxins in the gut and moves them out of the colon before they have a chance to get into the blood stream.
    Normalises intestinal activity – for a bowel to work properly it requires fibre to bulk up the stools to encourage the peristaltic movement. This is useful in diseases such as crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
    Stabilises blood sugar levels and cuts down the risk of diabetes – fibre slows down the absorption of glucose from your food into your blood stream. A high fibre diet can help to manage diabetes and insulin resistance.
    Maintains bowel health and cuts the risk of disease – fibre prevents constipation which in turn causes all sorts of other problems including diverticulosis.
    Fights obesity – enough fibre in your diet will give a sense of fullness and dampen your appetite. High fibre foods typically have less fat/calories, so you absorb less. Stable blood sugars also prevent hunger pangs.

So, we have established that fibre is good for you, but certain sources of fibre contain IP-6 (inositol hexaphosphate or phytic acid), which has other disease fighting potential.

A study from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, recently revealed that a diet high in IP-6 containing fibre could prevent the spread of prostate cancer in early diagnosis. The researchers were reviewing the rate of prostate cancer spread in Asian men versus Western men and they found that although the rate of getting prostate cancer was much the same, in Asian men there was far less of an occurrence of the spread of the disease. The difference between the two cultures was the amount of IP-6 in their diet. In Asian men they consumed a greater amount than Western men. They found the same in mice, in that those that were fed a diet with more IP-6 fibre had far less spread of the disease!

IP-6 is a significant antioxidant that blocks free radical damage and The American Cancer Society cites studies in which IP-6 fibre was found to either reverse or slow down the growth of breast, prostate and colon cancer.

So, where do you find this fibre?

The best sources are wheat bran, peanuts and soya beans, and they have a high content, also barley, rye, corn and oats, black beans, chick peas, mung beans and lentils that have a moderate content.

Including fibre from a variety of sources in your diet is important for maintaining good health, and Dr Mark Rosenberg M.D. feels that it would be a good idea to include at least one serving of a high IP-6 source food every day. This could be ½ a cup of wheat or oat bran cereal, ¼ cup of peanuts as a snack, ½ a cup of chick peas and lentils or ½ cup of soya beans, black beans or mung beans.

Don’t forget your fibre, it is a really easy way to help prevent those nasty cancers.

Could parasites be making you fat?

November 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Diet, exercise and lifestyle are the things we tend to think of when trying to lose weight, but there is another cause which is often overlooked – that is parasites!

Parasites are bacteria, viruses, fungi, bugs and worms, and they cause a multitude of problems. By definition, they live off other living things. They need a host in order to survive and reproduce. Those that infest our bodies do not have a digestive system of their own and so rely on the digested food and the nutrients that we eat, and they also actually live off our tissues stealing our energy and making us feel weak.

These parasites are not only in areas where there is no access to clean drinking water or adequate medical care, they are also found in England and America. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly 100 million Americans are infected with internal parasites and I am sure that we are no different in this country! In England there are many people with an overgrowth of fungi which occur after antibiotics and other drugs, and others with bacteria such as helicobacter pylori and campylobacter which create inflammation and ulcers in the gut. These are all parasites.

How are parasites making you fat?

Well, they create inflammation, which inhibits the efficient absorption of nutrients. They take all the good stuff from the food you eat, leaving you craving more food and in the end causing malnourishment. The parasites digest the nutrients from the food that that they take and excrete waste, flooding your body with toxins. These toxins and excess acid build up, accumulates in your liver and kidneys, and then it is dumped into your fat cells for storage as the liver struggles to cope with them all.

The toxicity and the inflammation cause high acidity which breaks down your muscle tissue, and then your metabolism slows down to remove excess acid from your blood stream.

Parasites disrupt the flora in your gut, by slowing down the production of good bacteria and stimulating the growth of bad bacteria, this will compromise your immune system and cause even more problems!

There is a hormone that regulates our hunger response, appetite, metabolism and energy levels called leptin, and in a study done by Wayne State University, scientists discovered that the human adenovirus was found to cause obesity in test animals by inhibiting leptin production causing fat cells to accumulate and increasing insulin sensitivity.

At the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, Dr Nikhil V Dhurandhar says that seven viruses have been reported to be the cause of obesity in animal models by various research groups.

So how do we get parasites?

• Infected food and water especially undercooked pork and beef
• Food poisoning
• Transmission of bugs from unwashed hands onto food or into your body through your mouth and nose.
• Rodents, cats and dogs may be carrying undetected parasites
• Taking antibiotics, steroids and hormone replacement drugs compromises the immune system and makes us more susceptible to viruses and fungi
• Intimate contact with others

Problems that are linked to parasite infections are:

• Fatigue and depression
• Digestive problems
• Migraines
• Anaemia
• Anal and vaginal irritation
• Skin rashes
• Muscle pains
• Cardiac disorders

The vega machine can test for parasites including viruses, fungi and bacteria and then it is really important to get rid of them with some good supplements. After that it is vital to clear the liver of the toxins produced by the parasites, to put some good bacteria back into the gut, line the gut wall so that there is better absorption across it and put back the nutrients that the parasites may have taken so that you build your immune system again and prevent further infection.

Supplements that may help


Berberine and Grapefruit Seed – for parasites and bacterial microbes
Candisolve – for fungal problems

Could this be a reason for your difficulty in losing weight?

“All Disease Starts in The Gut”

October 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Stomach‘All disease begins in the gut’, so says Hippocrates, and I for one, believe that he has a very good point!

There is a huge amount of inflammation going on in our guts that can cause a plethora of different symptoms, some quite mild and inconvenient, but others quite dangerous and even life threatening.

You may not feel that you have any problems with your digestive tract but having been working with food intolerances now for over 30 years I do believe that almost every disease has a connection with the gut and digestion. It may be a malfunction of the digestive system and is often an inflammatory overload due to food intolerances and imbalances in the gut flora.

Every disease has multiple causes, never just one trigger, and food intolerances and bowel inflammation is one of the commonest of all contributive factors to a whole host of diseases and mental states.

Food intolerances are like a ‘masked sensitivity’, they build up in your body and then as if the body has had enough, the symptoms appear. Once the food has left the bowel the symptoms subside, waiting for the next build up. With intolerances you can be well one minute, feel bad a few hours later and then back to feeling good a few days after that, so it is not a continuous illness, but comes and goes, often depending on your tolerance level. On the plus side, this is a good thing because if you can feel good on some days you can feel good all the days once you have found your trigger inflammatory foods!

Food sensitivities affect many parts of the body, and every individual is different, some people may get headaches, others asthma, some skin rashes and others irritable bowel. They can trigger any organ; the brain, the nose, the bowel, the skin, the musculoskeletal system, the lungs and even the cardio-vascular system.

Food sensitivities become addictive, so that when you get your symptoms they can often be relieved by the allergenic food. So many of my patients will say that a cup of coffee relieves the headache, when infact it is probably just relieving the withdrawal symptoms. A heroin addict continues to shoot up because it makes them feel better, it relieves the withdrawal symptoms, albeit only temporarily. So coming off the foods that you are sensitive to, may be a nasty experience of withdrawal symptoms, but you will feel so much better in the end!

In more recent studies, it has been found that genetics play a huge part in sensitivities and allergies and that it is really a genetic incompatibility with certain foods. They don’t suit you, the foods cannot be metabolised properly and will inevitably cause inflammation.

We are surrounded by a sea of genes that come from our food and our gut flora, and will have physiological effects on our metabolism. It appears that the genetic material in food survives digestion, circulates in the blood and goes on to change the behaviour of our own genes.

So, food genes are responsible for setting up inflammation in our intestines and they are also absorbed and taken in the blood to other areas of the body, causing inflammation elsewhere.

Food sensitivities are very common, I would say 80% of patients have a problem with one or two foods, and the good thing is that by removing the offending food from your diet it can make a dramatic change. Food may not be the only cause of the problem but by unloading the body it gives it a chance to heal and build the immune system.

Foods play a huge part in inflammation of the intestines but they are not the only things. All sorts of other agents could set up inflammation in the bowel and elsewhere in the body. These include moulds, chemicals, parasites, bacteria, heavy metals, candida and other yeasts.

More to come……

Olive Oil – A Great Healer

April 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

Not that long ago olive oil was thought of as a speciality cooking oil, and only used on Mediterranean type recipes and for special occasions. Now, however, I would recommend it to all my patients because of all the wonderful health benefits it gives, especially cold pressed extra virgin olive oil as it contains most nutrients. It is best used poured over food after the cooking rather than frying with it because at very high temperatures it can go a little rancid. Rapeseed oil, coconut oil or avocado oil are better for frying.

Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids that will help to raise HDL, the good cholesterol, and lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. It is one of the basic ingredients of a Mediterranean diet, and those people who eat such a diet have shown to have much lower than average levels of heart disease and cancer.

Olive oil is a strong antioxidant that helps to scavenge and wipe out those free radicals that can lead to cancer. In fact it has been shown to protect the cells of the colon, prostate and the uterus from cancerous changes. Recent research has also shown that olive oil helps to normalise blood sugar levels which benefits diabetics.

Other than adding it to your food, what other uses are there for olive oil?

  • Weight control – olive oil has been shown to normalise blood sugar levels by lowering insulin levels. Taking between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon before eating a carbohydrate meal slows down the rise of blood sugar afterwards.
  • Stomach upsets – for a long time it has been used in Mediterranean countries for stomach upsets. 1 tablespoon of olive oil on an empty stomach stimulates digestion.
  • Constipation – another favourite use of olive oil is helping with constipation. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into hot water and drink.
  • Ear problems – if you have a build up of wax or have water in your ear an old folk remedy which works really well is, with an eye dropper, to drop 1-2 drops of oil down into the ear canal. Lie for a few minutes on your opposite side and then turn over and allow the oil to run out of your ear. This works to dry up any water that’s there and liquefy ear wax so that it is easier to remove. Remember never put Q-tips or any other instruments down into your ear canal and do not put oil down if you have a punctured ear drum, or have blood coming from your ear.
  • Skin care – olive oil, with its antioxidant (chlorophyll, carotenoids, Vitamin E) properties is very good for skin. It can neutralise skin damaging free radicals and help prevent skin cancer. You can get olive oil soaps which cleanse without stripping the skin’s natural oils. Olive oil contains linoleic acid which actually prevents water from evaporating, thereby keeping a barrier layer of moisture on the skin. Putting a few caps in a warm bath, helps lubricate the skin and using a few drops of it as a facial moisturiser helps keep your face wrinkle free and soft. Men too can apply olive oil to their face before they razor shave to get a close, smooth shave that leaves their face soft.
  • Hair – olive oil can be used as a hair conditioner. Rub a few drops into the ends of your hair before you shampoo it, leave it for about 20 minutes, and then wash it. Hair is left tangle-free and shining. It is also great for babies’ scalps if they have cradle-cap, just a few drops rubbed into the scalp can make a huge difference.
  • Fingernails – keep your nails, and the skin around, them looking great by soaking your fingertips in an olive oil and lemon juice mixture. 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

The more advanced our technologies and the more complicated our world becomes, it’s comforting to know that there are age-old natural substances that we can rely on to keep us healthy and aid us in our simple activities of daily living. We don’t always have to turn to chemically based, often toxic, cleaning agents or drugs when we can turn to a simple, wonder from Mother Nature, like olive oil.

I’m sure that you’ll find even more uses for this incredibly valuable oil!

7 Reasons You May Suffer Irritable Bowel

February 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Chit Chat

StomachIrritable bowel syndrome, or IBS as it is known, appears to be a very common problem. It is the name given to a functional disorder of the bowel – one that does not work properly – or one that is ‘irritated’. It is a classification for a number of irksome conditions with similar symptoms that seem difficult to diagnose and impossible to treat, such as spastic colon, mucous colitis or non-inflammatory bowel disease. It affects 1:10 people, is not life threatening, does not cause cancer but it can be very debilitating.

So, what causes IBS? Well, a host of things may contribute to the problem.

1. Diet.

A diet of processed foods, sugar, caffeine and fried foods is not the best for your digestive system or your health. Sugar causes inflammation and puts your immune system to sleep for hours, so toxins are allowed to accumulate making you feel unwell.

2. Food sensitivities.

It may be that you have some food sensitivities. Most of us have a sensitivity to something, but if we are healthy, have no stresses and life is great, our bodies will cope. The minute our immune system becomes compromised and we become stressed, we start to react to foods, and usually those foods that we eat on a regular basis.

To help you work out which food may be causing you problems you can keep a food diary to see if your reactions tend to always start after a certain food, or you can try an elimination diet and then introducing one food at a time. On the other hand having a Vega test for food sensitivities can give you immediate results.

3. Parasites.

If you have had food poisoning or been abroad and suffered bowel problems it may be that you have parasites. These parasites can live within the bowel for years.

Parasites, by definition, live off other living things. Those that infest our bodies not only live off the nutrients in the food that we eat but they actually live off our tissues stealing our energy, making us feel weak. They secrete toxins into our blood stream that circulate, and often cause damage. Many people do not realise that they have them for some time, and they can often be very difficult for the doctors to diagnose, however there are herbal remedies that can help to eliminate them.

4. Fungal infection.

Yeast and mould are fungus, and there are over 200 that may live within the body. Small amounts of these organisms are normally well tolerated if you have a healthy immune system. However if the immunity is compromised in any way the body and especially the intestines may become susceptible to an overgrowth. Antibiotics, steroids and the contraceptive pill all compromise the immune system and therefore upset the bowel flora and kill off good as well as bad bacteria. This allows fungus to grow which results in a yeast infection. It is important to take probiotics to put the good bacteria back into the gut and to take an anti fungal remedy to remove the over growth.

5. Leaky Gut syndrome.

When the lining of the gut becomes inflamed it is rather like a sieve where the holes become large and allow bacteria, toxins and food to leak through into the body.

An inflamed gut does not absorb food and nutrients properly and therefore fatigue and bloating occurs. The detoxification pathways are compromised resulting in chemical sensitivities. The leakage of toxins into the body upsets the liver, which then finds it difficult to handle everyday chemicals and then the protective coating is adversely affected and the body is not able to ward of bacteria, viruses, yeast and parasites. The cycle begins again and it becomes a vicious circle.

There are good supplements tht will help to line the gut wall and improve the immune system within the gut.

6. Acid/Alkaline balance.

It is so important to keep your body as alkaline as possible. In your digestive system the stomach is extremely acid in order to start the digestion of proteins, but the rest of the digestive tract is supposed to be alkaline and the pancreatic enzymes will only work in an alkaline medium.

If there is an acid/alkaline imbalance, it can cause indigestion, heartburn and bloating and usually soon after eating. Eating lots and lots of green vegetables will help to keep the gut alkaline and there are good supplements to help as well.

7. Stress.

Many people say to me that their flare-ups are caused by stress. Stress causes chemical changes in the brain which act on the nerves in the colon. The intestines will contract or go into spasm too fast or too slow and it may in turn influence motility (the propelling of contents through the gut).

Deep relaxation is a great way to help with stress and hypnotherapy can get you into that state very well.

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