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9 Telltale Signs Your Gut Needs Attention

“The whole world is suffering from this COVID-19 pandemic,” microbiologist Heenam Stanley Kim said, “but what people do not realize is that the pandemic of damaged gut microbiomes is far more serious now.” 

We are now learning that there is a strong connection between your gut microbiome and your vulnerability to develop the disease known as COVID-19, and the severity of symptoms you experience. And perhaps, most importantly, we are learning that after you have COVID, your prior gut issues can increase your risk for developing autoimmunity, or for having a flare of your existing autoimmune condition. 

You see, your gut microbiome — which includes all the bacteria and yeast that normally live in your digestive tract — keeps your immune system healthy and your intestinal lining strong.  But if you develop a condition called dysbiosis — an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast, parasites or other microbes like viruses — you then have an increased risk of damage to your intestinal lining, something called Leaky Gut Syndrome. If the integrity of your gut lining is “leaky,” pathogens, such as COVID-19, can cross over from the gut and gain access to your body and your immune system. Because your gut health is so important, and to support you especially right now, we are running a 10-Day HealMyGut Group Coaching Program beginning October 22nd –> More Info

Remember, your gut (which includes your stomach, and your small and large intestines) is your first line of defense, and research shows us more and more every day that your gut microbiome communicates with every system and organ in your body — your cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems. Your gut is connected to your brain and mood. It’s even connected to your skin, hair and nails. 

I hope by now you can see why all of us at Blum Center for Health, and in the world of Functional Medicine, believe that The Number One thing you can do this spring for your health….is….take care of your gut microbiome!

Here are 9 Telltale Signs Your Gut Needs Attention

  • You have had COVID-19, or you are afraid to get very sick from COVID-19 
  • Have heartburn, reflux, IBS, diarrhea or constipation
  • Are frequently getting sick
  • Have fatigue or brain fog
  • Are feeling puffy or inflamed
  • Have inflammatory conditions like arthritis, autoimmune, heart disease, obesity or diabetes
  • Have food sensitivities or reactions to food
  • Have mood issues, such as depression and anxiety
  • Have difficulty losing weight

Let’s talk about the many different types of gut issues.  If you have gas or bloating after you eat, or if you experience constipation and/or loose stools, or any type of intestinal discomfort, this means that you have a problem with how your gut is functioning. If you go to a conventional doctor they will commonly diagnose you with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. But, this diagnosis doesn’t tell you why you’re having this problem, and they’ll likely prescribe medication to control the symptoms, which by the way only makes the imbalance worse in the long run. 

Here are three tips to heal your gut, which will not only treat your symptoms, but address the underlying problem.  And keep your immune system happy, too.

  • For your digestive symptoms, find out whether or not you’ve got food sensitivities, which could be causing the problem. Problematic foods are typically gluten, dairy and corn. The food you eat is the number one influencer on your gut bacteria.  One way to figure it out is to follow a functional medicine elimination food plan. In fact, this will be the basis of our 10-Day HealMyGut Group Coaching Program beginning October 22nd –> More Info
  • Help balance your gut microbiome with supplements: 1) We use herbal antimicrobials to help remove or “prune” the undesirables living in your gut 2) l-glutamine to help shore up the lining of your small and large intestines and treat leaky gut and 3) probiotics (good gut bacteria as a supplement) to help influence the gut ecosystem and immune system.  Depending on the severity of your gut symptoms, you may also need digestive enzymes.
  • Reduce stress by learning resiliency techniques. Stress is the 2nd biggest influencer on the microbiome – in a bad way.  We suggest learning strategies for relaxation that work for you, as this will help heal and protect you from developing dysbiosis and leaky gut. 

If this sounds like just the plan you need, consider joining me for our 10-Day HealMyGut Group Coaching Program. We’ll do this together, as a group, and I will be with you every step of the way! >>> Check it out<<<

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Common Probiotic Myths Debunked

The amount of information found online about probiotics can be mind boggling. Search “should I take probiotics,” for instance, and you’ll likely close your browser none the wiser. There’s a lot of credible information, and there’s equally loads of erroneous information, including “experts” who have extrapolated data from research studies and made umbrella statements that are just plain … wrong.

For instance, many people believe that probiotics are like seeds that plant themselves in the gut and that they are supposed to grow and flourish. In fact, studies show that most probiotics pass through our digestive tract in about 6 weeks. Bloggers, experts and the media picked up this information and, suddenly, a buzz was created that probiotics were useless. This is not true!

Here’s what we know: 

Over 100 trillion microbes live in your digestive tract. Most of them are “good” bacteria, but there’s always some “bad” bacteria that live in your gut ecosystem (like weeds in your inner garden), always looking for an opportunity to overgrow and cause an imbalance. 

There are about 500 different strains of these microbes (estimates range from 300-1000) and when you take probiotics, you are ingesting just a few of the strains that have been well studied and found to be beneficial to your health.  You can eat probiotic foods, such as cultured (yogurt) food or fermented vegetables (kimchi, sauerkraut), or you can take a probiotic supplement, with many different types that vary by the dose and the number of strains that they contain. 

What’s most important is that you think about probiotics as influencers on your gut ecosystem.  While you take them, they are exerting a tremendous influence without needing them to “plant and grow”.  Here’s what we know.

How Probiotics Help You

GUT

Many studies have shown that taking probiotics can alleviate myriad gastrointestinal symptoms, including reducing bloat, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.  While the exact mechanism for how they do this has still to be completely worked out, we do know that probiotics help improve the overall balance of the good:bad bacteria, and help heal the intestinal lining.  This really matters because a damaged microbiome can give rise to many chronic health conditions, including inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, mental health issues, obesity, increased infections and lowered resistance to viruses. 

Here’s the good news:  If you have a “leaky”gut (increased permeability of the digestive tract lining), or dysbiosis (too many bad bacteria), probiotic supplements can help restore your gut barrier as they are passing through.  They can also help improve the number and function of your own good gut bacteria, and inhibit the growth of the “bad” bacteria. This ability to influence the overall health and functioning of your gut highlights why taking probiotics helps so many people, and why probiotic foods have been around for hundreds of years in many different cultures around the world.  Pretty important stuff, right?

INFLAMMATION

Probiotics also play a huge role in helping treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and immune system imbalances like autoimmune disease. Think of any condition with -itis at the end — gastritis, colitis, bursitis, diverticulitis, rhinitis, dermatitis — these are all inflammatory conditions. Many of these conditions are related to a damaged microbiome, and leaky gut, where microbes and toxins are leaking through the digestive tract lining into the bloodstream. Yeah, not good, as this triggers a system-wide immune response … inflammation. 

Susan Blum, MD, reports in her latest book, Healing Arthritis, that researchers have studied the use of probiotic supplements to treat the dysbiosis (overgrowth of “bad” bacteria) of inflammatory arthritis and found that probiotics improve symptoms in arthritis sufferers. Generally speaking, when it comes to arthritis, probiotics are thought to improve all the functions of your own good flora, including helping T regulator immune cells work better and live longer, turning off inflammation and repairing the gut lining and tight junctions. Because probiotics help treat a leaky gut, and because of the gut-arthritis connection, it follows that they would also treat systemic inflammation and arthritis, and they do!  

Probiotics help reduce inflammation by helping the immune system block pro-inflammatory responses that trigger inflammation over time. In other words, probiotics are a must for any one who has an inflammatory condition, and are beneficial for anyone trying to keep inflammation at bay. 

IMMUNITY

Did you know that the majority of your immune system resides in your gut? In fact, about 80% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract. With your gut playing such an important role in your body’s ability to defend itself against infection, it’s imperative that your gut microbiome be in tip-top shape. 

Your immune system has an innate response and an adaptive response. Innate immunity is an immediate inflammatory response — a signal that your body needs to defend itself from an invader, such as an allergen. Adaptive immunity takes longer to come to fruition. It is the body’s way of developing antibodies to pathogens — for example this is the way a vaccination works. When you consume probiotics, you are directly tuning up your gut-immune system, because the probiotics “talk” to your immune cells as they are passing through.  This is like arming your gut to protect you from foreign invaders!

CHOLESTEROL

Studies show that certain probiotics, particularly Lactobacilli, can help reduce cholesterol. They do this by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed, as well by helping to break it down. Evidently, probiotics can bind with cholesterol in the intestines to block it from being absorbed, and they also influence the metabolism of bile acids, which then affects the way that your body metabolizes fat and cholesterol.

MENTAL HEALTH

You’ve likely heard of the Gut-Brain Axis — meaning that neurotransmitters not only reside in your brain, but also live in your gut, and they communicate with one another. Take care of your gut, and you take care of your brain.

In fact, researchers recently found that probiotics improved psychiatric disorder-related behaviors including anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory abilities, including spatial and non-spatial memory.

Probiotics help your mood and your functioning? Pardon the pun, but this is a no-brainer.

ANTIBIOTICS

Probiotics can also help offset the bacterial imbalance caused by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with the harmful ones, often leading to gas, cramping or diarrhea. These side effects often drive patients to the pharmacy in search of an appropriate probiotic.

What’s perhaps more important, and lesser known, is that frequent or extended use of antibiotics can lead to leaky gut and is implicated as an underlying root cause of autoimmune disease. 

Research demonstrates that probiotics strains can act as adjuncts to antibiotic therapy by reducing side effects, protecting the digestive tract lining from leaky gut and they can actually improve antibiotic function.

ORAL HEALTH

Flossing and brushing aren’t the only ways to care for your mouth. Emerging research is demonstrating that the microbiome of the mouth benefits from probiotics. From preventing plaque to fighting bad breath and reducing gingivitis, and even to preventing oral cancer, probiotics are proving to be good for the mouth, too! Pucker up with confidence!

SKIN

Who doesn’t want clear skin? People predisposed to skin conditions, such as acne, eczema or rosacea, tend to flare when their gut microbiome is out of balance. It is well documented that probiotics help prevent and treat skin diseases including eczema, atopic dermatitis, acne, allergic inflammation, skin hypersensitivity, wound protection and even UV-induced skin damage.

Which Probiotic Strains to Take

Look at probiotics and you might be wondering, “How the heck do I know which one to choose?” Great question. 

General recommendations call for ingesting 1 to 25 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) daily. To put these guidelines into perspective, most store-bought probiotic yogurts only contain about 1 billion CFUs per serving. 

We are now learning that perhaps different strains are effective for different health issues, but research has a long way to go until we can choose a specific strain for a specific condition.  Case in point: Studies performed in inflammatory bowel disease suggest that high doses of combinations of different probiotic strains are more effective in decreasing inflammation and maintaining patients in remission than a single probiotic strain. This is one of the reasons that we always recommend multi strain formulas.  

For this reason at Blum Center for Health we recommend 25 billion CFUs to best support your gut microbiome. Ours is a hypoallergenic blend of 12 certified probiotic species — a complete spectrum of microorganisms. And, it’s on sale right now!  Learn More Here

Ready to improve your gut and improve your health? A probiotic is a great place to start.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

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Should You Take Probiotics?

Probiotics are living bacteria normally found in the human digestive tract that are usually ingested to improve the quality and quantity of the gut’s beneficial bacteria. One of the goals of taking a probiotic is to shift the population of gut bacteria toward one that is more healing and low inflammatory. But most people don’t know that probiotics do a lot more than just influence the population of the microbes that live in your gut.

Many studies have shown that probiotics can repair a leaky gut, reduce intestinal permeability and help increase the production of butyrate (a short chain fatty acid made by good gut flora that is very good for us).  In their role as influencers on the gut microbiome, probiotics have been found to specifically reduce proinflammatory bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus viridans, Bacteroides fragilis, Bacteroides uniformis, and Clostridium ramosum. When these and other potentially harmful bacteria are present in high amounts, they create a pro-inflammatory, leaky gut causing condition called dysbiosis. (1)  The term dysbiosis was introduced over a century ago by the Nobel Prize laureate Elie Metchnikoff, who used it to describe a disruption of the normal balance of the bacteria in the gut and then proposed using yogurt with active bacterial cultures to improve both the gut and human health.(2)

Probiotics have gotten bad press recently because many people believe that probiotics are like seeds that plant themselves in the gut and that they are supposed to grow there and flourish.  When studies recently showed that probiotics in fact pass through us in about 6 weeks, the buzz was that people shouldn’t bother taking them. This absolutely is not true, because probiotics exert their influence without needing to plant and grow.  They help improve the whole ecosystem of the gut and also have a huge role to play in helping treat inflammation like arthritis, and immune system imbalances like autoimmune disease.

For example, researchers have studied the use of probiotic supplements to treat the dysbiosis of inflammatory arthritis and found that probiotics improve symptoms in arthritis sufferers.  Generally speaking, when it comes to arthritis, probiotics are thought to improve all the functions of your good flora, including helping T regulator immune cells work better and live longer, turning off inflammation and repairing the gut lining and tight junctions.  Because probiotics help treat a leaky gut, and because of the gut-arthritis connection, it follows that they would also treat systemic inflammation and arthritis, and they do!  

The bottom line? The strains researched in arthritis with the most evidence for an anti-inflammatory effect are Lactobacilli:  casei, acidophilus, reuteri, rhamnosus GG and salivarius. There is also good evidence for Bifidobacterium bifidum.  Bifidobacterium infantis, E coli nissle, and Lactobacillus plantarum were found to improve tight junctions and heal leaky gut, even if they weren’t studied for their effects specifically on arthritis. This data tells me that a multi-strain formula that includes as many of these as possible, with a priority given to those that have been studied in arthritis patients, is best when using probiotics to reduce inflammation.

If you have arthritis or any inflammatory condition, taking a probiotic is a great place to start.  But to treat dysbiosis, functional medicine offers a more complete approach that includes an herbal program to clean the “weeds” out of the garden.  The HealMyGut program can be done by itself, or as part of the Arthritis Challenge.  

And finally, I leave you with a brief suggestion for choosing a probiotic.  This can be confusing! I prefer to use a multi strain formula that has as many anti-inflammatory strains as I can find.  I love Klaire Labs, because they have been around as long as I’ve been practicing Functional Medicine (almost 2 decades!) and I know they work since I have been using them all this time.  My favorite product is Therbiotic complete, because it includes all the above strains. That’s why I use this for my private label BCH! PURCHASE HERE

Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete: 12 strains

  •      Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  •      Bifidobacterium bifidum
  •      Lactobacillus acidophilus
  •      Lactobacillus casei
  •      Lactobacillus plantarum
  •      Lactobacillus salivarius
  •      Bifidobacterium longum
  •      Streptococcus thermophilus
  •      Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  •      Lactobacillus paracasei
  •      Bifidobacterium lactis
  •      Bifidobacterium breve

 

[1]  Parian A, Limketkai B, Shah N, Mullin G. Nutraceutical Supplements for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2015. Vol 30, Number 4. 551-558.

[2] Zeng MY, Inohara N and Nunez G. Mechanism of inflammation-driven bacterial dysbiosis in the gut.  Mucosal Immunology. Online publication 24 August 2016. doi:10.1038/mi.2016.75

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Is Summer Eating Making you Feel Heavy, Bloated and Blah?

Summer is full of fun — parties, BBQ’s, cocktails — and about midway through July many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. It’s an easy time of the year to slowly, or for some, not so slowly, slide back into old ways.

For some, (like me!) you have a hamburger bun and three days later think, “Well, I had a hamburger bun and nothing happened so I’ll eat another one today.” Before you know it hamburger buns and white bread become the norm.

Or, for some, you eat the hamburger bun,  feel like a complete failure and go right back to your old way of eating.

(By the way, this is exactly why we created the 10-Day HealMyGut Summer Reboot for the month of July. We know how hard it is to stay on track and this will reset your system and make the rest of the summer easy as pie. Learn more and get the limited time offer)

Here’s the good news: It is possible to navigate summer eating fun AND stay on track with health goals.

The trick is to rewire the way we think about summer eating and to understand that making healthy choices begins WAY BEFORE the actual event.

Think about it: How possible is it to show up at your best friend’s BBQ — full of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, cold slaw, macaroni salad, cheeses, charcuterie, baguette, beer, cocktails, and pie — and think that you will only eat salad? Not likely! In fact, I would say impossible.

Besides, what fun would a BBQ be if you only ate salad?

On the other end of the spectrum, who wants to over-indulge on everything and then feel crappy physically and feel crappy about themselves?

The great news is that there is a way to find a middle ground to enjoy these food events, and even indulge, without a food hangover, shame, guilt and defeat.

10 Ways to Enjoy Summer Eating Without the Side Dish of Guilt

  1. Eat throughout the day — This goes for everyday, of course, but this is particularly problematic during the summer. Many people skip meals, or skimp on meals, thinking they will “save up” for the event —this backfires every single time. We end up eating more then we would have had we nourished and fueled our body during the day. When we skimp on nourishment our blood sugar drops and our body goes into starvation mode. We end up not only over-eating, but also eating foods we probably would not have found so tempting.
  2. Stock Your Fridge with seasonal foods and partake in extra servings of fruit and veggies leading up to the event. I find it helpful to have an extra smoothie or a green juice. Not only is it nourishing but it serves as a reminder that you are committed to treating your body with love and care.
  3. Exercise first thing in the morning — even if it’s just a walk. It revs your metabolism, reinforces healthy habits and sets a healthy tone to the day.
  4. Visualize yourself at the event — Let’s say you know you are going to a beach wedding in two weeks. Don’t wait until the last minute and start fretting about food. Every morning sit silently and envision yourself at the reception. Visualize yourself having fun, feeling great in your clothes. Visualize yourself being choosy when you take hors doerves. See yourself asking for fish and filling your plate with healthy, delicious food. See yourself having just a few bites of cake with a generous helping of berries. In other words … PRIME YOUR BRAIN!
  5. Plan in advance, Part 1: — Going to a BBQ and not sure what the pitfalls will be? Call or email your friend and ask what she/he will be serving.
  6. Plan in advance, Part 2: — Ensure there will be something you like to eat? BRING IT!
  7. Place everything you eat ON A PLATE — Eating mindlessly out of the potato chip bowl is a recipe for disaster.
  8. Plan for alcohol in advance — Planning on two drinks? Sip slowly and drink a full glass of water between drinks. Pace yourself and drink with awareness.
  9. Be aware of your surroundings — Are you eating because you are choosing to eat OR are you eating because you are mirroring someone else’s eating?
  10. Walk away! — If you feel like you are unhappy with the choices you are making …. walk away. Cognitive psychology demonstrates that when we change our environment we disrupt the behavior and can change the behavior in that moment. For instance, can’t stay out of the potato chip bowl? Grab a friend and go for a walk.

Lastly, have fun! Summertime is all about fun. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and eat all the summer produce you can before it’s gone — watermelon, peaches, berries, green beans, sugar snap peas — load up before it’s sweet potato time!

Looking for a quick way to reset the gut? Try our HealMyGut Summer Reboot to bring your intestinal flora to a state of robust health and diversity. Relief is on the way! Get Our Special Summer Reboot

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. You can learn more about coaching with Melissa Here

 

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What is Dysbiosis – and What You Can Do About It

Dysbiosis is like having weeds in your gut garden

You have within you trillions of microbes – bacteria, fungi, viruses, even parasites – all living together in your gastrointestinal tract.  This lively bunch of microbes is known as your microflora. Often referred to as “The Garden Within,” your microbial garden can shift out of balance. Think about how a garden can become overgrown with weeds. When that happens, we say a person has dysbiosis.

Three Ways Dysbiosis Can Impact Your Gut

  1. Too much of the bad stuff overgrowing in the gut is the most basic imbalance.  An overabundance of “bad,” typically inflammatory, bacteria, or too much yeast (candida albicans is a particularly common and unwelcome yeast in large amounts), are two examples of overgrowth that cause dysbiosis.  An unwelcome virus or parasite can also cause overgrowth imbalance.

    To treat this type of dysbiosis we sometimes prescribe medications to kill unwanted bacteria, parasites, or yeast, but more often we use gentler, broad-spectrum anti-microbial herbs to weed the garden, improving the balance of good and bad bacteria. We also use probiotics and fiber-rich foods to encourage growth of the good while we get rid of the bad.
  2. Microbial undergrowth can be the culprit. It is rarer than the situation above, but sometimes a stool test result shows an under-abundance of all bacteria – good and otherwise.  An under-abundance indicates we need to work on improving the terrain (the gut lining) where the flora will take residence, as well as supporting the growth of the flora we want to encourage. We do this with probiotics, prebiotics, lining supportive supplements like glutamine, and healthy, bacteria-supportive foods.
  3. Your microbiome settles in the wrong place. Living microbes are wanted, but we need them to live where they belong, and not take up residence in places where they cause problems. Most frequently, this type of dysbiosis is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). SIBO occurs when the gastrointestinal microbiome has shifted from primarily growing and thriving in the large intestines (the colon) to taking up residence in the small intestine in too great a number. This tends to cause digestive problems and bloating, but can be silent as well.  Herbs and antibiotics are our go-to for treating SIBO.

Could you have dysbiosis?

In our medical practice at Blum Center for Health, we suspect an imbalance in the flora (a dysbiosis) in anyone who complains of stomach troubles. Digestive difficulty of absolutely any kind suggests there’s something wrong with the trillions of microbes inside the gut. If you have stomach upset after eating, indigestion, the extremely common GERD (reflux), heartburn, slow digestion, or bloating, we think of dysbiosis.  If you have bowel problems, like excessive gas, lower belly pains, constipation, or diarrhea – then dysbiosis is our prime suspect too.

Dysbiosis as the Root Cause of Seemingly Unrelated Disorders

It surprises many patients that other symptoms, including those that on the surface seem to have nothing to do with the gut, also make me suspect dysbiosis.  We are becoming more and more aware the impact our microbiome has on our whole being – our whole health – and our disease processes.

When I see someone whose health concerns are not primarily digestive in nature – even those who report having a perfect digestive system – I usually investigate their microbiome, and will almost always prescribe a probiotic. Why? Because sometimes dysbiosis is silent gut-wise, while still causing trouble in other areas of your body.

Here are a few examples:

  • Hormonal imbalance – we know that certain bacteria encourage an imbalance in hormones.  
  • Autoimmune diseases show clear links to overgrowth of some bacteria.  
  • Joint aches and pains can be caused by leaky gut, which is usually a consequence of some kind of imbalance in the gastrointestinal microbiome.  
  • Neurological and psychiatric disease is being traced back to problems with our microbes.  
  • Weight loss resistance is often a consequence of over (or under) growth of the bacterial flora.  

Basically, any inflammatory process can be traced back to the gut.  

How do you know if you have dysbiosis?

How does your internal garden grow?  The tests we most often request are simple:  Stool, breath, and urine testing – all of which give us a picture of what your personal microbiome looks like.  We learn from the test results how many beneficial bacteria are growing, and how many malicious bacteria have taken up residence in your gut. We use that information to create your personalized treatment plan.

With some patients we assume dysbiosis without testing – and just get you started on the good stuff  – probiotics and healthy, fiber-rich foods.

Not sure if you have dysbiosis? Take our Assessment and find out!

How did you get this dysbiosis?

There are many reasons we harbor the microbes we do. Our developing microbiome begins at birth – it is different if we are vaginally delivered or born via c-section, for instance. Our food choices (throughout our lives) affect our microbiome, as does any antibiotics we might have taken.  Other medications, both prescription and over the counter, also affect the microbiome.

What to do if you suspect you have dysbiosis:

If you live in our neighborhood, make an appointment! In our practice at Blum Center for Health we take a multi-pronged, holistic approach, a combination of medical and lifestyle considerations, to address, diagnosis and treat your condition. We take your health seriously and get to the root of the problem rather than simply throwing medication at it. For more information, call 914-652-7800.

Don’t live nearby?  A great place to start is with our 10-Day or 30-Day HealMyGut program — it’s a total gut reset with a nutritional plan, recipes, just-right supplements, daily email support, and a private online community. Our 30-Day program includes the added bonus of a weekly chat with our Functional Nutritionist to answer all your questions. Find out which program is ideal for you: Take the Assessment

 

Check out my FREE 3-part video series! Last month I led live classes on the immune system and I’m happy to share with you the three videos:  How To Boost Your Immunity and Resiliency to Viruses: DOWNLOAD FREE NOW

 

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FODMAPs Chart for treating SIBO and IBS

FODMAPs Chart for IBS and SIBO

As I discussed recently on Facebook Live, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) is an all too common gut ailment that can lead to many uncomfortable symptoms like chronic diarrhea or constipation, bloating, lots of gas, and abdominal cramping. SIBO is caused by an overgrowth of gut bacteria in the small intestine, crowding this area in high numbers where they don’t belong (only 10% should be in the small intestine, and 90% in the large intestine) and is particularly common in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Because all your nutrients are absorbed in this part of your gut, SIBO can cause malabsorption and lead to deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids. Fortunately, herbal supplements and dietary changes can provide quick relief.  For instance, our Gut Cleanse Packets are designed to clear out the overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast, but dietary changes can help, too, and may be necessary especially if you have lots of symptoms.

One category of food should stand out for those with SIBO and IBS – Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols (FODMAPs). FODMAPs are foods that are fermented by the bacteria in your bowels. When you have SIBO, there are lots of bacteria that are exposed to these foods very soon after you eat, and the fermentation creates excessive amounts of painful gas. Thus, foods high in FODMAPs are more painful to digest and foods low in FODMAPs are easier to digest for those with this condition.  

But, temporarily eating a restricted FODMAP diet won’t just reduce your digestive symptoms, it also reduces the gut bacteria’s access to food and thus assists in rebalancing your gut microbiome for optimal health. If you have IBS and aren’t sure if you have SIBO, you can often diagnose yourself by following the low FODMAP diet.  If you feel much better, then you likely have SIBO.  So what is the low FODMAP food plan? The food lists won’t necessarily be intuitive. Bananas and blueberries are some of my favorite low-FODMAP foods, while delicious fruits like apples and mangoes can actually cause acute pain!

Rather than trying to guess what foods should be high or low in FODMAPs, use this handy FODMAP Chart.

Once you’ve taken a moment to review the chart you may be shocked at how many foods could pose a problem for you. A FODMAP diet is a very restrictive diet, that’s why I don’t recommend it as a long-term solution. But, switching to a FODMAP diet could give you quick relief and the control to permanently improve your gut symptoms. Then once you’ve got a handle on your symptoms you can begin to progressively introduce foods back into your diet seeing what works for you.

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An Apple A Day? Better Make It Two!

An Apple A Day

Apples have long been associated with a healthful diet. After all, the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” which originated in the 1860s, is a common refrain around the world. (1)

Yet for some people, like those Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), apples can trigger digestive symptoms like bloating and gas. If you find apples give you these symptoms it is a sure sign that our 30-Day HealMyGut program is for you. Once you heal your gut apples will once again become a staple to your diet.

The fact is we need apples!

Researchers are finding that the humble apple is not only nutritious but also has healing powers that begin in the gut.

One study (2) in Japan demonstrated that the population of friendly bacteria, bifidus and lactobacillus, increased significantly by eating two apples a day for two weeks. The pectin in apples seems to play a significant role so drinking a glass of apple juice does not have the same benefit.

The finding is significant because apple pectin is a prebiotic — a non-digestible dietary nutrient, which beneficially influences the intestinal bacteria by stimulating their growth. These “friendly” bacteria fight inflammation and prevent a host of digestive problems. In essence, apples provide your gut bacteria the food they need to do their job.

Further, in another study a research team at Washington State University (3) compared several different types of apples to measure the amounts of non-digestible compounds they contain, and they found that Granny Smith apples, (yes those tart, green apples!), contained the highest levels of prebiotics, including dietary fibers and polyphenols.

Clearly, food is indeed medicine. Adhering to the old adage, “An apple a day” is good for you. There are thousand of varieties to try. Don’t wait …treat your gut to the healing powers of apples today!

As Dr. Blum says, “A healthy gut equals a healthy immune system, and using food as medicine is always the path towards getting there!

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

References
1. Story behind an apple a day. Ely, M. Washington Post Online. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/history-behind-an-apple-a-day/2013/09/24/aac3e79c-1f0e-11e3-94a2-6c66b668ea55_story.html

2. Effect of apple intake on fecal microbiota and metabolites in humans.
Shinohara K, Ohashi Y, Kawasumi K et al. Anaerobe 2010; 16(5): 510-515

3. Condezo-Hoyos L, Mohanty IP, and Noratto GD. Assessing non-digestible compounds in apple cultivars and their potential as modulators of obese faecal microbiota in vitro. Food Chemistry. 2014.

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3 Simple Steps To Great Gut Health

By Susan Blum, MD

If you have gas or bloating after you eat, or if you experience constipation and/or loose stools, or any type of intestinal discomfort, you have a problem with how your gut is functioning. While this is commonly labeled irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, the diagnosis doesn’t tell you why you’re having this problem.

Usually, the issue is something called dysbiosis, which means your gut flora isn’t healthy. You might have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast or parasites, or you might not have enough of the good stuff: those probiotics you find in yogurt and cultured foods.

But who cares about a little gas or bloating?

You should! Your gut flora needs to be fixed, because the symptoms you’re having could just be the tip of the iceberg. A whopping 70% of your immune system is located in your gut and if the flora are out of balance, you have an increased risk of something called Leaky Gut Syndrome, and this can lead to autoimmune disease.

Here are my tips to heal your gut, which will treat your symptoms and keep your immune system happy, too.

  1. For your digestive symptoms, find out whether or not you’ve got food sensitivities, which could be causing the problem. Check yourself for gluten and dairy by removing them both from your diet at the same time for three weeks, and then reintroduce each one at a time, four days apart and monitor how you feel.
  2. For your flora, eat cultured food every day, like coconut or almond milk yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut or kimchee, and consider taking a probiotic supplement.
  3. If the above doesn’t do the trick, consider a gut-cleansing program using herbs like berberine or oregano to remove the harmful microbes. Our new HealMyGut program will help you do just that!