Tag Archives: water

Could probiotics improve gut health?

yogurt, probiotics, fermented, gut health, fruit, fiberDo you get cramps in your side after eating certain foods? Do you feel bloated, gassy, or suffer from constipation?  If so, then you may have an imbalance in your gut bacteria.  Probiotics may be able to help you improve your digestive health.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria strains found in fermented foods or in supplement form. They help to balance levels of good as well as bad bacteria in the gut.  Examples of fermented foods and drinks include:

  • yogurt (fermented milk)
  • sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • kefir (fermented cow’s milk normally consumed as a beverage)
  • kombucha (fermented black or green tea)
  • miso (paste made from fermented soybeans)
  • tempeh (fermented soybeans)

A diverse ecosystem of bacteria in the gut may reduce inflammation in the body. In fact, animal studies show that probiotics could lower levels of inflammation in the body related to such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.  However, you should take probiotics on a regular basis for the most health benefit.

If taken in a supplement form, try to get a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria since each strain provides different benefits.  Also, those found in a refrigerated form, such as those found in health food stores, may provide a more potent formula. For example, there is a quality probiotic called Biovia 30X made by Vita Sciences. Biovia 30X  contains 30 billion colony forming units (CFUs) in 10 different strains of probiotics.

Other ways to improve gut health

Besides probiotics, there are other ways you can help improve your digestive health with just a few tweaks in your healthy lifestyle.

  • Avoid foods that can cause inflammation. Examples of foods to limit in your diet include red meat, high-fat dairy, fried foods, and foods high in additives.  Also, processed foods such as sausage and candy that contain advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs should be limited since they can reduce the number of healthy bacteria in the gut.
  • Eat more fiber since it helps to feed the healthy bacteria. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice, and bran, to name a few.
  • Live a balanced lifestyle.  Getting enough sleep, staying active, and staying hydrated is important to keep your gut happy.  Most adults should get about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to help regulate a healthy blood pressure and healthy blood glucose levels.  Also, exercise at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. This is because studies show that exercise can help enrich the growth of a diverse population of bacteria in the gut. Finally, when you add in more fiber to your diet, drinking enough water each day is important to lower risk of constipation. Aim for about half of your body weight in ounces. If you are 200 pounds, then this means you should drink about 100 ounces, or 12.5 cups of unsweetened fluid each day.
  • Manage stress.  Meditation, yoga, relaxation breathing, talking to a counselor, or just finding time each day to relax and do something you enjoy can help lower stress.  It is important to manage stress not just to sleep better, but for gut health as well.  For example, studies have shown a potential link between the brain and gut health. For example, if you get stressed or depressed, studies show that this could trigger gut health issues.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Harvard Health Publishing- Harvard Medical School (October 2016) “Can gut bacteria improve your health?”

Harvard Health Publishing- Harvard Medical School (accessed April 3, 2018) “The gut-brain connection.”

Monda, V., Villano, I., Messina, A., Valenzano, A., Esposito, T., Moscatelli, F., … Messina, G. (2017). Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity2017, 3831972. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3831972

Mayo Clinic (August 20, 2016) “How much should the average adult exercise each day?”

National Sleep Foundation (accessed April 2, 2018) “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?”

NIH News in Health (May 2017) “Keeping Your Gut in Check: Healthy Options to Stay on Tract.”

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (accessed April 3, 2018) “Healthy Gut: Prebiotics and Probiotics.”


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    Can Water Help You Lose Weight?

    Do you get your eight cups of water a day? I’m sure you have heard this question from your health care provider, nutritionist, and even in health articles online.  Water is vital to life, but you may not know exactly why.  There are many benefits to water such as:

    • regulating the temperature in your body
    • lubricating joints
    • protecting the tissues in your body
    • flushing out toxins and waste from your body

    Your recommended daily intake of water depends on various factors such as weight, activity level, health status, and the climate in which you live.  On average, the recommended daily fluid intake is half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you water, hydration, healthweigh 150 pounds, then you are suggested to drink 75 ounces, or about 9 and a half cups of fluid a day. Tea, coffee, juice, fluid from fruits and veggies, as well as broths also count towards fluid intake. However, caffeinated drinks such as coffee and cola also act as diuretics since caffeine is a stimulant; therefore these types of fluids can actually dehydrate you if consumed in excess.

    Those who live in hot climates, have a fever, or have lost fluids due to diarrhea, vomiting, or other illnesses may require above the daily suggested fluid intake. However, those who have kidney disease or conditions like lymphedema may be told by their healthcare provider to restrict their fluid intake.

    Water Intake and Weight Loss

    When you are trying to lose weight, you may have been told to drink more water to feel fuller so you will eat less. Also, you may have heard that drinking more water will help reduce bloating.  Although these two suggestions may be effective, research shows that there are other reasons water intake may benefit weight loss.

    In the journal Nutrients, researchers observed 16,000 subjects from Spain over 8.5 years.  Over the course of the study, 900 of these subjects became obese. Those who switched a glass of beer for a glass of water each day reduced their risk for obesity by 20-percent. Furthermore, doing the same for sugar-sweetened beverages reduced the risk of becoming obese by 15-percent. Replacing other beverages with water such as whole milk, reduced-fat milk, skim milk, wine, spirits, diet sodas, coffee, orange juice, and other juices did not reduce obesity risk. The study cannot confirm a direct cause and effect link of water intake and reduced risk of obesity.

    However, regardless of the study results, it is always good to reduce drinking your calories. When you reduce consumption of calorie-laden beverages, you will reduce daily sugar intake, in turn leaving more daily calories to use for consuming foods that will provide more nutritional benefit. By reducing daily sugar intake, you will be able to also better control blood glucose levels in your body.

    Other ways you can control blood glucose levels is through:

    • eating healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains throughout the day
    • limiting consumption of processed food products that are high in sugar and fat
    • reducing intake of sugar-sweetened foods such as candy, baked goods, and ice cream
    • taking supplements such as Glucarex by Vita Sciences. Glucarex contains vanadium and bitter melon which have both been shown to support healthy blood glucose levels.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control (accessed May 20, 2017) “Water & Nutrition” https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/

    Preidt, R. (May 18, 2017) “Drink Water, Fight Fat?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165714.html


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