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Stress Could be Causing Your Digestive Ills

Think about the language you sometime use... and you'll see the connection between stress and digestive health. For example, have you ever had to make a "gut-wrenching" decision? Perhaps you've "choked" under pressure at some time in your life?

The relationship between your emotional and digestive functioning is important to understand.

Digestion is controlled by hundreds of millions of nerves that communicate within the central nervous system. When you're stressed out, the "fight or flight" response is activated and a cascade of biochemical reactions takes place.

For example, your central nervous system shuts down blood flow, which can affect the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decrease the secretion of enzymes needed for digestion. Stress can also cause your gastrointestinal system to get inflamed and make you susceptible to infection.

"Stress can affect every part of the digestive system," says Kenneth Koch, MD, medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Koch goes on to explain that "Stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasms. It can increase the acid in your stomach causing indigestion. Stress can cause your colon to react in a way that gives you diarrhea or constipation."(1)

Reducing stress can go a long way towards improving your digestive health. In addition to moderate exercise, other stress reducers include relaxation therapies like yoga and meditation, and seeking the help of a mental health professional when needed.

One study found that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found significant relief from pain, bloating and diarrhea from a therapy called Relaxation Response, developed at the Harvard Medical School.(2)

In another recent study, 70% of people with IBS saw improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy.(3)

Probiotics Reduces Stress-Induced Intestinal Problems

In a third study, researchers at the University of Michigan found that while stress does not cause IBS, it does induce intestinal inflammation that can lead to chronic belly pain, loss of appetite and diarrhea.

According to findings published in Gastroenterology, stress suppresses an important component called an "inflammasome" which is needed to maintain normal gut microbiota. However, probiotics reversed the effect in animal models.

Probiotics are live bacteria cultures that help grow the "good" bacteria that live in your gut and keep pathogens in check, aid digestion and promote healthy immune function. University of Michigan researchers were able to identify the way stress significantly altered the composition of gut bacteria.

According to senior study author John Y. Kao, M.D., "The effect of stress could be protected with probiotics which reversed the inhibition of the inflammasome. This study reveals an important mechanism for explaining why treating IBS patients with probiotics makes sense."

At the end of the day, a certain amount of stress in life is unavoidable. If you are having symptoms of stress that are interfering with digestion, talk to your doctor. You may have a digestive problem that needs treatment. In addition, take a probiotic supplement like Prosentials every day. According to The World Health Organization, consuming probiotics on a daily basis helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses by providing friendly bacteria for the intestinal tract.(5)

What makes Prosentials unique is that it contains 6 potent probiotic strains to replenish your good bacteria, plus the fungal-fighting S. boulardii probiotic yeast. It works to neutralize and kill the toxins that can cause all sorts of digestive issues. Take it every day for optimal digestive health.

(1) http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/better-digestion/how-stress-affects-digestion.aspx

(2) http://www.meditationmojo.com/meditation-articles/introduction-to-meditation/benefits-of-meditation

(3) http://www.hoffmanhypnosis.com/Hypnosis_Articles_2.htm

(4) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314110256.htm

(5) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14903449/ns/today-food/t/getting-enough-good-bacteria-your-belly/#.UJDPLIa07M0

Five Ways to a Healthy Gut

1. Increase Fiber Intake

Dietary fiber plays an important role in the health of our digestive tract. Besides lowering cholesterol, fiber also feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them to flourish. The best sources of dietary fiber are actually whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and whole oats, along with beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds, then fruits and vegetables. Shockingly, most people get only half of the daily recommended 20 to 35 grams fiber. But be careful to increase your fiber intake gradually, otherwise you’ll most likely experience some unpleasant and painful gas and bloating. Be sure to get plenty of fluids at the same time you eat fiber-rich foods in order to soften the fiber during transit. A hearty bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea should move things along nicely.

2. Load up on Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a variety of whole fruits and vegetables as opposed to fruit or veggie juice is a great way to get more fiber. Fruits like pears, blueberries, raspberries and apples all contain a minimum of 4 grams of fiber per serving. Vegetables such as red bell peppers, leafy greens, broccoli and sweet potatoes also have a hefty dose of fiber. The pulp of the fruit and veggies are what help scrub your digestive tract and allows better absorption of nutrients and antioxidants.

3. Try Yogurt for Lactose Intolerance

Research suggests that many people who are not able to properly digest lactose, the type of sugar in milk, can tolerate yogurt with live active cultures. Yogurt is relatively high in lactose, but the bacterial cultures used to make it produce some lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the sugar. Great news for those who are lactose-intolerant and looking for good sources of calcium!

4. Read Labels for Hidden (Lactose-Containing) Ingredients

Milk and foods made from milk are the only natural sources of lactose. But many prepared foods, including bread and other baked goods, processed breakfast cereals, instant potatoes and soups, margarine, lunch meats, salad dressing, candy, protein bars and powdered meal-replacement supplements contain milk derivatives. So be sure to read labels carefully if you are lactose intolerant.

5. Good Bacteria for Your Gut?

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria found in the gut that help us digest foods and fight harmful bacteria. They also include live, active cultures used to ferment foods, such as yogurt. To get the potential benefits offered by probiotics, mix a cut-up banana into a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt—with a “Live & Active Cultures” seal on it—for a midday snack or turn it into breakfast and add some granola. Try different kinds of yogurt to see which one works best for you. Mix fresh or frozen berries, peaches and banana with yogurt and a couple teaspoons of ground flax seeds for a delicious breakfast on the go or snack. For optimal levels of the good stuff, look for a high quality probiotic supplement that contains several different strains of yeasts and bacteria.

When Good Medicine Goes Bad... The Dark Side of Antibiotics

Antibiotics were hailed as “miracle drugs” when they first burst onto the scene in 1942 with the introduction of penicillin. Doctors were finally able to subdue life-threatening infections with a single magic bullet.

It was a blessing—or so we thought.

For a long time, the medical mainstream did its best to ignore the frightening fact that the microbes were fighting back. Today, antibiotic resistance is headline news. The rise of “super bugs” like MRSA, that can be deadly no matter what antibiotics we throw at them, is practically common knowledge.

In addition, there is another side effect of antibiotics that may ultimately prove more deadly than the rise of the "super bugs" and it's this -- antibiotics don’t discriminate.

Instead, they kill all bacteria in their path. Not just the pathogenic germs that cause illness but also the nonpathogenic “good” bacteria in your gut that are absolutely critical to health.

Today’s wide-spectrum antibiotics like the penicillins, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and aminoglycosides are the biological equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Everything takes a bullet, not just the targeted germs. The collateral damage to your intestinal ecology can be significant and long-lasting.

Even if you took antibiotics years ago, your digestive system could still be comprised. And when the good bacteria are wiped out, it opens the door for toxic fungi Candida and toxic bacteria Clostridia difficile to take over.

Bouts of diarrhea and damage to the colon can result... as well as problems like yeast infections, colds and other immune problems, skin problems, mood swings and more.

Overuse of Antibiotics Kills the Good Bacteria Essential for Your Digestive and Immune Health

To your detriment, doctors have ignored this kill-off for decades. In fact, up to 25% of people taking antibiotics experience the immediate side-effect of diarrhea.(1) But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are some additional facts that highlight the risk...

• People who take a lot of antibiotics have much higher incidences of colds and flu.(2) This happens because the kill-off of good bacteria leads to a significantly weaker immune system.

• Microflora kill-off by antibiotics is directly tied to the epidemic rise in Clostridium difficile infections that strike 3 million people and kill up to 20,000 victims every year.(3) Even a single course of antibiotics can leave you vulnerable.

• Large-scale studies reveal an alarming correlation between antibiotics intake and increased cancer risk due to the destruction of the microflora that are critical to immune health.

For decades, doctors have willfully ignored the damage done by antibiotics to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In their eagerness to root out the bad guys, they’ve overlooked the fact that the good guys are being killed too.

In other words, they’ve been bombing the village to protect the people... but the village of your intestines is virtually destroyed in the process.

Until the medical establishment publicly acknowledges the threat that antibiotics pose and act accordingly, you're on your own. And that means taking steps to support your microflora with every healthy means available.

According to The World Health Organization, consuming probiotics on a daily basis helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses by providing friendly bacteria for the intestinal tract.(4)

The solution is to take a probiotic supplement like Prosentials. It is designed to help balance and protect your gut from the damaging effects of antibiotics.

(1) Ibid., Linder.

(2) Margolis, DJ. Antibiotics, acne, and upper respiratory tract infections. LDI Issue Brief. 2006 Feb;11(4):1-4.

(3) Parker-Pope, T. Stomach Bug Crystallizes an Antibiotic Threat. The New York Times. April 14, 2009.

(4) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14903449/ns/today-food/t/getting-enough-good-bacteria-your-belly/#.UJDPLIa07M0

Could This Be The Hidden Cause of Your Gut Misery?

Without you realizing it, there could be a hidden danger lurking in the folds of your digestive tract.

To begin, the friendly bacteria that live in your digestive tract play a very important role in your body's health. For example, these bacteria are involved in the process of breaking down the food you eat, and help strengthen the function of your immune system.

Poor dietary choices, however, can reduce the amount of friendly bacteria in your gut as can the use of antibiotics. Stress can also interfere with "good" bacteria living in your GI tract.

In addition, the aging process typically has an adverse effect, as people over the age of 60 have 1,000 times fewer good bacteria than younger adults. (1)

Now, in addition to the colonies of good bacteria inhabiting your insides, there's another "critter" found deep in the lining of your intestinal tract -- a yeast entity known as Candida.

Under normal circumstances, Candida is kept under control by the armies of friendly bacteria that inhabit the same inner real estate.

However, when your good bacteria is depleted by aging, stress, poor diet or wiped out entirely by antibiotics, you are vulnerable to an overgrowth of Candida and bacterial toxins.

The rapidly spreading Candida cells spread their venomous toxin throughout your entire body. The resulting toxic fungal invasion can have serious consequences to your health.

Defeat Candida Overgrowth And Restore Digestive Balance

Prosentials: Suffering with nasty digestive problems? This probiotic formula can make a difference.

An overgrowth of Candida can make your life miserable. To give you an idea of what goes on, Candida creates and releases over 70 different toxins like ethanol and acetaldehyde into your bloodstream.

Researchers believe that once these get into your bloodstream, they are responsible for bowel difficulties that include diarrhea, constipation and gas, as well as itchy skin, rashes and chronic fatigue. (2)

Over time, Candida converts into its fungal form, and begins to lodge more stubbornly in the intestinal wall and other mucosal linings.

This then can create a more porous intestinal tract, known as "Leaky Gut Syndrome", which keeps the pathway open for toxic bacteria to affect your whole body.

The scary part is that you may not even know Candida is running wild in your body... as the symptoms often develop slowly. It can take months or years before problems show up. (3)

The bottom line is that Candida is a ruthless and dangerous enemy. Under optimal conditions, one tiny Candida cell can produce multiple millions of offspring in a just 24 hours... and 24 hours later, each of those multiple millions of NEW Candida cells are producing multiple millions more!

That kind of toxic overload is often too much for the body to handle... especially if your good bacteria are in short supply.

The solution is to take a probiotic supplement like Prosentials every day. According to The World Health Organization, consuming probiotics on a daily basis helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses by providing friendly bacteria for the intestinal tract. (4)

What makes Prosentials unique is that it was developed to be your best line of defense against Candida.

It contains 6 potent probiotic strains to replenish your good bacteria, PLUS the fungal-fighting S. boulardii probiotic yeast. It’s the only formula that works to neutralize and kill the bacterial and fungi toxins that can make your life a living hell. Take it every day for optimal digestive health.

(1) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14903449/ns/today-food/t/getting-enough-good-bacteria-your-belly/#.UJDPLIa07M0

(2) Cotran RS, Kumar V, Collins T. Pathologic Basis of Disease, 6th ed.. WB Saunders, Phil., 1999

(3) Roosen J, et al. Comparison of premortem clinical diagnoses in critically ill patients and subsequent autopsy findings. Mayo Clin Proc 2000 75:562-567.

(4) ibid #1

The Best Herbal and Nutritional Supplements that Help You Lose Weight

There’s no need to rehash recent pharmaceutical diet drug disasters. Let’s face it; most herbal and nutritional supplements are a lot safer for your system. Your doctor may disagree, but now there are definitive studies on the efficacy of certain herbal and nutritional supplements in weight loss.

ASHWAGANDHA is a plant from the tomato family. It contains withanolides which fight stress by lowering cortisol levels. This hormone is secreted when you are under stress and has been found to stimulate fat production in your belly area. Ashwagandha is classified as an “adaptogen”. These substances fight the physiological effects of stress in your body.

GREEN TEA EXTRACT has a bioflavonoid called EGCG, which triggers your metabolism to burn more calories. In scientific terms, it increases “thermogenesis”. You can sip your fat away if you drink enough green tea or go easy on your kidneys and purchase a caffeine free extract.

PROBIOTICS will keep your intestinal flora blooming and your digestive system healthy while you are dieting and detoxing.

FIBER. Try to introduce more fiber into your diet. Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. They reduces hunger pangs and help you to cut down on how much you eat.

MILK THISTLE EXTRACT. The active ingredient in this plant is called Silymarin and it prevents toxins from damaging your liver. Your liver is your blood filter and it can’t afford to get bogged down with a toxic overload. Remember, fat cells are your body’s toxic waste dumps. When they shrink during dieting they release toxins back into your bloodstream, and your liver has extra work to do. Silymarin comes to the rescue and supplies the liver with antioxidants which protect liver cells.

N-ACETYL CYSTEINE is an amino acid supplement which been shown to boost immune response. It is also a powerful liver detoxifier. NAC is taken with at least three times as much vitamin C.

B VITAMINS. Stress hormones like cortisol hijack B vitamins from our body and use them to boost stress responses.

A Common Virus is Eating Your Gut: Bacteria

The time a person is most human is before birth. After you’re born, the environment’s microbes surround your body and outnumber them by as much as 10 to one.

Because some microbes offer protection and others may make a person sick, scientists have been instrumental in exploring the correlation they have when it comes to a person’s health and wellness.

Instead of growing the species and deciphering their DNA sequence in order to make genomes, researchers obtain samples from a particular location such as the belly. Metagenome is collected material that is found when the DNA is chopped and read.

Through this inexpensive process, metagenome data can be generated in significant amounts through the nose, skin, mouth and both the gastrointestinal and urogenital regions of an adult. It can also be used to discover unfamiliar microbes such as a bacteriophage virus known as crAssphage.

crAssphage is a bacteria eating virus that can infect and ravage the gut. While it has been known to behave both in bad and good respects, it spends most of the time in a creative and harmonious companionable home that allows an individual to digest the foods they eat. However, it can also wreak havoc by causing complicated issues such as obesity, cancer and diabetes.

Discovered by Dr. Bas Dutilh, the genome was reconstructed from DNA fragments. When it came to programming, the initial name was touted solely as the new virus. However, Dr. Dutilh wanted the chance to endorse his computer tool as a method of terminology and ended up naming it crAssphage (cross Assembly).

Because the metagenome has DNA fragments that make up the populace of microbes, reconstructing the genome was a difficult challenge to accomplish. Some may even compare this to pieces in a puzzle that are combined together from hundreds of different designs. In order to put it all together the various species are uses as a method of guidance. However, how do you even complete the process if you aren’t sure that it actually exists?

Based on the fragmented DNA, the computer tool is able to piece the genomes together and match them to the metagenome. To make this easier to understand, say you would find a puzzle piece with thats distinct shape is the same from other boxes. Unfortunately, box A would contain 10 copies, and the other container houses 100. Using is crAss computer software, Dutilh worked with other researchers at San Diego State University. Here they took 12 individuals and analyzed the faecal metagenomes to reveal the distinct DNA fragments. Based on one of the stool samples, their crAssphage diagnosis was confirmed.

It was then the responsibility of the researchers to look through the public databases. Approximately 70 percent of the virus was detected from areas that include South Korea, United States and Europe. With over three-quarters of crAssphage occurring throughout the world, there could be trillions of viruses taking over your belly at this moment.

Since crAssphage is too tiny to be witnessed through a microscope, it’s difficult to ascertain as much information as researchers would like. The researchers have evidence that shows how crAssphage is infected with Bacteroides. In addition to controlling the amount of bacteria that exists in a healthy belly, crAssphage might be used as a way to fight disease in the future. crAssphage could also deliver vitamins and drugs to a person therapeutically.

In summation, research in regards to metagenome has primarily centered on bacteria. Because DNA advances faster than it’s able to detect, viruses have been overlooked. However, crAssphage has shown the important role viruses can take in the microbial community.

10 Tips for Better Digestive Health

There are a number of factors that affect your digestive system such as your lifestyle, stress, and the foods that you choose to eat. Getting the required amount of fiber, drinking plenty of water and exercising can all aid in developing better digestive health. Your body works by breaking down the foods you consume into nutrients and if you fail to be kind to your digestive health, you could run into complications later on.

The following are ten important tips that will help boost and maintain your digestive system.

1. Consume a diet high in fiber. According to the latest studies, a diet that is rich in fiber, whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, can make great strides in the way that you digest your foods. Fiber laden foods provide regularity by keeping things moving throughout your digestive system. This makes you less susceptible to constipation, bloating and fatigue. It can also aid in preventing digestive ailments such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A smooth running digestive tract can also aid those who are trying to shed pounds by helping you to maintain a normal weight range.

2. Insoluble and soluble fiber. Both forms of fiber can aid in your digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is difficult to be digested by the human body and can add solidness to your stools. Forms of insoluble fiber can include vegetables, whole-grains and wheat bran. Soluble fiber attracts water in and discourages your stools from becoming watery. You can get soluble fiber from items such as legumes, seeds, oat bran and nuts.

3. Reduce your consumption of fatty foods. Fatty foods can slow down your digestive system and contribute to constipation. However, getting rid of all that fat is not necessary, as pairing high fibered foods with some that are fatty can bring digestive relief to many individuals.

4. Lean meats a good source of protein. Fatty cuts of meats can irritate your bowel and lead to gas and bloating. Lean protein is necessary to any diet and can be found in food source items such as skinless chicken breasts, pork loin, turkey breast and other lean cuts of meats.

5. The importance of probiotics. Probiotics are a necessary part of any healthy diet, and they can keep your digestive system on target with the amount of healthy bacteria. By combating foods that are not good for you, they can contribute to proper nutrient absorption, aid in breaking down lactose and give your immune system a boost. They may even aid those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics can be found in healthy products such as kefir and low-fat yogurt.

6. Follow a healthy schedule. Following a regular eating schedule can keep your digestive system running right. Plan to eat around the same time every day and include a healthy balance of snacks and regular meals.

7. Drink plenty of water. Water is refreshing and can help the body stay hydrated. It can also contribute to a healthy digestive system by helping to dissolve fats and soluble fiber. This can contribute to keeping the body running regularly and alleviate bloat and discomfort.

8. Ditch the bad habits. Alcohol, smoking and excessive caffeine usage are all bad habits that can hinder your digestive system from running right. It can also lead to other health issues such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.

9. Regular exercise. Exercising on a regular basis can keep the foods that you eat moving throughout your digestive tract. It can also reduce your chances of experiencing constipation and help you maintain a normal weight.

10. Dealing with stress. Stress and anxiety can lead to a dysfunctional digestive system. Stress reducing activities such as yoga and meditation can be helpful and should be practiced regularly. The foods you eat and a well-maintained digestive tract can go hand-in-hand. By following the above ten tips, you’re sure to enjoy comfort and regularity.

The 10 Most Counterintuitive Health and Beauty Tips

Sometimes the things everyone knows aren't exactly true, and that holds as well for health and beauty treatments as well as for anything else.

Chocolate is good for your skin

The National Institute of Health explains that chocolate’s reputation for causing breakouts is completely undeserved. “Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on acne in most people.” In fact, dark chocolate contains antioxidant flavonoids which reduce inflammation of the skin and help acne heal. Keep portion size in mind; chocolate has health benefits, but it is still a fattening food.

Too much shampoo damages your hair

Too much cleaning can be a bad thing; shampoo strips the natural oils from hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and easy to break. In fact, hair health experts recommend shampooing only once every two to five days depending on your hair texture and scalp. The products which are supposed to add shine to hair don’t do much good either; most of them are silicone-based and cause a dull layer of build-up in your hair over time. The best ways to keep hair healthy and shiny are to use a deep conditioning treatment, allow time between washes, and keep the use of hot styling tools to a minimum.

Too much brushing can weaken and damage your teeth

Many people believe they need to brush their teeth after each meal and snack, but the truth is that the American Dental Association advises patients to brush only twice a day. Frequent brushing can wear away tooth enamel, making the teeth susceptible to cavities and discoloration. Brushing within a short time of having acidic foods or drinks is also a bad idea. The physical brushing can actually move the acid more deeply into your teeth, leaving the enamel at greater risk of erosion.

Bacteria in your gut help reduce the smells of flatulence

Thousands of bacterial species are living in your digestive system as you read this, and they’re absolutely supposed to be there. They actually aid your body to digest food for the most effective absorption of nutrients. One of the early signs of an imbalance in the bacterial ranks is an increase in the unpleasant odors of flatulence. The imbalance, most often caused by antibiotics or an unhealthy diet, can be corrected with a probiotic supplement or fermented foods like yogurt with active cultures.

Drinking more water reduces water retention

Water retention and bloating are actually caused by your kidneys going into a panic mode when they detect a drop in your overall fluid levels and cause your body to keep all of its current water. To keep your kidneys happy and prevent bloat, drink water during the day. The eight glasses a day rule is not hard and fast; any increase in your fluid intake will help. In fact, it doesn't even have to be water. Flavored and caffeinated beverages also count towards your total daily fluid intake.

Keeping the right kinds of food around helps you make healthy eating choices

Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University discovered a strong link between visual cues and choices about eating while researching his book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Each person makes over 200 decisions about eating every day, and a pleasing package or food appearance can influence a person to eat junk food or eat more than they intended. Dr. Wansink recommends that people buy healthy, convenient snacks and leave them in plain sight while hiding the treats away.

Gaining weight helps you burn fat

At least, gaining weight helps the body burn fat more effectively if the weight is lean muscle mass. Muscle is denser and weighs more than fat. More than a few women have found that after they start a weightlifting program, their weight on the scale goes up a little, even though they look more toned and their clothes are starting to fit more loosely.

Less repetitions with heavier weights increase strength

The common advice tells us that if women do weight training, they should do more reps with lighter weights than a man would use so they don’t bulk up. This is actually a very inefficient way of building strength, and women don’t develop bulky muscles without using steroids or having a terrible hormonal imbalance to start with. The small brightly-colored weights have their place for people who are just starting weight training or rehabilitating an injury, but real gains in strength come from pushing harder with heavier weights.

Unlike cardio exercise, frequent workouts are not good in weight training. Muscles should be allowed to rest between workouts so they can rebuild themselves; a good rule of thumb is to work the muscles every other day.

Adding walking to your training can improve your marathon time

Olympic runner Jeff Galloway popularized this method of training. His strategy is to walk one minute of each mile during his training runs. The rest before the body is worn out helps increase endurance and hasten recovery, which eventually shortens the marathon running time. Tim Deegan, a skeptic of Galloway’s method, tried the run-walk training and shortened his marathon time by 20 minutes.

Talking about your problems can make you unhappy

Dr. Guy Winch told Psychology Today that frequent complaining can cause someone to develop a learned helplessness which leads them to believe they can’t have any effect on their problems. “When we become convinced our actions will not have the impact we desire, we cease our efforts and become passive and helpless,” Dr. Winch explained.

On the other hand, a certain amount of venting can be helpful during times of stress. The key is to blow off the steam and be done with it, not complain continuously. Examining and being grateful for the good things in your life can also increase your happiness.

It’s Not Just Antibiotics That Spell Trouble for Your Gut

Antibiotics do a number on friendly bacteria, but that’s just part of the problem. In no other era in history has the human race done more to destroy the delicate balance of intestinal health—and today we’re paying the price for our transgressions.

Digestive problems are epidemic, and that’s because the modern world tramples all over our beneficial microflora with every swallow of food, drink, and medicine we take. The constant onslaught includes:

Chlorinated and fluoridated water. Every sip subjects your microflora to low-level poisoning, day in and day out.

Residual pesticides and heavy metals in our food and drink. They harm beneficial bacteria, and there’s almost no escaping them.

Too much sugar. Sugar is rocket fuel for Candida, and we eat an average of 100 pounds of it every year—which helps explain why candidiasis is so widespread.

Processed foods and fast foods. They lack the fiber needed for transit and elimination, so they stick to the colon wall, putrefy, and become a breeding ground for pathogens.

Alcoholic and carbonated beverages harm beneficial flora as well. So do most illegal street drugs and tobacco products.

Too many antacids. We eat them like candy to make acid stomach go away, but they alter the natural gastric and intestinal pH in a way that benefits harmful pathogens.

Birth control pills and steroid medications also change the intestinal pH environment in favor of the wrong bacteria.

Residual antibiotics in meats, poultry, and dairy products certainly won’t do your native flora any good.

Mental stress also alters intestinal balance for the worse, which may explain why prolonged stress is often accompanied by gastrointestinal woes.

When you picture your intestinal tract for what it is—one long tube that is constantly exposed to the outside world—you can appreciate the unnatural stresses put upon the single-celled inhabitants that do us so much good.

Supporting your friendly flora with supplemental probiotics is fast becoming a necessity for modern-day health—to help offset the inevitable stresses and damage that we simply cannot avoid.

What You Need to Know About Your Delicate Intestinal System

Your intestines swarm with beneficial organisms. Over 400 species of friendly bacteria live within the creases and folds where they have a profound effect on digestion and immune health. Known as probiotics, these single-celled microorganisms collectively weigh about four pounds and number in the trillions in a healthy system.

The nonpathogenic bacteria consist mostly of lactobacilli, which are predominant in the small intestines, and bifidobacteria, found mostly in the colon. Also present are potentially harmful pathogenic yeasts (Candida albicans) and bacteria (Proteus, H. pylori, Citrobacter, Pseudomonas, and others). These pathogens exist naturally in the system but they must be kept in check.

A healthy flora balance keeps potentially harmful bacteria under control through sheer numbers. Friendly bacteria should represent 85% of the intestinal flora, with the “bad” bacteria and yeasts making up the rest. This 85/15 ratio is essential for healthy digestion and elimination, nutrient production and uptake, immune health, detoxification, and other key processes.

Every time you swallow an antibiotic, however, you chip away at that 85/15 balance. Some antibiotics can kill over 99% of the good bacteria they come up against. Without the policing effects of the beneficial bacteria, pathogenic yeasts like Candida can multiply out of control and create instant trouble—like diarrhea or yeast infections.

The Problem With Antibiotics That Doctors Still Ignore

Antibiotics were hailed as “miracle drugs” when they first burst onto the scene in 1942 with the introduction of penicillin. Doctors were finally able to subdue life-threatening infections with a single magic bullet, and for the first time in history we had deadly bacterial microbes on the ropes. It was a blessing—or so we thought.

Certainly, antibiotics have saved millions of lives over the decades and continue to save lives today. Only now we know there are two dark sides to these drugs that we can no longer ignore.

You’ve heard of the first. For decades, the medical mainstream did its best to ignore a frightening fact: the microbes were fighting back. In fact, bacterial resistance was first noticed just four years after penicillin’s introduction and has grown stronger ever since.

Today, antibiotic resistance is headline news. Not only does it take larger and larger antibiotic doses to quell common infections, but we’ve also seen the rise of “super bugs” like MRSA that can be deadly no matter what antibiotics we throw at them.

The second dark side to antibiotics is still largely overlooked by the medical establishment, yet it may be even more deadly than the first.

It’s simply this: antibiotics kill all bacteria in their path. Not just the pathogenic germs that cause illness, but also the nonpathogenic “good” bacteria in your gut that are absolutely critical to health.

Today’s wide-spectrum antibiotics like the penicillins, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides, macrolides, and aminoglycosides are the biological equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Everything takes a bullet, not just the targeted germs, and the collateral damage to your intestinal ecology can be significant and long-lasting.

These drugs kill beneficial microorganisms that are essential
for gastrointestinal and immune system health

Doctors have ignored this kill-off for decades, but we now know how this destruction of friendly microflora can lead to chronic gastrointestinal problems, poor health, fatigue, and even life-threatening diseases.

Up to 25% of people taking antibiotics experience the immediate side-effect of diarrhea, 4 but that’s just the tip of the iceberg:

  • FACT: People who take a lot of antibiotics have much higher incidences of colds and flu.5 This happens because the kill-off of beneficial bacteria leads to a significantly weaker immune system.
  • FACT: Microflora kill-off by antibiotics is directly tied to the epidemic rise in Clostridium difficile infections that strike 3 million people and kill up to 20,000 victims every year.6 Even a single course of antibiotics leaves you vulnerable.
  • FACT: Large-scale studies reveal an alarming correlation between antibiotics intake and increased cancer risk. One study found that people treated frequently with antibiotics had a 37% higher likelihood of developing cancer!7 Scientists believe this, too, is due to the destruction of the microflora that are critical to immune health.

For decades, doctors have willfully ignored the damage done by antibiotics to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In their eagerness to root out the bad guys, they’ve overlooked the fact that the good guys are killed too. They’ve been bombing the village to protect it, and now the village is almost destroyed.

Most people are not aware of the enormous role that beneficial bacteria play in our health, but doctors should know better.

Until they acknowledge the threat that antibiotics pose and act accordingly, you’ll have to protect yourself—and that means learning about and protecting these essential microorganisms.

The more you understand, the more you’ll appreciate why you must support your microflora with every healthy means available.

1 Linder JA. Antibiotics for Treatment of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections: Decreasing Benefit, Increasing Risk, and the Irrelevance of Antimicrobial Resistance. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2008; 47:744-746

2 Linder (2008)

3 Kilkkinen A, et al. Antibiotic use predicts an increased risk of cancer. Int J Cancer. 2008 Nov 1;123(9):2152-5.

4 Linder (2008)

5 Margolis, DJ. Antibiotics, acne, and upper respiratory tract infections. LDI Issue Brief. 2006 Feb;11(4):1-4.

6 Parker-Pope, T. Stomach Bug Crystallizes an Antibiotic Threat. The New York Times. April 14, 2009.

7 Kilkkinen (2008)