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Category: Digestive Tract

The Human Longevity Project – Such Good Information and So Much Beneficial Information!

The Human Longevity Project – Such Good Information and So Much Beneficial Information!

This is not a short video but it has such important information! We hope all of you will take the time out of your busy lives to watch it! We will continue to share this series of videos as it is released. The information shared here is vitally important to understand for positive physical and mental health!

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

A well-functioning digestive system is crucial to maintaining your body’s overall health. Without it, you are likely to have bowel problems and suffer from digestive upsets, not to mention a host of other conditions that can result from not getting enough nutrients from the food you eat. The digestive system affects all the other systems of the body, so it’s important to do what you can to be sure it’s working the way it should. Following are the top 5 things you can do to help improve your digestion.

Eat more fiber – Soluble and insoluble fiber are both essential for moving food through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal, beans, nuts and apples, turns to a gel in your intestines and slows digestion, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It absorbs water, softening the stool, and promotes the health of the good bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber, such as that found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, speeds digestion, adds bulk and passes primarily intact through the digestive tract. Both are important in preventing constipation and can improve conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Drink more fluids – Insufficient water intake can harden the stool, increasing constipation. You should be sure to drink at least 1.2 liters of fluid per day, which is about 6 glasses. Some people need more, based on their activity level and the ambient temperature. However, do not drink more than about 6 ounces of liquid during a meal (taking the occasional sip), as it can dilute your stomach acid, making digestion more difficult. Aim to get most of your fluid intake 15-30 minutes before a meal or at least an hour afterward.

Take probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the good bacteria that populate our digestive tract. Eating yogurt with a variety of helpful live cultures as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir can help promote the production and health of these beneficial bacteria.

Eat more fat – Although increasing your fiber intake can improve your digestion that fiber does not move through the digestive tract so easily if you are not getting enough fat in your diet. Good fats will not raise your cholesterol and in fact are a healthy part of your diet when eaten in moderation. Some healthy sources of fat are olive oil, coconut oil, butter and avocados.

Reduce stress – When you are under stress, your digestive system slows down and circulation to the digestive tract is reduced, lowering your body’s ability to efficiently break down and utilize the food you eat. Do not rush through meals, and be sure to sufficiently chew and savor your food when you eat. If you must eat while under stress, be sure you eat foods that are simple to digest, such as broth or yogurt.

Spotlight on Food Allergy Trends. What’s the Best Advice?

Spotlight on Food Allergy Trends. What’s the Best Advice?

auburn-haired girl, young woman wiping her nose

One thing is certain: food allergies are on the rise. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 50% more food allergies in 2011 than there were in 1997. An estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, and the numbers are increasing. Four percent of the population has a food allergy now, as opposed to only one percent ten years ago. What is not so certain is what is causing this increase in food allergies. Experts believe it is likely due to a few different causes, including over-cleanliness, reluctance to feed children certain foods at an early age, and the quality of the foods we eat. It may also be that physicians are becoming more skilled at recognizing the problem and, therefore, that food allergies are diagnosed more frequently.

One interesting thing to note is that American children are more likely to have food allergies than children in other nations. It may be due in part to Americans being better-off than people in other countries. The CDC noted on their website that, “Food and respiratory allergy prevalence increased with income level. Children with family income equal to or greater than 200% of the poverty level had the highest prevalence rates.”

Experts surmise that the immune systems of people in poorer and undeveloped nations get exposed to pathogens far more often than people in nations with higher standards of cleanliness and more access to antibiotics. Exposure to a wide range of microbes at an early age helps to ensure that the immune system is kept busy and learns early to recognize the difference between a dangerous microbe and a harmless one. Many children in the US now grow up in homes so clean that they encounter relatively few germs until they are exposed to them in school.

Another issue is the reluctance of parents to feed their children foods that may possibly cause an allergy. For example, some women avoid eating peanuts during pregnancy and will not feed them to their children until they are older. However, if we look at the rate of peanut allergies in Israel, it is far lower than that in the US. The primary difference between the two countries is that Israeli parents feed their children peanut snacks at a far earlier age than American parents do.

The American diet also consists of far more processed foods and GMOs than the diets of other countries. The side effects of genetically modified foods have still not been thoroughly investigated, but more studies are finding health issues in animals fed genetically modified foods. In addition, conventionally-raised meat in the US is typically fed hormones and antibiotics, which may be wreaking havoc with our own immune systems when we eat meat from these animals.

Extensive pesticide and herbicide use can also increase the risk of food allergies. A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that people exposed to chemicals called dichlorophenols (DCPs) were more likely to develop food allergies. These chemicals are created when common pesticides and herbicides break down. People with the highest level of this chemical were more than twice as likely to have a food allergy.

The best thing you can do to help ensure that you and your family do not develop food allergies is to eat whole foods from reliable sources as often as your household budget will allow. Organically-grown foods may be one part of the answer. To be labeled “100% organic,” foods must not have been exposed to pesticides and herbicides, has not received hormones or antibiotics, and cannot be genetically modified. In addition, don’t be afraid of getting dirty! Regular exposure to germs helps keep your immune system exercised and it will be less likely to overreact to harmless microbes.

 

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What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

fruits in supermarket

Getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet is important for a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that it improves digestion and contributes to lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The FDA recommends that adults get at least 25 to 30 grams in their diet every day. However, our typical western diet, which is high in refined grains and processed food, provides the average person only about 15 grams of fiber per day.

There are two different types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble, each of which fulfill an important task. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and our stomach’s digestive juices), transforming into a gel-like substance that helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar. The primary purpose of insoluble fiber is to work as an indigestible bulking agent to keeps things moving along the digestive tract, which aids elimination and reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber may also help you to lose weight, and is important in maintaining general bowel health.

Among the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber are the following:

  • Beans and lentils – Make a three-bean salad, a bean burrito, some chili or soup. Hummus (chick pea puree) is another tasty option.
  • Bran cereal – You don’t have to endure Grape Nuts to meet your daily requirement. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is considered high in fiber.
  • Whole grains – Chuck the white bread for whole-grain bread and pasta. It tastes better, and it does not make your blood sugar spike so quickly due to its higher fiber content.
  • Brown rice – Has a great, nutty taste and is particularly nice with a little soy sauce added.
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery are among the vegetables with the highest fiber. Be sure not to overcook them though. They should remain crunchy.
  • Popcorn – A low-calorie snack (if you skip the added butter) and an easy source of fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds – Those highest in fiber are almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Baked potatoes – Be sure to eat the skin, as it’s the part with the good fiber.
  • Berries – There’s a lot of fiber contained in the seeds and skin of berries.
  • Oatmeal – Steel-cut oats are the best in providing good amounts of cholesterol-lowering fiber. If you’re in a rush, instant oatmeal provides fiber as well, if at a lower amount.

So be sure to add more from the above list to your weekly menu and enjoy the many benefits that increased fiber has to offer! If you have questions about your diet choices, always remember that you can call either of our Billings offices and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Oblander or a member of our staff!

Getting to Know Your Vitamin A

Getting to Know Your Vitamin A

carrots-200-300Can eating lots of carrots really improve your eyesight? Not exactly, but carrots do contain something called provitamin A carotenoids. These are pigments found in some plants that can be converted by the body into vitamin A. And vitamin A actually is important to your vision.

Vitamin A helps the eye convert light into a signal that can be transmitted to the brain, allowing people to see in low-light environments. In addition, the cornea (the clear front of the eye) can literally disappear if the body does not get enough vitamin A. However, binging on carrots is unlikely to improve most people’s vision. In part, this is because your body will stop converting provitamin A carotenoids (particularly beta carotene) into vitamin A as soon as there is enough in your system. But all this doesn’t mean that vitamin A doesn’t have lots of other uses. Vitamin A is also helpful to bone growth and to your immune system.

As with other vitamins, there are different forms of vitamin A. One of the forms that is most usable to the body is called retinol, which is found in liver, eggs, and milk. One of the most common provitamin A carotenoids that the body converts easily to retinol is beta carotene. Beta carotene is found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cantaloupe. Vitamin A is also one of the vitamins often used to fortify breakfast cereals.

Vitamin A is fat soluble, which means that the body stores it, mostly in the liver. That also means that it is possible to build up toxic levels of Vitamin A. This rarely happens from food sources because (as noted above) the body will slow down the conversion of beta carotene as it builds up supplies of vitamin A. When people do get vitamin A toxicity, it is usually from taking too much in supplement form. Toxic levels of vitamin A can cause liver problems, central nervous system problems, reduced bone density and birth defects.

True vitamin A deficiency is rare in the US, but common in countries where malnourishment is widespread. When it occurs, the consequences can be quite severe. This is because the body uses vitamin A to make various internal tissues, such as those lining the eye, lungs, and intestinal tract. When these linings are weakened by vitamin A deficiency, it is easier for harmful bacteria to penetrate them and thus, people with vitamin A deficiency are more prone to infections, illness, blindness, and respiratory problems.

Aside from those who are malnourished, other people who may be prone to vitamin A deficiency include those who consume large amounts of alcohol and those with certain metabolic disorders that affect how fat and other nutrients are absorbed by the body.

As of this writing, the Recommended Daily Intake for Vitamin A is 2,310 IU for females and 3,000 IU for males.

It goes without saying that good nutrition is critical to your overall health and well-being. At the same time, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest research and guidance. If you have questions or concerns about your diet or about supplements, please call or visit our office today. We’re here to help!

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Couple enjoying lunch at cafeA well-functioning digestive system is crucial to maintaining your body’s overall health. Without it, you are likely to have bowel problems and suffer from digestive upsets, not to mention a host of other conditions that can result from not getting enough nutrients from the food you eat. The digestive system affects all the other systems of the body, so it’s important to do what you can to be sure it’s working the way it should. Following are the top 5 things you can do to help improve your digestion.

Eat more fiber – Soluble and insoluble fiber are both essential for moving food through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal, beans, nuts and apples, turns to a gel in your intestines and slows digestion, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It absorbs water, softening the stool, and promotes the health of the good bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber, such as that found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, speeds digestion, adds bulk and passes primarily intact through the digestive tract. Both are important in preventing constipation and can improve conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Drink more fluids – Insufficient water intake can harden the stool, increasing constipation. You should be sure to drink at least 1.2 liters of fluid per day, which is about 6 glasses. Some people need more, based on their activity level and the ambient temperature. However, do not drink more than about 6 ounces of liquid during a meal (taking the occasional sip), as it can dilute your stomach acid, making digestion more difficult. Aim to get most of your fluid intake 15-30 minutes before a meal or at least an hour afterward.

Take probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the good bacteria that populate our digestive tract. Eating yogurt with a variety of helpful live cultures as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir can help promote the production and health of these beneficial bacteria.

Eat more fat – Although increasing your fiber intake can improve your digestion that fiber does not move through the digestive tract so easily if you are not getting enough fat in your diet. Good fats will not raise your cholesterol and in fact are a healthy part of your diet when eaten in moderation. Some healthy sources of fat are olive oil, coconut oil, butter and avocados.

Reduce stress – When you are under stress, your digestive system slows down and circulation to the digestive tract is reduced, lowering your body’s ability to efficiently break down and utilize the food you eat. Do not rush through meals, and be sure to sufficiently chew and savor your food when you eat. If you must eat while under stress, be sure you eat foods that are simple to digest, such as broth or yogurt.

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