Inflammatory bowel disease, most commonly manifesting as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, affects approximately 1 million Americans. It is one of over a hundred autoimmune Illnesses, in which the body’s defense forces (immune system) mistakenly attacks the body—in this case the small or large intestines.
Although standard medical therapies consist largely of steroids (prednisone), immune suppressants and modifiers (e.g., Remicade), salicylates (Asacol—a good treatment) and sometimes surgery to treat complications, the good news is that natural therapies can be very effective to both treat the cause of the inflammation and the inflammation itself.
The role of probiotics in maintaining health no longer is quite as obscure to Americans as it once was. Yogurt is touted in TV and print advertisements; sometimes, an actor on a show even will play up his or her fondness for yogurt to make a fictional character more human and personable. Similarly, probiotics no longer are found only in health food stores—most drugstores sell at least two or three brands. This situation certainly is an improvement in providing sources of support for digestive health. However, it also may be a bit misleading.
The winter holiday season is a great time of year for getting together with friends and family to enjoy "good food." And by "good food," I mean lots of holiday treats and meals you typically don't eat throughout the year. While this type of eating can be a fun part of the holiday season it can also be hard on the digestive system and cause unpleasant symptoms like nausea, gas, bloating, cramping, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea. In this article we will discuss the top five tips you can follow to prevent unpleasant digestive symptoms while still enjoying the food of the holiday season.
Digestive problems remain a prevalent medical issue in America. So prevalent, in fact, if you don’t have a problem yourself, you’re likely to know people who do. Gastrointestinal (GI) problems continue to be the number one complaint that drives patients to the doctor. Over 14 million people have peptic ulcers and over 25 million Americans will be diagnosed with an ulcer sometime in their lifetime.1 Despite these huge numbers, the incidence of ulcers are dwarfed by the number of people experiencing other digestive issues such as heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bacterial infections and reflux disorder. Medical statistics indicate 56 million Americans report acid reflux, 60 million have heartburn, 76 million report food borne illnesses and 80 million experience IBS.2 It’s becoming increasingly necessary to utilize nutritional support for the mucosal lining in the stomach and small intestines to help reduce the risk of these digestive issues.
Today, more than ever before, our bodies are bombarded by chemicals, environmental pollutants, nasty bacteria, and parasites. These toxins can spread far beyond the digestive tract and, in some cases, turn deadly. Even the produce aisle, where fruits and veggies had always been a safe haven for health-conscious and calorie-concerned consumers, is getting scary. You know what I mean because practically every day, we see headlines like these:
Food poisoning bacteria E. coli and Salmonella certainly inflict misery and, in weakened persons, can be deadly. Fortunately, after the nausea and diarrhea run their course, they are not heard from again unless we eat something contaminated.
H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) also affects the stomach but is more deadly and long-lasting. It can lead to ulcers that claim 9,000 Americans yearly and stomach cancer that kills 11,000. H. pylori is not in the news despite being the world’s most common bacterial infection—it stays under the radar because it acts slowly.
Improving health is often very simple: quit smoking, eat wholesome food, avoid toxic substances, and get good sleep and regular exercise. We are given clues when we violate nature’s laws—they are called symptoms. Instead of simply hitting the snooze alarm on those walk-up calls, we should discover and care for the underlying cause.
Heartburn (or acid reflux, GERD, etc.) is a case in point. It is typical to treat the condition with acid-blocking drugs. Patients initially feel relief from the drugs, but the approach is shortsighted because stomach acid itself is not the real problem. Nature demands we have stomach acid, so the real issue is that the stomach acid has gotten somewhere it doesn’t belong—e.g. into the esophagus or through the protective barrier in the stomach.
It’s the most daunting part of beginning a nutrition and lifestyle-based approach to promoting with gut health. The American diet is especially rich in sugars, yeast-containing and promoting foods, and highly processed ingredients that lack the real nutrients our bodies need. Once you’ve ruled out all the foods that are “bad for you,” what’s left?
Quite a bit, actually. Sticking to a 55 percent proteins/45 percent complex carbohydrates ratio (vice versa if your goal is to lose weight), you have a wealth of whole healthy foods to choose from. Of course, you’ll want to avoid any of the following foods if you have tested positive for a food sensitivity or allergy.
Did you know intestinal problems are the second highest cause of hospital admissions? More than 70 million Americans cope with digestive diseases, and nearly 80 million catch a food-born illness each year. We are a nation suffering from a raging case of what I call Gut Grief.
The good news is, it is possible to fight back. While the most common response is to simply cope with Gut Grief or try common treatments that only temporarily cover up the symptoms, there is now a wealth of options for restoring true intestinal balance. It’s surprising how much that affects the rest of your life too!
You may be thinking, “This gut health concept is all well and good as long as I’m cooking at home where I know what goes into my meals. But, what about the rest of my life?”
Just ask anyone who’s gone through the adventure of ruling out a food allergy. Meeting dietary requirements is not easy when you’re at a business meeting, traveling, or even just visiting friends and family. While the ideal situation would be for you to bring your own healthy and clean ingredients from home all the time, this is usually impractical. Instead of holing up in your hotel room with a box of gluten-free crackers, try a few of these strategies to stay safe when you’re on the road.