You dedicate your life to a healthy routine: clean eating, supplementation, workouts, and a 10:30 pm bedtime. But what if all that hard work is being undone by poor gut health?
The digestive system is really the engine of our well-being, as it is involved in so many processes. If our digestive system is in check, we feel awesome, we can perform at the top level, and we even can push ourselves harder to make bigger gains in the gym.
When it comes to probiotics, there are plenty of marketers clamoring for attention. From billions of strains to special coatings–we’ve heard it all. But if you ask for scientific proof, those voices die down. What gives?
Kiran Krishnan, a renowned microbiologist, is a part of a group of doctors and researchers hired to investigate and conduct clinical trials around the “next generation” of probiotics. Just in time, too. Their 10-year intensive study coincides with the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), a massive nationwide research project with a focus on microorganisms’ effects on human beings. Krishnan is the scientist behind Perfect Pass Probiotics.
We recently sat down with Krishnan and he gave us an inside look at 7 scientific facts about probiotics.
He says that whether it comes in the form of organic, sprouted multi-grain bread or a squishy white loaf or a strand of spaghetti, all wheat is bad for you. He says that by eliminating what he calls “Frankenwheat” from your diet, you can lose weight and actually prevent many health problems.
He complains that most of wheat that is available is not anything like what our forefathers used to eat because of years and years of wheat growing in the US, it has been genetically modified so that American farmers can produce a high-yield crop of small plants that were never tested to see if they were healthy enough for human consumption. Now we have a “supercarbohydrate” wheat plant that is far less healthy than it used to be.
He says that today’s wheat elevates blood sugar levels that cause insulin spikes. These insulin spike result in chronic inflammation and an increase in visceral or belly fat. So therefore, by eating so much wheat, not only do we gain weight, but also more prone to many inflammatory diseases and conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, fatigue, acne and even dementia.
What I didn’t know and only learned recently, is that today’s wheat is also a highly addictive because it contains a special protein called gliatin, which has the same effect on brain receptors as opium. Gliatin increase appetite and leads to hunger and cravings for even more wheat and other refined carbohydrates.
Stig Bengmark MD, from Sweden, who, I met at the Probiotics Symposium in Oct 2013, said something very similar. He told us how he took 2 years off to study chronic disease. He said that he called his paper ‘Acute and ‘chronic’ phase reaction – a mother of disease’ and now, he said, if he knew the what he knows now, he would have called it – ‘Discreet Persistent Inflammation, the Mother of Disease‘. He relates this state directly to the malfunctioning of the microbiota. The microbiota is the sum total of all the good bacteria you have thriving in your digestive tract.
When the composition and diversity of the intestinal microbiota is stable it provides us with energy-rich metabolites. These are the chemicals necessary for the maintaining life. They give us the nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins that we need, reduces inflammation and maintains balance in our immune systems. But when the microbiota are disturbed, it results in chronic inflammation and chronic disease.
He too, stressed how gluten contributed to inflammation. He spoke at length about dysbiosis i.e. a condition resulting from a disturbance in the good bacteria, and leaky gut (a condition where intestinal lining ‘leaks’ and allows offensive organisms to enter the digestive tract) – stemming from what we eat and how we live, far more importantly than our genetic make up. He highly recommended eliminating all processed foods and eating loads of fresh greens. It’s what is called phytochemicals, or the natural chemicals found in the plant foods, that help to reduce inflammation.
Dr Andrew Weil MD shows us a new ‘food pyramid’ that looks very different to what we were used to seeing historically. He talks about how to reduce inflammation with these anti-inflammatory suggestions. Starting from the bottom of the pyramid and moving up, the bottom being what we ought to eat the most of, are all fruits and vegetables and not grains. He also suggests to try and get all the colors.
In fact, inflammation is the body’s innate way to response to injury and infection. It is our way of defending ourselves by sending immune cells and key important nutrients to those areas that needs them the most. The fighter cells travel via our increased blood flow. This is what leads to the redness, warmth, swelling and pain that we think of when we think of “inflammation.” When it is as a result of an acute situation, inflammation is positive and healing. But when inflammation results as an immune response, it doesn’t shut off. This continual immune cells production is not good. It can cause damage, and then lead to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other health problems.
I notice that each health practitioner’s recommendations seem to vary in the specifics from diet to diet, but in general anti-inflammatory diets suggestions include:
Eating lots and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Reducing, if not eliminating saturated and trans fats.
Eating a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, possibly eating fish or taking fish oil supplements and walnuts are recommended. According to a review of the research on omega-3 fatty acids and health in “American Family Physician”, Omega-3, in doses of 3 grams or more per day, has been found effective for people with rheumatoid arthritis, reducing morning stiffness and the number of joints that are tender or swollen.
There is need to be very cautious of how much refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice you eat.
Eating lean protein like chicken and cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods.
Avoid refined foods and processed foods.
Include anti-inflammatory spices in your diet. Ginger, curry, tumeric and other spices are all anti-inflammatory in nature.
So try and rethink some of your staple and comfort food combinations…..bagels and cream cheese, cereal and milk for breakfast, a large bowl of spaghetti bolognaise. It may not be as healthy as you think..
A Tasty Anti-Inflammatory Drink You Can Make At Home
Over 50 million Americans have an autoimmune disorder, if you’re one of them – read on for a recipe that could provide some much needed relief! World wide autoimmune disorders are on the rise for the past four decades! Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disorder, this drink may relieve pain better than Advil. Better than Advil? See for yourself. Here’s what my friend Jeanette said: “I wanted to thank you for the anti inflam elixer recipe. I tried it last week and drank it for four days and voila, my tennis elbow and frozen shoulder seem much better.”
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, mint and ginger have healing properties that miraculously saved my Mexican vacation. Today, I’ll be showing you how to make a drink whose main ingredient is turmeric. Yep – a turmeric drink. Don’t stop reading just yet! Along with providing a variety of health benefits, especially for people suffering from gastrointestinal issues, this drink comes with an added bonus: you’ll experience what the locals in Indonesia drink – like becoming a world traveler without leaving your kitchen!
Note the spelling of Turmeric. Tumberic!?!?
I first read about the healing powers of Jamu,or traditional Indonesian medicine, from fellow healer Chloe Park, who mentioned she fell in love with a turmeric juice beverage, Jamu Kunyit, when she was living in Bali. If you’re like me, you’re thinking,cool, a drink the Bali locals enjoy – tell me more! More likely, though, you’re thinking,um, Turmeric juice sounds gross. Or you might even be thinking,I have no idea what turmeric is. Whichever category you fall into, let’s rewind a bit and talk turmeric!
Turmeric is a fragrant yellow spice popular in Indian curries and contains the powerful compound curcumin, whose antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects benefit a whole range of conditions, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), Crohns, Colitis, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Back Pain, all suffer from inflammation. It may also provide protection against colon cancer, boost cognitive performance, and early studies suggest it may even prevent and break down Alzheimer’s brain plaques.
I was awakened to healing powers of Turmeric by a friend (Hi Nora) who was able to stop talking an anti-inflammatory prescription medication (Asacol/Mesalamine) for her Colitis condition by taking Turmeric capsules (important note: I am not recommending you stop taking any medication, please first have a conversation with your trusted health professional!).When I heard Nora’s story, I was intrigued, and did a little of my own research on the topic. More information on Turmeric came via a Harvard medical school graduate, and founder of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil. In his Self Healing magazine, Dr. Weil says:“Cancer, in many cases is probably related to chronic, on-going inflammation. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory, especially for people with gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary (liver or gall bladder) malignancies”You can safely take 2-8 grams in a capsule form daily, which ideally contains piperine, a component of black pepper that boosts turmeric absorption.
Personally, I like to use Turmeric capsules when my body “asks for them”. You may be thinking, what does he mean ask for them. Here, I’ll explain. Through yoga and meditation, my intuition has greatly increased. I call intuition that gut feeling we all experience on the inside, knowing what we should do when we’re in a dilemma, or when something is wrong, or right. As bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell explains in his bestselling book Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking – intuitive decision-making can result in a better outcome than relying on more lateral methods, such as lists of pros and cons. A recent study backed this up, with brain scans showing that a structure called the ventral striatum responds immediately to subconscious cues. Scientists call it ‘instrumental learning’ — your instinct recognizes a situation as familiar and suggests an instant response before you’ve had time to process rational thought. So “pain” as I feel it in a particular place in my body, at a particular level – goes away when I take turmeric.
Let’s get back to Jamu Kunyit, shall we? As Chloe explains, Jamu Kunyit is a drink that is highly regarded in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. While you might not think that a flavor used in curry sounds very tasty as a cold beverage, a little lemon, honey, and tamarind help create an exotic, flavorful drink with awesome healing benefits. As for me, I’ve found myself with higher energy, cleaner – and easier – bowel movements, less to no pain, less inflammation – and seemingly no joint pain that use to creep up sometimes. Magical eh?
If you’re still unsure about whether to try this drink, consider that turmeric is also a natural liver detoxifier and a kidney cleanser. It speeds metabolism and aids in weight management. Plus, it alleviates conditions of depression, psoriasis, damaged skin, arthritis, and more.
Alright, you’ve got to be interested by now, right?!
Without further ado, here’s my version of the recipe:
* 5-7 inches Turmeric * 5-7 pieces of Tamarind * Two lemons (Lime, if you prefer) * Raw honey * Water * Blender * Mason jar(s), or another glass jar, with a lid
1. Peel Turmeric. Your fingers may turn yellow. No worries! Dish soap get’s it right out. If your cutting board or counter top gets stained, slather on the all-natural dish soap and rub it in. Let it soak in for 5 min, or longer, and then scrub with water and sponge. The turmeric stain will vanish. Wanting a more potent drink, I used all the Turmeric in the package, and at less than $1.50, it was a bargain. In all I probably used around 12 inches.
2. Crack and open the Tamarind. Make sure you remove the inner roots as well. We’re only going to use the inner fruit
3. Fill a pot with water, put peeled Turmeric inside and let boil for at least 20 minutes, or until the water becomes a rich and vibrant marigold color. Note, the amount of water you use will be the amount of liquid you have to drink later on.
4. While the Turmeric is boiling, get a pan and pour ~1inch of water into a pan with the peeled Tamarind. Stir the fruit with a wooden utensil. Mix it in with the water so it can melt and dissolve into a jam-like texture. More water shouldn’t be needed, but if it’s looking a bit dry, pour additional water as needed.
5. By this time you should be able to see the little seeds coming out. When the texture of the tamarind looks soft, turn the heat off and let it cool down
6. Back to the Turmeric water. The color should now look ready. Pour in a little bit of cold water to lower the temperature. Pour the Turmeric water into the blender with the Turmeric roots. We boiled it so the root could soften and have more flavor. Now it’s ready to blend, for even more flavor, and richness! The color should now look like an extra, extra fiery marigold.
7. Go back to the Tamarind in the pan. Using a wooden utensil, or if, like me, you prefer your clean hands, separate the soft bits of the fruit, like a jam consistency from the seeds and seed peels. Note: If you don’t want to get your hands dirty the original recipe called for a strainer and bowl for this step but it didn’t work for me. If you figure that one out do let us know.
8. Pour the Tamarind that has been caught in the bowl into the blender with the Turmeric water. Buzz it around again.
9. Squeeze your lemons into the blender, pour your healthy anti-inflammatory elixir into the mason jar(s), add honey, close the lid and shake to mix.
10. Store in fridge up to 3-4 days and drink daily.
11. To Improve the bio-availability of the main ingredient, curcumin, experiment with mixing black pepper, virgin coconut oil, or raw egg yolk(hey – I’m just the messenger), in with the Jamu drink.
Enjoy your drink! The first time I made this drink it made me feel warm, alive, and energetic. I’d love to hear how you feel after drinking. Tell me in the comments section at the bottom.
Note: I found tamarind and turmeric root at my local Ranch 99 Asian grocery store. I’ve also seen them in my local health food store, both Sprouts and Whole Foods carries them. Call ahead to be sure.
Oh, BTW, while this drink was pretty fast to make, it did result in what was probably one of my best kitchen mess disasters. (Note to Self: hold down the blender top while blending) I’ll have to blog about that another time, with epic pictures. Also, I should note that I used my back-up blender as my friend was borrowing my Vitamix Blender. Now my back-up blender, Cuisinart, because it is made from plastic, is a yellowish hue – due to the turmeric. Ironically my friends tell me they like the color, and thought I bought it this way.
Until next time, and in good health,
(First appeared on HeathCoachJoel.com – updated and re-posted here with permission)
Update December 16 2013:
After reading a PSA from my friend at Flawless Fitness, had to include this about recent Turmeric testing:
Consumer Lab (which I highly recommend getting a membership to– it’s worth it) recently tested several turmeric spice brands. All of them had field insect parts in them (which is extremely common with herbs and plant products). However, many contained cigarette beetles, which means prep/storage may have been unsanitary. Spice Hunter India Turmeric (Ground) was the cleanest at 7 field insect parts per 10 grams. Simply Organic Turmeric had the most parts at 195 fragments per 10 grams, and Spice Hunter Ground Turmeric 100% Organic had 169 fragments. Whole Foods Market Organic Fair Trade Ground Turmeric had 90 fragments, a whole cigarette beetle larva, and a small piece of rodent hair. It’s important to know how your products are handled, processed, and stored– buyer beware.