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Hidden Causes of Constipation

Toilet humor may be funny—but regular constipation is not. Constipation can greatly affect a person’s quality of life and general sense of health and well being. More importantly, constipation can take a significant toll on the body. Here’s a list of surprising triggers for constipation:

Prescription Painkillers

Painkillers are a common medication prescribed by physicians after surgery or in the case of chronic pain. However, several common painkillers, especially narcotic-based medications, cause constipation. If prescribed narcotics or similar painkillers, it would be wise to also take a mild laxative to ensure regularity.

Chocolate and Dairy

Some of our favorite foods can also cause constipation. Chocolate and dairy products have both been linked to constipation. Sadly, there have been studies linking chocolate to constipation, mostly among individuals who already suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Diets containing too much dairy including cheese, yogurt, eggs, and milk have also been linked to constipation. Limiting chocolate and dairy and incorporating more fiber into your diet is a good place to start if you suspect you may be constipated.

Vitamins and Over-the-Counter Medications

Sometimes we head to the drug store when we’re not feeling well. But hidden in those over-the-counter remedies can be causes of constipation.

Vitamins, for example, are great to take as daily supplements, however, too much of a good thing is usually not so good. Excessive iron and calcium may cause constipation.

The overuse of laxatives can actually cause serious constipation issues as well. As is the case with most drugs, the body will eventually become dependent on laxatives to function and won’t regulate on its own.

Antacids are another, seemingly harmless over-the-counter pill that can actually cause constipation. Antacids containing calcium or aluminum are usually suspect. Fortunately there are options available without these two ingredients. You could also cut back on foods that cause indigestion and heartburn.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) include the chronic conditions of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both of these conditions can manifest symptoms of constipation, resulting from various points of inflammation in either the small intestine or the rectum.

People with advanced diabetes may experience constipation whether they’re aware they have diabetes or not. Diabetes may cause significant damage to the nerve endings that are responsible for digesting food. Constipation may result in these cases.

Depression affects millions of people, and it can cause constipation in two distinct ways. Depression causes the body’s systems to slow down, which can affect the speed of the bowels. Moreover, antidepressants containing serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like Prozac) have also been linked to constipation. Fortunately, there are new medications available that do not result in bowel obstruction.

Finally, hypothyroidism results in a slowing of the metabolic processes, which leads to constipation and issues in the gut.

Fortunately there are ways to combat constipation safely and effectively without resorting to major lifestyle changes. Taking a natural laxative can increase regularity and ultimately improve the health of your gut.

A OK Natural Laxatives also assists in removing harmful toxins and contains cleansing agents and natural herbs. Don’t wait until you can’t go to do something about constipation. Keep a natural laxative handy and take it at the first signs of irregularity to ensure a happy and health gut.

Treating Crohns Disease With High Fiber foods

I read this interesting forum in crohnsforum.com about how high fiber foods could naturally stop crohn’s flare ups.

They say that it has been several years since researchers published findings that eating broccoli and plantains could be good medicine for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

But…the question is,  how many doctors have recommended the food as a dietary approach to control symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBD)?
They talk about diet and treating IBD, but neglect to talk about the importance of eating specific foods. I for one, found this fascinating.

Kathleen Blanchard from EmaxHealth reports about what fiber does for the gut and how it can help IBD.

She says, that fiber is suggested as an important dietary intervention for anyone dealing with Crohn’s disease. Not only does fiber add bulk to the diet to help keep bowel movements formed, but it also can prevent constipation. She goes on to say that people who suffer with crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) know that not all fiber is created equal and that it can also cause pain as well as bloating.

In 2010, researchers published findings in the British Medical Journal, that fiber in broccoli and plantains can stop relapses of Crohn’s disease. The fibers halt translocation of gut bacteria known as E. coli that typically invades cells in the intestines to lead to Crohn’s disease symptoms.

When apples and leeks were tested, the fibers had no impact on the bacteria, which helps explain why not all fibrous foods are beneficial for people suffering from IBD.

The research was performed in the lab on cell cultures and the amount of broccoli and plantain fiber used was 5 mg/ml. The food stopped translocation of E. coli by 45% to 82 %.

Researchers then confirmed their findings by taking tissue samples from patients undergoing surgery for other disorders of the intestines. Another interesting finding from the same study  was that the emulsifiers polysorbate 60 and 80 increased the movement of E.coli into cells.

The authors suggested many enteral nutritional products that are liquid given through a tube or consumed  by mouth contain the emulsifiers which could explain why only some people with CD and UC respond to liquid feedings.

Based on the study finding, plantain & broccoli could be a helpful addition for treating Crohn’s disease. The authors of the investigation hope to develop other food based therapies for helping people diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Disease.

Read the full study on Broccoli, Plantains and Crohn’s Disease in Emaxhealth.com

Microbiome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD

Human Microbiome for IBD treatment

Courtesy of : ondineblog.com

There’s a lot of recent talk about something called the human microbiome. I read a very interesting article by Chris Iliades, MD that was reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi. They say that the human microbiome has now become one of the most researched medical subject. Those of us who have been advocating use of probiotics for years and years now, have been well aware of the importance of probiotics and microbiota to a healthy digestive tract. Finally, allopatic medical research is catching up, and their findings could lead to a revolution in human health. For those suffering with crohns and colitis, i.e. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), this microbiome research could hold the key to future successful treatment and even prevention.

Keith Sultan, MD, assistant professor at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine and gastroenterologist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. tells us that the human microbiome is all the microbes that normally live inside the human digestive system and he says that for doctors who treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the big interest is in bacteria that live inside the colon and small intestine. He thinks that these bacteria may be the key to controlling the condition (IBD).

He goes on to explain how everyone has zillions of microbes living inside their digestive tract. These microbes, collectively known as the microbiome, help the body digest their food, also produce vitamins, prevent digestive tract infections, and also control the immune system. Now the research is showing that a healthy balance of these microbes is essential for maintaining good health. So, when the balance of the microbiome gets upset, it is called dysbiosis. Researchers now think that its dysbiosis that may be the trigger for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This would mean that by preventing dysbiosis it could be possible to control Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD, known to affect more than a million Americans.

The Journal Genome Medicine published a review of microbiome research in 2013. They found the human microbiome to be an important in the lifelong role of maintaining health. The bacteria in the microbiome have been closely linked to a lot of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including IBD. Now the next step is to profiling the microbiome through the study of microbial genes so that we may look towards new kinds of treatment. The Probiotic Symposium that I attended in San Antonio, Texas in November of 2013, also provided new research in this field.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science sponsored a symposium on the microbiome in 2012. The researches spoke about the discovery of the 4 million or more genes in the microbiome and predicted that this research may lead to a revolution in treatment of infections, malnutrition, diabetes, obesity, as well as Inflammatory Bowel Disease  IBD. The big leap i.e. the ability to do gene sequencing for all the different bacteria in the microbiome rather than the old inefficient way they had to learn about it was by doing bacterial cultures.

Sultan says that the current thinking is that people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD inherit genes that predispose them to the disease but not everybody with the genes gets the disease. It’s something in the environment that has to trigger the genes to cause disease. More and more its pointing to bacteria in the microbiome that are a major trigger.

Many studies have shown that people with IBD tend to have dysbiosis, having less of the friendly bacteria and more types of bacteria that cause gut inflammation. But what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Does IBD cause the dysbiosis that leads to gut inflammation or does dysbiosis trigger Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD? This is still the one of the big question that remains to be answered. My sense is that both conditions exist. I think that its not a matter of either/or, but both possibilities, sometimes the IBD will trigger the dysbiosis and other times the dysbiosis will lead to IBD. I look forward to watching as the research conclusions develop.

I attended a dinner sponsored by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America a few weeks ago. I learned about the research they are sponsoring to help understand the role the microbiome plays in IBD. It’s called the Microbiome Initiative. They started in 2008. The researchers have already completed the collection of DNA data from the microbiomes of people without IBD and now they are collecting data from the microbiomes of people that do have IBD. They are looking to identify the changes in the microbiome that occur during IBD flare ups and also when they are in remission.

“The dream scenario would be that we discover which bacteria trigger IBD and eliminate them,” he says. “That could cure IBD.” But he says that a more complicated relationship is more likely. “The links between the microbiome and IBD are probably part of the puzzle,” he says. “What we learn may allow us to customize treatment for each patient with IBD based on their own genes and the genes of their microbiome.”

We already know that people may inherit 169 genes that can predispose them to having IBD. And it’s also known that bacteria inside the digestive tracts of people with IBD are different from bacteria of people without IBD. Now we will rely on the experts to start ‘putting the puzzle together’, he says. He knows that there is a lot of time and money being spent on profiling the microbiome. His opinion is that there is too much going on for there not to be some big breakthroughs in the near future.

Probiotics Symposium San Antonio, TX. Oct 24th, 2013

I flew in to San Antonio Texas last night for the 7th Annual Probiotics Symposium, held at Embassy Suites on the River Walk, sponsored by the The Institute of Medical Studies and supported by an educational grant from Klaire Labs. I’m happy to say that I have attended them all, knowing that they provide us with the latest development in the use of probiotics in clinical practice. San Antonio RiverWalk

The plane from Phoenix to San Antonio was a small one, so the attendants took our ‘rollies’ at the entrance to the plane to store in the hold as they would not fit in the overhead compartments. When we got to San Antonio, we waited at the plane entrance for our ‘rollies’ to arrive. To my horror, I watched a lady grab my suitcase and quickly walk away, wheeling my luggage, instead of her own, and, I was unable to catch up to her in time to stop her. The good news is that her phone number was clearly marked on her luggage, which was the only one left, unclaimed. The phone call was made and she immediately came back to the airport so we could exchange cases. It made me wonder if this was some kind of omen… I was truly grateful for the outcome!

The Symposium started off with a ‘pre-symposium day’ of information, presented by Dr Stephen Olmstead, Chief Science Officer for Prothera Inc and David Quig, PhD VP Scientific Support from Doctor’s Data Labs.

Dr Olmstead is very knowledgeable about probiotics and the role they play in keeping us healthy. He also gave us lots of incredibly detailed information about of the role of pathogen-associated biofilm dysbiosis in our bodies, the biofilm being the place where very often, candida and other pathogenic organisms, may hide out, often for long periods of time, and why it’s so difficult to get rid of the problems that arise as a result of their mere existence. Its fascinating to learn how innately ‘intelligent’ pathogen-associated biofilm is, and what’s more, it’s not that the concept of biofilm is new. We have known about biofilm every since we knew that microbiota even existed, however, its only recently that we are discovering how biofilm functions. Dr Olmstead recommended including 2 enzyme products that he formulated, Interfase and Interfase Plus, to be used in any protocol to break down pathogenic biofilm in the gut. (If you’d like to order Interfase or Interfase Plus – let us know by sending us a message –
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Talking about probiotics, he stressed how the normal central nervous system needs gut flora to develop. He stressed how probiotics protect us from pathogens, regulate our immune response and also give us nutritional support. Of course, it all starts with mom … the maternal probiotics are delivered to breast milk and then to the infant; so if Mom is healthy, that’s all the infant would need. Probiotics in mother’s milk is mainly made up of bifidus, so that’s why its always a good idea to supplement with bifidus for infants and kids struggling to get rid of any digestive complaints.

Dr Olmstead reminded us the term acidophilus had been used for a long time to refer to any probiotics and it was only in the 1970’s that it was reclassified. We know that this particular strain of lactobacillus is resistant to bile acids, helps break down casein and gluten and also keeps pathogens away.

He spoke, too, about Bacillus, the Gram-positive aerobes. We used to think that they were not part of microbiota, but now we know they are. They can actually function as anaerobes if need be. They are soil based organisms and are spoken about as ‘transient commensals’ as they are only in the gut for a short time. But, even though they are in the gut for a short time, they can be very effective in getting rid of bad bacteria (pathogens).

Dr Olmstead mentioned how probiotics were not regarded as very effective in treatment with IBD, even though, in his opinion, they are extremely effective. I was thrilled to hear that, as, in my private practice and managing Crohns.net as an e-commerce site for purchase and education about probiotics for the past 15 years, I know, too, from my clinical practice and experience that probiotics, have helped tens of thousands of patients world wide.

Probiotics are one of the key supplements included in my suggested protocol to deal with the signs and symptoms of Crohns disease and Ulcerative colitis. Olmstead mentioned that he found s boulardii particularly helpful in probiotic combinations for Crohn’s Disease patients. This is verified by clinical studies (Campieri et al 2000, 118, 781).  He also mentioned studies done by Gionchetti (2000 and 2003) and Mimura (2004) using VSL#3 probiotics that were very effective in reducing the number of relapses of pouchitis.

IMG_20131024_171806_328It was delightful to meet Dr Josephine Ruiz-Healy M.D. a local, San Antonian Integrative Pediatric physician who shared how her dad had been a surgeon practicing in Mexico and how she was introduced to integrative alternatives by him. She uses probiotics in her practice all the time.

More to come tomorrow!


Stress Perception Important in IBD Patients

What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Studies show both. Stress perception is important in IBD patients and its the perception that induces flare ups, or, IBD causes to stress and depression that leads to flareups and worsening of the condition.

Dr. Charles Bernstein, a well-known Canadian researcher, tells us that in a study

Stress Perception Important in IBD Patients

Stress Perception Important in IBD Patients

comparing people who experienced a colitis flare-up to those who did not, there were no differences between the groups in areas such as the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics or the presence of infections. What was different however was the perception of stress experienced by the study subjects. So, it was not the presence or absence of stress that was found to be significant; it was the degree to which an individual perceived their stress that was important; in other words, it’s stress perception important in IBD patients, not necessarily whether they were really more stressed or not.

While other research has proven that stress does not cause IBD, now we know that stress perception and a flare-up of IBD symptoms are intertwined. We are slowly beginning to understand that IBD affects people psychologically even when their condition of IBD is not active. And we also know that people with ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease have a higher risk of developing depression and other psychological problems than people in general.

What comes first? Is it that IBD leads to depression and creates stress on Crohns and Colitis sufferers or, is stress perception so important in IBD patients, as well as a feeling of depression, that it makes the symptoms of IBD worse and possibly even result in a flare-up? At this point, we don’t really know – what we do know is that there is a body/mind connection in all expressions of disease and both are important contributors to a person’s health.

We highly recommend our comprehensive, yet easy to follow, 8 week stress management program that is offered on line – delivered conveniently in your inbox on a daily basis for 8 weeks. Its very simple and the techniques that we advocate influence both mind and body.

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