In This Issue
Selecting the Right Probiotic
Benefits of Including Fiber in Your Diet
Cold-Sores Outbreaks Helped With Diet and Supplements
Selecting the Right Probiotic
One of the keys to feeling good and being healthy is eating nutritious food and making sure your gastrointestinal (GI) tract has everything it needs to optimize digestion and absorb nutrients. The Gastrointestinal tract includes the stomach, the small and large intestines. All work to together to receive and digest food as well as to eliminate waste. A variety of "good" intestinal bacteria help to keep the digestive system effictient. These "good" bacteria are called probiotic bacteria, or probiotics. Probiotics help digest food, process waste, and keep the "bad" bacteria in check. Abundance of bad bacteria have the potential to cause disease and illness. Probiotic supplementation can help prevent and treat many different illnesses. However, unless these beneficial bacteria actuallt reach the intestines in an active state, the supplement is worthless.
Dr. Weiss, cardiologist, is the first naturopathic physician to complete a conventional residency program in the Columbia Hospital System, the Arizona Heart Hospital and the prestigious Arizona Heart Institute. Dr. Weiss has a unique perspective in that he has experience with both naturopathic and conventional practice. Dr Weiss was asked about the important role that probiotic bacteria play in maintaining our health and wellness, why we need them and what they can do for us.
Dr Weiss says that probiotic bacteria are very important for digestive health. He tells us that normal microflora, which is the term commonly used for intestinal bacteria, is associated with good health. An imbalance in this natural microflora i.e. when the beneficial probiotics are outnumbered by the harmful bacteria, is frequently associated with various disease states such as yeast infections and colon cancer1. He explains how eating foods or taking a nutritional supplement containing probiotic bacteria helps support and modify the composition of the large intestine microflora3. 'Microflora of the large intestine assist digestion through fermentation by making the intestines less 'hospitable' to invading bacteria species, protection against disease-causing bacteria, and stimulation of the immune system1, he says. He goes on to say that the probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, play a central role in the intestinal flora and provide health benefits2
Weiss explains how the use of probiotic bacteria extends far beyond ensuring a healthy digestive system:
- Lactobacillus acidophillus has been found to help prevent vaginal yeast infections in women that suffer from these reoccurring infections3
- Probiotic bacteria have also been demonstrated to have anti-cancer properties.
In a clinical study, colon cancer patients given Lactobacillus acidophilus fermented milk showed a significant increase in numbers of intestinal Lactobacilli and a decrease in risk factors associated with colon cancer.4
- Probiotics supplementation can also improve and prevent skin diseases, such as eczema. Studies have shown that probiotic bacteria can actually control inflammation associated with skin conditions5,6. In one study, infants with eczema who were given probiotic-supplemented formulas showed a significant improvement in skin condition6 .
- Patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, can benefit from probiotic bacteria supplementation. Studies have shown that probiotic bacteria assist in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis and preventing reoccurrence of Crohn's disease. Infact, manipulating the intestinal flora may prove to be more effective and better tolerated than the drugs that are conventionally given to treat these diseases7,8,9,10,11. Weiss quotes one study where Lactobacillus acidophillus was found to improve the intestinal barrier and clinical status in children suffering from Crohn's disease.ls
- Famularo C, Moretti S, Marcellini, De Simone C. Stimulation of immunity by probiotics. In: Fuller, R ed. Probiotics 2 Applications and Practical Aspects. London, England: Chapman & Hall; 1997:133-161.
- Fuller R. Introduction. In: Fuller, R ed. Probiotics 2 Applications and Practical Aspects. London, England: Chapman & Hall; 1997:1-9.
- Hilton E, Isenberg HF, Alperstein P, France K, Borenstein MT. Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophillus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis. Ann Intern med. 1992;116:353-357.
- Lidbeck A, Nord CE, Gustafsson JA, Rafter J. Lactobacilli, anticarcinogenic activities and human intestinal microflora. Eur J Cancer Prev. 1992;1:341-53. Abstract.
- Kalliomaki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koshinen P, Isolauri E.
Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2001;357:1076-9. Abstract.
- Isolauri E, Arvola T, Sutas Y, Moilanen E, Salminen S. Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clin Exp Allergy. 2000;30:1604-10. Abstract.
- Gupta P, Andrew H, Kirshner B, Guandalini S. Is lactobacillus GG helpful in children with Crohn's disease? Results of a preliminary, open-label study. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2000;31:453-7. Abstract.
- Farrell R, Peppercorn M. ulcerative colitis. Lancet. 2002;359:331-40. Abstract.
- Venturi A, Gionchetti p, Rizzello F, et al. Impact on the composition of the fecal flora by a new probiotic preparation: Preliminary data on maintenance treatment of patients with ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999:13:1103-8. Abstract.
- Linskens R, Huijsdens X, Savelkoul P, Vandenbroucke-Grauls C, Meuwissen S.
The bacterial flora in inflammatory bowel disease: current insights in pathogenesis and the influence of antibiotics and probiotics. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 2001;234:29-40. Abstract.
- Madsen K. The use of probiotics in intestinal disease. Con J Gastroenterol. 2001;15:817-22. Abstract.
Benefits of including fiber in your Diet
There's more to fiber than preventing colon cancer.
The following are some of the benefits of eating a high-fiber diet:
- Fiber helps promote regularity.
- Fiber helps speed waste through the colon, so there's much less risk of constipation and diverticular disease with a high-fiber diet.
- Fiber may help lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)and total cholesterol, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.
- It is thought that fiber alters fat or cholesterol absorption in the large bowel.
- Two Harvard University studies found that a high-fiber intake was linked to a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to a low-fiber intake.
- Fiber may help lower blood sugar, helping to better manage diabetes. It's believed high-fiber intake may coat the gut's lining and delay stomach emptying, which can slow sugar absorption after a meal and may reduce the amount of insulin needed.
- Fiber can help control weight.
"Eating high fiber foods brings a feeling of fullness sooner' says Joan Rupp, registered dietitian and instructor at San Diego State University's Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences She explains that it take about 20 minutes for the brain to get the message that you're satisfied. "It takes a lot longer to chew a salad of lettuce and other vegetables than it does to down a couple dozen French fries. So, by the time you finish the salad you will be filled up, but not so with the French fries".
- Fiber in itself has no calories because the body cannot absorb it.
Studies have consistently found that people eating a high-fiber diet are less likely to gain a lot of weight as they age compared to people with a low-fiber diet. According to Cheryl Rock, professor of nutrition at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, fiber has even more impact on weight than fat in the diet.
What to do? Here's some suggestions on how to increase your fiber consumption:
- Choose fresh fruit or vegetables rather than juice.
- Eat the skin and membranes of cleaned fruits and vegetables.
- Eat bran and whole grain breads/cereals daily.
When selecting cereals, look for oat, bran and whole-grain cereals with 5 grams of fiber or more per serving.
Choose whole-grain or rye breads with 3 to 5 grams of fiber per slice.
- Brown rice and pasta are better fiber choices than white versions.
- An increase in fiber nees to be accompanied by an increase in water.
- Eat fewer processed foods and more fresh ones.
- Add fiber gradually over a period of time - about three weeks - to avoid abdominal problems.
- Spread out your fiber intake.
- It's better to get fiber from foods rather than fiber supplements since high-fiber foods are more nutritious
Cold-sores outbreaks helped with diet and supplements
A cold sore that appears around your mouth is brought on by the activity of a specific virus, herpes simplex virus 1 (HSVl). Although we call them "cold" sores, the only real connection with a cold is that both ailments are caused by viruses. It is not the same virus. With HSVl, the cold sore will eventually be gone, but the virus is not permanently defeated. This virus has an ability to hang around, lying dormant in our nerve cells awaiting its next opportunity. Cold sores are affected by the functions of the immune system.
Sometimes an ongoing cold or some other ailment could burden the immune system to the extent that the herpes virus would be able to re-emerge.
Other factors that can encourage a cold sore outbreak include:
- excessive cold,
- sun or
- wind exposure, or
- an injury to the lips or mouth and
The dietary connection is rather interesting. The herpes virus appears to benefit from the amino acid Lysine, while not to the amino acid, Arginine. If you tend to suffer from frequent cold sores, you may want to consider increasing the ratio of Lysine to Arginine in your diet. You can accomplish this by increasing Lysine-rich foods and cutting down on those that are high in Arginine.
Foods high in Lysine include most traditional protein foods:
- dairy products,
- beef and
Foods that have more Arginine than Lysine include:
- nuts and nut butters,
- winter squash,
- wheat flour and
- wheat germ.
An effective way to tilt the odds in your favor would be to take the amino acid Lysine as a dietary supplement.
Another potential weapon to consider is Elderberry. An extract of this fruit has been shown to be effective against viruses when taken at the very first sign of a viral outbreak.
One other substance called Docosanol, is sold over the counter as a topical antiviral agent under the name Abreva.
There is a more extensive list of Lysine and Arginine values at www.herpes.com/Nutrition.shtml.
In Good Health.