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In This Issue

Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth

Why Chocolate Is Good for You?

Relieve Stress and Anxiety without Drugs

Maximize Omega 3 Fatty Acids




Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth

Henry Lin, MD, gastro-enterologist and associate professor of Medicine, Division of Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, University of Southern California, Los Angeles reports on hope for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers. He writes that after years of uncertainty, the cause of IBS for a majority of patients has been determined. He says that "friendly" bacteria from the large intestine (colon) make their way up into the small intestine and ferment the food we eat. This small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) triggers the bloating, cramps, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation of IBS, which afflicts about 10/o to 14% of Americans. Research now is under way to develop treatments for SIBO.

Great Smokies Bacterial Overgrowth of the Small Intestine Breath Test
Simple breath test evaluates bacterial overgrowth in the Small Intestine


Why Chocolate Is Good for You?

Barbara Levine, PhD, RD Cornell University reports that chocolate contains protective flavonoids and antioxidant chemicals that inhibit the cell-damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals, produced by pollution, exposure to ultraviolet radiation and other factors, have been linked to cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions.

The flavonoids in chocolate improve circulation as they relax blood vessel linings and improve circulation to the extremities. Flavonoids clean arteries; studies indicate that phenolic compounds (a type of flavonoid) may lower the risk of heart disease by inhibiting the accumulation of cholesterol and other fatty substances on artery walls. Chocolate suppresses coughs as it contains a chemical, theobromine, known to suppress coughs better than codeine. Chocolate reduces blood pressure. There may be an association between the low blood pressure readings in the Kuria Indians of Panama and their cocoa-rich diet.

In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the flavonoid content. A bar of dark chocolate contains an average of 53.5 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids. Milk chocolate has less than 14 mg. Remember that chocolate products may be high in sugar and contain milk or hydrogenated fats that can contribute to higher cholesterol. One option is to have a cup of hot cocoa made with skim milk - you get the flavonoids with less saturated fat and fewer calories.


Relieve Stress and Anxiety without Drugs

If you suffer from anxiety, depression or the effects of stress, there is another way. David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD of University of Pittsburgh explains how. As the nervous system adapts to changing conditions inside and outside the body, the heart rate adjusts, speeding up and slowing down. Under stressful conditions, it becomes chaotic, like the driving of someone who shifts incessantly between the brake and the accelerator. You can train your heart to run smoothly. Rsearchers have found that smoothing out its rhythm calms the brain. For example, in a Stanford University study of people with heart failure, stress declined by 22% and depression by 34% after six weeks of cardiac coherence training (CCT). CCT involves biofeedback to control the moment-to-moment changes in heart rate.

Here is an exercise that David Servan-Schreiber recommends to calm your heart: Take slow, deep breaths, and center your attention on your heart. Imagine that you are breathing in and out through your heart...imagine how each inhalation brings in oxygen to nourish your body and each exhalation dispels waste. Visualize your heart floating in a lukewarm bath. Be aware of a warm feeling in your chest. Focus on it and encourage it with slow, deep breaths.

Even when you're not under stress, practice this exercise so that you can easily do it whenever you need to. He recommends that 10 minutes before bed is a good time.

Stress Management Program - Relaxation Module


Maximize Omega 3 Fatty Acids

A study in "The Lancet" found that people who eat fish more than twice a week are less likely than others to be depressed. Other research has shown that supplements rich in omega-3s reduce depression, moodiness and other emotional conditions.

Essential fatty acids, which come from the foods we eat, make up 20% of the brain-primarily the cell membranes and the fibers that carry nerve impulses. Of particular importance are two types of fatty acids -omega-3s, which are found in fish and certain leafy vegetable and omega-6s, a principal component of many vegetable oils. When the brain developed, the human diet had equal amounts of both. Today, the average American diet has at least 10 times as much omega-6s as omega-3s. The imbalance plays a role in heart disease, arthritis, and even Alzheimer's disease. It also raises the risk of depression.

How to get more Omega 3s

  • Eat ocean fish, such as mackerel, herring, tuna and salmon - two to three times a week.
  • Eat dark-green, leafy vegetables, particularly spinach and watercress.
  • Substitute oils rich in omega-3s, such as flaxseed and walnut oil, for those that are high in omega-6s, such as soy, corn and sunflower oils.
  • Take a fish-oil supplement daily. It should contain one gram of omega-3s. It is advisable to check with your doctor, especially if you're taking aspirin or a blood thinner.



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In Good Health.
Pamela Nathan

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