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8 Signs that your Gut Bacteria are Out of Whack!

Every day, there are new studies coming out exploring the connection between human gut bacterial populations, and practically every other aspect of human health. Most people don’t realize it yet, but what you eat and how you live will change the makeup of your gut bacteria. This also means that if you can change your gut, you can change your life.

The first step is realizing that something is wrong with your gut bacteria in the first place. So what can you do to determine if there might be an issue with the population of bacteria in your gut.

There are more than 100 trillion bacterial cells in the average human gut, and they have a greater impact on our health than medical experts and researchers previously realized. There are GOOD gut bacteria and BAD gut bacterial species. Good gut bacterial species help to improve our digestion, strengthen the immune system and aid in the manufacture of vitamins that our body needs. Bad gut bacteria can cause skin conditions, nightmares, brain symptoms, autoimmune conditions, detoxification problems and a whole host of functional issues that could eventually lead to chronic diseases.

Here are 8 signs to watch for to determine if your gut bacteria are imbalanced.

  1. Digestive Issues

The first and most likely symptom that we find in patients with gut bacterial imbalances are digestive problems. Our gut bacteria are very important to our ability to break down and digest foods, in order to get our required nutrients. The issue is that an imbalance can lead to slowing or quickening of the digestive sequence. These can lead to digestive symptoms such as:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
  • Heartburn/ ”acid reflux”
  1. Inability to Lose weight

Certain gut bacteria have been shown to exist in patients that have more trouble losing weight. I personally went through this issue as my imbalanced gut flora was contributing to unhealthy food cravings, fatigue, and tiredness. Through laboratory testing, it was determined that the balance of my bacterial populations was a contributing cause to my weight gain and my inability to lose weight. Once I was able to rebalance my flora, the weight fell off and I burned off a total of 75 lbs while improving so many other aspects of my life.

  1. Mental Issues

Did you know that imbalances in your gut can affect the health and function of your brain? Your gut bacteria actually produce a significant amount of neurotransmitters, the chemicals used by your brain to communicate between cells. There is a new trend being researched currently, that people with certain patterns of mental dysfunction also tend to have disturbances in their gut bacteria. These mental symptoms can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain Fog
  • Autism
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  1. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

We absorb most of our vitamins and minerals through our gut, and these important molecules then travel to our cells through our bloodstream. An imbalance in gut bacteria means that your body will actually have a harder time absorbing these essential vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B12
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  1. Excessive Antibiotic Use

When they are used correctly, antibiotics are one of the greatest innovations in modern medicine, however, in our current circumstances, we are being prescribed antibiotics at an irresponsible rate. They are being used indiscriminately on factory-farmed animals and some doctors even prescribe them for viral infections (which is quite useless). Antibiotics are great for wiping out bad bacterial species, but they are also good at eliminating good bacteria in the gut which we now know are essential for our health. It is important to intervene on your own to help replenish good bacterial species if you have had recent or longer-term antibiotic use.

  1. Inability to Deal with Stress

Stress can be good and bad. It can build you up or tear you down. If you are the type of person that has trouble dealing with stress, meaning that you become more anxious and have increased blood pressure, then that negative stress can have profound effects on your gut bacteria. Unmanaged stress raises our Cortisol stress hormone levels, which tells our gut not to work correctly. Under stress, our bodies send more energy to our muscles, and less blood to our internal organs. Digestion is not considered an important issue when you are running away from a lion or dealing with an annoying client at the end of your work day. If you have not taken steps to manage your internal stress levels, you are far more likely to have an unhealthy gut flora.

  1. Skin Conditions

Your gut is an extension of your skin, or depending on your perspective, your skin is an extension of your gut. There is a misguided but common idea that the symptoms of a condition must appear in the same spot as the problem itself. This is not true as we now know that an issue in your gut will often appear on your skin as a sign that something is not right inside. Unbalanced gut flora have been implicated and proven to be contributing to multiple skin conditions including:

  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Dry, scaly skin
  1. Autoimmune Diseases

There is more and more research coming out each week showing that our gut is ground zero for immune system balance. We have immune cells present in every millimeter of our gut, protecting us from negative outside influence. As we continue to expose these cells to environmental toxins, herbicides, pesticides, plastics and other harmful food-based proteins, we are over-stimulating our immune cells to the point that they can’t keep up. Eventually, they start attacking anything that looks similar to these toxins, which often leads to autoimmune diseases. These conditions can include:

  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Ulcerative Colit
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Vasculitis
  • Type 1 Diabetes

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

So now that we know how to spot potential issues with gut flora balance, what can we do about it? There are a few easy steps that we can all take to help balance your gut bacteria.

  1. Avoid Chemical and Environmental Toxins

Throw away your plastic food containers and recycle your plastic water bottles. Plastics are a major source of environmental and chemical toxins including BPA. Eating organic foods will also help to eliminate the ingestion of herbicide and pesticide residues like Glyphosate, which has recently been linked to cancer. Eat a clean, whole food, organic diet and use glass containers and glass bottles to avoid chemicals that are constantly around us.

  1. Eliminate Toxic Foods and Medications

Certain foods tend to lead to increased inflammation in the gut and can produce imbalances in gut bacteria. In fact, having these foods can lead to cravings for unhealthy food on an ongoing basis. The foods to avoid include grains, conventional, grain-fed dairy, sugars and unhealthy oils. Its also a good idea to avoid other modern toxins that are always available such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen and Antibiotics.

  1. Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are a proactive way to encourage good gut bacteria to grow. These foods were very common in our ancestors’ diets and are full of good gut bacteria. Great options include:

  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables
  • Non-pasteurized yogurt, cheese, and kefir
  1. Take a GOOD QUALITY Probiotic Supplement

Our ancestors were not as concerned with hygiene as we are. They used to play in the soil and other “dirty” things that they encountered. A good probiotic can help make up for the hygienic practices that we use on a daily basis. There are a wide range of probiotic supplements available and here are some guidelines to use when choosing a good probiotic:

  • Stay away from the cheapo bins – you get what you pay for
  • Make sure they are potent, a minimum of 10 Billion cultures per dose for regular probiotics and a minimum of 3 Billion cultures per dose for spore-based probiotics
  • Look into supplements that contain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
  1. Manage your Stress

One of the most powerful things you can do besides changing your diet and taking probiotics is to take time and learn how to handle daily stressors that will inevitably come up. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all method to this, but the key is to find something you enjoy and stick with it. Some great options include:

  • Getting a weekly massage
  • Yoga
  • Weight-lifting
  • Meditation
  • Taking a bath
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Going for a run or a bike ride
  • Watching the sunrise
  • Periodic vacations
  • Getting a good night’s rest

These practices can all help you reduce inflammation, lower cortisol levels and lead to an overall improvement in gut function. Taking time for yourself is essential not only for your mind to recharge but for your body to recover from the constant stress we place on it.

Making these changes are the first step in re-balancing your gut bacteria. Some people may need further assistance and testing to determine why issues can exist or persist. If you would like to find out more about our Functional Medicine Program at The Living Proof Institute you can visit www.becomeproof.com or book a free 15-minute phone consultation at www.iamproof.com.

Wishing you great gut health,

Dr. Navaz Habib

www.drhabib.ca

Should I Eat Organic?

“Organic food is expensive.” I hear this comment daily when I speak with patients, colleagues and friends. Is it even possible to always eat completely organic?

In our daily lives, it is not always possible to make the best choices in terms of food. Nobody understands this better than an entrepreneur, chiropractor and owner of multiple businesses. We have hectic lives and if you have kids and parents to take care of, we can often feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to make great food at home on a daily basis. Choosing high quality foods when you grocery shop is also not easy, but it is possible if you know what to look for.

What does Organic even mean?

I’m sure we have all heard about the use of pesticides and genetically modified organism (GMO) crops that are growing in usage throughout North America especially.

Organic foods generally are foods that have not been genetically modified to withstand the effect of herbicide and pesticide sprays. Organic foods are those that have not been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. The most commonly known example of this practice is the company Monsanto, which uses genetically modified seeds of corn, soybean and other crops, and sprays them with their own herbicide product called Roundup.

The main ingredient in Roundup is a chemical called Glyphosate. Glyphosate actively is used to kill weeds and grasses that compete for soil usage with crops that are being grown by farmers.

Glyphosate has been linked to many health conditions since its usage started in 1996 when glyphosate resistant crops were introduced in the US. The health conditions implicated include a nearly exact correlation with Autism, Alzheimer’s, Obesity, Diabetes and Autoimmune diseases. It is not unreasonable to assume that these chemicals could potentially be a significant source of chronic health conditions. For this reason, it would be best to purchase organic produce when you are shopping for groceries.

Do I need to buy everything Organic?

Some vegetables and crops have been found to contain more pesticide and herbicide than others. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) has created a list of foods that are highest and lowest in pesticide and herbicide residues. They have called these lists the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”.

Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries
  • Potatoes

Clean Fifteen:

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

Use this list as a resource to direct you when you are buying your groceries. This is an easy way to keep your expenses down and to ensure that you are feeding your families the cleanest foods possible. Ideally, most of your foods should be purchased organic, but this list is a great resource to use if you are not ready to go all the way just yet.

If you think organic food is expensive, just think of it as an investment, so you don’t need to spend money on huge healthcare bills when you are older.

Happy Grocery Shopping!

Overcoming B12 Deficiency

Many people suffer from fatigue, low mood, brain fog and lack of motivation. One of the most common reasons for these symptoms is a deficiency in Vitamin B12. This vitamin is an essential nutrient for humans, meaning that we cannot produce it in our own bodies, thus we are required to take it in through a dietary source. It is estimated that up to 40% of North Americans are deficient in vitamin B12, and it is incredibly common in those people who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The most common symptoms of B12 deficiency are fatigue, mental and brain fog, depression, anemia (red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet) and neuropathy. There are some simple tests that your doctor can do to determine if you have a cellular B12 deficiency. Serum B12 is not a good enough marker of B12 function as the effect of B12 occurs in the cells. Ask your doctor for an Intracellular B12 test. If your doctor is unable to perform this test, then Methylmalonic Acid and Homocysteine are other indirect measures of B12. They are not as accurate but these are other options that exist.

Vitamin B12 is most bioavailable (meaning the most usable form of this vitamin is) from dietary meat sources. One of the most important things we need meat for is Vitamin B12. Vegetarian sources of B12 are very rare and not readily available around the world.

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can be caused by any of the following:

Pernicious Anemia

This is an autoimmune condition in which our immune system attacks the cells in our stomach that produce stomach acid and an important protein called Intrinsic Factor (IF). If these cells (called Parietal cells) are being attacked by immune cells, they cannot readily produce Hydrochloric Acid  thus our body cannot separate the vitamin B12 molecule from other dietary molecules. IF is used to transport vitamin B12 across the intestinal cells into the bloodstream but if these cells cannot produce enough IF, then we are unable to absorb the B12, leading to cellular deficiency. This is a very common condition in vegetarians who are not supplementing with good quality B12 supplements.

Autoimmune conditions most commonly begin in the gut through Intestinal Hyperpermeability, or Leaky Gut syndrome.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

There are multiple causes of Intestinal Hyperpermeability, aka Leaky Gut Syndrome. Some of the most common are gluten sensitivity, dairy protein sensitivity, parasitic infection, H. pylori and other small intestinal bacterial infections. These issues produce proteins that break down the walls of our gut lining, thus allowing toxins and other molecules to enter our bloodstream, leading to overactivation of our immune systems. It also leads to the decreased ability to properly absorb vitamin B12 from the gut.

Getting tested to determine your gut health is a great way to determine if you are suffering from this condition, however you can also simply cut out the grain, dairy, processed and high sugar foods from your diet to help improve your gut health.

Poor Gut Microbiome

The good bacteria in our intestinal tract help us to break down foods and absorb important nutrients into our bloodstream. If the population of our gut bacteria is imbalanced (too much bad bacteria, too much or too little good bacteria), then this can lead to improper absorption of important nutrients including Vitamin B12. Your microbiome population is determined by the amount of sugar and probiotic rich foods you eat. It is important to reduce the amount of sugar and increase vegetables to help combat bad bacterial growth.

Heartburn Medication

One of the most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity and digestive issues is heartburn. Prescribed and OTC heartburn medications can cause a reduction in Parietal Cell activity, thus decreasing stomach acid and intrinsic factor levels.

It is far more important to determine the cause of the heartburn rather than simply masking the symptoms with a medication.

Chemotherapy Treatment

One of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy is a vitamin deficiency, specifically of B12 and Folic Acid. Chemotherapeutic medications cause an irritation of gut and stomach cells and can have effects very similar to those listed above. It can be very effective for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment to supplement with higher doses of B12 and Folic Acid to help battle this deficiency.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

This is all good to know, now what steps can you take if you are deficient in Vitamin B12?

  • Eat more meat

The best sources are wild caught fish, free range chicken, lamb and sheep meat. Other good options include chicken liver, beef liver, grass fed beef and some raw dairy products like Kefir.

  • Supplements

The best supplement source of Vitamin B12 is Methylcobalamin, however Cyanocobalamin is another good option. Please speak with your doctor or a functional medicine practitioner before starting a supplement routine. These are also a great option for vegetarians who do not want to deal with B12 deficiency symptoms.

  • Good Quality Probiotics

It is important to have a good microbiome population as it helps you to absorb Vitamin B12 as necessary. Try eating good probiotic foods such as Kefir, cultured vegetables like Sauerkraut and Kimchi, Kombucha, Coconut Kefir (dairy free option), pickles and dark chocolate. A high quality probiotic supplement can also be very effective.

  • Reduce Inflammatory Foods

Cut down on foods that increase gut and cellular inflammation, including processed, packaged and prepared foods, margarine, fried foods, low quality meats, sugars, food additives, synthetic sweeteners, iodized salt, dairy and wheat and other grains.

  • Desiccated Liver Supplement

For those of you who don’t like the taste of liver, supplementing with a desiccated liver supplement is a good option for food sources of liver.

Foods to Avoid if you suffer from Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a common diagnostic label given to patients by their physicians. Often times, this diagnosis is made based on the inability of medications to manage the symptoms of this condition. It has been reported in the literature, that the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is often made incorrectly, as many patients have underlying subclinical conditions that are not apparent on basic blood testing.

Fibromyalgia is generally diagnosed based on symptoms including chronic muscle and joint pain, anxiety, concentration issues, memory problems, depression, moderate to severe fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, decreased energy, sleep problems and morning stiffness.

A significant proportion of these symptoms occur because many cells in the body cannot handle the physical, chemical and emotional stressors of daily life due to a poor diet, lack of exercise and an emotionally burdened lifestyle. Some common specific causes of these symptoms are listed below.

  1. Food Additives like Aspartame, MSG and Nitrates

Aspartame and MSG are food additives for sweetness and umami flavour found in many different cuisines. Both of these additives are called Excitotoxins which have an excitatory effect on the NMDA pain receptors, causing acute pains to become chronic and more severe. Fibromyalgia symptoms are often exacerbated when patients eat foods containing these additives.

Aspartame is found in more than 6,000 products including diet soda, confections, chewing gum, gelatins, dessert mixtures, yogurt and some pharmaceuticals. It is consumed by over 200 million people around the world according to www.aspartame.org.

MSG is found in many frozen and processed foods, as well as some asian style cuisines.

Nitrates are found commonly in lunch meats like ham, bologna, pastrami and even bacon.

  1. Diet High in Sugar and simple carbohydrates

Cutting down simple carbs like bread, sugar and cake can reduce symptoms of underlying chronic yeast infections, present subclinically, that can often cause Fibromyalgia symptoms. Yeast is a type of fungus that thrives on sugars and is often an underlying cause of this condition. These sugars also result in a spike in blood glucose and the subsequent immediate drop of this level, which exacerbates the fatigue experienced by patients

For overall health and to help fix your gut bacteria, it is important to cut out sugary foods, particularly high fructose corn syrup. Cutting out simple sugars is also incredibly effective to aid in loss of excessive weight – I am living proof of this.

  1. Caffeine including Coffee, Tea and Chocolate

Due to the stimulant effects of caffeine, many sufferers use high-caffeine beverages as a source of energy. The energy boost you get from caffeine is false and can quickly worsen fatigue symptoms. Fatigue symptoms are often much deeper and longer lasting due to the sedative effects of caffeine, which follow the immediate energy boost.

Cutting out caffeine can have amazing positive benefits on energy levels within less than a week, with most patients noticing a difference almost immediately.

  1. Yeast and Gluten

These 2 very different substances are frequently found together, particularly in baked goods like cake, donuts and bread. Yeast in the diet can foster overgrowth of yeast fungus in the body leading to more joint and muscle pain. Gluten on the other hand, has been linked to impaired digestion and many autoimmune conditions which are present subclinically in Fibromyalgia patients. Gluten has been found to break down the tight junctions between cells of the intestine – a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome – leading to foods and chemical toxins entering the bloodstream when they normally would not.

Many chronic pain and autoimmune disease sufferers will also benefit from incredibly positive changes in their health by simply cutting out gluten from their diet.

  1. Dairy

Dairy products have also been linked to various digestive issues, similar to Gluten. Subclinical dairy intolerance is common, and dark green vegetables are a natural (and better) source of Calcium than milk.

Fyi – Humans are the only mammal that continues to drink and eat milk products beyond age 2 (and its equivalent in the age of other mammals).

  1. Nightshade Vegetables

Some vegetables, referred to as nightshade plants, have been found to trigger flares in arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms. These vegetables include Tomatoes, chili and bell peppers, potatoes and eggplant. For the most part, these are nutritious vegetables so if they do not trigger symptoms, don’t ban them from your diet.

Real Men Don’t Count Calories

Once I had decided to change my lifestyle and my food, I did exactly what most people do. I started counting the calories of the foods that I was eating. For convenience sake and for ease of tracking, I decided to start tracking my foods with an app that would automatically count the calories for me. I could also track my exercises and movements, showing I was consuming my allowed 1600-1800 calories daily. This is a very common method I’m sure many of you have either begun or do regularly.

While tracking using the app, I noticed a few things:

  1. I would read more food labels and determine the size of a portion and the number of calories – GOOD THING
  2. It was easier to purchase foods with a UPC symbol so I could just scan the barcode and input the data into my app – EASY THING
  3. I did not care at all about the ingredients – BAD THING
  4. I did not look at the nutritional values – BAD THING

This was the first step in my progression to good foods – I was actually becoming aware and mindful of what I was eating. The problem however, is that I fell into the trap of ease and convenience in food tracking. I became focused on a few numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I was consuming, the number of calories I was burning. The numbers became an obsession. I would constantly ask myself how many calories did I burn during the last squash game, and how many calories were in that handful of crackers and cheese.

What I didn’t realize (until much later) is that the NUMBERS don’t matter. What matters is the SOURCE of the calories.

We have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” I never fully understood this until one of my ah-ha moments. What we eat will eventually become our cellular make up.

Where do you get your Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Good Fat and your Protein from?

  • The Calcium that builds up your bones and maintains cellular function?
  • The Potassium that circulates to maintain electrical balance and heart function?
  • The Vitamins that fight infections, and maintain a state of homeostasis of your electrolytes?
  • The Fat that maintains the Schwann Cells in your neurons, ensuring your brain functions correctly?
  • The Proteins that make up all of your skeletal and cardiac muscle as well as the proteins that sit on the surface of EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY to ensure they react correctly to hormonal signals?

Once I realized that I truly am what I eat, my life changed – If I wanted to become healthy, I had to eat healthy. A FUNCTIONAL, CLEAN body comes from eating good CLEAN REAL FOOD.

I believe that we have evolved to live on this planet for a reason and that all of the sources of food that we require have evolved in the same way. This is why I now strive to avoid foods that have been processed in any way, shape or form, grown through mass agricultural means, or sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides and herbicides.

I now no longer look at the calories on nutritional labels, I will now only look at the ingredients. I choose to eat real food, food that has come from the ground or an animal that has eaten food that grows naturally. 

The following are my rules for grocery shopping:

  • If it has an expiry date that is more than 10 days, I will not even look at it.
  • If it is green and leafy, it is allowed.
  • If it grew in the ground and was not processed at all, generally it is allowed (too much starch is not good).
  • If it comes in a package, it can’t have any ingredients that I don’t know.
  • More than 3-5 ingredients is a red flag (unless it’s a healthy trail mix with multiple natural ingredients like nuts and seeds).
  • Chicken is free range, hormone and antibiotic free.
  • Beef is grass-fed, free of hormones and antibiotics.
    • Grass-fed beef is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids (more to come on this later).
  • Fish are ideally wild, not farmed.
    • Did you know that farmed fish often have chicken pellets in their feed… since when do salmon eat chicken in the food chain

Counting calories gave me a glimpse into becoming mindful of what I was eating, however it stopped me from becoming aware of the CONTENTS of my food intake.

Feel free to count calories if it’s working for you, but be very careful to not get pulled into the obsession of numbers. Your WEIGHT IS ONLY A SINGLE MEASURE OF YOUR HEALTH – IT IS NOT THE FINAL DETERMINANT. Health issues can also occur in people who have their weight under control, the key is to find a balance – balance your stress, balance your time, balance your food and your body will do the rest.

Real Men don’t count calories, they JUST EAT REAL FOOD.

Health Benefits of Hydration

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: Benefits of Hydration

We have all heard the rule – Eight glasses of water per day. Why is it so important that our bodies have enough water? What functions does water perform to help us survive and thrive?

Without water, nothing lives. This is why when NASA recently found potential traces of water on Mars, they were ecstatic as it meant that with the presence of water, life is possible. Back on earth, we are lucky to have an abundance of this resource which we are clearly taking for granted.

1. Water gives our cells their structure

Water is the main bonding adhesive component of in the structure of the cells. The cellular membrane is aligned around the presence of a specific amount of water. Too much or too little water will cause the membranes of cells to collapse or burst, therefore making them useless.

2. Water transports Energy, Nutrients and Waste

H2O is a major component of our blood. Blood is the bodies chosen transportation method for energy (from the breakdown of food) and nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) to reach all of the cells of the body. Once the energy and nutrients are sent to all of these cells, the blood then transports any cellular waste to the kidneys, liver and spleen for detoxification and removal from the body. A proper balance of water is required in order to allow for nutrients, and waste to dissolve into it, so that it can be moved from organ to organ, allowing our entire body system to function optimally.

3. Water is required for signalling between cells

Signals can be sent between cells in our body, in multiple different ways. The cells that make up our Nerves (Neurons) signal between each other and with other organs (muscles, heart, lungs, digestive organs) using Neurotransmitters, which are small proteins formed with the direct input of water. Another method of cellular signalling is by Hormones. Hormones are formed in various glands and organs of the body (hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenal glands etc.) and are transported through the bloodstream to their target cells. Without water, cellular signalling and communication would be impossible.

4. Water is required for proper Digestion

Without a correct amount of water in our diet, the foods that we eat cannot be moved through the digestive tract at the correct pace. If there is too much water, often the foods that we eat will travel too quickly through the tract, and not be absorbed correctly. This can also lead to Diarrhea. If there is not enough water, food will move very slowly and can become dry and clumpy, leading to potential Constipation. A proper balance of intake and absorption of water through our intestines is required to make food move through the digestive tract.

Great, so now that we know that we need a proper balance of water in our bodies, how can we achieve it?

Water is absorbed into the body in the large intestine, however much of our food intake has a high composition of water. Those who eat a diet higher in fruits and vegetables do not need to drink as much water daily as people who have a diet higher in fat, protein and processed carbohydrates.

Fruits and Vegetables with high water content by volume

  • 96% = Lettuce, Cucumber
  • 95% = Zucchini, Radish, Celery
  • 94% = Tomato
  • 93% = Green Cabbage
  • 92% = Watermelon, Strawberries, Cauliflower, Eggplant, red cabbage, peppers, spinach
  • 91% = Grapefuit, Broccoli

Dehydration and overhydration are not issues to take lightly as the effects can be far reaching. It is important to consume a safe amount of water daily of between 6-8 glasses per day – and ideally that water comes from a filtered source. Plastic bottles are not good for the environment, nor are the contents of the bottles safe for repeated use by humans. Much of our water has been contaminated with herbicides, pesticides and chemicals that are used in various industries around the world. Many of these chemicals can have negative effects on our body function. Our municipal water treatment plants are good, but definitely are not getting 100% of the potentially harmful substances out of our water so it is important to filter your water before you drink it.

Most people should drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water, in a glass or metal (bpa free) container daily. If you are highly active or work in higher temperatures, more water is needed to keep you cool and functioning correctly. If you eat a cleaner, greener diet, you may not need to drink as much water as others. If you suffer from a medical condition or are taking any medications, please speak to your physician or pharmacist before changing your water intake.

References:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-fruits-vegetable-high-water-content-8958.html
http://www.moreplant.com/health/functions-of-water.php

Candida Overgrowth

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: The Hearty Soul – Candida Article

We have all heard the word ‘Candida’, but many people don’t quite understand what it is. Candida is the genus name for a specific type of Fungus, which is a form of Yeast. Candida fungus, most commonly Candida albicans is present normally in small amounts in our mouth and intestines. It normally functions to help our body to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Occasionally under the right circumstances, Candida can grow to unsafe levels causing gastrointestinal issues. This problem arises when the microbiome is out of balance – called Dysbiosis (less good bacteria and yeast, more bad bacteria, parasites etc.) giving Candida the opportunity to grow to excessive levels.

There are certain food and environmental triggers that cause Dysbiosis:

  • Diet high in refined Carbs and Sugar
    • Diabetics have a higher level of oral Candida than the general population
  • Diet too high in good Fermented Foods (Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kombucha etc,)
  • High Alcohol Consumption
  • Taking Oral Contraceptives or Estrogen replacement (hormonal imbalance)
  • A round of antibiotics can kill off too many
  • High stress lifestyle
  • Autoimmune conditions and weak immune systems

As the delicate balance of the microbiome is negatively affected by any of these triggers, Candida has the opportunity to grow to unsafe levels causing issues in our gut. The fungal yeast will then begin to wreak havoc on your intestinal barrier, causing Intestinal Permeability or Leaky Gut. Any allergens or toxins that are in our gut from our diet can then enter our blood stream leading to many symptoms that may lead to Chronic health conditions such as:

  • Digestive issues – bloating, constipation or diarrhea (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Feeling tired and worn down – Chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia
  • Skin and Nail infections
  • Autoimmune conditions – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis etc.
  • Brain Fog, Poor memory, lack of focus
  • Mood Swings, irritability
  • Vaginal or Urinary tract infections
  • Strong cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates

Many of these conditions have various sources, so it’s important to confirm that Candida is the source of these symptoms. To do this, see a Functional Medicine or Natural Health Doctor to perform in-depth testing like Stool testing, Urinary Organic Acid and Blood testing and determine the root cause of your symptoms.

If Candida is the source of these issues, how can we restore a normal balance to your microbiome and decrease the levels of Candida in your body? There are a few important steps that you need to go through to ensure that you can restore balance to your gut:

Step 1: Stop Feeding the Yeast

Candida is fed by Sugar, so step 1 is to eliminate refined sugars and carbs. Stop eating candy, high sugar deserts, carbonated soda, alcohol and flour. We also need to decreased intake of complex carbohydrates like grains, beans, fruit, bread, pasta and potatoes. If we don’t feed the Candida, it can’t grow and eventually the excessive levels will die off.

Step 2: Build up levels of good bacteria

Once the Candida levels are decreasing, it is important to re-establish the levels of good bacteria. After consulting with a health care professional, you may want to begin a course of probiotics. These will help to increase the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut that helps with our normal digestion.

Step 3: Heal your Gut

If your intestinal wall has been damaged by the high levels of Candida and bad bacteria, there are certainly high levels of inflammation which need to be reduced. To do this, we need to eliminate inflammatory foods from our diet – foods that promote high levels of inflammation. Choose real foods and focus on green and colourful vegetables, grass-fed beef, free-run chicken and good fats like nuts and seeds. All of these foods will promote healing of the gut while eliminating the high levels of inflammation.

Candida is common and needs to be addressed before it causes serious chronic conditions. If you think you may have Candida overgrowth, speak to a Functional Medicine Doctor in your area for more information.

 

References

Cole, W. (2015, June 12). Dr. Will Cole. Retrieved from How Candida Overgrowth Can Wreck Your Health + What To Do About It: http://drwillcole.com/how-candida-overgrowth-can-wreck-your-health-what-to-do-about-it/

Li, Q., Wang, C., Tang, C., He, Q., Li, N., & Li, J. (2014). Dysbiosis of Gut Fungal Microbiota is Associated with Mucosal Inflammation in Crohn’s Disease. J Clin Gastroenterol, 48:513-523.

Myers, A. (2013, April 4). Mind Body Green. Retrieved from 10 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth & What To Do About It: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8376/10-signs-you-have-candida-overgrowth-what-to-do-about-it.html

Pallavan, B., Ramesh, V., Dhanasekaran, B. P., Oza, N., Indu, S., & Govindarajan, V. (2014). Comparison and correlation of candidal colonization in diabetic patients and normal individuals. J Diabetes and Metabolic Dis, 13:66.

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: The Hearty Soul – Candida Article