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man holding his gassy upset stomach

The TMI Zone: Can Gas Hurt You?

Gas is one of those “TMI zone” issues people deal with every day.

It’s just part of the human condition. Everyone “emits” gas anywhere from 14-20 times a day. For the most part, it’s no big deal…

Recently, I had a reader ask me what would happen if he tried to hold onto his gas for an extended time at work when he couldn’t take a break, especially if his excessive gas was typically smelly. (You were warned this was a “TMI zone!”)

It’s not an unusual question!

Not surprisingly, this is a very common and stinky problem people search on Google for guidance, especially in the workplace.

In fact, a federal employee working for the Social Security Administration was reprimanded by his manager for excessive gas emissions that created a “hostile work environment” in his office.

Hostile sounds pretty appropriate, given 60 episodes were documented over 17 days in a story that made national headlines several years ago.

The real health issues

Some believe holding back on gas could create its own set of health issues. Fact is, excessive gas, as experienced by this federal employee, could be a sign that diverticulitis could be a problem too.

That extra gas may be creating other issues, like problems with your stools (a lack of consistency or the presence of blood), a change in the frequency of your bowel movements and even nausea and vomiting.

And, it could also be a warning sign that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux are real problems that must be dealt with right away.

What can you do?

So, if holding back isn’t a great solution, how do you reduce intestinal gas?

For starters, you may have heard about FODMAPs, the kinds of carbohydrates contained in some dairy products, fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, legumes and wheat.

Some people have a harder time tolerating these kinds of carbs which creates the opportunity for more gas, so you’ll want to work with your doctor on a healthier, less gassy diet that’s better for you.

SLOW DOWN when you’re drinking fluids and eating meals, especially big ones.

That may also mean cutting back on consuming so many sugary sweet carbonated drinks, including diet beverages made with artificial sweeteners that harm your gut health in many other ways.

Are you having a hard time tracking what you’re eating in your head on a daily basis? Maintaining a food diary on paper (here’s a free worksheet from the National Institutes of Health) or on your cell phone is an easy way to stay on the right side of good health.

A simple solution for this “TMI Zone” issue of extra stomach gas: Take a probiotic made with 10 species and 20 billion CFUs of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

woman holding white pill tablets in hand with glass of water

How Drugs Interact With Your Gut

The gut microbiome is a vital and important part of human health that touches so many aspects of our daily lives, yet it works in very unpredictable ways.

For example, consider how certain drugs interact with the human gut. Sometimes, they do work but not so well at other times, as we learned about statin drugs.

The very same thing may be true about metformin, the go-to drug prescribed for type 2 diabetic patients to control high blood sugar, according to a study appearing in EBiomedicine.

“For example, certain drugs work fine when given intravenously and go directly to the [blood] circulation, but when they are taken orally and pass through the gut, they don’t work,” says senior study author Dr. Hariom Yadav, a researcher at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

As we’ve seen previously, metformin works well with the gut, although some patients who take it tend to experience more side effects (nausea, diarrhea and flatulence).

Based on their review of studies, Wake Forest researchers determined the metabolic capacity of a patient’s microbiome may influence how various drugs aimed at treating type 2 diabetes are absorbed and function in effective, inactive or even toxic ways.

“We believe that differences in an individual’s microbiome help explain why drugs will show a 90 or 50 percent optimum efficacy, but never 100 percent,” Dr. Yadav said.

Now, Wake Forest researchers are taking the next important gut-friendly step by testing prebiotics, a natural component of non-digestible plant fiber that feeds the good bacteria living in your gut, and probiotics that may help diabetes drugs work more effectively.

Could a multi-species probiotic containing 10 kinds of beneficial bacteria plus a handy prebiotic (FOS) like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic make gut-friendly difference in the way patients take their drugs?

The evidence is growing!

hand holding a chocolate sprinkled donut

Your Western Lifestyle Could Kill You Faster Than Smoking

We’re becoming so conditioned as a society to the dangers of smoking it seems unlikely that eating the typical Western diet filled with processed foods could actually be worse for our health.

But the numbers don’t lie, according to a recent report published in The Lancet that tracked global health trends in 195 countries from 1990-2017.

Some 11 million deaths — one in five globally — were blamed on poor diets in 2017. That’s more than smoking tobacco (7 million) and car fatalities (1.4 million) combined.

The three main causes of death attributed to poor diets:

  • Cardiovascular disease: 10 million.
  • Cancer: More than 900,000.
  • Type 2 diabetes: More than 330,000.

The key takeaway: Diet-related deaths were more connected to people eating low amounts of fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains in the last year of the study (2017) than consuming higher levels of red and processed meats, sodium, sugary drinks and foods with large amounts of trans fats.

These problems make sense, given that only a fraction of people on average eat the nuts and seeds (12 percent) and whole grains (23 percent) they really need to maintain good health.

Poor diets filled with unhealthy foods also create problems for your gut which makes you very vulnerable to obesity due to a less diverse microbiome.

Also, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are linked to the cluster of conditions known as metabolic syndrome that spur obesity and harm your health.

Healthy changes don’t come easily. But, many medical experts agree that focusing less on diet and more on eating nutrient-dense whole foods tailored to your tastes and moving more with exercise can make a difference.

Even after changing your diet and exercise habits, you may still face challenges. That’s especially true if you’re older due to a naturally declining amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

One way to give your weight-loss plan a healthy boost with the help of your gut: Consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue, which contains 1 billion CFUs of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium lactis and 600 mg of the prebiotic XOS (an important fiber shown to optimize the good bacteria in the colon and stimulate the release of hormones that affect the satiety center).

The ingredients in EndoMune Metabolic Rescue form a potent duo that research suggests helps people lose weight and improve their fasting blood sugar and insulin levels within 30 days.

illustration of C Diff bacteria

Protecting Your Child From C. Diff Diarrhea

When health experts talk about Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in the news — the most common superbug that causes life-threatening diarrhea — it’s largely associated with overprescribing antibiotics to older people in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Those concerns are warranted, considering about 500,000 Americans are sickened by C. diff infections and nearly 30,000 die from them annually.

However, C. diff infections are equal-opportunity offenders that can be a serious problem for young children too, according to findings published recently in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Based on a meta-analysis of 14 studies and 10.5 million children, prior exposure to antibiotics was the main culprit, nearly doubling the risk of C. diff infections in young children, compared to kids who hadn’t taken antibiotics.

But that’s not all…

Researchers also cited exposure to heartburn drugs — better known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) — as another C. diff risk factor for children. That’s not surprising given many adults rely on them too often and for too long at the expense of disrupting the healthy balance of their gut bacteria.

A study published last fall in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection backs up this link between severe cases of C. diff related to children taking PPIs.

The concerns about PPI use are so critical and obvious that the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (connected with the National Institutes of Health) felt it was important enough to devote a detailed section to treating acid reflux in children and teens.

The good news: There’s growing consensus among health experts that taking a daily probiotic can be a very safe and effective solution for preventing C. diff infections altogether.

Additionally, recent scientific evidence has shown the benefits of treating patients with probiotics made with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria were very effective in preventing C. diff infections.

One safe and natural way to protect your young child from C. diff infections, especially if they are taking an antibiotic: Talk to your doctor about giving him/her a probiotic, like EndoMune Jr. Powder (recommended for children to age 3) or EndoMune Jr. Chewable Probiotic (ages 3-8).

Both varieties of EndoMune Jr. contain four strains of beneficial bacteria, along with a prebiotic (FOS).

man cleaning kitchen counter

Are You Over-Sterilizing Your Life?

Keeping your body clean hasn’t been easier than it is today, but is there such a thing as being too clean?

No matter where you go — the supermarket, your local gym or even a neighborhood yoga class — antimicrobial chemicals have invaded our living spaces, creating an environment that’s become “too clean” for our own good.

The use of antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan may have seemed like a good idea at one time. However, that perception changed radically a few years ago when health problems related to the hygiene hypothesis and its lingering effect on our immune systems began lessening the natural ability of our bodies to fight disease.

Although triclosan has been the main focus for these problems, some of its notoriety faded when the FDA took the major step of banning it from antibacterial soaps and most body washes in 2016.

Despite the ban, triclosan can still be found in some personal care products (review the Environmental Working Group’s most current list) including some toothpastes as well as lining common consumer products like yoga/exercise mats and gym equipment.

That’s where a new health problem lies in plain sight…

Antibiotic resistance in dust?

This stealth invasion of triclosan in our environment may be creating antibiotic-resistant dust, according to a recent study appearing in mSystems.

Researchers at Northwestern University discovered this problem after collecting dust samples from 42 athletic facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Study leader and associate professor Dr. Erica Hartman chose gyms due to the contact people have with mats, floors and gym equipment and how many clean them before and after using them with antimicrobial wipes.

Concerns arose when Hartman’s team collected dust from athletic spaces, hallways and offices, then examined the bacteria hiding in dust, and its genetic makeup.

Antimicrobial chemicals were the most concentrated in dust found in moist spots and gym spaces and in higher levels in rooms with carpeted floors or rubber mats.

In samples with higher levels of triclosan, scientists found genetic markers directly linked to antibiotic resistance and, specifically, medically relevant antibiotic drugs.

“There is this conventional wisdom that says everything that’s in dust is dead, but that’s not actually the case. There are things living in there,” says Dr. Hartman, according to Northwestern Now.

Trying to keep workout spaces clean for yourself and others creates a larger health problem with antibiotic-resistant infections, potentially leaving you vulnerable to superbugs.

Unfortunately, manufacturers of products like yoga mats aren’t required to disclose antibacterial chemicals like triclosan in their labeling, because their safety is governed by the EPA, not the FDA, Dr. Hartman says.

So, how do you protect your health and environment surrounding you from being “too clean?”

  1. Avoid products that are labeled with terms like fights germs, fights odors or antibacterial, according to experts at the National Resources Defense Council Health Program.
  1. Review the product labels of any personal care products you’re buying at the grocery store for anything that you suspect includes antibacterial chemicals (look for a future blog about triclosan in toothpaste).
  1. Protect your immune health the safe and natural way by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria, plus a prebiotic (FOS) that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
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