Digestive Health

Eating More Dietary Fiber Promotes Good Heart Health

One of the easiest and best things you can do to give your health a much needed boost is to eat more foods rich in dietary fiber.

When you hear people talking about eating more dietary fiber (found in whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables), it’s mostly associated with treating.

However, eating more dietary fiber — the indigestible parts of plant foods that pass through your lower gastrointestinal tract relatively intact  — does a lot to promote good heart health too.

Based on previous research, it doesn’t take eating a whole lot more dietary fiber to make a heart-healthy difference. But the hows and whys have been a mystery to scientists…

A recent study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UCLA and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) may go a long way toward explaining the reasons behind this gut-healthy benefit that gets far less attention than it should.

The fatty acid connection

Wisconsin scientists identified one species of gut bacteria — Roseburia — linked to the production of the beneficial fatty acid butyrate in the guts of germ-free mice. Conclusions from the study appearing in Nature Microbiology showed reduced inflammation and atherosclerosis.

But there’s one catch: The presence of Roseburia alone wasn’t enough.

Feeding mice a high-fiber diet was the catalyst that provided extra protection. Even test animals who had Roseburia in their gut microbiomes but not enough fiber in their diets just didn’t produce enough butyrate to make a heart-healthy difference.

To ensure their high-fiber results were valid, researchers fed germ-free mice that lacked butyrate-producing bacteria a slow-release version of butyrate that would survive intact through their gastrointestinal tract.

No surprise, the presence of butyrate alone reduced signs of atherosclerosis and inflammation along with the amount of fatty plaques.

Leaky gut issues

This study really underscores the important link between dietary fiber and gut health, given previous research that found human patients with cardiovascular disease had diminished levels of gut bacteria and butyrate-producing Roseburia.

Not to mention, the presence of leaky gut, a condition in which unintended substances penetrate the vulnerable intestinal lining of the gut and into the bloodstream, is linked in a huge way to inflammation.

The good news: It doesn’t take much dietary fiber to make a big difference in your health. Increasing your intake of dietary fiber by 1 ounce (30 grams) can lower your cardiovascular risks and help you lose weight too.

In addition to eating a bit more dietary fiber every day, taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic can do a lot of good by promoting the natural fermentation process that feeds and protects your gut.

a woman jogging down the beach

Lose Weight the Healthy Way: Follow Your Gut

We’re well into the new year, and many of us set new goals and resolutions to focus our attention on making lifestyle changes that we (hope) will improve our lives.

At the top of the list for many Americans is weight loss. In an attempt to shed those extra pounds, people do a lot of smart things, like moving more, joining a gym, getting more rest, eating more whole foods (full of fiber, less fat and natural sugars), and spending less time at the fast-food drive-thru grabbing processed foods on the run.

Sadly, however, many people prefer to take the fast lane to better health. We turn to detox diets or the bewildering number of weight-loss products on the market, many of which come with dangerous side effects.

If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight too many times and you’re willing to risk your health on products that could harm you in the process, maybe it’s time to take the word “loss” completely out of the equation.

Gaining instead of losing

Rather than looking at this challenge as a “losing” one, rethink your strategy and replace it with a gain, but not on the scale or your waistline.

Losing weight and keeping it off requires a different lifestyle approach, but not one of deprivation either. Your best and healthiest strategy starts with taking charge of your health.

Maybe you’ve started that process on the right foot by doing those smart things I mentioned earlier, but you’re still unable to lose those stubborn inches, especially if you’re older.

As the human body ages, the amount of beneficial bacteria in our guts decline. So, what does your gut have to do with your weight?

The human microbiome ─ the trillions of microorganisms that live in our intestines ─ plays a significant role in our overall health in so many ways, specifically protecting the integrity of the lining of the gut from intestinal toxins.

The microbiome, when kept in proper balance, can also help regulate metabolism and support weight loss.

Here’s how.

When our body’s healthy balance of gut bacteria becomes compromised by eating a diet full of too many nutrient-poor, highly processed foods, not handling stress as it comes and relying too often on antibiotics, we become more susceptible to metabolic syndrome.

If you’re not familiar with metabolic syndrome, it’s the cluster of symptoms — high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels and extra body fat around your waist — that elevate your risks of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Your gut and weight gain

An imbalance of gut flora can actually contribute to weight gain by causing inflammation, stimulating fat production and decreasing brain signaling via the gut-brain axis that controls hunger.

So, it’s very possible you could be doing all of the right things — exercising, destressing and eating your vegetables — and still be struggling with weight loss and metabolic inefficiency.

What now?

In addition to making lifestyle changes, achieving a healthy weight often comes down to listening to our gut. Research continues to unfold about the benefits of probiotics that help us maintain an optimal gut bacteria balance and regulate metabolic function.

Several specific strains of beneficial bacteria are more effective at helping with weight loss. Bifidobacterium lactis, for example, aids in fermenting resistant starches, which results in improving the health of the intestinal lining and lessening the risk of leaky gut.

Leaky gut is a disorder in which a breakdown in the intestinal wall allows unintended substances (toxic bacteria and waste products) to seep through the intestinal barrier and into your bloodstream.

The prebiotic difference

Supplements that combine a prebiotic ─ non-digestible starches that feed the good bacteria already living in your gut ─ with probiotic strains in relevant proportions have shown to be even more effective.

How? Those well-fed bacteria in your gut stimulate the release of hormones that decrease satiety, thus reducing hunger. In addition, this release of hormones slows the emptying of the stomach, which can result eating smaller meals.

More recently, the natural prebiotic Xlylooligosaccharides (XOS) has demonstrated great benefits on the microbiome in small doses, and even helped in avoiding the development of pre-diabetes.

If you follow gut health issues like I do, you’ve probably heard about GLP-1, better known as glucacon-like peptide-1, a hormone produced by the gut that can decrease blood sugar levels by enhancing the secretion of insulin.

Most probiotics don’t contain a prebiotic, which is critical in maintaining intestinal health. Prebiotics create short-term fatty acids, thus releasing butyrate, a critical component in providing nourishment to the colon.

If you want to lessen your risks of metabolic syndrome, improve your cholesterol and hypertension levels and give your weight-loss journey a fresh start, you may want to consider trying EndoMune Metabolic Rescue, which contains 1 billion CFUs of beneficial Bifidobacterium lactis along with 600 mg of XOS.

Combining a nutritious diet, exercise and all-natural probiotic/prebiotic supplementation can help you gain the benefits of losing weight and staying healthy.

Board-certified gastroenterologist Lawrence Hoberman, M.D., is the creator of EndoMune Metabolic Rescue, EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and founder of Medical Care Innovations.

During his 40-plus years practicing internal medicine and gastroenterology, Dr. Hoberman has worked with microbiologists to identify beneficial bacteria, resulting in the development of his own supplements for adults and children.

To learn more about how your gut affects your health in so many ways and how probiotics can help, visit www.endomune.com.

a leaky pipe being fixed with several wrenches

Could Marital Problems Lead to Leaky Gut?

Strong emotions can have a negative effect on your body. Add a diet full of high-fat foods to the mix and your gut becomes vulnerable too.

Emotional fights between married couples have been linked to symptoms of leaky gut, according to a report from Ohio State University that appeared in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Leaky gut is a condition created by breakdowns in the intestinal wall that allow undigested food, toxic waste products and other nasties to seep through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream to create a number of different health problems.

“We think every day marital distress, at least for some people, is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness,” says lead author Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the OSU’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Forty-three married and healthy couples ranging in age from 24-61 participated in the study that involved talking to researchers about their relationships, then alone with each other for 20 minutes to resolve conflicts that were likely to provoke disagreements.

To give necessary context to this study, blood samples were taken from couples before and after their conversations without a researcher and those talks were filmed for later review.

Not surprisingly, patients who displayed more hostility during their one-on-one talks with their marital partners had greater levels of LPS-binding protein, a biomarker for leaky gut.

Signs of leaky gut was even more pronounced among spouses with histories of emotional problems and depression whose interactions were hostile.

What’s more, researchers identified specific biomarkers in blood samples (LBP and CD14) linked to signs of inflammation. Patients whose blood contained the highest levels of LBP had dramatically higher amounts of the primary inflammatory biomarker, C-reactive protein.

These biomarkers were far more prevalent among those whose medical histories included depression too.

In fact, scientists believe the presence of these inflammatory biomarkers that drive leaky gut may also be responsible for mental health problems, creating a “troubling loop.”

“With leaky gut, the structures that are usually really good at keeping the gunk in our gut — the partially digested food, bacteria and other products — degrade and that barrier becomes less effective,” says study co-author Dr. Michael Bailey.

To reduce the amount of inflammation from leaky gut, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser suggests eating a more gut-friendly Mediterranean diet along with taking a probiotic.

Fortunately, protecting the health of your gut is so much easier when you take a probiotic that contains multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

a still life of fruits and nuts

Eating Dietary Fiber Protects Your Brain

Eating a diet rich in dietary fiber — the parts of plant-based foods that can’t be digested — is very beneficial for your health.

It’s pretty easy to do too, especially if you like nuts, fruits, legumes like chickpeas and lentils, popcorn (skip the movie theater butter), oats, seeds and even dark chocolate.

However, these benefits rely on the bacteria in your gut being healthy, diverse and working as it should to digest dietary fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate.

As we’ve learned previously, the production of butyrate increases the use of oxygen, protecting your gut from Salmonella, E. coli and other harmful pathogens.

Eating more dietary fiber may also protect your brain from inflammation that steals memories and impairs normal functioning due to aging, according to a recent study from the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science (ACES) that appeared in Frontiers in Immunology.

Knowing they were already on the right track in previous studies with a drug-based form of butyrate (sodium butyrate), scientists used dietary fiber in hopes of achieving similar results with older mice.

First, researchers fed young and older mice low- and high-fiber diets, then measured levels of butyrate and other SCFAs in their blood along with inflammatory chemicals in their intestines.

No surprise, feeding both age groups a high-fiber diet boosted their production of SCFAs and butyrate, and intestinal inflammation was reduced so dramatically there was no noticeable differences between both sets of mice.

The ACES team of researchers discovered the brain benefits of a high-fiber diet when they examined 50 unique genes in the microglia (cells located in the brain and spinal cord).

In older mice, the presence of extra butyrate inhibited the amount of harmful chemicals produced by inflamed microglia, including interleukin-1 beta that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

It doesn’t take much dietary fiber to make a difference in your health. For example, eating just 1 extra ounce (about 30 grams) of dietary fiber a day can relieve constipation, reduce your risks of cardiovascular problems and help you lose weight too, in addition to these newly discovered brain benefits.

Taking a product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria (plus a prebiotic), helps your gut process that extra fiber you’ll be eating more efficiently for improved brain health.

a spoon next to a mug of yogurt

Do Fermented Foods Really Help Your Gut?

You’ve probably read the same stories I have online and in other places promoting the value of fermented foods, from the familiar (yogurt, kombucha tea, pickles, cottage cheese, sourdough bread, soy sauce and sauerkraut) to the more exotic (tempeh and miso) to give your gut health an extra boost.

Does this mean eating fermented foods delivers the same dependable gut health benefits you’d receive by taking a probiotic?

The short answer: Probably not. In most cases, there’s no harm in eating fermented foods, but the benefits are debatable and your overall health may get worse if you’re not careful, for several reasons.

  1. Some of the more familiar fermented foods you see at many grocery stores like yogurt may be produced in high heat environments and are probably pasteurized, so there’s little chance of any active bacteria surviving those processes.
  2. Don’t assume any foods are fermented, unless they say so on food labels. For example, it’s easy to assume that any jar of pickles you buy at the grocery store is fermented. But, if those pickles were processed with vinegar, they won’t contain beneficial bacteria.
  3. Monitoring the amount of salt you eat? Popular fermented foods — kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and pickles — contain lots of sodium.
  4. Are you watching your sugar intake too? The sugar content of many yogurts and kombucha tea you’ll find at local grocery stores may be high, and the amounts contained in organic brands of yogurt can be excessive.
  5. There’s lots of online resources that provide guidance in making fermented foods at home cheaply. But, the process is labor-intensive, and you have to keep everything sanitary so no extra bugs spoil your fermented foods.
  6. Adding fermented foods to your diet may trigger problems with gas and bloating in the beginning if you overdo it. And, to make a real difference, experts say you’ll need to eat them every day too.

The $64,000 question even the experts can’t answer is how much or what kinds of beneficial bacteria you’ll actually consume when eating fermented foods.

That’s why taking a product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic ensures you’re receiving multiple strains of beneficial bacteria your body needs. Plus, our line of EndoMune products features a natural prebiotic that feeds the good bugs in your gut, another feature fermented foods don’t have.

someone pouring sweetener into their coffee

How Artificial Sweeteners May Hurt Your Gut Health

Artificial sweeteners have found their way into a wide variety of foods that people — mostly processed food product like diet sodas, but even in ones they prepare at home — in their efforts to lose weight over the years.

There are always tradeoffs when you make drastic changes in your diet, however, and some may not be worth it based on the state of your health.

Unfortunately, switching to artificial sweeteners could be a serious tradeoff that can cause serious problems for your gut health.

The damage was real, based on the results of a very recent study that monitored the gut health of 29 healthy, non-diabetic Australian patients who consumed artificial sweeteners.

Some patients received the amount of artificial sweeteners you’d drink in 1.5 liters (about 51 ounces) of diet sodas each day for just two weeks or a placebo.

After comparing stool samples before and after the trial, researchers concluded the consumption of artificial sweeteners was enough to change the composition of bacteria in the human gut for the worse.

Not only did bacteria that promote good health significantly decrease, so did the species that fermented foods. Plus, 11 different species of opportunistic bad bacteria increased too.

All of these changes in the gut occurred at the very same time as declines in microbial genes that work to metabolize simple sugars like glucose and a specific hormone (GLP-1) that controls blood glucose levels.

Just to reiterate, all of these changes happened in just two weeks.

A second recent study appearing in the journal Molecules (conducted by researchers in Singapore and Israel) underscored the damage artificial sweeteners could do to your gut health.

This time, scientists exposed modified E. coli bacteria to 1 milligram amounts of a half-dozen popular sweeteners. Interestingly, each sugary substance did its own unique damage, from harming DNA to proteins in bacteria.

Artificial sweeteners are non-natural for good reason. Compared to real table sugar, many high-intensity, artificial sweeteners can be as much as 20,000 times sweeter than the real thing.

For example, the six artificial sweeteners used in the E. coli study are referred to as high-intensity sweeteners, according to the FDA. Here’s why, based how much sweeter they are compared to table sugar.

  • Aspartame: 200 times
  • Acesulfame potassium-k: 200 times
  • Sucralose: 600 times
  • Saccharine: 200-700 times
  • Neotame: 7,000-13,000 times
  • Advantame: 20,000 times

These aren’t the first studies that have called out artificial sweeteners for the possible harmful effects to your gut health, and they probably won’t be the last ones either.

The good news is that you have healthy options that are easy to do. For example, drinking more water keeps you hydrated, and promotes a sense of fullness so you won’t overeat.

If diet drinks are too hard for you to give up, based on this research alone, taking a probiotic — ideally a brand with multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — will protect the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

And, if you’ve been wanting to lose weight, the unique mix of Bififobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS in EndoMune Metabolic Rescue will give your body the jump start it needs to promote a feeling of fullness and protect your gut health too.

someone holding hot water bottle

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Gas

Out of the many gut-related issues patients have discussed with me over the years, problems with excess air and gas resulting in bloating, a sensation of fullness in your abdomen, are the most common by a long shot.

Just to make it really clear, EVERYONE produces gas — anywhere from 1-4 pints daily and passes it about 14 times a day — and it can build up in your gastrointestinal tract.

But how does this common issue go from an occasional embarrassment to a more serious health issue?

The GI tract

There’s a number of reasons why patients may have problems, and some may have more to do with the upper digestive tract and swallowing too much air, creating belching or bloating. In fact, this extra air may never reach the stomach or lower GI tract at all.

Much of it builds up in the esophagus, especially if patients are overdoing it on certain foods or they smoke, chew gum or drink and eat too fast.

Because most of these causes are obvious signs of the body reacting badly to a more stressful go-go-GO! lifestyle, we’ve got some simple solutions that could help.

More symptoms

Some signs that extra air and gas may be a real problem, however, are when patients begin experiencing symptoms of acid reflux (the backward flow of stomach acid to the esophagus), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more severe form of acid reflux in which frequent heartburn is common, or an H. pylori infection in the stomach.

(Most people assume GERD and acid reflux are the same thing, but medical experts see them as slightly different health problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.)

And, for patients who have experienced a dramatic change in weight loss or gains, a hernia, any abdominal surgery or changes in the frequency or color of their stools (or see blood in them), you should visit your family physician for more guidance.

Minor challenges, easy solutions

Fortunately, the large majority of our symptoms will be minor inconveniences or embarrassing, at worst, in the moment. Here are some simple ways to treat bloating, belching or excess gas you may want to try first.

  1. Spend a little more time eating meals or drinking fluids. The more you rush, the more opportunities you have to swallow air that comes back in uncomfortable and embarrassing ways.
  2. Limit your intake of high-fiber foods (like broccoli, beans and onions) and fatty foods for a short time. After your symptoms lessen, try re-introducing those foods, and pay close attention to which ones give you trouble.
  3. Reduce your intake of carbonated drinks and foods that use sugar alcohol substitutes like sorbitol. Consuming fizzy drinks or chewing gum sweetened by sorbitol or xylitol just adds to your gas problems.
  4. Are you doing any exercise? Think about taking a short walk after your meals.
  5. Consider taking a probiotic. A healthy solution like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — containing multiple species of beneficial bacteria — is a good way to restore the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Taking a probiotic is important considering carbohydrates can be poorly absorbed by the gut, creating imbalances in your gut bacteria.

Also, multi-strain probiotics like EndoMune offer the extra benefit of treating constipation, another way food waste gets trapped in the colon and creates opportunities for excess gas to escape when you least expect it.

a woman holding a salad and measuring her waist

Your Gut Health May Play an Important Role in Benefits of the Keto Diet

With many struggling to lose weight, people are searching to find ways to do it safely and easily. One diet that has re-emerged as a popular choice is the keto (ketogenic) diet.

Those who follow the keto diet eat foods containing low amounts of carbs, high quantities of fats and medium amounts of protein.

Replacing those carbs with fats triggers a metabolic change in your body called ketosis. Ketosis burns fats more efficiently and lowers your insulin and blood sugar levels.

The origins of the keto diet date back nearly a century ago as a solution to treat epilepsy safely when drugs weren’t effective. Over the past 25 years, this diet-based alternative has gained popularity as seizure rates have fallen 50 percent or more among approximately more than half of adults, according to recent reports.

The health of the human gut may play an important part in supporting the anti-seizure benefits people receive from following the keto diet too, according to a study appearing in Cell.

Boo to antibiotics!

Researchers at UCLA discovered the connection between gut health and the keto diet when they compared the health of normal mice to those raised in a germ-free environment and others treated with antibiotics, a well-known, drug-based enemy that depletes gut bacteria.

In initial tests, the microbiomes of healthy mice with normal microbiomes changed in just four days and they experienced far fewer seizures while eating a keto diet.

On the other hand, mice with depleted or non-existent microbiomes didn’t receive the same protective benefits from seizures when they were fed a keto diet. Why? Germ-free mice were missing two specific species of gut bacteria (Akkermansia muciniphila and Parabacteroides).

“We found we could restore seizure protection if we gave these particular types of bacteria together,” said researcher Christine Olson, according to a press release. “This suggests that these different bacteria perform a unique function when they are together.”

The gut-brain connection

UCLA researchers also learned how those species of gut bacteria, elevated by the keto diet, were also responsible for changing the level of biochemicals in the gut and bloodstream that affect neurotransmitters in the brain’s hippocampus.

(In the human brain, the hippocampus has many functions, including processing memory and regulating the “fight or flight” response.)

That pair of gut bacteria works together to increase levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter that quiets neurons), a connection that shows how the gut-brain connection may affect other conditions like epilepsy.

It’s also important to reiterate that multiple strains of bacteria working together made all the difference in protecting mice from seizures. Treating mice with just one strain of bacteria offered no protection at all.

However, probiotics, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic for kids, contain multiple strains of bacteria that provide a wide range of health benefits for your unique and diverse microbiome.

a jar of pills

Antibiotics Harm Your Gut – So Do Many Other Common Medications

Science is well aware of the problems antibiotics and heartburn drugs can create for your gut health, all while leaving you vulnerable to even deadlier infections if you rely on them a lot.

Unfortunately, the list of non-antibiotic drugs that can affect your gut has grown sharply too (coming on the heels of a report that found metformin, a go-to drug for diabetes alters gut health).

Out of more than 1,000 drugs tested by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 24 percent affected the growth of at least one bacterial species in the human microbiome, according to a study appearing in Nature.

Overall, 250 out of 923 non-antibiotic drugs tested on 40 samples of selected species of human gut bacteria (including one species of Lactobacillus) altered their growth.

What’s more, 40 drugs affected at least 10 strains of gut bacteria, and 14 of them were previously unknown to have an antibacterial effect on gut bacteria. The most dramatic inhibitors of gut bacteria include these commonly prescribed medications:

  • Calcium-channel blockers that treat an array of conditions, from Raynaud’s to high blood pressure.
  • Antineoplastic drugs that treat cancer.
  • Antipsychotic drugs that treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

What concerns researchers the most?

“This shift in the composition of our gut bacteria contributes to drug side effects but might also be part of the drugs’ beneficial action,” says Peer Bork, according to a press release.

“This is scary, considering that we take many non-antibiotic drugs in our life, often for long periods,” says Nassos Typas. “Still, not all drugs will impact gut bacteria and not all resistance will be common. In some cases, resistance to specific non-antibiotics will trigger sensitivity to specific antibiotics, opening paths for designing optimal drug combinations.”

Since this study finds that individuals taking any prescription medications are inadvertently harming their gut health, they should consider taking EndoMune Advanced Probiotic to ensure their gut health isn’t being comprised by their prescribed medications.

a person holding a jar of coconut

Power Packed Probiotic Smoothie

Summer holidays are opportunities to enjoy a cold drink, sun bathe by the pool, and spend time with friends and family! Good times in the sun often include sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, and processed food – all of which may upset your gut. Now, you can make the next day just as good as the day before. Try our 5th of July Coconut Açaí Smoothie and add EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, which can help repair your gut from the damage done by the alcohol and processed or fried food. In this delicious drink, the coconut water and Himalayan sea salt help replenish electrolytes lost during the festivities, and the açaí and blueberries provide high amounts of polyphenols to fight the free radicals in processed food and alcohol. Make this concoction to make your 5th even happier than your 4th!

5th of July Coconut Açaí Smoothie

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 100 grams frozen organic açaí puree (Sambazon brand is sold at many local grocery stores)
  • ½ cup organic frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla-flavored whey protein isolate (or vegan protein of choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt*
  • 1 capsule EndoMune Advanced Probiotic

*Feel free to add a scoop of your favorite electrolyte powder to this drink!

Blend on high for 30 seconds, or until desired consistency is reached. Drink it now or freeze in popsicle molds for a cold treat!

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