For Gut-friendly Holidays, Eat Cranberries

Apart from being a staple in foods for the holiday season (desserts, stuffing, sauces and drinks) and a first-line treatment for urinary tract infections, cranberries receive little notice in the wide world of whole foods, an undeserved sign of disrespect.

Many health experts consider cranberries a superfood due to their low-calorie/high-fiber content and being fill to the brim with important antioxidants and nutrients (resveratrol, vitamins C, E and A and copper).

A study featured recently in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found another important use for cranberries as a natural prebiotic, non-digestible fiber or carbs that feed the bacteria living in your gut.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst made this discovery when feeding cranberry-derived carbohydrates called xyloglucans to gut bacteria in the lab.

The real benefit from eating cranberries, says lead researcher Dr. David Sela, is the ability to eat for two, as it supports our own nutrition as well as the beneficial bacteria that lives in our gut.

“When we eat cranberries, the xyloglucans make their way into our intestines where beneficial bacteria can break them down into useful molecules and compounds,” says Dr. Sela, according to a press release.

Under the microscope, Dr. Sela and his research team observed these prebiotic compounds from cranberries feeding bifidobacteria under the microscope, an important process in protecting the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Cranberries aren’t the only natural sources for prebiotics. They’re also a healthy component in many whole foods, from bananas, jicama and apples to artichokes, onions, leeks and almonds.

Just like almonds that contain a lot of fat, you have to be careful about eating a lot of cranberries too. Many commercial brands of juices and dried fruits add a lot of unnecessary sugar — 25-30 grams for juices and 8 grams for dried fruits — per 8-ounce serving, so eating them in moderation is a healthy choice.

If you want to add some prebiotic protection for your gut and cranberries aren’t your favorite food, look for a probiotic that contains fructooligosaccarides (FOS).

FOS is a natural substance derived from plant sugars and a proven prebiotic used in products like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids).

Does “Too Clean” Equal Child’s Diabetes?

Can you be “too clean” for your health? Apparently so, based on our recent warning about antibacterial soaps, toothpastes and cosmetics containing the broad spectrum antimicrobial and synthetic compound triclosan.

Exposure to these harmful chemicals increases the risk that antibiotics will have no effect on whatever disease you’re using them to treat, creating superbugs, a growing worldwide health problem born partly out of convenience.

Mounting research shows that being too clean may raise your child’s risks of Type 1 diabetes, a serious condition in which the body’s own immune system eliminates the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, and other autoimmune and allergic diseases.

Understanding the hygiene hypothesis

This biological phenomenon, known as the hygiene hypothesis, occurs when the body’s immune response is reversed due to the continuing exposure to antibacterial chemicals, disinfectants, bottled water and antibiotics meant to make our lives easier and cleaner.

The hygiene hypothesis, first proposed by epidemiologist David Stratchan some 25 years ago, concludes that in the quest for cleanliness, people can become “too clean,” thus limiting the body’s ability to develop natural immunities to disease.

Early signs of the hygiene hypothesis were linked to problems with hay fever, eczema and cleanliness. The size of one’s family also mattered: The more siblings that children had, the greater their exposure to “beneficial” germs that helped their bodies develop their immunity to diseases naturally.

The reach of type 1 diabetes

The hygiene hypothesis has been cited as a cause for more serious health problems, from autism to multiple sclerosis, but, more recently, Type 1 diabetes has been linked to it too.

In fact, the rate of autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes has escalated so dramatically, the European Union is funding the Diabimmune project to test the real reach of the hygiene hypothesis.

The numbers tell the story. The rate of Type 1 diabetes in the U.S. (23.7 per 100,000 children) is less than half the rate of Finland (57.6 per 100,000), one of the world’s wealthiest countries, albeit with far less pollution and a longer average life expectancy.

Some scientists believe the lack of exposure of a specific form of gut bacteria to some viral or bacteria infections may be triggering this escalation of Type 1 diabetes.

The health damage Type 1 diabetes can cause when it’s not controlled can be devastating. Among the conditions linked to Type 1 diabetes:

Can probiotics help?

Can probiotics given to children at an early age prevent the harmful effects of the hygiene hypothesis? Maybe.

One goal of the Diabimmune project is to develop preventative therapies through vaccines or probiotics, if it identifies specific bacteria that can be treated.

Some experts believe “the harmless manipulation of the early environment of the gut (and gut-associated immune responses), for example by the use of probiotics, is well within our means,” according to Diapedia, a peer-reviewed database dedicated to diabetes research.

With four different strains of bacteria, no GMOs and some 10 billion bacteria in every dose, the EndoMune Advanced Junior probiotic may be a safe and easy way to help your kids avoid the health problems associated with being “too clean.”

10 ways to treat acne naturally

Are you fighting acne without success? A survey of websites about acne lists countless ways to beat it. Unfortunately, many treatments involve taking drugs like the controversial Accutane or antibiotics that have been so overprescribed they often disrupt the healthy balance of gut bacteria that can lead to diarrhea.

The good news, however, is that there are many effective ways to treat and prevent the spread of acne. What follows are 10 completely safe natural acne treatments.

  1. Keep your hair cut and off your face. Because your hair contains oils that contribute to acne breakouts, keep your hair off your face. Washing your hair every day and after workouts is also recommended.
  2. Apply honey on acne for a quick fix. Honey is a natural antibacterial that’s used in many facial products. But, if you want to eliminate a pimple in a hurry, there’s nothing like applying a dab of real honey on it then putting on a Band-Aid before going to bed. By the following morning, the pimple should be a lot smaller, if it isn’t gone.
  3. Don’t touch your face. You probably aren’t aware how often you touch your face, scratch your nose or lick your fingertips with your lips before turning the page of a book. This doesn’t account for the all the unclean surfaces you touch, including germs on your cell phone, either. Since touching your face at some point during the day is unavoidable, washing your hands often with soap (a non-antimicrobial product is better for your health), and hot water is a safe and easy solution.
  4. Wash your pillowcases regularly. You spend a good portion of your day in a resting position with your face planted on a pillowcase that absorbs the oils and dirt your face has accumulated. Give your face a rest by changing the pillowcases on your bed at least every other day.
  5. Ice it down. When you first notice a pimple, put an ice cube in a plastic bag and place it on the infected area at least twice each day for no more than five minutes at a time. The icy cold reduces inflammation and eases the redness.
  6. Don’t squeeze! Probably the worst thing you can do – picking at or squeezing your pimples – breaks membranes below the skin, thus increasing sebum production and spreading it underneath your skin.
  7. Do you need all that makeup? Using makeup is one more way to clog your pores. If wearing makeup is important to you, be sure to use water-based products, and wash them off your face when your day is done.
  8. Reduce the extra rubbing of your skin with plastic or synthetic fibers. Although we assume acne as being just a problem on your face, it can creep up anywhere. One form, acne mechanica, is caused by friction, pressure or heat applied to the skin or when skin isn’t exposed to air (playing an musical instrument, carrying a backpack or wearing athletic equipment are good examples). What we assume is a rash due to constantly rubbed skin is really acne.
  9. Sweating cleans the pores of your face. Have you incorporated exercise into your daily routine? Working up a good sweat improves your emotional health, and beats the stress that can disturb the healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. This imbalance over-stimulates the immune system that can contribute to skin inflammation and trigger acne.
  10. Take a multi-species probiotic every day. When people experience acne due to the aforementioned imbalance that over-stimulates the immune system, many doctors prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic. However, the overprescribing of antibiotics have led to undesirable side effects, including a disruption in the body’s healthy balance of good and bad bacteria causing unwelcome side effects like diarrhea. Not only can taking a multi-species probiotic replenish the healthy balance of bacteria in your body, it can lessen gastrointestinal problems and reduce the inflammation that triggers acne safely and naturally.

We hope these 10 tips help you cure acne naturally!

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