Curebiome Naturopathic

The Top 5 Reasons Why You’re Bloated

The Top 5 Reasons Why You’re Bloated

 

Bloating is not fun and it’s never been a joyful thing that you can’t fit into your pants because of it. Why do we wake up some days with a soft flat tummy and other days with a pushed out full and uncomfortable one? There a few things at play here that we can dive into but it all comes down to the normal bacteria and yeast in our digestive tract. There’s a term called “dysbiosis” which is used to describe an unhealthy balance of our microbiome (the bacteria and yeast in our gut).

 

It’s not unusual, nor do I think it ever has been, for our digestive microbiome to get out of balance. The bacteria and fungi in our digestive tract are easily affected by acute illness, stress, diet and lack of exercise which lead to problems ranging from gas, belching, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and more. There are many historical accounts of the diagnosis today known as SIBO (Small Intestinal Microbial Overgrowth), which is the overgrowth of normal bacteria which cause gas, belching and bloating after eating many foods. There were many treatments in the past which were very effective, which is great news but now is a rather small piece of the picture.

 

In the modern-day we perfect ways to create these microbial imbalances like SIBO as part of our daily life. While many of the treatments are still viable, they are less likely to last when recreating the problem is so easy and quick through common foods, antibiotics and lifestyle. So what can we do about it? Well first thing is to understand the details of what causes the imbalance, then remove them while helping correct the balance. Below is a list of some common causes of microbial disruption leading to the dysbiosis that causes gas and bloating.

 

  • Antibiotic use (intentional or unintentional).
    • Thankfully the FDA has taken antibacterial hand soaps off the market, which was a high potential for bacterial disruption in the gut. There are still many cleaners and substances available which can contribute to this effect. When you think of washing your hands or preparing foods on a clean surface, understand that some of what is on your hands or that food will probably hitch a ride with your food – impacting your microbiome.
  • Pesticides and chemicals
    • One example is glyphosate is a more recently uncovered cause of microbial disruption, it’s the chemical herbicide known as round-up. It can commonly hitch a ride on GMO “Round up ready” plants like corn, soy, canola and others.
  • Hygiene
    • The hygiene hypothesis has been taught for decades, which is an observation that children raised in more sterile, clean environments tend to have more allergies, asthma, infections and other immune problems across their life than someone who was maybe raised in a farm rolling around in dirt and exposed to lots of microbes and nature. Being too clean can absolutely be a cause of digestive dysbiosis, which is why getting out into nature more often can help give us an inoculation of different microbes that might promote a healthy microbiome and immune system.
  • Processed foods, imbalanced diet
    • A diet high in foods that have additives, preservatives, sugars or artificial sweeteners can create major disruptions in our microbiome. So can having a diet too high in starchy foods. This is where plenty of vegetables make a big difference in the delivery of optimal foods to balance our GI tract.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
    • The human body was created to be in motion, muscle contraction and normal movements like walking, squatting, lifting, etc actually help to move blood carrying nutrients and oxygen through the body, support muscle and nerve function and also directly impact digestive health and the microbiome. Studies have found that exercise alone can have a positive impact on the microbiome. Sitting around too much can be another cause of your bloating.

 

Whether you’re getting bloated every day or it’s less frequently you can take action by removing some of these main disruptors of your healthy gut bacteria. A few simple habits like regular movement and better food choices can make all the difference in your bloating, which will translate to your health overall when you realize how much the microbiome does for your health TK LINK. Good luck getting after it!

 

If you found this article useful, would you do us a favor and share it on facebook, twitter, email or with anyone who could benefit?

11 Little Known Digestive Related Problems

11 Little Known Digestive Related Problems

 

Is your gut causing brain, mood and hormone problems?

 

“It all starts in the gut,” have you heard this? Are you wondering how it’s possible for headaches, hormone imbalances, depression, anxiety and more can all be related to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract? Wonder no more, we’re gonna dive into some common problems that stem from the GI tract, including the how and why.

 

Some of the common and more easy to figure out problems with digestion are things like heartburn, gas, bloating, indigestion, nausea, constipation, diarrhea or more severe things like Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis among others. These are easy to understand as all of these concerns directly involve the GI tract. Where are they coming from and what’s causing them? Most often we find they are related to either food intolerances and sensitivities and an imbalance of the bacteria and yeast of the GI tract. By addressing these two factors it’s surprising how quickly and how often these problems clear up.

 

What about the unclear and indirect digestive problems?


Some common concerns are brain fog, a decreased mental clarity and low energy. Most of the time if we dig deeper we find that there are also some direct digestive concerns happening at the same time. On the rare occasion where the GI tract is symptomless we look at diet and lifestyle and find that there are a lot of things that are disruptive and harmful to the GI tract. Things like food choices, too many processed and simple carbohydrates, things like regular antibiotic use, stress, dehydration, lack of exercise and more. All of these are going to impact the two things in the digestive tract that can cause brain fog and low energy. That first thing is inflammation, an inflammatory diet and lifestyle is going to drain your resources and create a state where your body is always trying to attack, destroy and remove something – which pulls away from your ability to function optimally. Second is the balance of the gut bacteria which extract nutrients from food and produce neurotransmitter hormones like serotonin which helps us focus and feel happy, they also support the activation of thyroid hormone which promotes energy and metabolism of all of our cells and many more hormones we rely on.

 

What other problems do we see improve when we restore a healthy GI tract?

  1. Brain fog
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Pain (while it may not resolve completely from this approach, it tends to improve dramatically)
  5. Headaches
  6. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
  7. Menopause
  8. Blood sugar imbalances
  9. Hypo and hyperthyroid
  10. Adrenal hormone (cortisol) imbalance
  11. Thyroid hormone imbalance
  12. And others

 

If that sounds good, and you’re now wondering “great, how do I do it!?” jump on our email list and get all of our updates, new materials and our free quick-start Energize checklist to get you started with feeling awesome now.

 

Your Gut: Hormones, Inflammation, Detox and more

Your Gut

Hormones, Inflammation, Detox and more

 

Basic digestive function is extremely important for our health, because if we can’t digest and absorb our food we aren’t getting the building blocks we need for health. There are other reasons outside of digestion and absorption to support a healthy gut. Our immune system and the effect on body wide inflammation, also the production, activation and elimination of hormones and neurotransmitters and finally the elimination of waste and chemicals. These are core functions our digestive tract performs for us, along with many others we won’t get into.

 

Digestion and Absorption

Digestion is an extremely important function of the GI tract, and we sometimes forget how complex of a dance it is from start to finish. We know we need the nutrients of food to function, so we do our best to choose good foods to meet that requirement. The question is, are we taking care to make sure we can actually digest and absorb that food? Here’s a quick run down for most of the things that have to happen to digest and absorb those nutrients we need to function.

 

  1. We see/smell food with eyes and nose which stimulates acid and enzymes in the stomach/pancreas/small intestine and bile production/release from the liver/gallbladder. Initial release of insulin from our pancreas to support absorption of sugar into cells.  
  2. Chew food: food is broken down by teeth and enzymes within saliva help to further break down carbohydrate.
  3. Swallow food: food travels down to the stomach where acid and some enzymes continue breaking down even further. Very little is absorbed in the stomach directly.
  4. Digested food and acid from stomach enters the small intestine where further breakdown and nutrient absorption begins.
  5. The first part of the small intestine has an important role, specific enzymes work best at different pH levels, which means as the acid from the stomach dilutes there are different enzymes that will further break down components like proteins and carbohydrates. This is also where bile from the gall bladder and liver enter to help absorb fats and oils.
  6. Different nutrients are absorbed at different parts of the small intestines (B12, vitamins, minerals, iron, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc).
  7. Food enters the large intestine and most water and some minerals are absorbed and remnants like fiber and other waste being excreted from the body continue on until leaving the body.

 

It’s just a quick overview, but realize that something can and often is going wrong in these first few steps. When we eat on the run, our body doesn’t prep for digestion the same. When we eat too much too quickly, or too much of certain foods our body can’t produce enough acid and enzymes to break things down. When we’re stressed, tired, dehydrated, etc our acid and enzyme production goes down. If things malfunction at the beginning, what happens down the rest of the line? Nothing good, and it’s why many of us might eat nutritious foods but we aren’t extracting all the goodness we can from them.

 

Immune Function and Inflammation

We’ve talked about how the microbes in the digestive tract train our immune system before, but there’s a lot more to this story. Roughly 80% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract, 80%! That’s a lot, right? Why is it there and not in our nose or lungs or somewhere else? Our digestive tract is where EVERYTHING has to come in, and since all food has been alive at some point in some way or form – it’s not sterile. Quite the opposite, it’s usually covered in different bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. So the immune system in our digestive tract has a major job to deal with that. Now there are other things, newer things that are riding along with our food these days – things like chemicals, food additives both natural and unnatural, and even unique new proteins our immune cells are unfamiliar with like found in GMO foods. Each of these creates a situation where there can be a disruption of the immune cells, which almost always leads to an inflammatory response as our body notes these things as potential threat. The more this happens the more of an inflamed digestive tract, the more resources we send in to deal with the problem, and a cycle of inflammation and discomfort is created. How to stop it? Remove the offending triggers, and keep them out. Fortunately the cells of the digestive tract can mostly replace themselves within a couple of weeks, meaning things start to repair quickly, though it can take a few cycles of replacement to get everything back to optimal, which is why elimination diets are recommended for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

 

Hormones and Neurotransmitters

The microorganisms in our digestive tract have a very interesting influence in our hormones, some of which is a newer understanding. We have known for quite a while that our gut is a site of activation for thyroid hormone, which means a healthy digestive tract is key for healthy thyroid function. More recently researchers have uncovered that it’s also the site of production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, has a crucial effect on estrogen production and the breakdown of estrogens to healthy or harmful forms. This is really just the tip of the iceberg as we dig deeper into the complex interplay between hormones, neurotransmitters and the microbiome. One thing is clear, healthy hormones are heavily reliant on the microbiome.

 

Detoxification

The last function we’ll talk about is the elimination of waste and chemical toxins which the digestive tract is responsible for. Fortunately not everything that goes into our body is absorbed, and quite a few things simply pass right through. Most importantly is fiber, which is a fantastic carrier for other waste products out of the body. Fiber is both food for the microbiome and the garbage truck that we dump cell waste and many harmful toxins like metals and solvents into. Of course this elimination of toxins can be undone if there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria which free certain chemicals like solvents from what is holding them in the gut. This is why it’s important to have healthy digestion from start to finish.

 

Digestion is a complex process a lot of us don’t think about, by breaking it down into core components you can see how easy it is for things to goof things up unintentionally. Fortunately most of the big fixes are small habits we can adapt like taking time to sit down and eat more real foods, more plant-based foods, removing the things we already know are harmful (but hopefully know more of why now) and supporting our microbiome. You’ll be surprised at how small steps can make big differences. Good luck getting after it!

The Microbiome 101

microbiome, gut bacteria

microbiome, gut bacteria

Maybe you’ve been hearing this word flying around, and you’re wondering what it is or what it has to do you with. “Microbiome” is a term that came out of the Human Microbiome Project, a major research initiative started by the National Institutes of Health. The purpose was to understand the how changes in the microbiome affect human health. But what exactly is it?

The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that inhabit every surface, nook and cranny that we have. Microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, viruses and other teeny tinies that live on and in us. These microbes inhabit our skin, mouth, lungs, genitals, and most important our gut.

As the initiative went on and study results came back it was clear that there is a lot more microbes than human to us. It’s estimated that for every 1 human gene there are 100 microbial genes. Many have gone to calling us a super-organism because of this, and for good reason.

So what does this mean for us? Most important is the discovery that we rely on our collective microbiome every day. Functions like digesting food and making neurotransmitters that affect mood and mental function. It also trains the immune system and fends off infectious diseases. There are many other benefits and plenty yet to be discovered.

One of the biggest things that comes from this research is that we can’t go on with killing microbes indiscriminately. Whether in the environment or our bodies with antibiotics. Disruption of the microbiome is a major contributor to health problems that we face in developed countries. These same health problems are often nonexistent in undeveloped countries. Diabetes, obesity, allergies and autoimmune diseases all have connections to a mistreated microbiome.

New connections are made every day with one thing clear, our microbiome works for us in countless ways when it’s healthy. If an imbalance in our microbiome occurs we risk problems like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity and infections like the cold, flu or worse.

  • So what are the best ways to nurture our microbiomes?
    • Diet is the king, and one of the biggest factors in microbiome health. Diet creates a positive shift in hours to days. It increases the number of beneficial microbes and decreases the harmful (less beneficial) ones.
      • A good diet for your microbes contains plenty of fiber especially insoluble fiber – found in garlic, onions, jerusalem artichokes and many others. Some of these insoluble fibers are prebiotics which means they feed our good microbes.
    • Probiotics are also important. Probiotics are the actual microbe that is beneficial usually in a capsule form. You can find natural probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and others.
      • An easy way is to pick up a quality probiotic supplement which “seeds” good microbes, and works especially well with diet.
    • Get outside. There is a completely different composition of microbes found in indoor air compared to a forest or beach. Spending time in nature gives you a dose of fresh air that’s good for your microbiome too!
  • What are the most common ways we disrupt and harm our microbiome?
    • Antibiotics are the a major culprit, and we’re talking specifically about
      • Unnecessary prescriptions,
        • Avoid these by asking your doctor if antibiotics are completely necessary or if the infection/condition will likely clear up on it’s own. If you need them take them, but antibiotics have no positive impact on viral infections like the flu or cold so make sure you need them.
      • Hand sanitizers, and
        • Avoid these by getting antibiotic free soaps and avoid using soaps you’re unsure about.
      • Agricultural antibiotics used to encourage weight gain in livestock.
        • Buy your foods, meats especially, organic whenever possible.
    • Poor diet
      • Diets that tend to push the microbiome the wrong way are high in processed foods like sugars, refined flour pastas or breads, and low in fiber.
    • C-sections
      • It might seem strange but newborns are seeded with bacteria as they pass through the birth canal. These bacteria are specially adapted to babies first food, milk. Emergency C-sections save lives, but elective C-sections are unethical and set a child up for a rough start.

Review

  • The microbiome is our collection of microbes that bring us many benefits and protect us from numerous diseases.
  • This microbiome outnumbers our human genes 100 to 1 and our human cells 10 to 1.
  • It functions to help us digest foods, train our immune system, discourage infections, and much more.
  • We can encourage a healthy microbiome by
  • Eating plenty of veggies, fiber and fermented foods in place of sugar and other refined foods.
  • Taking probiotics
  • Getting outside
  • Taking antibiotics only when necessary
  • Avoid hidden antibiotics in soaps and in many non-organic meats

Resources

  1. Great video on the microbiome basics

Test your microbiome here