Tag Archives: probiotics

8 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Immune System

Immunity collage 800x800

I covered two super ways to build and strengthen your immune system in this post and this one. Here are eight more ways to give your immune system what it needs to keep you well. All of these ten items are from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and her ground-breaking book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, ADD, Dyslexia, ADHD, Depression, Schizophrenia. Dr. Campbell-McBride is a pioneer in the field of gut, brain and immune system health.

1. Onions and garlic

Onions, garlic and other closely related foods like leeks, shallots and scallions, contain amazing nutrients that have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. They are also full of polyphenols, special nutritional compounds found in fruits and vegetables in addition to the more well-known vitamins and minerals. Garlic, according to The Herbal Home Remedy Book, garlic is one of nature’s best antibiotic and antiviral agents. Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, gives this important tip to maximize the nutrition we get from garlic: “ If you just chop, dice, slice or press that garlic, set it aside for 10 minutes before you expose it to heat. That garlic is producing all that allicin. When that reaction is complete, you can do whatever you want to it at that point. You can broil it, you can fry it and you get all of the allicin. It’s just press, rest for 10 minutes.”

2. Freshly Juiced Vegetables and Fruits

No juice boxes or bottles here, just the pure juice from fresh vegetables and fruits consumed as soon as they are extracted. Fresh juice contains all of the valuable enzymes and micronutrients that canning and pasteurizing destroy. Juicing makes the nutrition easier to digest, especially for anyone already suffering from digestive issues. It’s also easier to get a wider variety of vegetables in your diet when you combine less favorites ones with others that you really like. If you don’t have a juicer at home you can usually find fresh juice at many health food stores. Try mixing bitter greens, beets and celery with the sweeter flavors of apple or carrot and then add some spice with ginger, cilantro, lemon or lime. Boost the nutrient absorption even more by stirring in a little raw cream or coconut milk.

3.  Regular Consumption of Greens

Parsley, dill, cilantro, green onions, dandelion, kale, and many other strong tasting, dark green vegetables support the healthy functioning of our immune system organs. Healthy people are efficient at detoxing. It happens every night while we sleep. Our liver and pancreas kick into detox mode, and by the time we wake up these organs have filtered out all the bad stuff and sent it on its way out. Leafy greens, especially those bitter greens listed here, offer just the right ingredients to give the liver and pancreas a boost so they can do their job even better.  Raw, cooked or juiced – be sure to include a little butter, bacon fat or other fat to help absorb the vitamins.

4. Fermented Foods and Probiotic Supplements

Maintaining a healthy gut flora is super important for good digestion, clarity of mental function, and supporting the immune system. The majority of our immune system resides in our gut, so having healthy levels of beneficial bacteria can give us more energy and help us to manage stress appropriately. Fermented foods have been an important part of every culture all throughout history. Fermentation preserves food while at the same time making it more nutritious. Add sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, kvass, kefir, kombucha, and lacto-fermented pickles and vegetables to your daily diet. When you can’t get fermented foods probiotic supplements can step in and help. There are also certain strains of probiotics that can help target certain conditions and provide therapy to aid specific concerns.

5. Contact with Animals

Have your kids been begging you for a pet? It’s probably a good thing. Several studies link increased immune system strength to growing up with pets in the home. Having dogs, cats or even a horse can help us in many ways including lowered blood pressure, stress relief, combating depression and even aiding Alzheimer’s patients.

6. Swimming in Unpolluted Natural Lakes, Rivers and the Ocean

When you need to disinfect germs in your bathroom toilet or dirty laundry you often reach for bleach. The active ingredient chlorine is designed to kill germs, but it doesn’t distinguish between infectious germs and beneficial bacteria. So why do we want to spend hours swimming in a big chlorinated swimming pool? Chlorinated swimming pools have a strong effect on asthma and respiratory allergies. In fact, chlorinated pools have a five times stronger effect than secondhand cigarette smoke. Contrastingly, swimming in the ocean is restorative and healing helping you to detoxify naturally and take stress away from your immune system. Similar benefits are found to a lesser extent with swimming in natural, unpolluted lakes and streams. If you have a backyard swimming pool consider switching your chlorine filter for one using ozone or ultraviolet light, or copper or zinc filters. There are also safer “shock” treatments using baking soda rather than chlorine.

7. Physical Activity in the Fresh Air

Exercise can create at least an additional 50% boost in your immune system’s chance of preventing cancer, and can cause improved function in your entire metabolism.  Doing this exercise outdoors gives you the added benefit of breathing in clean air and taking a break from indoor pollutants lurking in carpets, furniture, cleaners and dirty ventilation systems.

8. Exposure to Sunlight and Sensible Sunbathing

Our greatest source of vitamin D lies in our body’s ability to create Vitamin D in our skin using cholesterol during exposure to the sun.  Let me repeat this – vitamin D is made from cholesterol in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. With all of our modern cholesterol fears and manic sunscreen use is it any wonder we have a rise in vitamin D deficiency and all of the vitamin D-related health conditions including heart disease, mental illness, auto-immune disease, osteoarthritis, cancer and high blood pressure?!  According to Dr. Campbell-McBride “The skin cancer, blamed on sunshine, is not caused by the sun…it is a fact that skin cancer (just like any other cancer) is caused by our modern processed foods and our modern toxic lifestyles. Trans fats from vegetable oils and margarine and other toxins stored in the skin are a particular culprit.”  Being outdoors year round is important for all living creatures, human and animal. So much has been written about the importance of vitamin D. Here is a great place to read more.

How many of these tips do you already practice? Which are your favorite? Which are you going to try to incorporate next? Let us know in the comments or visit our Facebook page and share with us there.

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This article was shared on Wellness Wednesday!


3 Things You Can Do for Your Kids (including talking about this uncomfortable topic)

Here are three tips from Jordan and Steve to make your kids stronger and healthier on the inside:

1. Share this chart with your kids

Get the conversation going about “going” in your house. Change the meaning of “potty talk” and open up a dialog about healthy bathroom habits at an early age. Your kids can track their own health just by knowing what to look for when they potty. It’s normal and healthy to poop, and kids are naturally curious, help to focus them in a healthy direction.

Does your Poop Stack Up?
Source: SolvingLeakyGut.com

2. Eat an abundance of fermented foods.

Serve them everyday. Make it normal at your house to have them around, and lead with your example as you eat them every day. Start with SCD yogurt, kimchee, kefir, sauerkraut, and pickles. Let your kitchen be a place of exploration.

3. Let them play in the dirt.

Soil contains millions of beneficial microbes, especially near the top where the plants grow. Plants need a healthy, diverse probiotic community just like we do. In addition to contact with a wide range of immune-strengthening microbes, getting outside to play in the dirt gives kids sunlight (vit D) exposure, exercise and fun.

Which tip is your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments!

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. 

What You Need to Know About the Most Common Cause of IBS

digestive small and large intestine titlesThis blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized.

An estimated 60 million people in the U.S. have something called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the symptoms of which can include anything from bloating, pain and discomfort, diarrhea and/or constipation, heartburn, and nausea. . IBS is not so much a disease as a “catch all” term used by doctors to categorize people with similar symptoms. According to Dr. Allison Siebecker as many as 84% of all people with IBS have Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) as the underlying cause of all their troubles. Interestingly, as many as 70% of people with fibromyalgia also have some form of IBS, and so it isn’t surprising that a study done at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that 100% of fibromyalgia patients (42/42) studied also had SIBO.

What is SIBO?

It is becoming much more common knowledge that people need beneficial bacteria to keep healthy, in fact these beneficials outnumber our own cell 10:1.  Just exactly where these helpfuldigestive system image with little bugs critters are isn’t quite as clear to most people. A small amount can be found all throughout the entire digestive tract from the mouth to the other end, but the majority should be in the large intestine and colon. The small intestine, whose job is to host most of the digestion of our food, shouldn’t have a large bacteria population. Having too many bacteria in the small intestine would get in the way of all of the digestive enzymes and other digestive chemicals while slowing down the whole process of absorbing the nutrition and moving along the leftovers.  The small intestine uses powerful muscle contractions, called peristalsis, to mix digestive enzymes with the food and to keep it all moving along smoothly into the large intestine. When this is slowed or halted bad things can happen.

The small intestine is super-important because it is technically the first place where your food actually enters into your body. Your mouth, esophagus and stomach are actually still part of the “outside” since all they do is crush and mix the food with chemicals to break it down. Only in the small intestine does our dinner begin to filter into us giving us energy and nutrition. So the small intestine has a huge responsibility – it has to figure out exactly what part of our food is safe and healthy, and what part needs to get passed along and eliminated. Proteins and fats are the main things digested in the small intestine, this includes all the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D & E; and the protein-related vitamins like zinc and many of the B vitamins. It is critical that your food is broken down correctly and then continues to move on through instead of slowing down or stopping there in the small intestine.

Anything that slows down the movement, or motility, of the small intestine brings with it the potential to cause SIBO.  When your small intestine gets overrun by bacteria that aren’t supposed to be there you feel bloated; you also don’t absorb the nutrition from your food no matter how organic or healthy it is.

Dr. Siebecker explains that there are many events which could bring on SIBO including a bout with food poisoning, stomach flu or traveler’s diarrhea. Other triggers can be scleroderma (where you skin or connective tissue hardens), Type II diabetes, hypothyroidism, abdominal tumors or any kind of abdominal surgery that produces scar tissue around or on the small intestine. On her website, SIBO Info.com, Dr. Siebecker gives an extensive list of symptoms and related diseases to help you figure out if you might have SIBO. There are also medical tests you can have your doctor give you, one is the Lactulose Breath Test. Another is a urine organic acids test.

So what do you do if you have SIBO?

Dr. Siebecker, as well as functional medicine practitioners like Chris Kresser, use four different approaches to healing depending on the age of the patient and the severity of the symptoms. The first strategy is to go on a carbohydrate-restricted healing diet such as GAPS or SCD. This is because carbs, especially sugars, grains and beans, are favorite foods for the SIBO bacteria. It is especially important to be gluten-free while you are trying to eliminate SIBO.

Next, depending on how severe the overgrowth is, there are special antibiotics, such as rifaximin, that target primarily the SIBO bacteria. If someone doesn’t want to take antibiotics, or if their overgrowth is not severe, there are also specific herbal remedies that have antibiotic effects. Some of the more common ones include cats claw, wormwood, goldenseal, pau d’arco, olive leaf extract, garlic, barberry, and Oregon grape. If the overgrowth is extremely severe practitioners might recommend something called an elemental diet which is a liquid formula of free amino acids to keep any stress off the small intestine while also eliminating anything that would feed the bacterial overgrowth.

Treatment doesn’t work overnight. You may feel relief from your symptoms very quickly, but you have to keep going with the treatment, especially the GAPS or SCD diet, for several months until your body has time to heal. After undergoing treatment for SIBO it is also common to relapse unless you fix the underlying problem that caused it in the first place. (such as a diet of refined carbs and processed foods) It is very important to stay in tune with your body, monitor your digestion and make sure you don’t get constipated or have diarrhea again. Dr. Siebecker gives her patients special supplements to keep motility going smoothly. Taking ginger each day to keep food from just sitting in the stomach is one of her recommendations.

What about probiotics?

Everywhere you look you see probiotics added to all kinds of things. Probiotics are definitely important to supplement, especially from lacto-fermented and naturally cultured foods, but people with SIBO need to read labels carefully and not choose any probiotic that also contain a PRE-biotic. Pre-biotics can aggravate SIBO because they are made from the same kind of carbohydrates that feed the unwanted bacterial overgrowth. According to Chris Kresser you also want to avoid taking any probiotics that have D-lactate-forming species like Lactobacillus acidophilus. Unfortunately those are some of the more common species in many probiotics. Saccharomyces boulardii, on the other hand, is a good strain to look for when taking probiotics for SIBO. All of this is why it is always important to work with a practitioner and not try to self-treat SIBO. It’s tricky to kill off some bacteria while supporting others and also not do any more damage to your digestive tract.

For some people staying on a permanent low FODMAP, gluten-free diet can keep them SIBO-free.

Dr. Siebecker has a new book coming out soon. Visit her website and sign up for her newsletter to receive news on the book, and to learn lots more about SIBO. She also recommends A New IBS Solution by digestive disorders researcher Dr Mark Pimentel as a great resource for further reading.

Maybe SIBO is part of your puzzle. Ask your doctor or practitioner to find out more.
Use the social media links to Pin this for later or share with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment here and share your journey with SIBO.  We’ve linked up with Wellness Wednesday, come see the other posts shared there, too.


Wise Traditions 2013 Day Three Synopsis

My apologies for taking so long to get this last blog up. As soon as the final session was over on Sunday we had to jump in the car and head home. For me that was two days of car travel,supergold kvass zukay but then once back home I turned right back around and started on another trip out west to visit more family. I’m writing this now from a hotel room in Tulsa. It’s kind of crazy to go from a weekend of fabulously healthy, farm fresh food for three meals a day straight into the food deserts of the airports and life on the road. I’m thankful to have found Zukay Live Foods Super Gold spicy beet kvass at the Tulsa Whole Foods yesterday. Dr. Mercola said one serving of fermented vegetables (this kvass qualifies for that!) is equal to a whole bottle of probiotic supplements.  Ok, on to my synopsis of the final day’s sessions….

I began the morning in a packed house to hear Dr. Joe Mercola. As usual, he was engaging and funny and had lots of good ideas. His loosely-organized talk on the failed drug system of conventional medicine was really an overview of his own recipe to take control of your own health. He had 12 bullet points with accompanying power point photo illustrations. I’ll list them here, but if you’ve spent any time on his website you are probably familiar with many already. The title of the talk could also be “Optimize Your Gut Flora”.  1. No sugar (you knew this was important!) 2. Reduce grains (or for the bold, eliminate grains entirely) 3. Eat lots of good vegetables and sprouts 4. Eat fermented vegetables, learn to ferment your own vegetables and fruits. We surprised Joe on this one…he said for anyone who had ever made their own fermented vegetables to raise their hand. Pretty much the whole room held hands high, and he was blown away. Said he’d never talked to an audience where the vast majority were fermenters much less even knew about it. This is when he told us that a 2-3oz serving of fermented vegetables has 100 trillion beneficial bacteria and is equal to an entire bottle of probiotic supplements. 6. Grow and eat your own sprouts. He recommends sprouting in soil rather than just in a sprouting dish. Sprouts have 30x the nutrients as the mature vegetable with sunflower seed sprouts being the highest. There are directions on his website on how to sprout using trays of soil. Takes about 5 days from start to finish. 7. Drink pure water. He said this was a good “gateway” first step for anyone wanting to begin the journey to health. 8. Eat a HIGH FAT diet. Especially for anyone who is currently insulin or leptin resistant he recommends using intermittent fasting techniques and converting to a fat-adapted diet rather than a glucose-burning diet. On the topic of fat-burning and eating high fat (good fats like coconut oil, butter) that insulin and leptin resistance lead to heart disease and cancer. Another moment of surprise for Dr. Mercola came when he asked anyone who has had a heart attack to raise their hand. In the packed auditorium of several hundred people only one person raised their hand – Mercola was stunned saying he attributed the low heart attack count to our healthy WAPF diets. 9. Exercise was next. Cardio, sitting killshe says, is not the most efficient. Better exercise is one that activates fast twitch muscles such as the Peak 8 training program. Great photo from this segment was a picture of a comfy chair with the caption “sitting kills”. 10. Grounding or Earthing – going barefoot on the earth or ocean activating a free flow of electrons to replicate natural principles to help naturally thin your blood. 11. Keep cell phones off and away from your body. 12. Small initiatives can make a big differences: say no to GMOs, Fluoride removal from city water supplies, ban mercury in dentistry, and the National Vaccine Information Center.

From Mercola I went upstairs to a more intimate classroom area to hear Dr. Deborah Gordon speak about Preventing Breast Cancer. This class was packed full of information, so much so that I want to do a more in-depth blog just on this topic. So what I give you here is just the surface of the deep pool.  First of all it is important to know that Prevention does not equal  Detection. 68% of women actually think mammograms prevent breast cancer. The industry claims they are the only way, but in reality there are many things you can do to help prevent breast cancer (and all cancers).  Prevention can come both before and after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It is important to know your personal risk factor. The Cancer.gov website has a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool you can use to start with. Don’t stop there. Know about all the risk factors. Things like family history, age, race, age of menstruation/menopause, age of first full-term pregnancy, and breastfeeding all play a role. We have all heard of BRCA genes and while genetics themselves are fixed the epigenetics are modifiable. This means the environment we live in and the lifestyle we live. Exposure to radiation, carcinogens, toxic hormone modifiers and other substances are all risk factors we can lower or eliminate by lifestyle choices. Biggest is with food, personal care products, our homes and our lives. Keep cell phones away from your body and NEVER carry them in your bra! Choose organic foods and non-toxic cosmetics and cleaners. Parabens in deodorants are big cancer offenders. Use the EWG’s Skin Deep website to find good products. Never put anything on your skin you can’t safely eat. Sleep in a completely dark room, exercise – especially intense exercise for better hormone/metabolism/insulin. Have a little red wine – One 6oz serving per day at most. Manage your stress! Stress hormones kept low allow all your other glands to operate optimally! Eliminate sugar – many cancers are dependent on sugar, but humans are not. Vitamin D, probiotics, fermented foods, iodine, selenium, turmeric are all good. Statins double the risk of breast cancer.

Third up was a lecture called “Failed Promises-Flawed Science” from retired Col. Dr. Huber, Professor Emeritus Purdue University. Dr. Huber’s research into GMOs is legendary and stretches back 20 years or more to the inception of the biotech industry. This was another lecture that deserves its own blog post (or two or three). For this lecture he focused mainly on the herbicide glyphosate, brand name “Round Up”, used in GMO agriculture. Setting aside the actual GMO plants we learned that glyphosate on its own was a huge problem. It is a chelator of all cations, inhibits enzymes, shuts down the shikimate pathway (which I wrote about here), is a strong antibiotic (glyphosate was first marketed as an antibiotic before being used as an herbicide), and accumulates in shoot, root and reproductive tissues, accumulates in the soils, is toxic to beneficial soil organisms and just all-around nasty. Because of widespread glyphosate usage we are now seeing re-emergence of old diseases as well as brand new ones. Things like Corynespora Root Rot, Goss’ Wilt of Corn, Take-All of Wheat and Sudden Death Syndrome are all plaguing farmers now. It only takes 1/2 oz per ACRE of glyphosate to damage crops with low vigor, lower yields, and lower mineral values. Even after 30 years the glyphosate is still present in fields – it doesn’t go away. Now on to the crops themselves….There is a reduction in the nutrients from 13%-52% in RoundUp Ready (RR) crops. It takes extra fertilizer and micronutrients just to get these crops out of the ground. Animals fed GMO feed struggle due to nutrient deficiencies directly as a result of deficient feed plants. RR plants have a high amount of formaldehyde and contain at least 13% glyphosate within the plant itself. Mice and squirrels will ignore GMO feed corn due to the formaldehyde content. 80% of the beef livers from commercially raised and slaughtered cows have to be thrown away directly due to the premature aging from the GMO feed. 20% of all pregnancies in commercially raised dairy cattle are lost due to insufficiencies in the feed.  Erosion of the stomach and intestines from GMO soy and corn reproduce symptoms of autism in herds of animals eating GMO feed. When the GMO feed is removed the symptoms go away. Glyphosate presents long-term toxicity to liver, kidney and tissues and is a long-term carcinogen. Refining oils from GMO crops (soy, canola) concentrates this effect. We even have a new disease called Morgellan’s disease linked to GMOs.

buchi kombucha

buchi was a sponsor for Wise Traditions

The last session of the day was Kombucha and Cancer Therapies – Historic and Modern from Kombucha Kamp found Hannah Crum. Hannah’s bubbly personality spilled out like effervescent kombucha bringing a joyful tone to the serious topic of cancer.  Something I knew but forgot was that kombucha is not a lacto-fermented beverage like kefir or kvass. Instead it is an acetic acid ferment similar to apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid while kombucha is a more drinkable 1%.  Hannah repeated what Deborah Gordon said about cancer being caused by environmental factors such as diet, toxins, lack of exercise and radiation.  Much of the research done on kombucha is from other countries where kombucha consumption is more the norm than it is in the US.  Stalin urged research on kombucha in the 1800s because he feared getting cancer. His scientists discovered a population in Russia living near an asbestos mine that should have been sick but instead the people were healthy – they drank kombucha. Dr. Rudolf Sklenar in Germany used kombucha to prevent cancer as well as treat and cure it using daily protocols of probiotics and kombucha. More recent research shows promise using kombucha to help heal diabetes, to repair kidneys from exposure to toxins such as carcinogenic solvents, to lower levels of radiation poisoning and to reduce human cancer cell activity. Hannah gave an in depth look at all the good things in kombucha from polyphenols to healing acids, and talked about how kombucha is a “gateway ferment”. People who are new to fermented foods often like kombucha just because it’s fizzy and it tastes good, but they keep drinking it because it makes them feel good.


Next year Wise Traditions 2014 will be in Indianapolis – I hope you can attend!