Category Archives: Gut Health

PROBIOTICS

Renew Life Collage photo 1.

I am a big believer in the benefits of probiotics.  I take them on a daily basis as do my children. I find that many people are unaware of the fact that our gut is a large part of our immune system.  According to Brenda Watson, one of the founders of Renew Life

“[T]he gut is the root and core of our total general well being.  It’s the place where food is broken down into the building blocks of our cells.  It’s the first line of defense against invading pathogens and infectious diseases.” 

Our bodies are filled with bacteria…some good, some bad.  With probiotics we can tip the scales in our favor by introducing large amount of GOOD bacteria that will overrun the bad. There are many different ways to ingest probiotics.  In addition to taking a capsule every morning (a MUST for me), I try to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. I also treat myself to probiotic drinks every so often (my absolute favorite is KeVita…they sweeten their drinks with stevia…yay!).

I am excited to announce that I have become an ambassador for Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora products.  I am extremely picky about which supplements I take and I did my due diligence before signing on to this role.  I really want a product to be of superb quality if I am going to align myself with it and I want it to be a reasonable price, which these are (They start at around $20 per month).

To further illustrate how diligent I was prior to signing on, I went so far as to take the probiotics with me to my appointment with one of my personal physicians, Dr. Michael Galitzer, so he could test it against my body.  As soon as he saw Renew Life he mentioned that he knew them to be a good company and I am happy to report that the probiotic passed his test with flying colors.

I really like that the Ultimate Flora line has sooooo many different offerings for different conditions.  It is such a benefit to be able to pick the probiotic YOU specifically need vs. a one-size-fits-all approach. I have been taking the Ultimate Flora Women’s Care (25 Billion) which is specific to women since it:

  • Helps balance yeast‡
  • Promotes vaginal heath‡
  • Supports urinary tract‡
  • Helps replenish healthy vaginal flora levels‡
  • Delayed Release

The  other probiotic offerings in the line are:

  • Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50
  • Ultimate Flora Senior Formula 30 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Adult Formula 15 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Vaginal Formula 50 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Critical Colon 80 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Super Critical 200 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Extra Care 30 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora RTS Daily 15 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Daily Care 15 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Ultra Potent 100 Billion
  • Ultimate Flora Advanced Immunity
  • Ultimate Flora Daily Probiotic Plus Fiber
  • Ultimate Flora Constipation Relief
  • Ultimate Flora Kid’s Probiotic
If you are new to probiotics, your body may go through an adjustment period which can range anywhere from a little gas to more frequent bowel movements.  If you have a lot of symptoms, scale back and take less until your body adjusts.  I recommend starting slowly and building-up from there.  For example, if a bottle states that the dose is 2 capsules, use 1 capsule for a few weeks and then add in the second capsule.
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For more information about Renew Life probiotics, or to order click HERE. .To learn more about Ultimate Flora by Renew Life, click HERE.
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Please note that as an affiliate I receive a small percentage of each Renew Life sale generated from this site…I believe in their products.
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Filed under Education, Gut Health, Immune System

CLEAN EATING RESET

I am willing to bet that nearly all of us overindulged over the past few months.  While I managed to make it through the holidays without gorging on sweets (like I did last year READ POST), I did eat food that was a bit more rich than usual and just plain ate MORE than usual.

I am convinced that one of the reasons I was able to have more self-control this year was because I completed a cleanse during the first two weeks of December before the holidays hit high gear.

A few months back my friend Sirica and I went to the Healthy Lifestyle Expo together and when she arrived she told me about a cleanse she did while her husband was out of town.  It was so pure in that she just ate fruits and vegetables.  I was drawn to the simplicity of this cleanse aka “reset and repair” as I like to refer to them.

So often I hear of cleanses that involve tons of supplements and very little food (trust me, I have done those too) and while I do think there is a time and a place for those types of cleanses (under a doctor’s care and for a specific reason), they make me really cranky and hungry.

So I took what I learned about the cleanse from Sirica and ran with it.  I set-out to do the cleanse for 7-14 days (not sure how long I wanted to do it) and ended-up completing 12 days.  Here were my parameters:

  • Consume ONLY fruits and vegetables (aim for at least 50% raw…I think I was closer to 70% raw).
  • Have the bulk of your intake be from water-based fruits and veggies, but be sure to include sweet potatoes and squash.
  • Drink water, tea, fresh vegetable juice, or fruit and veggie powder drinks (I drank NanoGreens once a day).
  • EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT…DO NOT GO HUNGRY!!!!!!
While I think it probably goes without saying based upon the outline above, I thought I would add some further clarification:
  • NO oil
  • NO grains
  • NO legumes
  • NO nuts
  • NO animal products
  • NO sugar
  • NO artificial sweeteners
  • NO processed foods

Like I said, I completed 12 days of this cleanse and came out of it 7 pounds lighter (all of which stayed off during the holidays) and most importantly I felt great and never once was I hungry!  I really, really, really (did I emphasize that enough), don’t like to be hungry, so this was perfect for me.

OK, this may be TMI, but prior to the cleanse I was not as “regular” with my bowel movements as I would have liked to be.  During the cleanse that all changed.  I feel like it RESET my digestive system and everything is as it should be now.

I want to allow my body to heal from the excess I experienced last month, so I will be doing this cleanse again starting tomorrow and my husband offered to do the cleanse with me too…yay!

Would it be helpful for you / would you be interested in me posting my food log next week as I go through the cleanse?  

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Filed under Cleansing, Education, Gut Health, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues

ASK GRETTIE – Digesting the Vegan Diet

 

Here is my latest Ask Grettie column for Chic Vegan.

Does the stomach ever get accustomed to eating a plant-based diet and no longer have GI distress? I am afraid of getting bloated and windy (gassy). I have IBS. Thanks!

~Dolores

Hi Dolores!

I am sorry to hear that you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and have been experiencing intestinal irritation.  Yes, I can assure you that the stomach does in fact adjust very nicely to eating a vegan diet.  As with many things in life, one has to give themselves time to adjust to this new way of life.  For example, I wouldn’t recommend that a person who is not accustomed to eating vegetables and legumes start eating 2 cups of beans in one sitting.

I also recommend digestive enzymes.  Raw food contains many enzymes on its own which are highly beneficial.  However, most people primarily consume cooked food and the enzymes are destroyed during the cooking process.  As a result the pancreas needs to secrete digestive enzymes to assist in the breakdown of our food.  When our pancreas becomes over-taxed, over time it is not able to secrete as many digestive enzymes.

“Eighty percent of our body’s energy is expended by the digestive process. If you are run down, under stress, living in a very hot or very cold climate, pregnant or a frequent traveler, then enormous quantities of extra enzymes are required by your body. Because our entire system functions through enzymatic action, we must supplement our enzymes. Aging deprives us of our ability to produce necessary enzymes. The medical profession tells us that all disease is due to a lack or imbalance of enzymes. Our very lives are dependent upon them!”

– Dr. DicQie Fuller, The Healing Power of Enzymes

We can assist our bodies by eating as many raw foods as possible and by taking digestive enzymes.  I personally take digestive enzymes.  I have had great results with Life Extension’s Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes and Hippocrates Health Institute’s LifeGive Digestive Enzymes.

One other solution to keep in mind is the addition of probiotics into your daily regimen.  Read a past Ask Grettie column about probiotics.

If the above solutions do not solve your GI issues, you may have a food intolerance or allergy which may be causing some of the uncomfortable inflammation in your digestive tract.  Keep a food log and see if you notice any patterns with regards to when you experience your GI issues and whether it is related to the consumption of certain foods.  A great way to determine the offending food is to put yourself on an elimination diet.  Basically you remove possible food triggers for a week and then slowly add them back one at a time to see if your symptoms return.  If the symptoms return after adding back a particular food, then you have found your culprit (some people have more than one).  I used an elimination diet to determine my gluten intolerance.

According to Dr. McDougall, the six leading causes of food allergies are dairy, eggs, chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and fish.  Becoming vegan will automatically remove four of the six most common food allergens from your diet…yet another reason to praise vegan diets!  If nuts and chocolate are not your triggers, then it is time to move on to the elimination of the following potential allergens from the vegetable kingdom, wheat (and/or gluten in general), corn, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Please keep in touch and let me know if the above recommendations help solve your GI distress.

Here’s to health!

Gretchen

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingphotolife/

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Gut Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

NATIONAL CELIAC DISEASE AWARENESS DAY

Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day.  I know gluten-free has become a fad diet for some, but for those who suffer from Celiac Disease, a gluten-free diet is absolutely essential.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten. – National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

My daughter has a wheat and gluten allergy, but does not have Celiac Disease for which I am grateful.

Living gluten-free now is soooooooo much easier than it used to be, however there are still challenges (B-Day parties, school functions, family parties, restaurants).  So many times kids/people who need to avoid gluten are not able to eat the same fun treats other people are and it leaves them feeling like a bit of an outsider.  For this very reason, my heart leapt when we were in Orlando recently.  I knew that Downtown Disney had recently welcomed Babycakes Bakery (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, & Kosher).  It was with such joy that I was able to tell my daughter, “You can have ANYTHING you want from this bakery!”  She looked at me like I was on crack and then quickly became mesmerized by the goodies in the glass cases.  We ended-up buying a cupcake, donut, and chocolate chip cookie sandwich.  Great memories!  Babycakes also has bakeries in NYC and Los Angeles.  I also love my Babycakes cookbook and I hear Erin just came out with another cookbook, Babycakes Covers the Classics, that I am sure is fab.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of my favorite gluten-free resources:

Are there any blogs or gluten-free resources that you use frequently and don’t see listed above?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Filed under Books, Education, General Vegan, Gluten Free, Gluten-Free Baking, Gut Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – All About Probiotics

This is my most recent Ask Grettie Column for Chic Vegan…

I have been hearing so much about probiotics lately.  I understand their value, but am wanting some more information.  How do I choose a good probiotic?  So many of them have soy in them and I generally try to avoid soy.  Your thoughts?

~ Sirica

Hi Sirica!

Probiotics are very beneficial.  I personally take them multiple times a day and give them to my family as well.  Our gut is a large part of our immune system and according to Brenda Watson, “[T]he gut is the root and core of our total general well being.  It’s the place where food is broken down into the building blocks of our cells.  It’s the first line of defense against invading pathogens and infectious diseases.” Our bodies are filled with bacteria…some good, some bad.  With probiotics we can tip the scales in our favor by introducing large amount of GOOD bacteria that will overrun the bad.

There are many different ways to ingest probiotics:

1.  Fermented foods

The existence of fermented foods predates recorded history.  So many cultures utilize fermented foods in their diets such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and yogurt (I favor the coconut milk variety).  Eating fermented foods is a great way to obtain beneficial bacteria.

2.  Probiotic drinks

Good Belly and KeVitaare two companies that have burst onto the probiotic scene.  My one criticism of Good Belly is that they add sugar to their drinks.  KeVita on the other hand does not since it’s drinks are sweetened with organic stevia.

3.  Probiotic capsules or powders

I recently attended the Natural Products Expo West and was able to talk to many probiotic manufacturers.  I learned so much from them.  Many of the brands that have soy in their products actually were able to win me over by explaining that their probiotics are “grown” on fermented soy and do not use.  I am a person who tries to limit the soy in my diet, but I do see the benefits of including fermented soy in one’s diet and I do so about once a week.

Here is what New Chapter has to say about the soy issue:

Although true soy allergies are very rare, many people have difficulty digesting unfermented soy. Whole, unprocessed soy contains nutrient blocking factors, such as phytate, which interfere with its potential benefits. Fermented soy, on the other hand, agrees with almost everyone, even people with soy sensitivities. Probiosis of soy also changes isoflavones from inert forms into their activated aglycone genestein, dadzein, and glycitein forms.

Yes. New Chapter’s Probiotics deliver non-GMO organic soy in its fermented whole-food form, similar to miso, tempeh and natto. Unlike unfermented soy or isolated soy components, these traditional soy foods have been consumed for thousands of years and are associated with the health and longevity of traditional Asian cultures.  Many research studies suggest that regular consumption of fermented soy is associated with numerous health benefits, including the maintenance of normal cell growth in breast tissue.*

Yes. A recent peer-reviewed scientific review of fourteen clinical trials examining the effects of soy on the thyroid concluded that in the absence of an iodine deficiency, there is little evidence that soy foods or soy isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function and that “hypothyroid individuals need not avoid soy foods.” In fact, some studies suggest that soy may actually promote normal thyroid cell growth. To help ensure healthy thyroid function, our Probiotic Nutrients™ contain a whole-food form of iodine.

I have had a lot of exposure to probiotic capsules and powders and recommend the following (each of which I have tried):

Renew Life Ultimate Flora, New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora, Ortho Molecular Ortho Biotic, ThreeLac (great for candida issues), and probiotics by Klaire Labs.

Your body may go through an adjustment period when beginning probiotics which can range anywhere from a little gas to more frequent bowel movements.  If you have a lot of symptoms, scale back and take less until your body adjusts.  I recommend starting slowly and building-up from there.  For example, if a bottle states that the dose is 2 capsules, use 1 capsule for a few weeks and then add in the second capsule.

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, Gut Health, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian

THE ROAD TO PERFECT HEALTH – Book Review

By now I think you all realize how important it is to me that my reviews be unbiased reviews…I do not just hand-out a thumbs-up simply because someone has sent me a product or book to try.  That being said, I am really impressed by Brenda Watson’s The Road To Perfect Health book.  This is such a comprehensive book…it is HUGE!

In this book Brenda Watson thoroughly explains our gut and why it is such a crucial player in the health of our body.  I am someone who believes that people really need to take charge of their health and if something doesn’t feel right, they need to investigate further.  Doctors can be such amazing members of our health team (or they can be dismissive), but there is no member more amazing than the person experiencing the symptom firsthand.  This book helps a person do just that.  The Road to Perfect Health takes a multitude of illnesses i.e. from eczema to cancer and explains the possible origins, how to test for the ailment, and possible solutions for healing the ailment.  This book helps people take their health in their own hands…i.e. you know what tests to ask your doctor for.

At the moment the book is only available through a PBS pledge at the $195 level:

“This ultimate package includes “The Road to Perfect Health” DVD, 5 CD set, 2 DVD set, book, “Probiotic Guide Booklet with Self-Test Questionnaire” and “Digestive Function Medical Analysis and Test KIT 50% Coupon.”

There are also packages at a lower price point, but they do not include the book.

Click here for more information on how to get the book.

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Filed under Books, Education, Gut Health, Product Reviews, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian

BRENDA WATSON – Renew Life

When I went to the Natural Products Expo West I was fortunate enough to meet and spend a bit of time with New York Times best selling author Brenda Watson and her husband Stan, the founders of Renew Life.  I was contacted by representatives for Renew Life earlier this week and am being given the opportunity to try many of their products…I can’t wait to share my opinions about their cleanses, probiotics, and fiber products with you after I have completed them!

For those of you not yet familiar with Brenda, Brenda is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and is currently staring in her fourth PBS television special, The Road to Perfect Health – Balance Your Gut, Heal Your Body.  Brenda recently co-authored a book by the same name which is available with the top PBS pledge level.  I had a chance to thumb through the massive book while talking to Brenda and was impressed with the level of detail and organization found within the book which takes an individual look at the body’s major internal systems and over 50 common health conditions (I am a lucky girl in that I am also being sent the book!).

Both the PBS show and the book explain how digestive imbalances can lead to many illnesses outside of the digestive system. In the special Brenda offers natural solutions for bringing the body back into balance through both dietary and lifestyle changes:

Brenda explains how a multitude of factors in modern life can negatively impact the ability of the GPS to do its job including aging, antibiotics, yeast overgrowth, parasites, undigested food and unhealthy food choices, environmental toxins, and the long term use of antacids. The good bacteria in the gut support a variety of intestinal functions like synthesizing vitamins, producing digestive enzymes, helping with the absorption of nutrients, protecting the intestinal lining, supporting and stimulating the immune system, and enhancing the body’s own detoxification process. By balancing the gut, one can heal the body and build a strong foundation of good health”

In Brenda’s words, “As a nation, we’ve got serious digestion and elimination problems, but aside from the epidemic levels of digestive disorders and disturbances, Americans are also plagued with a host of autoimmune disorders and so-called diseases of civilization like chronic fatigue syndrome, high cholesterol, joint problems, anxiety, depression and diabetes. Since these afflictions do not take place in the gut, most people believe that digestive health is a separate entity from cardiovascular, psychological, and other types of health, but in truth, the gut is the root and core of our total general well being. It’s the place where food is broken down into the building blocks of our cells. It’s the first line of defense against invading pathogens and infectious diseases. It’s our protection against environmental toxins leaking into the bloodstream.”

You can visit www.brendawatson.com for more information.  For show times in your area click here.  I think you will find the PBS show to be highly educational and worth your time.

For more information on Renew Life click here.

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Filed under Books, Education, Gut Health, Product Reviews, Vegan, Vegetarian