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Blog posts tagged with 'bacteria'

Can Exercise Influence the Balance of Good Bacteria in Your Gut?

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Can Exercise Influence the Balance of Good Bacteria in Your Gut?Today more and more of what goes on in your stomach is being put under a microscope—in some cases quite literally. Gut health has been linked to many aspects of overall health, including your immune system, weight management, nutrition, and even mood. There’s much more going on in your gut than just the breaking down of food to extract the nutrients your body needs. Understanding how you can support your digestive system and your overall well-being with good bacteria can give you an added advantage to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

 

Making Way for the Good Bacteria

For most people, the mention of bacteria conjures pictures of harmful microbes that are associated with germs and sickness. However, there are actually millions of good bacteria, or probiotics, lining your colon that help your body digest nutrients. Probiotics also help battle bad bacteria that can wreak havoc on your immune system, energy levels, and overall health in general. While your diet is a large indicator of what your gut health can look like, a new study shows that even exercise can be beneficial in tipping the scales in the favor of the healthy flora your gut needs.

An Exercise in Better Gut Health

While diets can vary from person to person, researchers wanted to explore the degree to which exercise and diet in combination might be beneficial to the good bacteria count in your gut by observing several test groups. One test group consisted of rugby players due to their adherence to a more extreme diet and intense physical training. Athletes are prone to eating a more varied diet which would help enrich gut flora. The other control groups consisted of two groups of men: One group that had a normal body mass index (BMI) and engaged in periodic light exercise, while the second group were primarily sedentary and were considered overweight or obese. As one would expect, the group of athletes—due to their high level of activity and more varied diet, which included a higher protein intake—had not only more good gut bacteria, but also a variation in particular strains which has been linked to promoting healthy weight management and reduced risk of inflammation.

Food Quality Matters

Researchers and critics were quick to point out, that while these results do show a lot of promise, the link between exercise and healthy gut bacteria cannot be definitively proven from this study. Besides engaging in more physical activity, the athletes ate better-quality foods such as more fruits and vegetables compared to the sedentary test subjects who ate more snacks and processed foods. Diet, as many know, plays a major role in the health of your gut. Processed foods contain sugar, which can stimulate the growth of bad bacteria whereas fermented foods promote good bacteria growth. Health experts also caution against consuming too much protein if you aren’t a professional athlete because the metabolisms of athletes are very different from an average person’s.

Catering to Your Gut for Better Health

The study does make it clear though that sufficient levels of gut bacteria are crucial to overall health. People with more active lifestyles usually have a more varied, nutritious diet that supports healthy levels of gut bacteria, so even if the direct relationship between exercise and gut health hasn’t been established, it’s always a good idea to be physically active. Catering to your gut health with a balance of exercise, healthy eating, and probiotic supplementation is a great way to help the good bacteria in your digestive system gain the upper hand on gut health and lead to more optimal living.

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You and Your Dirty Phone

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You and Your Dirty PhoneAccording to a United Nations report, 6 billion of the estimated 7 billion people in the world use cell phones. With the increasing use of cell phones as a means of staying connected to people and information, more and more individuals are constantly touching their phones throughout the day—and coming into contact with bacteria.

How Your Phone Relates to Health


A recent study sought to look at just what type of bacteria can collect on a typical phone from daily use. Taking samples of 17 people’s smartphone touchscreens as well as their index fingertips and thumbs, researchers discovered more than 7,000 different types of bacteria between all of the samples taken. Unsurprisingly, the individual microbes on each person’s phone closely matched the ones on that individual’s fingers.

“This study confirms that we share more than an emotional connection with our phones—they carry our personal microbiome,” said the study researchers in the June 24 issue of the journal, PeerJ. The term microbiome refers to each person’s unique set of microorganisms that reside in the skin, saliva, and gastrointestinal tract. Over time, your body has adapted to having these bacteria, so there’s no cause for alarm to find such bacteria on personal items such as phones, especially since the average person checks their phone up to 150 times per day.

The close relationship you share with your phone may even make it possible one day to use them as a way to monitor the bacteria you are exposed to in the environment. For example, your phone could be screened before or after entering a medical facility to see if you are bringing dangerous pathogens in or out, according to James Meadow, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon.

Protect Your Phone, Protect Your Well-Being

Just as you are capable of picking up microorganisms from the environment, so too can your phone. “Phones may carry bacteria that we pick up from being outside, or from touching surfaces or other people,” said Meadow. Some bacteria don’t integrate into your microbiome and further research is needed to understand how they affect health.

To help limit the amount of bacteria that may spread between you and your phone, practice the same hygiene habits with your phone as you would your own hands. For example, don’t let your phone come into contact with uncooked food or other unclean surfaces. Wipe it down regularly with an alcohol-free disinfectant wipe because alcohol rubs away the grease-repelling coating on touchscreens. Then dry it with an extra-soft cloth. Use a microfiber cloth—such as the kind used to clean sunglasses—to remove fingerprints and grease from your smartphone’s screen, and use a compressed air can to clear away crumbs and other debris that may get stuck behind buttons. This minimizes the transfer of bacteria to your face, which can cause irritation to your cheek and jawline, or even illness.

In addition to keeping your phone clean, remember to keep your hands clean as well through frequent handwashing. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing your hands under running water with soap for at least 20 seconds to kill germs effectively.

Make Hygiene a Habit

Everyone’s immune system reacts differently to certain environments, and Meadows advises that bacteria on smartphones and the body are not necessarily something to worry about. But good hygiene is something to be practiced for good health, especially if you feel ill often or have a low immune system. Just because you can’t see germs and bacteria on cell phones, door hands, or keyboards it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. By practicing good hygiene, daily immune system support can be easily integrated into your healthy lifestyle every day.

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Managing Allergies While Enjoying the Outdoors

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Managing Allergies While Enjoying the OutdoorsEnjoying warmer weather outdoors can have many benefits to your health and well-being. With spring upon us it's a time when plant life begins to flourish. That means the air will be adorned with pollen and other particulates from trees, grass, mold, spores, and flowers that can trigger pesky signs of seasonal allergies, disrupting your outdoor enjoyment. With the right knowhow, you can be prepared to avoid all the sneezing, running noses, itching eyes, and other symptoms that are associated with seasonal allergies.

Facts About Allergies

Allergies occur when the immune system misidentifies a normally harmless substance as a threat to the body and it goes into defense mode trying to discharge that substance from your body. If either of your parents has allergies, you have a 1 in 3 chance of developing them, too. However, if both your parents have allergies the chances go up to 70%.

Controlling Your Environment

While it's virtually impossible to rid the world of allergens completely, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself and give your sinuses some relief. First, remember that even when you're not outside pollen and dander can still find you. Controlling your home environment is a key step to reducing your exposure. Allergens and pollen can stick to clothes, furniture, bedding, and carpets. Pollen activity in the air is usually at its strongest from 10 am to 4 pm, so keep the main windows and doors to your home closed during these hours. It's also important to know that you may be covered in pollen if you've been outdoors for any period of time. Showering as soon as you get home, washing your clothes on a regular basis, and vacuuming your bedroom and living areas will help keep pollen and particulates in your home to a minimum. The main theme here is maintaining cleanliness in high-traffic areas to reduce your exposure to allergens. You can also plan your outdoor excursions around the weather. The best time to venture outdoors is after a rainstorm or rainy day; rain can wash allergens away and significantly reduce the outdoor pollen count to help reduce allergy sensitivity.

The Many Choices in Remedies

Some people are capable of outgrowing their allergies over time; others will need to constantly be aware of them. Check with your doctor to ensure you are taking the right remedy for you. Some over-the-counter medications may raise blood pressure, while experts have also found that you can build up a tolerance to allergy medicines. Herbal supplements can provide a more natural means to managing your allergies than over-the-counter medications. Red magnolia, for example, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since 100 AD as a natural nasal decongestant. Often paired with red magnolia, xanthium, is another name for the cocklebur plant native to Europe. It has been used in TCM to help open up nasal passages to ease breathing. Another common home remedy is creating a saline solution spray to help clear the sinuses.

You Can Never Be Over-Prepared for Allergies

Millions of people are affected each spring by seasonal allergies. But by knowing your personal allergic triggers, checking with your doctor to see what preventative remedy is best for you, and keeping a clean and tidy home, you can be well prepared to deal with the pollen, dander, and other particulates that invade the air during spring. Don't let the fear of allergies hold you back from enjoying the outdoors!


Sinetic
 

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Is Detoxing Necessary? We Put the Spotlight on Colon Health for Colon Health Awareness Month

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Is Detoxing Necessary? We Put the Spotlight on Colon Health for Colon Health Awareness MonthMarch is Colon Health Awareness Month, so if you haven't paid much thought to your colon's needs, now is the perfect opportunity to educate yourself on how the state of your colon, or lower intestine, can have a significant impact on your well-being. The colon is the main site in your body for waste removal, so naturally, a lot of unwanted material passes through this region. It is believed that occasional cleansing can give your colon—and overall system—an added health boost. But just what is colon cleansing and how is it done?

Is Detoxing Healthy or Harmful?

The idea behind cleansing or detoxing is that it can help remove toxins left behind in your system that remain even after normal elimination. Some people think that colon cleansing is unnecessary because your body naturally cleanses itself through regular bowel movements. However, proponents of periodic detox or cleansing believe that toxins in your colon can be the cause of various symptoms such as bloating, irritable bowels, and even certain allergies. Regular cleansing helps flush these toxins out and may support weight management, promote a healthy balance of stomach bacteria, and even improve your mental outlook. One method of detoxing is with a water diet for two days, which is one of the quickest ways. But it can also be the most challenging method because water is the only thing you consume during this type of cleanse and it can put excess strain on your body. It may also leave you more vulnerable to dehydration because along with flushing out toxins, you're also releasing water from your system. Another method of detoxing involves using juice cleansers or a strict diet of fruits and vegetables. These methods are meant to introduce more nutrients into your system while you're cleansing. Brown rice, for example, is high in B vitamins and fiber that aids your regular bowel movements.

Cleansing the Healthy Way

Using the right ingredients for a colon cleanse can clear away toxins without flushing out the electrolytes your body needs. Magnesium hydroxide has been touted as a healthy cleansing agent because it draws water into the intestines, softening waste matter and allowing it to move through your system more easily. Another common ingredient used for gentle detoxing is peppermint leaf. Used to support colon health for centuries, peppermint leaf calms the muscles of the stomach and intestines to allow the food and waste to pass through more quickly. In one study conducted on 57 people with digestive concerns, patients were either given a placebo or capsules containing peppermint leaf twice a day for four weeks. Of the people who took peppermint leaf, 75% showed fewer digestive health symptoms at the end of the study. The superfruit, acai, also doubles as a healthy cleansing agent. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, acai fruit contains dietary fibers and complex amino acids. The dietary fibers help stimulate digestion, along with supporting your body's natural cleansing and detoxing methods.

Living healthy Through Good Digestion

Your colon has many responsibilities. Cleansing your system and supporting your colon health with the right ingredients can enhance your immune system, give you more natural energy, and help your body absorb the vitamins and nutrients from your food that it needs to perform each day. While colon health awareness may only receive a month of recognition, supporting a healthy digestive system and colon should be a year-round affair.


ColonVita
 

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Are You Following These Top Tips for Holiday Health?

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Are You Following These Top Tips for Holiday Health?The food, the shopping, the family get-togethers; the holiday season can be a wonderful time of the year, but it can also take a lot out of you. Getting through the holidays without making a dent in your daily health and nutrition is no easy task. But you can keep your immune system strong and start your New Year off on the right track with a couple of easy tips.

Go with Your Gut

An often forgotten fact about your immune system is that a large part—about 70%—resides in your gut. This makes nourishing your digestive tract paramount to protecting a healthy immune system. Probiotics, found commonly in yogurts, can help nourish your gut, keeping your immune system healthy and ready to fight off the antigens that can infiltrate your body. But if you'd prefer the benefits of probiotics without the calories or sugar of yogurt, try probiotic supplements instead. An important tip for making sure you're getting the right type of probiotics is to make sure they're enteric coated. This special coating protects the probiotics so that they won't be stripped away by your stomach acid before they reach the large intestine where they will be most helpful. More and more evidence these days points to a healthy balance of microbes in your gut being the catalyst for a strong immune system. New studies have connected the importance of good gut microbes to everything from immune function to healthy moods to simple weight management. This makes the choice easy for supporting your immune system from the inside: Go with your gut.

Keep Clean and Rested

Along with supporting a healthy gut on the inside, there are several practical tips to help shield you on the outside during the holidays. Many of us tend to feel rundown during the holidays from work deadlines, travelling, shopping, last-minute gift wrapping, or socializing. Your busy schedule can be the catalyst for a weak immune system. We all know the body needs proper rest, but the holidays can be especially taxing. Making sure you're getting a healthy night's sleep before, during, and after the holiday marathon can keep your body on a rested and healthy cycle.

Hands Together for Health

While it's great to see family and friends during the holidays, the fact is, people carry germs. Think of all the handshaking, hugging, and handling of food that goes on at social gatherings. Hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing can be your best friend this time of year. Keep some hand sanitizer in your pocket and make sure to wash your hands consistently with soap to keep potential holiday germs at bay. Of course, there are many choices in hand sanitizers out there, so when choosing a hand sanitizer make sure it contains at least a 60% concentration of alcohol such as ethanol or isopropanol. Hand sanitizers with less alcohol may not be as effective.

Enjoy a Healthy Holiday

It is possible to enjoy the holiday season while keeping good health in mind. Sometimes it's the little things that can make a world of difference during this winter and holiday season. Try some relaxing herbal teas to wind down in the evening and be sure to stay hydrated throughout all of your holiday endeavors. The best gift you can give yourself going into the New Year is a clean bill of health, so remember to supplement, rest, and practice good hygiene so that you can take full advantage of the holidays.


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