Friday, May 25, 2018

Putting Probiotics to the Test

Beneficial gut bacteria help digest and extract nutrients from everything we eat, and they can crowd out the bad-guy bacteria that make us sick. That's the big idea behind the shelf full of "probiotic" supplements at our local pharmacy or grocery store. Manufacturers claim that these products contain billions of live bacteria and they are often recommended for relief from gastrointestinal problems. But do the supplements actually contain what the labels promise, and how do they compare to fermented foods, like kombucha or miso soup, which are also teeming with microbes?

Researchers from my alma mater, Boston University, recently looked into just this question. After purchasing several drugstore probiotics, they cracked open the pills, diluted the bacterial powder stuffed inside, and dabbed the mix onto petri dishes to see what would grow. "The numbers from our methods have been a little lower than what's claimed on the box, but there are definitely living bacteria in there."
The researchers then tested the probiotic pills against popular fermented rinks that naturally contain good bacteria: miso soup, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha. The results looked very different from the over-the-counter probiotics. While the bacteria from the pills colonized tidy white circles, the dishes plated with fermented foods bloomed in colorful, disorderly splotches. It’s already clear that the foods have greater bacterial diversity than the over-the-counter probiotics.

“A healthy collection of gut bacteria is not one type of bacteria. It’s many types of bacteria, so there could be potential health benefits of having more variety."

Ultimately, the hope is that the research will help doctors and consumers make more informed choices about over-the-counter and food-based probiotics. And while you should always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement, especially if you’re seriously ill or have a weakened immune system, it typically can’t hurt to give probiotics a try. I would recommend the natural probiotics found in yogurt, kombucha, or apple cider vinegar, but the capsule variety are also good.

Full Article

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How to Practice Intuitive Eating

The correlation between obesity and chronic disease is well established. For decades, efforts to fight chronic disease have focused primarily on obesity--encouraging dieting as the best way to lose weight. Despite a thriving weight loss industry, we haven't seen significant improvements in rates of chronic disease.

Weight-cycling, losing weight and later regaining it, is often see with many diets. Eating less that the body needs triggers endocrine system changes that promote weight regain, reducing satiety after eating and increasing hunger. In addition, dieters develop a lower resting energy expenditure.

An emerging paradigm in health promotion is putting more of a focus on weight neutrality. People who are classified as obese can improve their metabolic fitness and reduce their risk of chronic disease by eating more nutritious meals and increasing physical activity--independent of changes in weight. Research on this weight neutral approach to chronic-disease management actually shows substantially higher overall weight loss retention than dieting.

Intuitive eating encourages internal regulation of the eating experience. Try to apply these key concepts to encourage more mindfulness and enjoyment of your eating experience

Restore Body Trust
Dieting enforces strict rules based on external cues. In contrast, intuitive eating restores a sense of body trust. Respecting your internal hunger cues and fullness cues is key to intuitive eating. While diets say wait for the next planned mealtime, intuitive eating says show yourself compassion by feeding yourself when it feels physically necessary.

Make Peace with Food
Rather than labeling high-calorie, low-nutrition foods as "bad," intuitive eating encourages a neutral perspective on the moral value of foods. Letting go of self- and diet-imposed judgments of foods can help heal our relationships with food.

Address Emotional Eating
We often get temporary emotional relief from eating, followed by a realization that our problem remains. Intuitive eating encourages us to show ourselves compassion by entertaining a solution that is unrelated to food and that directly addresses our emotional challenges.

Full Article