From the category archives:

digestive health

Top Five Health Drinks

by Ed

We need to drink to stay alive. It’s even more important than eating, at least in terms of how often we need to drink to survive. What you drink really matters though, if you want to be healthy. North Americans are drinking more calories than ever before, which is adding to our weight problem. In general, drinking does not make us less hungry, so when we drink a sugary soft drink, we are just adding calories to our diet, not to mention the negative impact on our blood sugar.

What are the healthful fluids we can be drinking? Here are my top Five:

1. Water. By far the winner. Water is what our body needs, so why not drink it straight? Filtered tap water is the best. In Many communities, water coming out of the tap is not that good for you, but simple carbon filtration is usually good enough. Bottled water is a bad idea for two reasons. One is that you don’t really know where it came from, and the other is that toxic chemicals leach out of the plastic bottles water comes in. For more on plastic bottles, see this post. For most people, six to eight glasses of water a day is optimal.

2. Ginger tea. It is warming and it stimulates digestion. It can ease allergic reactions.

3. Chamomile tea. It is very soothing to the nervous system and stomach.

4. Green tea. In moderation, green tea is very beneficial for its antioxidants. People who are sensitive to caffeine, should avoid it. Be careful of its tendency dehydrate you.

5. Freshly made fruit and vegetable juices. These are a magnificent source of antioxidants and other health promoting phytochemicals. Drink them within a few minutes of juicing them, as they lose their goodness very quickly. These are rather high in calories, but most people don’t have time to overdue them. Besides, the health benefits far outweigh the problems, unless you have serious blood sugar issues.

water with meals

by Ed

There is an email going around about the dangers of drinking cold water with meals. It is highly overstated. Do not worry about it. This is the version I got:

For those who like to drink cold water, this article is
applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink
after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the
oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down
the digestion. Once this “sludge” reacts with the acid,
it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine
faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine.
Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer.
It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine I do agree that it is best to only drink warm water with meals, but I would not worry about cancer. The science in the article above is just not sound. Drinking cold water is fine when exercising, as it is absorbed faster and helps to cool the body down. With meals, however you want to keep the digestive system warm, only because it has to work to warm things up any way. If you have weak or sluggish digestion, it will make a difference.

Gall Bladder Flush

by Ed

Continuing with my Spring Cleaning series:

Keeping your gall bladder working well is important to good digestion, particularly digestion of fats. If you feel sluggish or bloated after eating oily or greasy food you are probably overdue for a gall bladder flush. It’s a good idea to have one once a year in any case. If gall stones run in your family, or you know you are prone to them, twice a year might be better.

There are a few variations on the gall bladder flush, some of them take only one day. I prefer this five day version. It is very easy to do.

Eat normally during the five days, except add four to five organic apples or four to five glasses of organic apple juice every day.

On the fifth day, do not eat dinner. At 6pm take a tablespoon of epsom salts in a half a glass of warm water. Do the same at 8pm. Be sure to get epsom salts for internal use. The large containers for bathing have impurities in them.

At 10 pm get ready for bed. Last thing before getting into bed drink half a cup of olive oil mixed with half a cup of lemon or grapefruit juice, preferably fresh squeezed. Get straight into bed and lie on your right side with your right knee pulled up. That will help the oil move into the gall bladder.

All of these procedures help to soften the stones, open the bile duct or increase movement in the gall bladder.

The next day you should find a number of small green stones in your stool. Some “experts” say the stones are just the olive oil mixed with the epsom salts, but the first time I did this I had at least a dozen little stones, and the second time I did it I had none. Usually I find a few, depending on how long it has been since I last did it. The first time I did it, it made a huge difference in my ability to digest oily foods.

Cleansing the Digestive tract

by Ed

Every Spring is a good time for internal cleansing. I suggest starting with the digestive tract, then doing a Gall Bladder flush. While these cleanses are safe for most people, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a qualified health professional, especially if you have any significant health concerns. After doing a cleanse many people find they have more energy, clearer skin, fewer allergy symptoms, and many other positive effects. It is certainly helpful for anyone with constipation.

One simple and safe way to cleanse the digestive tract is to do a short juice fast. Three days is safe and effective. Only drink juice of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Drink them immediately after juicing them, as they lose their goodness, and start to oxidize very quickly. Besides drinking fresh juice, you can drink herbal teas, ginger is particularly good. Also, first thing every morning, mix one teaspoon of psyllium husk in a glass of water or juice. It does not have a pleasant flavor, so you probably want juice. Psyllium husk is known as intestinal broom because is sweeps out the old debris that lines the intestinal walls. You may want to continue the psyllium for a few days after the fast is over.

While generally regarded as safe, a small minority of individuals do not tolerate psyllium well. Those experiencing discomfort should discontinue use, or start with a very small amount to allow the body to adjust. However a feeling of bloating, especially the first time you take it, is normal.

Use of psyllium can reduce the effectiveness of prescribed lithium.

Use of psyllium can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Do not use psyllium within two hours of any medicinal substances. Use at least 30 minutes prior to eating.

Psyllium is generally safe and helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, and colitis.

Should you be taking Probiotics?

by Ed

Probiotics are bacterial cultures,such as are found in yogurt, that also live in our intestines. They contribute to the digestive process and keep unhealthy microorganisms, such as candida yeast, from invading our systems.

Many people have insufficient healthy bacteria, and should be supplementing with a good probiotic formula. Antibiotics and pain pain medications can inhibit the good bacteria. Eating too much sugar can encourage candida, which may overcome even a mildly weak intestine.

You should consider taking probiotics if you: regularly or recently took antibiotics; regularly use pain killers such as aspirin and ibuprofen; have recurring fungal or yeast infections; have chronic digestive disturbances, such as IBS, colitis, multiple food intolerances, or leaky gut syndrome.

How do you know which probiotic to take? Generally more expensive ones are of higher quality. You want to make sure that you are actually getting the probiotics into your body, and the better quality ones have more living bacteria. You want to take a formula with several different bacteria in it. I recommend at least acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, and lactobacillus casei. The different bacteria have overlapping and synergistic effects.

How to take probiotics. Generally it is best to take them on an empty stomach, but not when you are hungry. Stomach acid can easily kill the bacteria. First thing in the morning and bedtime work well for most people. One capsule twice a day is a good maintenance program. If you have symptoms that would benefit from probiotics you may want to take larger doses. Start at two capsules a day and slowly work your way up to six to ten a day. Stay there for a month then work your way back down. If you are healthy and maintaining a good diet, you may not need to continue taking them, as they thrive in a healthy intestinal environment. If you have any of the conditions mentioned above, it is unlikely that probiotics alone will heal you. It is best to see a health practitioner who has experience with digestive imbalances and yeast infections.