Sunday, August 31, 2014

Toxic Toothpaste? Hidden dangers in your dental care products

MyAchingKnees comment: In keeping with my health lifestyle focus on maximizing low glycemic foods, minimizing my intake of high glycemic foods, taking quality nutritional supplements, living a physical life and minimizing toxics, I have quit using conventional toothpastes about 8 years ago. If you read the labels on the ingredients and the poison control warnings and you'll understand why. I have not had any cavities since; my dentist tells me that my gums are very healthy looking; and I don't wake up with bad breath.

On the whitening side, I suggest you use a toothpaste that does not use chemical bleaching or whitening, but rather a toothpaste with silica to gently "scrub" the tooth surface to remove surface stains. How much abrasiveness a toothpaste has is measured by the RDA (relative dentin abrasivity). The FDA recommends a toothpaste under 200 RDA and the American Dental Association puts that limit at 250. I use a fluoride free, natural toothpaste with an RDA under 80. 

So do you own research - nothing will convince you of the what you need to do more so than determining that information firsthand.

This is from a Fox News article posted earlier in the month.

There are many options we have in taking care and beautifying our smile these days. The claims can be enticing— promises of whitening, tartar control, cavity control, germ killing, and more. Did you know some of the ingredients in your toothpastes, mouthwash and teeth whiteners can actually be more harmful than beneficial?

There are some controversial ingredients lurking in our oral care products that we should use with caution. The floor of the mouth— the area below the tongue— is very vascular and can act as a quick route of absorption to our bloodstream.

Triclosan is an ingredient in a popular toothpaste that claims to work up to 12 hours to prevent bacterial plaque formation. This ingredient has raised concern because studies have shown it can be an "endocrine disruptor," which can lead to hormonal imbalances such as fertility problems and thyroid problems; it is also linked to antibiotic resistance. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed concern with this ingredient and Johnson & Johnson is removing it from its soap by 2015.

One ingredient in mouthwash that is more harmful than beneficial is alcohol. One popular brand has a 20 percent concentration of alcohol in its formulation. Alcohol dries out the mouth, making breath worse. Plus, it makes you more prone to cavities since the natural protection of saliva is reduced. There have also been some links between alcohol and cancer of the mouth.

There are plenty of good mouth rinses on the market that are alcohol free. Choose one with zinc that will fight bad breath at the source.

Carbamide peroxide is found in whitening pastes, gels and rinses. The byproduct of carbamide peroxide is urea, which turns into ammonia. This is not to be confused with hydrogen peroxide, which is safe to use in moderation. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water and is a better choice since it also works faster.

Whitening toothpaste can be a confusing product. When one hears "whitening" they think of "bleaching" the teeth and having deep stains inside the tooth being removed to reveal a whiter smile. If you look at the back of a "whitening " paste it will say "removes surface stains.” That means it’s only removing the top layer of stain on the outer enamel and not effectively whitening the inside of the tooth. This is accomplished by using heavy abrasives to scratch away the stains on the enamel surface, which can wear away your tooth surface and cause sensitivity. Enamel does not grow back. If you want a real whitening toothpaste you need a professional strength hydrogen peroxide gel in a separate tube which you add to your regular paste each time you brush. This will effectively whitening your teeth— from the inside out.

Please make sure you brush twice a day, rinse and floss. Visiting your dentist twice a year is also recommended to keep your mouth healthy.



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Saturday, August 23, 2014

11 Serious Lack of Vitamin D Warning Signs

It's pretty much common knowledge that a person can't get enough Vitamin D from the Sun....even in the summer months. Plus sun bathing for Vitamin D has side effects like skin cancer. I was never a sun bather, but yet had three basil cell spots, about the size of nickels, cut out of my back. I am posting the article below, from Answers.com, as it lists symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency which should be on people's minds. This article does not discuss the daily amount of Vitamin D a person should receive (see my comment at bottom).

Bone Pain.
Shunning the sun and being lactose intolerant can leave you with a deficiency of Vitamin D. This can lead to bone pain. According to the National Institute of Health, this subtle symptom it can be a serious sign of a lack of Vitamin D.

MyAchingKnees comment: Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption to enable normal mineralization for bone repair and growth.

Muscle Weakness.
Muscle weakness is usually caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. Muscles have Vitamin D receptors. They must have a constant supply of Vitamin D to function. If your body has a deficiency of Vitamin D your muscles will have trouble functioning as stated by the National Institutes of Health.

Psoriasis.
Although psoriasis is not always caused by a lack of Vitamin D, it's used in treatment. The Mayo Clinic claims that if you have a lack of the Vitamin D it will be harder for your body to defend itself against psoriasis.

Tiredness.
Vitamin D is one of the necessary vitamins for your body to create energy. Without it you can end up feeling tired most of the day. This will make it hard for you to get around or even get to work. You should consult your doctor if you have constant feelings of tiredness.

Depression.
According to the Vitamin D Council, this essential nutrient helps your brain's neurotransmitters produce the fluid serotonin. This produces our feelings of happiness. Studies have linked low levels of Vitamin D with episodes of depression. Especially during the winter months, because of the lack of sun during that time of year.

Sweaty Head.
Years ago doctors used to ask new mothers if their heads were sweating more than normal. NDHealthFacts claims that the reason for this is because it is a tell-tale sign of a lack of Vitamin D is a sweaty head.

Constant Respiratory Problems.
Studies show that Vitamin D may help defend against respiratory illness. This is especially true in children. Cardiovascular Disease.

Articles published by the National Institutes of Health have shown that deficiencies in Vitamin D can lead to congestive heart failure. Make sure your body maintains the proper amounts to guard against the risk. Home tests are available to check if have a lack of Vitamin D.

Hypertension.
Harvard University conducted a study on women. The study showed that women with low levels of Vitamin D have a 67 percent increased risk of hypertension. If you suffer from anxiety you may want to consider purchasing Vitamin D supplements and adding them to your daily routine.

Chronic Infections.
The Mayo Clinic has advised that Vitamin D is crucial to our body's health. It is a necessary vitamin in helping our body fight infections. If you notice you or your child is prone to getting infections, you might want to ask your doctor to give you a Vitamin D blood test.

MyAchingKnees comment: So how much Vitamin D andn what type do you need? Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms, D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). They are basically the same. The USDA recommends that a person 1 year old to 70 years old receive 600 IU per day and a person over 70 receive 800 IU aa day. Many researchers in Nutritional Medicine believe that these doses are way too low. As evident by my wife working outside much of each day and taking a supplement of 1,000 IU of Vitamin D. Her blood serum test for Vitamin D revealed a slight deficiency which was corrected by adding more Vitamin D to her supplement intake. The nutritional scientists I follow now say that 2,000 IU is pretty minimum for most people. I take 2,000 IU per day in my base supplments and add an optimizer that includes another 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 (taken twice a day) for a total of 6,000 IU per day. The Vitamin D optimizer only adds about $0.40 per day to my cost and I feel it's well worth it.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Is this Supplement Company a scam?

Jeremy wrote in to MyAchingKnees and asked these questions: "My wife's sister is trying to get me and my wife to take Herbalife supplements. I am getting the whole healthy thing as I get older and now have kids to worry about, But isn't Herbalife a scam? I thought I read or heard about it being just a scam recently."

Hey Jeremy, most likely what you heard about some guy,  who is some sort of investor or fund manager, making claims about Herbalife being a pyramid scheme. While I am not making claims against  this guy (whose name I will not publish), but in the past other people had made negative claims attacking other companies which were made in order to drop their stock prices so these people can buy stock shares cheaper, and then later re-sell at a profit once the scare if over and the stock goes back up to it's normal or pre-attack prices.

While I do not use Herbalife product as they are pretty low rated, the Company and the way they market/sell their products is a legitimate method of business called direct sales using independent sales people. This is the same business model as Avon, Mary Kay and other well known names. In fact, most of these products would be more expensive if the manufacturer used conventional routes for marketing such as national advertising, wholesale and retail distributors chains, and the requisite  shipping and storage related costs.

While Herbalife products are not manufactured in a process that guarantees purity, potency or lack of toxins, they do offer a satisfaction or money back guarantee. I know people who take Herbalife products and I believe them to be as safe as any other food grade GMP manufactured product.

According to the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, 3rd edition, by Lyle MacWilliam, BSc, MSc, FP, the only Herbalife product among the daily multi-nutritionals listed that I could find rated that was rated, was Formula 2, which received a score of 14.8 out of a possible 100.    Pretty low in anyone's book.  But do your own research as there are a couple updates available to MacWilliam's Comparative Guide.  Again, I think Herbalife products are likely safe, you could however do much better, but your original question if this is a scam is simple - no, Herbalife is not a scam or some pyramid scheme or anything of the sort other than a Nutritional supplement company using the direct sales - networking marketing business model.

Like I always say "Let the Buyer Beware". Good luck Jeremy and I am glad you are thinking of your children's health as well as your own. Children in today's world face more challenges that ever before with processed, high glycemic and GMO foods and the inherent lack of nutrients available in these foods, not to mention the highly toxic environment they are exposed to often on a daily basis.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Eating to Lower Your Cholesterol

While it is old news that certain foods help us control high cholesterol, I am posting this article for the shock value as it states that 33.5 percent of the American population suffers from high LDL cholesterol,.....enroute to heart attacks and diabetes, whichever comes first.

This article from Natural News is short, sweet and accurate.

Four foods proven to lower cholesterol and protect the heart

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 million Americans, or 33.5 percent of the total population, suffer from high LDL cholesterol. Only one in three of these individuals has their condition under control, while less than half of them choose to treat it at all. Moreover, the average total cholesterol for adult Americans is around 200 mg/dL, which is borderline high risk. We are, in short, at greater risk of heart disease than ever before. Though doctors love to throw statins and other drugs at people with high cholesterol, an improvement in diet is a far safer and more effective long-term solution to the problem. Most whole foods are likely to reduce LDL and total cholesterol to some degree, but the foods listed below are especially effective in this regard.

Oatmeal

Few foods can beat oatmeal at reducing cholesterol. This traditional breakfast food is packed with soluble fiber which, according to an extensive 19-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, can lower cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease. Moreover, oatmeal is rich in a specific kind of soluble fiber called beta-glucan that is particularly good at blocking our bodies' ability to absorb cholesterol.

Organic, unsweetened oatmeal is easy to purchase online or in health food stores and is best consumed in the morning with milk. Adding some fruit to the oats, such as bananas or strawberries, will boost its fiber content further.

Avocados

Avocados are one of the best fruits to consume for treating high cholesterol. Firstly, they're packed with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat which, as a study in the Journal of Lipid Research proved, can inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol and lipids in human cells. Secondly, they're also rich in a plant chemical called beta-sitosterol, which suppresses cholesterol absorption in the intestine.

Though avocados are usually eaten on their own, they're known to increase the absorption of disease-fighting antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, adding them to salads and other meals is a great way to boost nutrient intake.

Fish

Fish has always been regarded as good for the heart, and we now understand why: Its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are proven to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots and decrease total and LDL cholesterol. Fish is so beneficial for the cardiovascular system, in fact, that the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of it per week.

The fish richest in omega-3 acids (including EPA and DHA) are salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines and herring. For obvious reasons, it's best to avoid fish from the Pacific Ocean these days.

Walnuts

Though they are best-known for improving brain function, walnuts also excel at lowering cholesterol. A review published in The Journal of Nutrition in April 2014, for instance, showed that these hard-shelled nuts could "decrease low density lipoprotein cholesterol (by ~9-16%) and blood pressure (diastolic blood pressure by ~2-3 mm Hg), 2 major risk factors for [cardiovascular disease]."

The cholesterol-lowering properties of walnuts are mostly attributed to their high concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid, which can lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream.

Other nuts rich in beneficial, cholesterol-lowering fats include almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and pecans. Like all fruits, nuts are best eaten raw for maximum benefits.

MyAchingKnees comment: I have no doubt that lowering your cholesterol can be done by changing how you eat and/or by ensuring your get your daily nutrients through supplementation.  Nine years ago, when I was much more physically active, my cholesterol level was 210.   Today it is routinely 150 to 160.  I would think that before people consent to taking prescription drugs to lower their cholesterol, and take a chance on incurring all those side effects, that these people would try a less invasive way to more naturally lower their cholesterol.       

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Why Extreme Diets are Fundamentally Flawed

While I have a different opinion on why extreme diets are fundamentally flawed, I am posting this article taken from Shine and written by Redbook to get people to thinking. I cannot help but believe that these diets are flawed because they provide the required nutrients people need; they don't make people healthier; they are not lifestyle changers.

Why Extreme Diets are Fundamentally Flawed, By Redbook|Team Mom


I spend a lot of time looking into claims about the best way to eat--in part because it's my job to cover health, but also because it's very much a personal obsession. I know I'm not alone--trying to look and feel our best is a major focus for loads of American women. While it's fascinating to grill experts on why their gluten-free/Paleo/whole-foods diets reign supreme, I'm a skeptic. That's why I found myself so interested in Matt Fitzgerald's new book, Diet Cults, which explores how certain ways of eating can create the same cultish tendencies as fanatic religious sects, especially as the "diet wars" move online. "Social media platforms allow everyone to participate in promoting and defending their favorite diet and attacking others," he says. If you've ever wanted a reason to stop blaming yourself for why these doctrines haven't worked for you, Fitzgerald boils it down.

"What makes every diet cult part of the same phenomenon is the idea that there's one true way," says Fitzgerald. "But the science just doesn't prove that." In fact, if you look at history--from the kosher diets of the ancient Jews to the rice-centric ones of Confucian China to the high-fat Mediterranean ones of Cretans--it's evident there are many ways someone can eat for optimal health. Here's where a few of these "healthy eating" doctrines run into trouble.

Paleo

According to Fitzgerald, there are three major problems with eating like a caveman. To start, it's based on an outdated model of evolution that presumes our bodies can't adapt quickly. But we now know that the human gut can evolve from one day to the next--leaving little reason to presume we have to eat like we may have millions of years ago. And the word "may" is key. New evidence shows that our ancestors ate grasses and sedges (grain-like plants) as much as 3 million years ago. "We're here in 2014, and Paleo doctrine doesn't stand up to the fact that overall health outcomes from eating whole grains are positive," says Fitzgerald. "Our history is irrelevant if we now know that they're good for us."

Atkins

The low-carb frenzy may have peaked in the early aughts, but with the renewed push for Paleo and update of its disciples, like South Beach, the idea remains that to lose weight, we should cut out grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit. "The carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity never gained much traction in the mainstream scientific nutrition community," says Fitzgerald. "For example, research has found that higher-carb foods keep you full, so you eat less, suggesting the idea that blood sugar spikes leave you reaching for more food is false." While it's certainly smart to stay away from refined, processed, or white grains, whole grains have myriad heath benefits.

Raw food

"The raw food movement, like so many diet cults, thinks in absolute terms," says Fitzgerald. "There's the idea that processing foods is always bad, and nothing could be further from the truth." Cooking food greatly increases its usable energy, which is why the development of the human brain correlates with our beginning to use fire about 1 million years ago. And our bodies need cooked food too. A German study classified one third of people who ate purely raw diets as undernourished, and 60 percent of women either stopped menstruating or menstruated irregularly. "We've come up with bad ways of processing foods--like adding trans fats--but you have to consider it on a case-by-case basis," adds Fitzgerald.

Avoiding all pleasures

I like to say that a life without chocolate is no life at all, and science agrees. Japanese researchers studied 80,000 adults over 12 years and found that those who reported experiencing the least enjoyment in life were almost twice as likely to die of heart attack or stroke than those who experienced the most delight. "Any source of pleasure--it's been shown that laughing and spending times with friends is healthful--helps your body," says Fitzgerald. "Taking pleasure from food belongs on that list."

Fasting

There's actually lots of evidence that intermittent fasting can be good for you. For example, Greek Orthodox people on the island of Crete fast for roughly half of the year and they have excellent health outcomes. However, skipping meals--even if you replace them with green juice--can quickly become a means of masking serious food issues. "While juice-fasters often report feeling great during and after the experience, that feeling may be nothing more than the same sense of self-control that other fasters enjoy," writes Fitzgerald. He believes--and I'm inclined to agree--that healthy eating patterns are far more sustainable when they conform to cultural norms. So if your five-day juice fast means five days of no dinners with friends, no wine with you husband, and no coffee with colleagues, it may be more hurtful than helpful.

Gluten-free

Gluten-intolerance and Celiac weren't on anyone's radar 20 years ago, but today, it's difficult to go out to dinner without someone announcing that no, they would not like you to pass the breadbasket. Some attribute this to the rise of genetically modified corn and food processing, but that hypothesis becomes less feasible when considered in a broader context. "Celiac disease is one of 72 auto-immune disorders, the rates of which all are rising simultaneously," says Fitzgerald. "It's extremely unlikely that the gluten is the culprit for every one of them. I throw out the hypothesis that they're all tied together by our skyrocketing stress levels, since stress may interact with the genes that predispose a person to a disease in a way that 'activates' it." What's more, a recent study published in Nutrition in Clinical Practice found that 94 percent of people who self-report as gluten-intolerant are women, providing strong evidence that going gluten-free is being used to exert potentially orthorexic behavior.

So what's the solution?

Fitzgerald calls it "agnostic healthy eating," and no, it's not another diet cult. "This is a set of basic parameters that breaks down food types using a combination of common sense and science," says Fitzgerald. And unlike a diet that tells you exactly what to eat, agnostic healthy eating takes into account that your food-related wants and needs may evolve throughout your life. It simply breaks down what to eat the most and the least of in descending order with no rules for portion size, instead trusting your body to guide you:

1. Vegetables
2. Fruits
3. Nuts, seeds, and healthy oils
4. High-quality meats and seafood
5. Whole grains
6. Dairy
7. Refined grains
8. Low-quality meats and seafood
9. Sweets
10. Fried foods

From there, it's up to you: What makes you feel good? What fuels you? What satisfies your taste buds? "Choose happiness," writes Fitzgerald. "As long as the happier way of eating stays within the rules of agnostic healthy eating, you will come out ahead."



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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fish Oil Boosts Brain Power

This article was posted recently on Yahoo! Health. I am a believer in taking a Omega 3 supplement. I believe the benefits are that Omega 3's it helps support lower cholesterol levels and balance Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios which if wide, say higher than a 2:1 ratio, can manifest itself as joint pain. The common western diet can extend the Omega 6 to 3 ratio up to 20:1 or higher!

And as I have written over the years, that there is very good antidotal reports on parents placing ADD/ADHD children on a quality daily multi-mineral, multi-vitamin and a Omega 3 supplement and seeing ADD/ADHD symptoms reduced. This is thought, in part, to be due to cellular energy transfer in the brain and this is supported by the article below that concludes that Omega 3's support cognitive function.

Fish Oil Boosts Brain Power

Fish oil is touted as a magical potion that boosts fertility, heart health, and weight loss and promotes a clear complexion, while lessening the effects of depression, ulcers, diabetes and many more conditions. But there’s another benefit to these glossy little capsules: They may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study of 819 people published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that taking fish oil supplements on a daily basis is associated with a significant decrease in cognitive decline (as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale and the Mini Mental State Exam) and brain atrophy — important findings in light of statistics that show that one person per minute is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We found that fish oil use was associated with better performance on standard tests of memory and thinking abilities over time, compared to those who didn’t take supplements,” lead study author Lori Daiello, a research scientist at the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital, tells Yahoo Health. “They also experienced less brain shrinkage in areas of the brain important for healthy cognitive aging — the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for forming and retaining memories.”

For this study, researchers analyzed information from neuropsychological tests and MRI brain imaging performed at regular intervals for up to four years during the Alzheimer’s disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a longitudinal study of brain aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. The population consisted of a group of older adults with varying degrees of cognitive capability: normal cognitive function, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. The benefit of fish oil appeared strongest in the group with normal cognitive functioning. “Retrospective studies cannot establish cause and effect, so we can’t make a global recommendation that everyone should start taking fish oil supplements. But the findings highlight the need for additional research on the effects of longterm fish oil use on brain health in later life,” says Daiello.

The main ingredient in fish oil is DHA, omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, swordfish, trout, yellowfin tuna, mackerel, and more. (Non fish-lovers can find it in eggs, milk, and algae-derived supplements). According to Daiello, there is no definitive evidence that eating fish daily is better than taking fish-oil supplements. But some people dislike the fishy breath that lingers after taking the supplements. “In that case, you could always store the capsules in the freezer, which seems to diminish the scent,” suggests Daiello. (Though the study did not address the dosage of daily fish oil to take, the World Health Organization recommends a daily EPA and DHA intake of 0.3 to 0.5 grams and a daily ALA intake of 0.8 to 1.1 grams.)

And while the effects of fish oil have been well-documented, they also carry a “buyer beware” element. One study, conducted by a testing company called LabDoor, found that what’s advertised on the label of many supplements may not live up to their promise of what’s advertised on the labels. When the company analyzed 30 top-selling brands, they found that six products exaggerated the amount of omega-3 on their labels by 30 percent. And at least a dozen products contained DHA levels that were 14 percent less than advertised. “Mislabeling is a big problem because the FDA considers fish oil supplements food, not drugs, so they aren’t regulated,” says Daiello. “So it’s tough to verify the purity of what you buy.”

To select the best supplement, talk to your doctor, who may be able to recommend a pill that’s right for your needs. Or join a subscription-based website such as Consumer Lab, which regularly tests vitamins and supplements.

MyAchingKnees comment: The above paragraph, concerning the "buyer beware" notice is highlights the problems with buying off the shelf or otherwise "food grade" products whose label claims as well as purity cannot be guaranteed. This is very important for fish oil supplements as they are thought to have a higher chance of toxins.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Foods with Good Bacteria for Immune System and Metabolism

This is a good article, from MSM Healthy Living, which talks about good foods that you can eat which will help with the population of good bacteria in your gut. Good bacteria in your gut is highly under rated and essential to not only digestion of foods, but developing a good immune system. While I do eat a lot of onions and garlic which are on the list below, I also take probiotics to ensure my gut gets the necessary bacteria for digestion and health. My wife loves Jicama and a quick google search shows many ways to spice up and eat this this. In any event, add probiotics and healthy foods with good bacteria and see your health improve.....and as the article mentions, boost your metabolism.

Sauerkraut

If you feel like you're eating all the right stuff, but to no avail, your microbiome, the newly discovered ecosystem of bacteria living in your gut, may be out of whack. Fuel it and you'll improve digestion, beat bloat, and boost your metabolism.

The traditional hot-dog topping can do serious wonders for your waistline. “Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickled veggies, and kimchi are some of the best sources of probiotics—a form of good bacteria that support healthy digestion and decrease bloat,” says Frank Lipman, M.D., founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. “That’s important, since diets low in probiotics can cause bad bacteria to overtake the good ones, leading to health problems ranging from autoimmune diseases to weight gain.” Try spooning sauerkraut onto sandwiches or grilled pork, or stir it into a warm potato salad with grainy mustard.

Onions and leeks

While probiotics encourage the growth of good bacteria, prebiotics feed the ones you already have. When you eat prebiotic foods like onions and leeks, they produce butyrate, a metabolic wonder drug that improves insulin sensitivity and increases the amount of fat you burn, says Rafael Kellman, M.D., author of The Microbiome Diet. Now that it’s summer, pop either on the grill to bring out their sweetness. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and cook until golden.

Artichokes and asparagus

Like onions and leeks, these green veggies are prebiotic foods that produce acetate, an acid that turns on the fat-burning activity in your cells by helping them recover from inflammation. To get more greens, roast artichoke hearts and asparagus in the oven with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and a spritz of lemon.

Avocado

You know that choosing the right types of fats is key, and here’s why: Unhealthy fats, found in processed foods, meats, and cheeses, feed the type of bacteria that spark inflammation and cue your body to store fat, says Lipman. But healthy fats high in omega 3s and 6s—like those in avocado, nuts, olive oil, and salmon—do the opposite. They provide long-burning energy by regulating how quickly glucose enters your cells, keeping hunger at bay. Top a sandwich with mashed avocado, or make a summery side salad with chopped avocado, cherry tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice.

Leafy greens

Bok choy, spinach, kale—they’re all winners. Not only are greens high in digestion-helping fiber, they also improve the diversity of healthy organisms in the gut, which needs trillions of good bacteria to function at its best, says Lipman. Look for ways to incorporate greens into every meal: Add sautéed kale to scrambled eggs, eat a spinach salad for lunch, and try a stir-fry with bok choy for dinner.

Jicama

This Mexican root vegetable contains inulin, a type of fiber that slows down the absorption of blood sugar to help you feel fuller longer, Kellman says. It’s also high in magnesium and manganese, two vitamins needed for digestive enzymes to function at their peak. Add chopped jicama to give salads a nice crunch or shred it in your favorite summer slaw.

Yogurt

To get the most of this natural source of probiotics, seek out yogurts like those by Fage, Dannon, and Oikos, which contain lactobacillus. In a 24-week study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, women who consumed this type of probiotic lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t regularly include it in their diets. Besides eating yogurt at breakfast, try using plain or Greek yogurt in chicken or salads in lieu of mayo or sour cream.

Garlic

It seems counterintuitive to feed the microbiome foods with antimicrobial properties, but studies show that garlic only goes after bad, inflammation-causing bacteria while leaving good bacteria intact. It’s also rich in inulin, the fiber that helps the body digest food more efficiently and steadies blood sugar. Add fresh chopped garlic to tomato-mozzarella salads and stir-fries, or sprinkle garlic powder onto meats and fish before grilling.

Kiwi

Craving something sweet? This fruit—along with colorful radishes, tomatoes, and carrots—contains arabinogalactans, a plant-based fiber and prebiotic that feeds the friendly bacteria that help your metabolism function optimally. The fiber also kills E. coli and klebsiella—two types of bad bacteria associated with carrying excess weight, Kellman says. Chop kiwi into grilled chicken salads or purée into smoothies for a colorful and sweet kick.

Water with lemon

Lipman suggests sipping it as soon as you wake up and after each meal. “Bitter foods like lemon help stimulate your body’s GI juices and aid the start of the digestion process. When digestion is robust, your body breaks down food better and absorbs more of its nutrients, both of which help you maintain a healthy weight and flat belly.” Arugula, dandelion root, and apple cider vinegar will also do the trick, so munch on a salad with these greens before your main course—bonus if it’s dressed with cider vinaigrette.

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