Gut health

Best Probiotic for Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance is a term that is becoming more commonly known. It can explain things like headaches, menstrual irregularities, reactions to wine and chocolate, a runny nose or itchy tongue when eating bananas, pineapple and various skin issues.

What is histamine?

I am sure you have heard of antihistamine, the medication people take when they suffer from allergies. Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell so your white blood cells can quickly attack the foreign invader. So the role of histamine is to cause immediate inflammation in your body. Many people suffer from this constant inflammatory state and the histamine buildup can cause many unpleasant symptoms.


How can probiotics help?

Your gut affects every aspect of your health, we have talked about this before. Your body is like a bucket that overflows if you keep filling it up with toxins, unhealthy foods and poor lifestyle practices. You could also compare it to a bank account, and you don’t want to withdraw more than you deposit. Feeding your gut bacteria counts as putting money in your bank account. However, some strains are said to be detrimental to those with histamine issues. I found Lactobacillus casei mentioned in more than one place as a strain to avoid for those with histamine issues, but to be honest, I feel that this is debatable. Like the histamine food lists, sometimes the benefits are so important, avoiding them might not be worth it. Some people avoid tomatoes and eat white bread thinking they are doing the right thing by following these rules. I believe it is important to use your common sense and listen to your body. When it comes to conquering histamine, the Web site Healing Histamine is the most helpful resource. She explains that the focus should be on health as a whole rather than on avoiding histamine. Similarly, because of their histamine content, fermented foods should be avoided by some, but will help others. It is important to remember that the problem is not the histamine itself, but rather your body’s inability to break it down. Feeding your gut will improve your general health and your body’s functions.

For those struggling with symptoms caused by histamine, the strains most commonly recommended are bifidobacteria. It is the dominating strain in the gut of healthy breastfed infants. It accounts for more than 80% of microorganisms within the intestine.  Bifidobacterium infants, bifidobacterium longum and bifidobacteriun bifidum not only help reduce allergy symptoms like itchy skin and sinus congestion, but they can also help with headaches, cramps and diarrhea. According to this study, lactobacillus as well as bifidobacterium help alleviate symptoms of allergy.

In conclusion, the world of probiotic strains can get a bit overwhelming and confusing. Some say to pick a probiotic that has at least seven strains and 5 billion CFUs and some recommend certain strains for certain issues. I think the body is an amazing complex machine and trying to put probiotic strains in neat little boxes may make for pretty and reassuring charts, but not for truly reliable information. I recommend you go and try reputable brands and see how it helps you.

Gut health, Recipes

Making Coconut Yogurt with a Probiotic Capsule

Ah! Yogurt! Versatile and nutritious, it nourishes the body and heals the gut. Its benefits are multiplied if you make it yourself and ferment it for 24 hours. Also, making your own yogurt allows you to use any type of milk and avoid dairy if needed. During this experiment, I tried four different recipes and four different probiotics. I used coconut milk in all instances except for the last one . The first recipe I followed was from Danielle Walker’s book, Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great.  I halved the quantities, but still added a full capsule of probiotic.


The result was amazing! Great texture and taste! So, the recipe consists of two cans of coconut milk, 1 tbsp gelatine and one tbsp honey.

Later, I tested this recipe. I put in tapioca starch as a thickener in one version and agar powder in the other. The yogurt didn’t get much thicker, I found that gelatin works a lot better. It still tasted great!

Yogurt thickened with tapioca

A few weeks later, I decided to reattempt Danielle Walker’s recipe to experiment with a third probiotic I had in the fridge.

Lastly, we had  been getting some goat’s milk, so I decided to prepare a batch with a third probiotic. I used only one capsule for a litre of milk. I didn’t add any thickener, but I strained it as shown in the picture. The result was impressive! The taste was just sour enough and the yogurt had a nice consistency.

Goat’s milk yogurt.

So what’s the conclusion of this experiment? You don’t need a specially formulated yogurt starter to get great yogurt, all you need is a great probiotic!

“All disease begins in the gut” is a very important quote attributed to Hippocrates, a Greek physician considered to be the father of medicine. Yogurt is a superfood to improve your gut health. If you would like to know more and purchase quality supplements, please email me here.

For a visual to help you learn more about making yogurt with a probiotic capsule, watch this video (I forgot to mention that the fermentation time is 24 hours):

Brain Health, Gut health

Supplements for Depression

Many suffer from depression in silence. It is not a visible illness and the sufferers are sometimes treated like they are to blame. However, we need to recognize that depression has a physical cause and supplements can help.

Gut-brain axis

Have you heard of the gut-brain axis? It turns out that your gut bacteria affects your brain. The gut and the brain are interrelated by a complex network of communication pathways, among them, the vagus nerve, hormone signaling and the immune system. That is why the gut microbiota has been implicated in a variety of mental health conditions, including depression.
Our gut is often referred to as the “second brain”, because it is DIRECTLY connected to our brain via the vagus nerve, which sends messages back and forth. Gut microbes can activate the vagus nerve, which influences brain chemistry and behavior – this is why many people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) suffer from depression and anxiety as well. Gut microbes influence serotonin and dopamine production – more than 90% of your body’s serotonin (feel-good chemical) is found in the gut. Poor gut health also means our body is not naturally detoxifying, the way it should. The build up of toxins also leaks into the bloodstream, negatively affecting the brain.

Supplements for depression

That being said, it becomes clear that probiotics are essential to help heal depression. In fact, it has been proven in a double-blind placebo controled trial. Carefully selected supplements can help rebalance and regulate the gut. In fact, Plexus Vital Biome has been clinically show to improve mood. Its purpose is to seed your gut with all the useful bacteria it needs. For example, Lactobacillus has been found to reverse depression symptoms. Seeding your gut with good bacteria can additionally be done through diet (read Foods that Build your Gut Flora). However, it is also important to get rid of the harmful bacteria. To do this, avoid sugar and processed foods, as all the bad bacteria feed on sugar

A placebo controlled study demonstrated the positive effect of taking vitamin C orally to relieve anxiety. Vitamin B6 has also been shown to help the body produce serotonin, and some anti-depression medications work by increasing serotonin levels.

It is recognized now that we are made up of more bacteria cells than human cells by a factor of 10! Improving your gut health will not only improve your mood, but your general health and well being as well. Please just comment below or contact me here if you would like to try these products.

Gut health, Uncategorized

Foods that Build your Gut Flora

All disease begins in the gut.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, understood the importance of the gut flora 2500 years ago. So, how do we nourish the gut? Here are some simple foods that will build your gut flora :

1- Fermented foods

Yogurt, fermented sauerkraut and kombucha, miso and kefir are great options.

2- Bone Broth

If you don’t make bone broth, now is the time to start. It’s cheap, simple and healing. Sometimes, I don’t even add any vegetables. I just throw bones and water in a pot and simmer for a few hours. The resulting liquid is rich in minerals, collagen, glutamin, glycine and prolin.

3- Cooked vegetables

There are many types of diets out there and they all gather some sort of following. Fortunately, whether you are vegan, paleo, high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, we can all agree on one thing: more vegetables. Just remember that cooking them will aid digestion. Yes, raw veggies contain enzymes and they are still a great choice, but they also contain cellulose, a fiber hard to digest by humans (see the section on prebiotics below).

4- Fish and Fish oil

Fish is rich in Omega 3 and vitamin D. There seem to be a link between gut disorders and vitamin D deficiency.

5- Prebiotics

Besides feeding our gut good bacteria, we can give the good bacteria food to thrive. Nondigestible carbohydrates (NDCH) act as food for probiotics and they are called prebiotics. The first NDCH we come into contact with is mother’s milk. In fact, breastmilk contains 100 times NDCH than  cow’s milk. It includes over 130 different oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates and proportionately contains 90% galacto-oligosaccharides and 10% fructo-oligosaccharides. Plant foods are the best sources of NDCH, but just a word of caution: mammalians rely on their gut microbes to break down cellulose.  Consequently, if your gut health is impaired, you are missing the organisms to digest plant foods. Most gut healing diets remove grains, legumes (reducing polysaccharides) and other more typical inflammatory foods like corn, soy, dairy. Of course, vegetables are an incredible source of nutrients, so they should constitute an important part of any healing diet,  but it it is often advisable that they be cooked during the healing phase. Blended foods are also helpful since the first step of breaking down the cellulose is accomplished. Supplementing with prebiotic during strict healing diet reduced in NDCH will help make sure you feed the good bacteria.

So, how do you know if you need to heal your gut? Here are a few questions to ask yourself: do I suffer from chronic fatigue, allergies, food sensitivities? Do I deal with any chronic health issue that is affecting my quality of life? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s time to start eating these healing foods daily.

Gut health

Why Building your Gut Flora is Essential

Did you know that the bacterial cells in your gut outnumber your own cells 10 to 1? These microbes in your digestive tracts are referred to as your gut microbiome or your gut flora. Let’s talk about how your gut flora impacts your health.

Your immune responses are shaped in your gut.

Poor gut health will result in immunological disregulation. Perhaps you thought your immune system controlled bacteria in your body. It is true that when outside organisms try to invade your body, your immune system will react, but the story doesn’t end there. There is evidence to suggest that your gut bacteria also controls your immune system. From the moment of birth, humans are colonized by foreign microorganismes through the nose, mouth, skin, genital tracts and gut. The symbiotic relationship between these organisms has been appreciated for the fact that they break down nondigestible carbohydrates and they offer protection against opportunistic invaders. In addition, we are finding out that they help modulate the immune system. For example, allergic children have been found to have a different bacteria composition. There are studies to indicate a link between your gut microbiome and a host of conditions like colon cancer, obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Your gut microbiome affects your metabolism.

Your gut bacteria produce a variety of vitamins, synthesize protein and break down nondigestible carbohydrates and impact your body size. Leaner people, for example, tend to have a wider range of gut bacteria, however this alone doesn’t demonstrate causality. In a series of experiments, baby rodents were raised germ-free to ensure that their bodies would be free of any bacteria.  One group of rodents were then colonized with intestinal microbes from an obese woman, and another group of rodents were colonized with intestinal microbes from her slim (lean) twin sister. All rodents ate the same diet in equal amounts. Yet, the rodents that received the microbes from the obese twin grew heavier and had more body fat.

Your gut is your second brain.

Significant progress has been made over the past decade in recognizing the important  bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal tracts and the central nervous system. This is called the gut-brain axis. A growing body of evidence shows that our beneficial gut bacteria support positive mood and emotional well-being. Differences in the gut microbiome exist between people with anxiety and depression and those without. In addition, altering the gut microbiome with probiotics can decrease feelings of anxiety and positively affect emotional processing. Several studies show evidence for reduced feelings of anxiety and improved aspects of well-being after taking probiotics. Nourishing your beneficial gut bacteria will also reduce anxiety and decrease stress. A recent study evaluating the effects of prebiotics on well-being provided additional evidence of the gut bacteria positively affecting mental health.  Prebiotics are carbohydrates that humans cannot digest, but bacteria in our guts can.

The gut plays an crucial role in ensuring your well-being on all levels. It’s that simple! To know how to nourish your gut, please read Foods that Build your Gut Flora and Heal Leaky Gut Naturally.

General Health, Uncategorized

Rebuilding your Immune System Naturally

Our immune system and chronic inflammatory diseases are closely related. Keeping our body’s defense mechanism functioning properly is key in fighting off disease on one hand, and avoiding chronic inflammation on the other hand. You don’t want an underactive immune system or you will be always catching colds and other illnesses, but you don’t want an overactive immune system either as this will cause various autoimmune issues. How does our immune system work? What happens if it works too well? How can we make sure to nourish and protect our immune system?

How does our immune system work?

Did you know that the cells of your immune system originate in the bone marrow? They then migrate using a special system of vessels called the lymphatic system. Our immune system is constantly adapting and learning to be able to fight new bacteria and viruses every day.

When your immune system is overactive

A variety of modern diseases are caused by an overactive immune system; they are called autoimmune diseases:

1- Allergies and asthma are caused when the immune system reacts to harmless environmental substances.

2- Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system attacks cells from your own body. Thyroid dysfunction, for example, is caused when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. There is also rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis among others. To heal autoimmunity, it is essential to heal your gut and to temporarily remove your food triggers.

What if your immune system is underactive?

If you keep getting all the sicknesses that are going around, you may benefit from healing your gut too, but you should also boost your immune system with these simple tips:

1- Add more good bacteria to your diet. Are you surprised? It seems that no matter what ailment troubles you the solution is probiotics, probiotics and more probiotics. So, please make sure you know how to build your gut flora.

2- Attack the virus/bacteria naturally. Echinacea, goldenseal and astragalus are herbs often taken in the form of tincture. They are fairly common cold remedies and some people drink them in teas, but I find them most effective in tincture form. Whenever you feel the first symptoms of a sickness, follow the dosage recommendations on the bottle (typically a few drops in water every 3-4 hours). I have always been amazed at how quickly I get better when I do this. Garlic and oregano are other herbs often used to support immune function.

3- Vitamin D is so important for your well being, I might write a whole post just about it. For now, let’s just say that most people are deficient most of the year and it is critical for most of us to supplement at least 1000 IU every day all year. Vitamin D deficiency can cause fatigue, depression, poor immunity, muscle weakness and pain (I experienced that one for the first time in the spring of 2017, it was strange), bone pain and difficulty thinking clearly.

4- Vitamin C is also a very critical component of any regimen meant to improve your well being and your immune system function. It is the one Vitamin that everyone seems to know about and for good reason! It is used by the body not only for immune function, but also for iron absorption, collagen production, wound healing and cartilage maintenance.

5- Do not fear germs too much. It’s time to shift your paradigm away from the germ theory, The most important factor between health and disease is not so much the presence of germs, but rather it is the terrain that will determine whether they thrive or not. This point relates to protecting and nourishing your good bacteria, but it’s more than that: germs and sicknesses are keeping your immune system primed so to speak. For example, researchers have found that babies raised in homes with cats and dogs grow up to be healthier. Being surrounded by viruses and bacteria is a way to help avoid chronic diseases. People are even starting to talk about ingesting dirt as a healthful practice.

6- Avoid sugar and processed foods. Sugar feeds disease and depresses your immune system. Period.

Keeping your immune system functioning optimally is necessary to health. Putting these tips into practice should help you increase your well being and your resistance to diseases.

Gut health, Supplementation

Repair Leaky Gut Naturally

Leaky gut, otherwise known as intestinal permeability, means that small holes in your intestinal walls let food molecules travel to your blood stream. Most of us suffer from leaky gut and it is the cause of most chronic diseases. Symptoms of a leaky gut include fatigue, joint pain, rashes, asthma and autoimmune responses. Repairing your leaky gut is critical in restoring health.

How to Repair Leaky Gut through Diet

First, removing gut irritants from your diet is essential. A simple elimination diet would be a great place to start. Avoid sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, corn and processed food and see if your symptoms improve. You need to strictly maintain the elimination diet for at least 21 days. Now what should you eat instead of these foods?

Please read Foods that Build your Gut Flora to find out. Healing your leaky gut and building your gut flora truly go hand in hand. If you have a healthy gut flora, you have a healthy gut.

Best Supplements to Repair Leaky Gut

1- Glutamine: glutamine is a free amino acid. It is needed by the body in large amounts and it is found in both plant and animal protein. Studies have found that it is effective in improving intestinal health.

2- Omega-3: Omega-3 has been shown to lower inflammation. An inflammed gut is a leaky gut. For healing, inflammation needs to be reduced.

3- Probiotics: a healthy gut flora is essential to a healthy gut, you surely know that by now. Good bacteria will reduce harmful bacteria and reduce inflammation.

4- Digestive Enzymes: Whole foods won’t do you much good if you can’t absorb the nutrients. That’s where digestive enzymes come in. They help you absorb and digest your food. Proper break down of your food will ensure less irritation and thus less inflammation of the intestinal tracts.

Make sure you use good quality supplements, keep your diet clean and your lifestyle healthy, this will help you heal leaky gut.