A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness

Tag Archives: probiotics

Tomorrow is a big day…. We all get a wee bit revved up when a trip is on the horizon. For me, I also get a bit anxious and fearful of having a flare up on the road. I’m not alone, and I don’t want my readers to feel alone either!

While travel is great, I have had numerous family vacations when my Crohn’s flared up and left me in bed, throwing up, having to run to the bathroom…. Oh dear.

About ten years ago, I was on a business trip at a printing press in Manitoba, Canada, and I was flaring up, and got a migraine in top of it. It was so embarrassing, too! I had to tell the CSR I couldn’t even do the press check I was paid to be doing! I flew all the way out there.

How to avoid stress when you travel…
I’m packing for my trip to Florida tomorrow, with editor, Suzanne Kingsbury, where we will have a long weekend in writing paradise 😉 with 7 wonderful writing clients. I need to exude confidence and well being. First of all, all the writers on the retreat know I have Crohn’s and was very sick eight years ago… I keep no secrets:

NUMBER 1: eliminate stress that comes from secrets!

2. Rest every afternoon; go to bed early, walk on the beach… People will give you space.

3. Watch what you EAT carefully when you travel. Avoid trigger foods! I am packing a good supply of snacks that I know I can tolerate.

In the photo, you can see what I’m packing: ….

Grape seed oil extract, vitamin D, L-Theanine (a calming extract of green tea; helps with my anxiety about flying); my daily pills: phyto multi vitamin, herbal adrenal assist, turmeric, mag-citrate, and Omega 3 ; at right is Ultra Flora Balance probiotics, and Echinacea and Goldenseal —if I catch a cold and get sick. I also bring Arnica gel and homeopathic Arnica tablets for sub lingual use in case I get injured (last trip I whacked my knee and bruised it and the Arnica worked well!).

I’m SET for the trip!

Drinking lots of water, eating tons of oranges, extra sleeping, walking and doing yoga daily will help alleviate the stress of travel…

I’ll post more about what I’m eating down in beautiful St. Augustine.

20140423-193650.jpg

Advertisements

20140330-081242.jpg

In some human diseases, the wrong mix of bacteria seems to be the trouble.

I recently discovered a new blog that is specifically for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. It is called Health Rising and the link is below.

There are articles that explore gut health and microbiota by Ken Lassesen, that really explain the importance on overall homeostasis for everyone, whether you have Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, IBD, Celiac, etc.

I am on a strict diet of no dairy, no grains, no sugar. Supplements include probiotics and turmeric. I am really healthy and haven’t had symptoms for almost eight years! I did have a partial bowel resection, in 2006, that changed my life and set me on a path toward wellness— that is when I wrote my book because I was disillusioned by the recommendations of my GI doctors who said I should take heavy-duty, autoimmune-suppressing drugs.

Read more: Bacterial Resistance, Infection and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Fighting Infections Pt. I http://www.cortjohnson.org/blog/2014/03/26/bacterial-resistance-infection-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-fighting-infections-pt-1/

~~~
~
In some human diseases, the wrong mix of bacteria seems to be the trouble, Part 2.

A recent NPR story on gut bacteria and Crohn’s disease really impressed me, so I want to share it in its entirety here on my blog!

Mix Of Gut Microbes May Play Role In Crohn’s Disease
The particular assortment of microbes in the digestive system may be an important factor in the inflammatory bowel condition known as Crohn’s disease.

Research involving more than 1,500 patients found that people with Crohn’s disease had less diverse populations of gut microbes.

“[This] basically for the first time identifies what might be the bacterial changes in patients with Crohn’s disease,” says Ramnik Xavier, of Masssachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who led the work.

More than a million Americans suffer from Crohn’s, which seems to start when an overreactive immune system causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding, weight loss and other symptoms. Many patients have to take powerful steroids (which can have serious side-effects), and some have parts of the digestive tract surgically removed.

Mounting evidence has suggested that microbes living in the gut might contribute to the problem. So Xavier and his colleagues compared the species of bacteria in more than 447 Crohn’s patients to the mix of microbes in more than 221 healthy people.

In their paper published in the journal ­Cell, Host and Microbe, the researchers detailed the clear difference they discovered: The patients with Crohn’s seemed to have too many of the sorts of bacteria that rile immune systems.

In addition to having less diversity in their gut microbes, Xavier says, the Crohn’s patients had fewer bacteria that have been associated with reduced inflammation and more bacteria associated with increased inflammation. (The findings were confirmed in 800 Crohn’s patients from other studies.)

Interestingly, children whose doctors had tried to treat their Crohn’s symptoms with antibiotics before they were properly diagnosed had a mix of microbes that was the most out of whack.

“We may have to revisit the use of antibiotics in [these] patients with early-onset Crohn’s disease,” Xavier says.

Instead, doctors might eventually do better to identify and prescribe treatments that mimic the helpful bacteria, he says, along with foods or other pharmaceutical agents that reduce or counteract the harmful bacteria.

“There’s the possibility that we might be able to identify [some] sort of super-probiotics that might be able to correct the gut back to the healthy state,” Xavier says.

UCLA pathologist Jonathan Braun, who studies microbial ecology, says the paper offers important first insights into illnesses beyond Crohn’s. “Other diseases are thought to be driven at least in part by bacteria,” he says, such as some inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Bacteria may also be involved in obesity.

Humans should work harder to understand bacteria, Braun says, “and live with them when they’re helping us, or get them to serve us better when they are causing harm.”

~
Good for the media to pick up in the importance of balance in the flora and fauna of the gut—remember, everyone is different and there is no know cure for Crohn’s (for UC, the large colon can be removed, putting the patient in remission, but that is not the case for Crohn’s unfortunately).

So, with Spring on the way, now is the time to set some goals for health: sign up for Team Challenge with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, walk 3 miles a day (get your heart rate up by walking up hills), do yoga/meditate, get lots of sleep, make an appointment with a naturopath, too. Spring brings with it hope for new life (and here in Vermont, lots of mud!).

20140330-081646.jpg


Happy Holidays from Dede & Jessica at Living With Crohn’s & Colitis!

This plan was developed as a guide for generating a treatment regimen. Just as each individual is unique, so too is their road to wellness. This 3-month plan is meant to be used loosely, so you should feel free to adjust each step as needed for your own recovery. Please consult your physician when beginning this program, and continue to visit your established team of specialists (naturopath, gastroenterologist, etc.) so that they can help you monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the program.

As discussed in our book—and is a good idea to read the book before beginning this plan—treatments and lifestyle changes can occur in any order, but here we have provided a plan that will slowly and gently move you through your digestive problems and into wellness. Most patients will feel some positive changes as they progress through this 3-month plan and some patients may even become symptom-free.

The most important aspect of this step-by-step process for building health is that we are creating a foundation for wellness and building upon it, rather than trying to overwhelm the body by incorporating all changes at once. Taking new strides each week helps to keep you focused and motivated through the entire process. We know that change can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve created this program so that it can also be slowed down even further to incorporate new changes every 3 weeks and can be specifically tailored to your individual needs.

NOTE: All severe conditions and the need for surgery must be ruled out by your physician prior to starting this program. If initial acute symptoms are severe, they must be treated either with natural medicine or pharmaceutical medicines to provide relief while working on the underlying imbalances.

NOTE: Stress is a precursor to disease and flare-ups. If you are a parent of a child with IBD, or a patient or caregiver, try to help keep the holidays as stress-free as possible! (Easy for me to write this, as I woke up at 3:00 a.m. worrying about buying presents …. and planning a party! Yikes. But I am off to walk 4 miles this morning AND DO YOGA AND MEDITATE!!!

 Weeks 1–2: 

1. See the change and believe in the change! Visualize optimal colon health daily. See yourself happy, active, and vibrant in your mind.

2. Proper Mealtime Habits—eat slowly, and take your time preparing, shopping, and don’t overeat, or try new foods during the holidays!

3. Remove major dietary causes of inflammation—keep a food journal, and stay away from trigger foods!

4. Add only one supplement or herbal medicine, whichever best suits you. This may be an acute remedy for diarrhea, acidophilus, or any other supportive medicine—for example. I just bought a new supplement—turmeric—because I ran out.

5. Herbal teas: pick one of the teas that best fit your needs and drink daily. I choose Perppermint! Also Chamomile is a good stress reducer. Add honey for sweetening (NO SUGAR AT ALL!)

Weeks 3–4: 

1. Continue previous points.

2. Add an additional supplement or herbal medicine—talk to your doctor or naturopath about Vitamin D, or Omega 3.

foot3. Begin the Tapping for Energy technique (in our book) or daily acupressure. Dede likes to massage her feet before bed, using a nice mix of moisturizer and sesame or apricot oil. It is amazing how much stress in in our feet and the acupressure points relate to organs in the body. It is a great routine to press gently on some of these points — the chart shows you were the bowel area is (also liver point is important to gently press).

4. Experiment with adding more anti-inflammatory foods and spices into your diet.  Last night, I made a fish curry with garnishes of bananas, raisins, chopped apples . . . yum!

Message me if you want the recipe. It was mild, not too spicy, and used Haddock filet.

A macadamia and fish curry.

Weeks 5–6:

1. Continue previous points.

2. Add an additional supplement or herbal medicine. I take grape seed extract when I feel a cold or flu coming on. Try a warm bath at night with lavender oil.

3. Begin to incorporate movement/exercise. Do this at least 3 times per week, but daily possible. This is VERY important…start slowly, but try every day. Begin with your mind—just change the way you think about exercise (like when you get busy at work or with life, don’t eliminate it!).

Weeks 7–8:

1. Continue previous points.

2. Incorporate daily nutritional powders into your diet such as spirulina, kelp, green tea, or acai powder—try these sparingly at first, and make sure nothing irritates (Dede does not use spiraling, but kelp and green tea really help keep inflammation at bay. An excellent overall nutritional supplement, but use the best brand and tell your doctor. Here is a nice article from Dr. Oz on acai powder.  Dede has acupuncture once a month-another great thing to introduce—if it is too expense, find a “community-supported acupuncture” place to go, like a clinic. Dede’s acupuncturist gives her a discount ($55 per 1 hour session!) because she has a sliding scale. Acupuncture really helps!

3. Add an additional supplement, if needed. PROBIOTICS ARE GREAT, according to Dede, who takes 1/4 teaspoon of powder every day. Again, buy from Naturopath, or Metagenics is a good company. Dede uses “Synergy” brand, all flora.

Weeks 9–10: 

1. Continue previous points.

2. Add an additional supplement if needed. Talk to your doctor about your magnesium/calcium levels—Dede takes a mag-citrate because she doesn’t have dairy in her diet. Plus, if you have been on steroids for treatment, you want to be sure your bone health/density is good, so it would be wise to talk to your doctor about having a test.

3. Incorporate mental and emotional support. This may be needed sooner in some individuals suffering from anxiety and depression contributing to their illness. Dede swears by “Talk Therapy,” and goes 2x a month. She tells her therapist everything about dealing with her disease, work, relationships, boundaries, stress, etc. THE BEST!

Weeks 11–12: 

1. Continue previous points.

2. Add an additional supplement if still needing more support.  Talk to your naturopath. Your electrolytes need to be balanced. Dede makes homemade chicken soup broth 2x a month. Dede loves being on a Paleo-like diet! NO SUGAR, NO GRAIN (can use Almond and Coconut flours), NO DAIRY!! This is the best! Use Almond mile, eat eggs and organic animal proteins (local chicken is good, beef—but make sure it is antibiotic-free and free range)

3. Incorporate colon hydrotherapy (castor oil packs 5 days per week or constitutional hydrotherapy treatments — details are in our book, along with tons of other lifestyle information! Dede loves her castor oil pack-when her abdomen is sore, she lies down with the pack and a heating pad, and reads, or meditates, or sleeps. Pain goes away!.

20130106-073521.jpg

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Enjoy a stress-free New Years, and look forward to 2014! Remember, a positive attitude improves disease outcome, so “THINK POSITIVE!” 


20131120-201914.jpg

Good day to my fellow Crohnnie’s and UC-ers,

Holidays are fun—remember that!!! In the spirit of our favorite holiday when you have IBD, we are gearing up for a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, AND grain-free Thanksgiving!!! Yahoo! Can’t wait. Here is what we can eat: TURKEY!!! The best comfort food on earth (with lots of tryptophan in it that makes us feel good), sweet potatoes (yams) that are steamed and mashed with olive oil and a bit of melted canola butter on top, small sweet onions with canola butter, steamed carrots, cranberry sauce (unsweetened), as long as you can tolerate cranberries. Don’t try ANY new food over any holiday. If you go to a potluck, don’t eat, or bring your own food …. Remember to stay positive, get a lot of rest and exercise every day to clear your head. Start meditation, and volunteer at a local Thanksgiving Day dinner (I’ll be making some gluten-free dishes to bring to my town’s open dinner as a donation)….

Take care of yourself! Give back to others, and you will have a perfect holiday!

Here are some more of Dede’s “Living-with-Crohn’s & Colitis” TIPS—

Probiotic & Diet
For PROBIOTICS, look for a pure brand with a 50/50 blend of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus acidophilus. Perhaps you can find this brand: Metagenics, Ultra Flora “Synergy.” Take once a day, with or without food (depends on how you tolerate it). Keep that food journal, and note down any stress in your life, daily exercise, everything you eat. Don’t eat fried or spicy food—keep track, and eat small frequent meals. I have a really OCD technique: breakfast begins with tea and a dash of milk (the ONLY dairy I eat, and my ONE treat ;)), then add a bit of honey (again, buy in bulk and a pure brand). Cold cereal of almond milk mixed with bananas and cut-up melon (add nuts and raisins IF you can tolerate). Snack is peanut butter on carrots.
CHEW EVERYTHING really well!
Drink TONS of water with fresh lemon squeezed into it.
Drink TONS of herbal teas…I like peppermint

Lunch is tuna or chicken salad (use pure fresh, virgin, olive oil!), maybe chick pea humus and a handful of almonds on the side; snack is applesauce and peanut butter. Dinner is a grilled local beef/organic hamburger with steamed zucchini. No grain, no sugar, no dairy. I eat ALL the time and feel great on this diet. I don’t even crave sugar!

Good luck and stay positive. YOU CAN DO THIS!

20131120-203035.jpg


20130610-110649.jpg

I have been taking probiotic powder for many years. The new research on gut bacteria recently, and hype around probiotics, makes it imperative for consumers — and those of us with IBS or IBD, — to know why and how we should take the supplements.

Here is an excellent article by Michael Pollen from the NYTimes. (Photo above by Hannah Whitaker for the New York Times. And styled by Emily Mullin.)

I am a big proponent of getting vitamins and minerals from diet, and vitamin D from the sun, but sometimes we may be compromised (like missing the most important segment of small bowel, the terminal ileum, as in my/Dede’s case), and need to supplement. Probiotics are found everywhere in our diet — fermented food is a great source — wheat, coffee, bananas, onions, garlic, honey, and of course, yogurt and kefir.

The grocery stores and markets are rife with disclaimers of “Probiotics! Added to Everything!” So, what do we do? How do we know what is best?

I asked my co-author, Jessica Black, ND, to come up with a simple description I can pass along to our followers and readers…. Here is what she wrote, and I hope it is helpful:

Probiotics are essential to proper GI function. Probiotics help maintain a healthy barrier between what we ingest and what gets through to our blood stream. Probiotics play a large regulatory role in the GI lining immune system, which sets the stage for the immune system balance throughout the rest of the body.

Probiotics restore proper gut ecology – the proper balance of all important microorganisms lining the GI tract.

I also excerpted the section in our book on probiotics, and feel free to send an email to request a PDF of the full article (dede@livingwithcrohnsandcolitisbook.com).

Last, but not least, my brand is called UltraFlora “Synergy” probiotics made by Metagenics (I buy from the naturopath, but here is link: http://www.metadocs.com/products/detail.asp?pid=86

It is a 50-50 blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, a highly viable and pure strain, also dairy-free and gluten-free. It has 15 billion live organisms, and needs to be refrigerated in order to retain its efficacy.

Good luck! Questions or comments welcome, of course.


A typical sunset from docks near the West End of Roatan Island—each night brought us a gift in breathtaking sunsets.

Having just returned from Roatan Island, Honduras, for a family vacation, I want to share with you my success as a chef, consumer of local cuisine, and Crohn’s disease patient.

Basic cooking well for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (commonly referred to as IBS), Crohn’s disease, and/or ulcerative colitis (not to mention Celiac disease), can be challenging in general but especially so when on the road.

Being able to know your body’s tolerance for certain food is key to planning your diet, and traveling makes it hard to do that. Prior to your trip, and in general, it is a good idea to keep a food journal.

No one diet is completely right for everyone with IBS, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Keeping a food journal will help you find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients, especially while traveling. Some people with IBS may have problems digesting legumes, fiber-rich foods, raw salads, spices, additives, preservatives, fried foods, and there may be others, such as seeds in berries (especially fresh fruit with seeds).

For those individuals who either are still having significant symptoms or have very sensitive digestion, steaming or cooking most foods, even fruits, can help significantly. By steaming or cooking most foods, it reduces the live enzyme content of the food and makes it significantly easier on your digestion. Make sure to chew foods well and eat slowly. For some, taking 2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar in a little bit of water be-fore meals can aid digestion. When I packed for our trip, I included flax seed since I often get constipated when I travel (I kept it frozen, and we rented a place with our own kitchen which was helpful for me to store my own food). I also packed my vitamins and some portable Jarrow probiotics. which do not need to be refrigerated.

Eating healthily and happily involves an investment of time and creativity. Preparation helps make the diet transition go smoothly. There are many techniques to create fast, easy, and healthy meals, even when you travel. For example, we cooked our own dinners a few times, and included some of my favorite comfort foods like beans and rice, along with local plantains and broccoli. A recent article attests to the benefits of these foods, which are also easy to find on the road.

Most mornings, I made a green drink to start the day right, with a good serving of oatmeal and bananas (I have always been able to find oatmeal when I travel, but just in case, I packed a few packets of instant Kashi oatmeal as a back-up plan, though it is too sweet for me). To create healthy meals while on the road, Jessica Black and I recommend you use techniques such as steaming, sautéing, puréeing, chopping small, blending, grinding, and many others. If there is a health food store near you or a restaurant that serves healthy meals, go there often at first, especially as you adjust to a new climate and location.

I ordered fresh fish, rice and streamed vegetables for practically every meal! In the morning, I had oatmeal with bananas and honey, and often at snack, I boiled a few eggs to keep in the fridge. Lunch was mostly corn tortillas with beans and rice: All these foods were “tried and true” in my diet—with a proven track record for wellness in my case (remember how helpful the food journal is!).

In addition, I kept my morning yoga routine and seated meditation—this vacation allowed me to do that on my own private beach, which was a great way to begin the day with sun salutations.

Gone are the days of partying and drinking wild concoctions of Island Rum and pina coladas! I did enjoy a light beer made in Honduras, without any problems. I drank tons of water on the trip, especially helpful when flying on airplanes which tend to dehydrate travelers in general.

Getting lots of restorative sleep was easy—being by the ocean tends to lull one into sleep effortlessly.

All-in-all, travel is something us Crohnnies, and uc patients, as well as those with IBS can manage with careful planning and knowledge of the food and culture as well.