TAG | wheat
Gastrointestinal problems are among the most common complaints heard by doctors today. Still, many people fail to look beyond the symptoms when seeking relief, and as a result problems can worsen over time. Knowing that roughly 80 percent of our natural immune defenses are found in the digestive tract, it is time to reconsider how we deal with digestive issues—and with that comes getting a better understanding of certain things that can affect a healthy gut.
If you have persistent gas and bloating, abdominal pain, or chronic constipation or diarrhea, here’s something you should know: More and more Americans are finding out that sensitivity to gluten may be at the root of their problems. But is it just gluten sensitivity or is it celiac disease? And what’s the difference? The following is a brief overview:
Gluten sensitivity is a broad term used to include many different types of sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat. People who are sensitive to gluten may experience a wide range of symptoms, from mild inflammation of the intestinal lining to abdominal discomfort and occasional irritable bowel, but not everyone with gluten sensitivity develops celiac disease (those who don’t are considered Non-celiac Gluten Sensitive, or NCGS).
However, people with gluten sensitivity may be experiencing the beginning stages of celiac disease. In essence, gluten sensitivity implies that the immune system cannot tolerate gluten in the diet. As a result, it forms protective antibodies to try to neutralize the gluten, in the same way it reacts to harmful bacteria or viruses. When these autoimmune reactions cause intestinal damage, a person is then considered to have celiac disease.
Celiac disease is genetic and in some cases may be triggered by a traumatic physical or emotional event. More than 2 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, which can include severe abdominal pain and bloating, chronic diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, fatigue, and in some cases even severe anxiety and depression, skin problems, as well as bone and joint pain.
The bottom line is this: If you have unexplained, persistent gastrointestinal issues and you and your doctor can’t seem to figure out why, gluten sensitivity may be the culprit. The best way to determine if you are truly gluten sensitive or if you have celiac disease is to have a simple stool test performed. Visit www.enterolab.com to find out more, and once you have the results you and your health care practitioner can take the next step toward better gastrointestinal health.
By now many of you have heard about the remarkable health benefits of probiotics. In fact, the good-for-you bacteria seem to be making headlines everywhere these days—especially as we head into another cold and flu season. And as awareness increases about just how good probiotics are for optimal digestion and immunity, there’s another “p” word you might be wondering about: prebiotics.
In technical terms, prebiotics are often defined as “non-digestible food ingredients” that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. So what does that mean? Quite simply, prebiotics are a food source for probiotics. So as they travel through the digestive system, they nourish all those good bacteria along the way and help them grow and multiply. The result? More good bacteria in the gut, which means better digestion and a stronger natural defense system.
So where do prebiotics come from? Well, mostly from soluble fiber sources such as oats, legumes, flax and almonds—and that’s where the “non-digestible” part comes into play. Dietary fiber—including both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber—really just refers to the parts of plant foods that our bodies are unable to digest and absorb, which is why it’s sometimes called “roughage”. Because prebiotics are not digested, they remain in the digestive tract where they can do their job of feeding their probiotic partners.
In addition to obtaining prebiotics through the diet, nowadays many probiotic supplements will actually include prebiotics to help you get the benefit of this dynamic duo (i.e. probiotics and prebiotics). For example, you may see something called FOS on the label. Short for fructooligosaccharide, FOS is extracted from soluble fiber foods such as chicory root and will help to feed and stimulate the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
So there you have it! Two powerful “p” words that can go a long way toward better digestion and a stronger natural immune system—talk about a winning combination!
Prebiotic Food Sources:
- Chicory Root
- Whole Grains