Digestive Health

Are you Gluten Free Or Is It Just More Marketing...

Are you Gluten-Free Or Is It Just More Marketing…

It’s difficult nowadays to go a week without encountering someone who claims to have a gluten allergy, but in reality, many people who have diagnosed themselves with a gluten allergy are actually suffering from a gluten sensitivity.

Are you Gluten-Free? Or Is It Just More Marketing…

Gluten-Free by the Numbers

breads, pastas, rice, and other foods with gluten

Gluten-free dieting has gained considerable popularity with the general population. Between 2004 and 2011, the market for gluten-free products reached an annual growth rate of 28%, with sales in 2012 hitting $2.6 billion. In 2012, Amazon listed about 4,800 gluten-free entries, but today lists over 18,000. A Google search at the same time for a gluten-free diet produced 4.2 million results but now has over 375 million results!

The number one reason consumers cite for buying gluten-free products is that they are perceived to be healthier than options containing gluten. Endorsements from celebrities have also contributed to the increased interest of possible health benefits from avoiding gluten, including potential weight loss. In 2014, the annual market share of gluten-free was at $5.94 billion. The global gluten-free market size was estimated at $17.59 billion in 2018 and is expected to expand at a rate of 9% from 2019 to 2025.

It’s estimated that only between 3 and 10% of the population may have a gluten sensitivity, so something is going on here. Are there more people with a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity, or is the public simply becoming more aware of it because of marketing strategies? Are gluten issues a myth or a real problem?

Living as a Gluten-Free Family

two women preparing a gluten-free meal together in the kitchen

This topic is near and dear to me because I have some personal experience with it. A little over seven years ago, I met and started dating the woman who is now my wife. She eventually shared with me that she suffered from chronic migraines and a skin problem she simply called, ‘itchy bumps.’ These bumps were basically systemic urticaria or hives. As her boyfriend at the time, I asked if she had ever tried to manipulate her diet to see if she was sensitive to anything she was eating. She ended up removing gluten from her diet and hasn’t had a migraine or any itchy bumps ever since.

Now I live with my wife and our two boys in a gluten-free home. I’m not sensitive to gluten but we find it easier to just prepare one gluten-free meal for all of us to eat as a family. I don’t mind at all because the gluten-free options now available are delicious and you can’t tell the difference most of the time.

Sources of Gluten

burger, beer, and fries with gluten on a table

Gluten is a protein consisting of gliadins and glutenins, found in foods processed from wheat and related grains like barley bulgur, couscous, farina, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, rye, and oats. Although oats do not contain the protein gliadin so most people who are simply gluten sensitive can eat oats. Those with celiac disease, a true wheat gluten allergy, tend not to do well with oats.

You do need to watch for hidden sources of gluten including malt, soups, broths, bouillons, cold cuts, French fries, processed cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, sausages, hotdogs, fried veggies with tempura, gravy, canned baked beans, chocolate milk, foods that are breaded, energy bars, wine coolers, meatballs, meatloaf, veggie burgers, roasted nuts, beer, and some vitamins and supplements. You also have to watch out for some topical agents like shampoos, cosmetics, and even pet food.

It’s important to be aware that gluten does not necessarily equal wheat. Gluten is in a variety of products and if you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, you must carefully read ingredient lists.

A Range of Gluten Disorders

wheat intolerant woman holding bread showing her stomach

There is a spectrum of gluten-related disorders including wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease. Wheat allergy is an adverse immunologic reaction to specific proteins just in wheat. A wheat allergy can be treated with wheat avoidance, which means a wheat-free diet can be more permissive than a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten sensitivity, also referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, is characterized by a heightened immunological reaction to gluten in genetically susceptible people. For a clinical diagnosis, it’s generally based on responses to a gluten-free diet. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include fatigue, headaches, and skin problems. Symptoms usually include GI distress as well, like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. All of these symptoms frequently improve with the adoption of a gluten-free diet.

illustration of the intestines and bowels

The inherent subjectivity in the diagnosis and resolution of these symptoms likely contributes to the popularity of gluten-free diets. There is some data to suggest that following a gluten-free diet may improve GI or systemic symptoms in individuals with lupus, dermatitis, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes 1 and 2, thyroid problems, and psoriasis. Gluten-free diets have also been used by patients with autism spectrum disorders, however, there is no definitive data to support this and the American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of gluten-free diets as a primary treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Despite the growing popularity and celebrity endorsements of a gluten-free diet for weight loss, there are no published reports showing that gluten-free diets produce weight loss. Is a gluten-free diet good for weight loss? Not unless you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten.

A celiac versus a non-celiac gluten sensitivity differs because celiac is a true food allergy. Food allergies are an adverse immune response to a food protein, most commonly an immunoglobulin called IgE. When the immune system detects IgE in the bloodstream, white blood cells attack and trigger an allergic response.

woman with gluten sensitivity choosing a rice cake instead of bread

Other allergies are mediated by the IgG immunoglobulin, which is characterized by symptoms which appear delayed, sometimes up to three or four days after the food is consumed. Symptoms of allergies include GI distress, skin inflammation, pain, fatigue, osteoporosis, mood disorders, liver problems, infertility, asthma, psoriasis, hair loss, premature gray hair, dental abnormalities, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.

The real difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is that celiac disease produces antibodies that attack the inner lining of the small intestine, destroying it. For individuals with gluten sensitivities, that does not happen. Either way though, the treatment is the same. Work with your doctor to come up with a great dietary plan and think about supplementing with anti-inflammatories.

Going Gluten-Free

a selection of gluten-free foods like pastas and bread

When it comes to treatment, avoidance works best. Remember that my wife cut out gluten and got much better. When mild symptoms came back later, we figured out that using the same toaster for her gluten-free bread and my regular bread was causing problems. We also switched to gluten-free dog food to avoid problems there. If your sensitive or allergic to gluten, you have to watch out for hidden sources of gluten.

The results of addressing a gluten issue are unmistakable, as most people rave about their increased energy levels, mental clarity, and an obvious decrease in symptoms. There are lab tests, skin tests, and blood tests that can help detect food allergies, but the gold standard is something called an elimination challenge diet. Eliminate all gluten products from your diet for 3-7 days, then challenge your body with gluten and see what happens. If symptoms go away and then return once you start eating gluten again, you know you’re gluten sensitive.

calendar showing the start of gluten-free living

Most individuals who are sensitive to gluten, especially celiac patients, tend to be sensitive to disaccharide sugars like lactose, sucrose, maltose, and isomaltose. Read labels carefully and if the food you’re eating contains one of these disaccharides, test your sensitivity by trying an elimination challenge of those foods as well.

Now it’s becoming easier to be on a gluten-free diet as many restaurants and conventional grocery stores offer gluten-free options. You can find gluten-free bread, pasta, bagels, waffles, pizza, and more. I can tell you from personal experience that they’re getting good at making gluten-free food delicious. Most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference between the gluten-free option and the option with gluten.

If you know or suspect that you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy, let us know. I want to understand what your experience is like and offer suggestions to make a gluten-free diet not just tolerable, but delicious. I’ve been working with patients on nutrition and dietary plans for over 16 years, so together we can come up with a plan that fits your needs.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Acid reflux remedy and what to do about it

Acid Reflux Remedy and What to Do About It

When struggling with acid reflux, also known as GERD, some individuals experience it as heartburn. Other individuals end up with chest pain, throat pain, regurgitation of food, a sour taste in their mouth, coughing, hoarseness, or wheezing. If the acid makes it too far up the esophagus, dental erosion can be a problem too.

Acid Reflux Remedy and What to Do About It

Acid reflux is more common than you think

senior man with a hand on his chest experiencing heartburn

As a doctor, I cannot tell you how many times my patients have complained about acid reflux. I call it an ‘out the door’ symptom because patients typically come in for high blood pressure, a skin rash, menopausal symptoms, or hair loss and as they’re walking out the door, they’ll add in, “By the way, I have acid reflux too.”

Acid reflux is quite common. 10% of people experience it daily, 30% experience it at least once a month, and 20% deal with it twice a week. Many people who struggle with acid reflux take medication for it, such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors. However, taking antacids daily has been shown in studies to cause a 200-600% increase in esophagitis.

Proton pump inhibitors do nothing for H. pylori, common bacteria that thrives in stomach acid, and yet these inhibitors are two of the top five over the counter medications purchased in the United States. Acid reflux is so common that it’s become a five-billion-dollar annual industry.

What causes acid reflux?

young man holding his stomach feeling acid reflux

Acid reflux is due to the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring that causes pressure on stomach contents to keep those contents down and in the stomach. There are several reasons the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, can become relaxed and allow stomach acid to come up into the esophagus.

The stomach is lined with mucus to protect itself from the naturally occurring acids it produces to digest your food, but your esophagus is unfortunately not. When the naturally occurring acids are regurgitated up into the esophagus, acid reflux occurs.

How can you prevent acid reflux?

man refusing to eat a burger

Certain foods relax the LES and cause negative effects, such as saturated fats, alcohol, sweet and sour foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus, and coffee. Other foods to avoid are canned good, fast food, fried foods, dairy, chocolate, mint, and gluten. Limit these foods in your diet and increase your intake of fresh or frozen produce instead.

Diets and acid reflux reactions are different for every individual. The best thing to try is an elimination challenge diet where you eliminate all potentially problematic foods for three or four days. After a few days, you can reintroduce each food item one by one, a few days apart, to see which foods are causing or contributing to your acid reflux.

illustration of the digestive system and DNA

Stress can also contribute to acid reflux problems. The entire gastrointestinal tract is known as the enteric nervous system, nicknamed the ‘little brain.’ There are so many nerves that interact between the gut, the digestive system, and the brain.

In fact, there are more serotonin receptors in the gut than there are in the brain. If you feel stress, anxiety, depression, then you’ll be able to feel it in the bowels, stomach, and intestines.

There were a couple of studies done in the 1920s and 1930s around factory workers who switched to office work. There was a dramatic increase in the number of acid reflux patients because they were stressed out. Since they switched from working with their hands to working with their brains, the stress caused an increase in acid reflux. Another study completed around 9/11 first responders showed that a quarter of them developed acid reflux, likely due to the stress of the event.

True Digestion supplement by Zenith LabsWe can see that both diet and stress play a role in acid reflux. At Zenith Labs, we’ve created a supplement called True Digestion. It contains zinc, since zinc deficiencies can cause mucosal damage and lower acid production. True Digestion also contains mucoligens like alginate, slippery elm, marshmallow, and DGL. One study has shown that alginate showed an 81% improvement, which is considerably better than antacids or proton pump inhibitors. Our supplement also contains barberry, which attacks the H. pylori in your gut that contributes to acid reflux. On top of all that, True Digestion also contains the other important digestive enzymes: amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, phytase, cellulase, invertase, and maltase. It’s a fantastic supplement and people are reporting tremendous benefits from taking it.

For some reason, treating acid reflux is an afterthought for most people. So many people just accept it as part of life, but you don’t have to. You need to value every warning signal your body gives you because it’s a disruption in your health.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

How Much Is Too Much Caffeine

How Much Is Too Much Caffeine? (Doctor’s Opinion)

Due to the boom in commercial coffee businesses and local coffee shops, there has been a significant increase in caffeine intake among adults, adolescents, and children over the past decade. This has also led to increased additive caffeine in common foods and energy drinks. All of this leads us to the question: How much caffeine is too much caffeine?

Caffeine is a drug

coffee beans coming out of a pill bottleCaffeine is the only drug that is present naturally or added to widely-consumed foods. In fact, caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world, and one of the most comprehensively studied ingredients in our food supply. It is mildly addictive, which is one possible reason why makers of soft drinks add it to their products. Many coffee drinkers experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, sleeplessness, and lethargy or fatigue when they stop drinking coffee. Like any drug, the effects of caffeine on the body are not necessarily wholly good or wholly bad. Caffeine is a substance that may boost your mood, metabolism, and mental and physical performance. Recent estimates in adults suggest that about 85% of adults in the US regularly consume caffeine, with an average daily intake around 180 milligrams per day, about the amount of caffeine found in two eight-ounce cups of coffee.

topdown view of electrocardiogram line made with roasted coffee grains with a cup of coffee and a red paper heartHistorically, the addition of caffeine was limited to soda-type beverages. Over the past decade, caffeine has been added to a diverse variety of foods and non-food items to promote arousal, alertness, energy, and elevated mood. The recent increase in caffeine-containing food products and energy drinks, as well as changes in patterns of consumption of the more traditional sources of caffeine, has increased scrutiny by health authorities and regulatory bodies of the overall consumption of caffeine and its potential cumulative effects on behavior and body physiology. Of particular concern is the rate of caffeine intake among populations potentially vulnerable to its negative effects.

Health and regulatory authorities have recently highlighted the risk of consumption of caffeine among pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, young adults, and people with underlying heart and health conditions.

Caffeine content in food and beverages

Coffee

cup of coffee next to a burlap bag with coffee beans spilling out of it onto the wooden tableA 15 to 20-ounce serving ranges anywhere from 150 to 400 milligrams per serving. The average amount of caffeine in an eight-ounce cup of coffee is about 95 milligrams, but we do not drink coffee as our grandparents did. They had a cup or two of Joe in the morning to get the day started. We go and get a huge cup of coffee, and that influences the caffeine intake.

The amount of caffeine in coffee depends on many factors:

  1. Type of coffee beans – there are many varieties of coffee beans available, which may naturally contain different amounts of caffeine.
  2. The roasting process – lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, although the darker roasts tend to have a more rich, deeper flavor.
  3. Type of coffee – the caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee. Yes — decaf coffee does contain small amounts of caffeine, typically seven to 15 milligrams per eight-ounce cup.
  4. Serving size – one cup of coffee can range anywhere from 300 to 700 millilitres or one to 24 ounces, greatly affecting the total caffeine content that you’re taking in.

Teas

different glasses of colorful floral teas on a white wooden tableEarl Grey tea contains about 110 milligrams per serving, the highest amount of caffeine amongst teas. The typical black tea ranges between 50 and 80 milligrams per serving. Iced tea ranges from 50 to 60 milligrams per serving, and green tea contains about 30 to 50 grams per serving.

 

 

Soft drinks and energy drinks

tall colorful glasses of iced drinksMost soft drinks range between 35 and 50 milligrams per serving. Energy drinks can vary wildly between 100 and 350 milligrams per serving.

 

 

 

Chocolate

bar of chocolate with bits broken off and a teaspoon with chocolate powderChocolate contains caffeine, typically between eight and 15 milligrams per serving, though the amount of caffeine in chocolate varies by the percentage of cocoa it contains.

 

 

 

Medication

small piles of white pills next to a pile of coffee beans on a wooden tableCertain medications contain caffeine, like Excedrin and Mydol, about 60 milligrams per dose. It’s included because research has shown that the addition of caffeine improves the potency of certain pain medications. Over the counter weight loss supplements typically contain caffeine as well.

Caffeine has a relatively long half-life in most individuals, ranging from three to seven hours.

 

Risks and Benefits of Consuming Caffeine

man in a suit holding a massive cup of coffeeWe do know that caffeine has some benefits for mental alertness and mental performance. Coffee and tea are also high in antioxidants and many studies show that they can be potentially good for your health.

However, getting too much caffeine is linked to adverse health effects like anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, and restlessness. Research has concluded that consuming four to 500 milligrams of caffeine a day is generally not associated with adverse effects in most people. This is about six milligrams per kilogram body weight or three milligrams per pound body weight, an average of four to six eight-ounce cups of coffee a day. That being said, caffeine affects different people in widely different ways. Some are very sensitive to it and others can consume large amounts without having negative side effects. This is largely due to genetic differences.

a stomach on a pile of coffee beansCaffeine and coffee may, in fact, reduce risk factors for certain conditions like gallbladder disease, Parkinson’s disease, and type two diabetes. However, it can worsen certain health conditions such as aggressive and violent behavior, anxiety, heart arrhythmias or palpitations, bipolar disorders, essential tremors, fibrous cystic breasts changes, GERD or acid reflux, high blood pressure and hypertension, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, migraine headaches, and it can negatively affect bone mass density and contribute to osteoporosis. There’s a higher risk of miscarriage in pregnant women who consume large amounts of caffeine. If you have either irritable bladder syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome, it can worsen those symptoms as well.

In a recent FDA report, researchers concluded that there is insufficient evidence of safety nor a consensus of scientific opinion to conclude that the high levels of caffeine found in energy drinks are safe.

Medically speaking, caffeine overdose is defined as the following:

  • An excess of 250 milligrams of caffeine intake per day.
  • The development of five or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diarrhea, increased frequency of urination, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia/increased heart rate, increased heart palpitations, periods of inexhaustibility or psychomotor agitation.

coffee beans spelling out the word coffee with the shape of a heart above itCaffeine withdrawal disorder is diagnosed with an individual who experiences clinically significant impairment related to withdrawal symptoms after abrupt stopping of caffeine intake, including headache, difficulty concentration, fatigue, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and changes in mood. These symptoms of caffeine withdrawal typically begin 12 to 24 hours after stopping caffeine and may continue for three to seven days.

 

Caffeine Sensitivity

As mentioned above, genetics have something to do with your levels of caffeine sensitivity. It all comes down to an enzyme system called Cytochrome P450. It’s a detoxification pathway in the liver, specifically the Cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP1A2. The Cytochrome P450 enzyme system is the same enzyme system that metabolizes steroid hormones. Thus, steroid hormones slow caffeine metabolism.

woman holding onto a cup of coffeeIn women, this effect slows the metabolism of caffeine during pregnancy and when taking oral contraceptive pills. Oral contraceptives are estimated to double the half-life of caffeine in the system. We know that cigarette smoking doubles the rate of caffeine clearance by increasing liver enzyme activity, which may explain the higher rate of caffeine consumption among smokers. Substantial alcohol intake increases the half-life of caffeine and decreases its clearance.

If you’re looking for ways to give yourself an additional energy boost, we’ve created a yummy chocolate drink called Cacao Melody. It’s made from the beans that ultimately are made into chocolate. It contains a small amount of caffeine and additional vitamins and botanical agents to improve alertness and energy. Check it out and let us know what you think.


dr ryan sheltonIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

You probably already have some understanding of how the food you eat affects your digestion, but you may not know how much your digestion affects your health. Your gut is full of bacteria – both good and bad – that aid in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. More than that, however, those bacteria also play a role in various aspects of total body health and wellness including inflammation, blood sugar, cholesterol, and even mood.

As you may already know, probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support healthy gut function. You can find them in things like yogurt and fermented foods. But what about prebiotics? How are they different and what role do they play in healthy digestion? Keep reading to find out.

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

Probiotics are living organisms that help to maintain the right balance of good to bad bacteria in your gut. They keep harmful bacteria from getting out of control and triggering problems such as inflammation, infection, and gastrointestinal upset. By maintaining that balance, probiotics can also help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Prebiotics are an entirely different thing. First and foremost, they are not living organisms – they are soluble, fermentable fibers that cannot be fully digested in the stomach. Instead of breaking down completely in the stomach, prebiotic fibers move into the intestines where they become a food source for probiotics.

How to Add Them to Your Diet

Probiotics and prebiotics are two completely different things, but they both play an essential role in health and digestion, so you should get them where you can. For probiotics, naturally-occurring sources are the most beneficial, though probiotic supplements can be used to boost your intake. Some of the best food sources of probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir – these foods are made with carbohydrates and sugars that provide nutrients for the bacteria to keep them alive long enough for your consumption.

Like probiotics, natural sources for prebiotics are the most beneficial as well. Food sources of prebiotics include things that are high in soluble fiber such as Jerusalem artichokes (you may know them as sunchokes), onion, garlic, chicory root, and beans. Food sources of resistant starch are also beneficial as prebiotics. Resistant starch is a type of fiber that is resistant to digestion by the stomach, and it can be found in foods like oats, legumes, and unripe bananas. It can also be found in cooked foods like potatoes, pasta, and rice after they have cooled.

Make Your Own Probiotic-Rich Fermented Veggies

Though you can purchase fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi at the grocery store, they may contain artificial ingredients that are best avoided. Fortunately, it is very easy to make your own fermented veggies at home, and they are an excellent source of probiotics. Here is a basic recipe for making fermented veggies that you can customize to your liking:

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium red apples, cored and chopped
  • 4 cups fresh cauliflower florets
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced into ½-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 8 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Toss the apples, cauliflower, carrots, green onion, and celery together in a large bowl.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large glass jar and press them down with a wooden spoon, sprinkling the sea salt as you compress the veggies.
  3. Check to make sure the mixture fills the jar no higher than 1 inch below the rim – you should also make sure the expressed liquid from the veggies covers them completely.
  4. If you need to add more liquid, make a brine using 4 cups water and 2 tablespoons sea salt – fill the jar to 1 inch below the top.
  5. Place a plate over the top of the jar to weigh down the veggies – cover with a kitchen towel, if needed, to keep out fruit flies.
  6. Set the jar in a warm place to ferment for 3 to 5 days.
  7. Check the jar once a day to make sure the brine still covers the vegetable mixture – remove any mold that forms on the surface.
  8. Start tasting the veggies after 3 days and keep fermenting until it reaches the desired taste.
  9. Cover the jar tightly with a lid and transfer to the refrigerator or pantry for storage.

Whether you choose to make your own fermented veggies or buy them at the store, probiotic foods should become a part of your regular diet. By combining these foods with natural prebiotic fibers, you can support the healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract for optimal health and wellness.

Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms Doctor's Advice

Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms Doctor’s Advice

Many people have growing concerns about their potential exposure to environmental toxins and the negative health consequences surrounding them, whether the toxins come through air pollution, water pollution, organophosphates, pesticides, plastics, or heavy metals. Awareness around environmental toxins is a passion of mine, having attended multiple conferences over the last 17 years that focus on heavy metals, toxic exposure, and how to handle the effects.

graphic of a green plant, ladybug, and a set of smoke stacks

My patients often come in with vague symptoms that go undiagnosed, so we’ll go through an exposure history and medical history. After running some lab tests, we often confirm they have elevated levels of heavy metals. Once we help them process those heavy metals, they start to feel better.

In this article, we’ll talk about the five most common heavy metals which are arsenic, lead, mercury, aluminum, and cadmium. We’ll also go over the sources of these metals, the negative impacts they have on the body, the symptoms they cause, and a few simple things you can do to help your body process these heavy metals.

Your first thought might be, “Well, I’ve never had any specific exposure since I’ve never worked as a painter, or with ceramics, or in a manufacturing plant.” However, it’s still an important question of whether these toxins are an obstacle for you achieving your health and wellness.

sign that says reduce toxins in your life

When we talk about heavy metals, there are three primary targets in the human body:

  • First is the immune system which can cause allergies, chronic infections, autoimmunity, and certain types of cancers.
  • Second is the neurological system, which would include cognitive abilities, brain fog, sensory changes, numbness and tingling, fine tremors, fine motor difficulties, and coordination issues. Mood alterations like depression, anxiety, and anger are part of the neurological system as well.
  • Third is the endocrine system which can cause sleep disruption, sensory disruption, and changes in energy levels and mood. Alterations can also happen in weight, appetite, bowel functions, sexual interest, and sexual functions. In women, there can be menstrual changes along with differences in temperature perception, sweating, flushing, and alteration of hair growth and nail growth.

Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms Doctor’s Advice

Why Some People Retain More Heavy Metals than Others

image of human body and a DNA strand

There are genetic differences in phase one and phase two detoxification pathways in the liver due to individual polymorphisms. This may be due to nutrient deficiencies, like magnesium, selenium, or vitamin B6, or may be due to a poor diet that is high in sugar and low on protein. It can also be due to stress, emotional suffering, trauma, or the presence of other heavy metals making you retain additional heavy metals.

effects of coffee on your liver

There are certain red flags I look for in patients including headaches, brain fog, fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, and an irritable bowel. An inability to handle caffeine is also a red flag, so take note if you can’t consume caffeine after noon without experiencing insomnia later in the day. An inability to handle medications is another red flag, like having to take very small doses or else suffering side effects.

Five Heavy Metals Contributing to Negative Health Conditions

1. Arsenic

worn paper listing arsenic carcinogens substances

Arsenic is the number one toxin in the United States ranked by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sources include cigarette smoke, wine from sprayed grapes, shellfish, seaweeds, wood preservatives, cattle and sheep dip, production of semiconductor parts, and production of photoelectric components in electronic manufacturing. Other sources are galvanizing, etching, fungicides, pesticides, fireworks, tanning leather products, textile printing, cable sheaths, copper or lead smelting, and glass manufacturing.

Exposure to arsenic can lead to several symptoms like fatigue, malaise, light sensitivity, headaches, and problems with your skin, nails, lungs, and cardiovascular system. You can also experience gastrointestinal, kidney, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and psychological problems.

2. Lead

batteries in the dirt

The toxin ranked number two by the EPA is lead. Sources of lead include bullets, fishing equipment, art supplies, weight equipment, radiation shields, bearing alloys, ceramic glazes, and pigments. Lead can also be found in plumbing, miners, mechanics, refinery smelting work, antiknock gasoline additives, paint, solar joints in water systems, batteries, and colored and stained glass.

A build-up of lead in your body can cause fatigue, malaise, weight loss, burning of the mouth, headaches, plus musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, kidney, and reproductive problems.

3. Mercury

piece of salmon in laboratory mercury and toxic dye

Mercury is ranked by the EPA as the number three toxin Americans are exposed to. One type is elemental mercury, which comes from coal power plants, medical waste incineration, municipal water waste incineration, and contaminated water and food products. Another type is organic or methyl mercury mercury. It’s methylated by organisms in water and soil which means it’s found in trout, pike, walleye, bass, tuna, tilefish, swordfish, and shark.

Elemental mercury is found in dental amalgams. Dentists have a high level of elemental mercury because they’re dealing with amalgams often. It can also be found in fossil fuels, latex paint, old thermometers, electrical switches, Dove soap, Ajax, and even some brands of dishwashing soap. Some of the symptoms elemental mercury causes include fatigue, hair loss, skin rashes, headaches, and a metallic taste in your mouth. It can also create neurological, cardiovascular, kidney, lung, gastrointestinal, and skin problems.

4. Aluminum

child holding crushed aluminum cans

Aluminum is often found in cookware like coffee pots, pizza pans, pots, and utensils, and cooking with tomato sauce can extract aluminum in higher quantities. Other items where traces of aluminum are found include certain brands of antacids, aspirin, paint, fireworks, glasswork, ceramics, aluminum baking powder, soy-based infant formulas, deodorants, drinking water clarified by aluminum, canned goods, coal power plants, incinerators, and pesticides. Aluminum exposure can cause fatigue, malaise, and even heat intolerance. You may also experience skin, neurological, lung, reproductive, and kidney problems.

5. Cadmium

image of cadmium table of elements

Cadmium is the number seventh-ranked EPA toxin in the United States. Exposure can come from batteries, plastic manufacturing, metal soldering, welding, fossil fuels, incineration, metal smelting, tattoos, fertilizer, fungicides, and cigarette smoking. Cadmium can cause malaise, weakness, fatigue, kidney problems, gastrointestinal problems, lung problems, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, cancers of the lung and prostate, and endocrine problems.

Supplements You Can Take for Heavy Metal Toxicity

spoon with dietary supplement pills

Now that you know the five heavy metals to watch out for, you can take preventative action against them. There are general supplements you can take such as glutathione, Curcuma, Tinospora, milk thistle, calcium D-glucarate, epigallocatechin gallate, Brassica vegetables, and whey protein.

You can also take specific supplements to combat each of the heavy metals. Alpha-lipoic acid is specifically helpful for mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Arsenic is helped by taurine and mentha herbs like spearmint and peppermint. Mercury can be helped by Ocimum (Holy Basil), coriander, spirulina, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Lead can be helped with coriander, cadmium with zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, and ginger.

There are chelating agents you can take, like DMPS and DMSA, but I would highly recommend working with a qualified practitioner if you consider using them to extract heavy metals. A chelator goes into the body, grabs the heavy metals, and pulls them out of the body. In addition to chelators, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, whey protein, an amino acid supplement, and plenty of magnesium can help your liver process these heavy metals.

Additional Resources on Heavy Metal Toxicity

stop heavy metals sign

Environmental Working Group is a website with helpful information about the sources of toxic heavy metals and what you can do about them. The first step is identifying sources of heavy metals and then limiting the amount of exposure your body has to them. Supplementation and chelation are effective, but it’s better to avoid these heavy metals altogether.

Even if you think you’ve never been directly exposed to these heavy metals, everyone is exposed in some way and at risk for possible health consequences. Continue educating yourself, your friends, and your family about the sources and symptoms these heavy metals can cause.

Zenith Detox, supplement by Zenith LabsHere at Zenith Labs, we’ve created a supplement called Zenith Detox. It contains many botanical agents and nutraceuticals to help your body process these heavy metals. Pair this with simple actions to avoid heavy metal toxins and you’re one step closer to better health and wellness.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

The 3 Pillars Of Perfect Gut Health

The 3 Pillars Of Perfect Gut Health

 

Maintaining perfect gut health is increasingly challenging in today’s society due to processed foods and stress, but promoting optimal gut health has so many positive benefits for your health and wellness. When I was in medical school, many of my professors advocated that all health starts in the gut and over the past couple of decades, I’ve seen that is true for many people. If you take good care of your gut, your gut will take good care of you.

The 3 Pillars Of Perfect Gut Health

Why is good gut health important?

young woman framing her flat stomach with her hands

Everything you eat has to be broken down, processed, and absorbed by your body. If your body is not able to extract and absorb the positive benefits of a healthy diet, you may not see the benefits from your diet that you should.

Without perfect gut health, you can experience physical symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, belching, irritable bowel syndrome, and food sensitivities. To prevent these negative symptoms, we’re going to talk about three aspects to promote good gut health: probiotics, digestive enzymes, and fiber prebiotics.

Probiotics

healthy probiotics sauerkraut pickles yogurt

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live both in and on us. There are trillions of healthy bacteria living in us and on us, outnumbering human cells by a long shot. Of course, we’re not walking around looking like alien bacteria because human cells are huge compared to tiny bacteria, but they do actually outnumber us. We’re more bacteria than we are human, which is astonishing.

Probiotics provide many benefits, not just for the GI tract, but also for our immune system, weight loss, brain health, and even depression and anxiety. There are more serotonin receptors in the gut than in the brain, and healthy bacteria have unique ways of communicating with the brain to promote good physical health.

So why do probiotics, healthy flora, and healthy bacteria start to die off? A poor diet that is high in processed foods and carbohydrates can affect the good bacteria. High levels of stress and some medications can negatively affect probiotics as well.

Food is medicine, so I encourage you to get your probiotics through food sources. Some of my favorite sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles, and natto. Do the best you can to get probiotics through food sources, but you can always take a high-quality supplement if you need to.

Digestive Enzymes

close up of blue and red Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes released by the pancreas include amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, phytase, cellulase, invertase, and maltase. These digestive enzymes break down macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Again, a poor diet, stress, and certain medications can decrease your body’s ability to produce these enzymes. These enzymes are absolutely necessary for not just digesting macronutrients, but also for extracting important micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Fiber Prebiotics

spoonfuls of high fiber prebiotic grains

For the most part, Americans are terrible at getting enough fiber. It’s estimated that Americans take in around 10 grams per day, but studies recommended getting 40-50 grams per day. Prebiotics are basically undigested fiber that these probiotics feed upon and promote more healthy bacteria.

The best sources of prebiotics include chicory root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, oatmeal, apples, cocoa, burdock root, flax seeds, chia seeds, jicama, sweet potatoes, and seaweed. Again, it’s better to get your probiotics and prebiotics from food, but there are supplements you can take if necessary.

Probiotic T-50 supplement by Zenith LabsZenith Labs has created a highly-viable, highly-potent probiotic, called Probiotic T-50. It contains 11 strains of 50 billion organisms to help promote better gut health. We’ve also created an enzyme supplement called True Digestion to help with GERD symptoms and increase digestive enzymes, helping promote better overall health for you.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Is Eating Dark Chocolate Actually Healthy

Is Eating Dark Chocolate Actually Healthy (DOCTOR THOUGHTS!)

Consumption of dark chocolate makes you feel good. One of the reasons is because of a compound contained in dark chocolate called phenylethylamine. It’s sometimes also called the “love drug”, because it arouses in our brains similar feelings to those that occur when one’s in love. If you’ve been told that consumption or ingestion of dark chocolate is one of your vices, it’s time we set the record straight to reveal to you what modern scientific research has shown about the potential benefits of consuming dark chocolate.

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

1. Helps improve blood flow

graphic of red blood cells flowing through a veinThe reasons dark chocolate may be beneficial are because of phenylethylamine but also because of the high amounts of polyphenols and antioxidants contained in dark chocolate. One study showed that patients suffering from peripheral artery disease (PAD) which causes difficulties in walking acutely improved their walking autonomy by eating dark chocolate (not milk chocolate). Eating dark chocolate every day helped patients walk pain-free. Apart from the polyphenols and antioxidant effects, it may have also been due to increasing nitric oxide levels, which helps to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow.

Another study showed that dark chocolate was successful in reducing oxidative stress in athletes, as well as reducing muscle and joint pain.

2. Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes

graphic of a clogged arteryCacao bean, where dark chocolate is ultimately derived, is a rich source of bioactive compounds. One of which is a flavin thrill. Its consumption has been associated with several beneficial effects such as the positive modulation of the homeostasis targeted by platelet aggregation. If you can reduce platelet aggregation, you’re decreasing one of the important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It has also been shown that the consumption of dark chocolate-covered almonds can help control conditions like lipid profiles, so cholesterol and triglycerides reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, blood sugar control thereby reducing risk factors for diabetes.

3. Prevents DNA damage

graphic of DNA damageAnother study showed that the polyphenols and flavonoids from cacao and dark chocolate significantly prevents DNA damage and improves the nucleus integrity of the cell.

4. Improves tissue oxygenation

graphic of a red blood cellAnother study showed that a single ingestion of dark chocolate improves erythrocyte deformation. Erythrocytes are red blood cells and red blood cells are responsible for transferring the oxygen that we breathe to every cell in the body. When those erythrocytes or red blood cells are deformed, they have less oxygen donating capacity. The consumption acutely of dark chocolate may considerably improve blood flow throughout the body resulting in better tissue oxygenation.

pieces of dark chocolate on a wooden table with mint leaves aroundWe’ve actually developed a supplement of cacao melody which contains unrefined extracts from cacao or the bean that is ultimately made into chocolate. Being unprocessed means that it contains even higher amounts of the polyphenols and antioxidants that are responsible for chocolate’s beneficial effects. We’ve also included some botanical agents to improve cheerful health, energy levels to promote an overall improvement in your mood and physical health. Check it out and let us know what you think!dr ryan shelton


If you liked this video/article and found it useful, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being. I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

Dairy and is it good for you Doctor's thoughts

Dairy: Is it good for you? Doctor’s Thoughts!

 

Many of our engaged and curious clients take time to write to us with questions, hoping for a deeper understanding of how to make smarter choices for their health. A common question came in recently: Is dairy really bad for you? The short answer is, ‘probably,’ but let’s get into the details.

Dairy: Is it good for you? Doctor’s Thoughts!

Why Dairy is Bad for You

spread of cheese and dairy products

A long time ago, the cows in parts of northern Europe went through a genetic mutation causing their milk to become full of a lectin-like protein known as casein A1. Once you ingest casein A1, it transforms in your body to become a new protein. This new protein is called beta-casomorphin and can cause autoimmune problems including diabetes. In fact, many people who complain of lactose intolerance and its symptoms are actually struggling from casein A1 intolerance.

In southern Europe, several cowherds never went through the genetic mutation, so they create a different protein called casein A2. Casein A2 is better for you and is not turned into the catastrophic protein, casomorphin.

Dairy is often called nature’s perfect food, but that’s only if you’re a calf. Dairy was evolutionarily created for cows and not for human consumption. If that sounds shocking to you, it’s because very few people are willing to tell the truth about dairy. Criticizing milk in America is like trying to go against classics like apple pie or baseball.

man trying to drink milk but experiencing lactose intolerance

Going against dairy is what we have to do based on the research though. Based on my experience practicing medicine, I advise most of my patients to avoid dairy products completely. I like ice cream and yogurt as much as the next person, but as a physician, I have to look honestly at what is known about dairy. From an evolutionary standpoint, milk is a very strange food for humans.

Consider this: the majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to metabolize lactose, between the ages of two and five. In fact, the normal condition for most mammals is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest milk from the mother after they’ve been weaned.

5 Reasons to Stop Consuming Dairy

woman refusing to drink a glass of milk

  1. Milk does not reduce fractures. That’s why we’re always told to drink it, right? For “strong, healthy bones.” Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the nurses’ health study, dairy may increase the risk of fractures by 50%.
  1. Less dairy actually means better bones. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy consumption, like those living in Africa and Asia, have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
  1. Calcium doesn’t protect our bones the way we once thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk, and vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures. Focus on vitamin D instead by leaving your house or office and getting more sunlight.
  1. Calcium supplementation may increase cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer between 30% to 50%. Dairy consumption also increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which a known cancer promoter.
  1. Calcium has health benefits that dairy does not, like reducing the risk of colon cancer. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75% of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products, which is lactose intolerance.

Don’t rely on dairy for healthy bones. If you want healthy bones, get plenty of exercise, sunshine, and supplement with vitamin D. Get your calcium from other food sources like leafy green vegetables, broccoli, sesame, tahini, sea vegetables, sardines, and fish. All of these are excellent sources of calcium and don’t have the bad effects that dairy does.

Test Your Dairy Tolerance with an Elimination Diet

coconut and coconut yogurt together

Try giving up all dairy by eliminating milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements in your sinuses, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy levels, and weight. After the two weeks is finished, start eating dairy again and see how you feel again. If you feel worse, you should give up dairy for life.

If you can tolerate dairy, use only raw, organic dairy products. Try focusing on fermented products like yogurt and kefir, but only for occasional consumption. A great substitute for dairy products is coconut products like coconut milk, yogurt, butter, and fermented options. Coconut has some tremendous positive benefits without causing the problems that dairy does.

Overall, is dairy bad for most people? Probably. There’s a small percentage of people, like 10% to 25%, who are fine with dairy, but I encourage you to try the elimination diet mentioned above. Take all dairy out of your diet for a couple of weeks, reintroduce it, and see the difference avoiding dairy makes.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

bloating

Top Foods That Bloat You (Stay Away!)

 

Do you struggle with intestinal gas and bloating? If the answer is “yes”, then read on. Learn about some of the most common causes of gas and bloating, top foods that contribute to gas and bloating, as well as what to do about it.

A recent study of 20,000 people showed that between 30-40% of them had experienced abdominal gas and bloating at least once in the previous three months. It is a very common issue many others like you have had to deal with. Intestinal gas and bloating can be physically uncomfortable. It can also cause physical distress and be embarrassing and awkward in social situations. If you’re able to hold flatulence and gas in, it causes more abdominal distention. If you’re brave enough to release it in a public environment, it can be an embarrassing phenomenon and cause emotional stress. Overall, it’s not a very nice situation.

Causes of bloating

woman holding a question mark around her abdominal areaThere are a number of causes for intestinal gas and bloating. It can be due to:

  • Low stomach acid
  • Poor output of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and liver
  • Parasites
  • Dysbiosis
  • Overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast
  • Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Emotional distress like anxiety.
  • Food allergies

glass of milk, kiwi, lemon, chocolate, orange, and strawberries with a yellow tape across them saying "allergy"One of the most common causes of intestinal gas and bloating is actually food allergies. About 30-40% of individuals suffer from food allergies. Food allergies can be identified and avoided, and there are a number of ways to do this. There are blood tests and digestive tests you can do. The gold standard is something called “The Food Allergy Elimination Challenge Diet”. This is where you systematically eliminate foods from your diet for a minimum of four days (though 5-10 days is recommended). Then, one-by-one you slowly reintroduce each food to “challenge” your system and see which of those foods may cause gas and bloating.

The most common food allergies include wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, as well as certain types of fruits and vegetables.

woman holding her bloating bellyAny simple sugars can cause gas and bloating problems too. Simple sugars get into the digestive tract and can undergo fermentation. Fermentation is a process where yeast and bacteria in the intestine produce gas, and that gas translates into intestinal gas and bloating.

Dairy is a common food that causes gas and bloating. The sugar, lactose, is responsible for this. Some individuals lack the enzyme, lactase, which digests lactose, and when you do not digest that sugar it goes on down into the intestines and causes the fermentation process. Gluten-containing foods is another very common causative factor of gas and bloating.

Many individuals find that eliminating dairy and gluten foods is an enormous first step into reducing intestinal gas and bloating.

fodmap foods laid out on a tableResearchers have shown that individuals who avoid dietary FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols) foods see a considerable reduction in the amount of intestinal gas and bloating. FODMAPs are actually short-chain carbohydrates that are osmotically active and fermentable. That means that when they’re in the intestines they alter the exchange of fluid within the intestines, and they cause the fermentation process which exacerbates gas and bloating. A common example of a disaccharide would be lactose, that sugar that’s found in dairy products. A common example of fructose would be honey and fruits. A common example of polyols would be sorbitol, which is found in many types of chewing gum, and also stone fruits such as apricots, plums, peaches, pears. An example of fructans, which is part of the dietary FODMAPs, include wheat, the allium family of vegetables, asparagus, and foods that are high in chicory. An example of high galactan foods would be beans and legumes and cabbage. Eliminating foods on the dietary FODMAPs list may be a clue into reducing your gas and bloating.

Probiotic T-50 by zenith labsHerbal products have been taken for centuries to help with intestinal distress, intestinal gas, and bloating. The most common ones include peppermint, fennel, caraway, chamomile, lemon balm, and ginger. Also, consider taking a high-dose probiotic to help restore healthy flora in your gut. At Zenith Labs there is a very potent probiotic called Probiotic T50, which contains 50 billion organisms of very high quality. If you’re looking for a good probiotic, that is one you should definitely check out.


dr ryan shelton of zenith labsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

The #1 Master Tip to Help Restoring a Normal Gut Flora

The #1 Master Tip to Help Restoring a Normal Gut Flora

If you feel inundated with information and advertisements about which probiotic is the best for you, you’re not alone. If you struggle with keeping up with that information or if you’re still confused about how to best improve the normal, healthy gut bacteria, then read on!

The Master Tip to Restoring Normal Gut Flora

fermented foods like gherkins, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yoghurt on a table

Apart from simply avoiding things that kill the healthy bacteria in our bodies (like antibiotics), we can also promote healthy gut flora by eating fermented foods. Fermented foods are evident in many different cultures over the world, and they come in all different forms. We’ll be highlighting nine of the most important fermented foods that will give you more strains of probiotics than taking a supplement. They’re also more likely to stay in your gut and help with digestion, mood disorders, and your immune system.

9 Most Important Fermented Foods

1. Kefir

wooden spoon scooping kefir out from a glass

Kefir is a fermented dairy product made from cow, goat or sheep milk. It’s basically a drinkable yogurt! It’s much higher in probiotics than yogurt, and it also contains high levels of Vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, Biotin, folate, enzymes, and of course hundreds of strains of probiotics.

2. Kombucha

large jar of kombucha with a glass of kombucha garnished with lemon slice

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from tea, and it contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that’s responsible for initiating the fermentation process. Due to the fermentation process, you receive hundreds of strains of healthy probiotics. Kombucha also has trace amounts of alcohol, but not enough to get you intoxicated or feel any difference.

 

3. Sauerkraut

top down view of a jar of sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is one of the oldest traditional foods. It has very long roots stemming from German, Russian and Chines cuisines. Sauerkraut, which means “sour cabbage”, is made from fermented greens, red cabbage, or green cabbage. It is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, as well as manganese and magnesium. Store-bought sauerkraut is decent, but making your homemade sauerkraut is more powerful than store-bought sauerkraut.

4. Pickles

jar of pickles next to a small wooden bowl with pickles and a pickle on a fork

Like sauerkraut, store-bought pickles are not nearly as effective as pickles that you make yourself. Fermented pickles contain a ton of vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants and gut-friendly probiotic bacteria. There are tons of homemade pickle recipes online that you can try for yourself.

5. Miso

top down view of a bowl of miso soup with seaweed, tofu, and spring onions, on a wooden table mat and chopsticks

Miso is created by fermenting soy beans, barley or brown rice with Koji, a type of fungus. It’s a traditional Japanese ingredient recipe in Miso soup. It tastes great and it’s high in healthy probiotic bacteria.

6. Tempeh

pieces of tempeh on a white plate

Tempeh is another beneficial fermented food made with soy beans. When it sets for a day or two, soy bean becomes dense and cake-like, and it contains both probiotics and a healthy hefty dose of protein too. Tempeh is similar to Tofu, but fermented and not as spongy or grainy tasting. It’s quite tasty actually, try it and let us know what you think!

7. Nato

nato in a wooden dish with soybeans in a wooden square dish in the background

Nato is a popular food in Japan containing fermented soy beans. It’s sometimes eaten for breakfast in Japan, and commonly combined with soy sauce. It contains high amounts of healthy probiotics.

8. Kimchi

a plate of kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish that’s made from vegetables including cabbage, plus some healthy spices for your gut like, ginger, and garlic, pepper, and other seasonings. It’s often added to Korean recipes like rice bowls, ramen, or Bibimbap.

9. Yogurt

two jars of yoghurt on a white wooden table with two spoons next to them

This is probably one of the most easily accessible probiotic foods you can find! Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made mostly from cows’ milk, although it can also be made from sheep and goats’ milk. It’s recommended when buying yogurt to look for three things. First, that it comes from goat or sheep milk if you have trouble digesting cow milk. Second, it’s made from the milk of animals that have been grass-fed. Third, make sure that it’s organic.

How to boost your healthy gut bacteria

Probiotic T50 supplement by Zenith Labs

Eating fermented foods can boost your healthy gut bacteria in ways that taking a probiotic supplement simply cannot. However, if you’re looking for a more convenient way of getting your probiotic dose, we’ve created a probiotic supplement called Probiotic T50, which is one of the most powerful probiotic supplements out there. It contains 50 billion organisms, which is almost 10 times as much as most grocery store probiotics. On top of that, it contains 11 strains, whilst most probiotic supplements that you take only contain one, two, maybe three or four strains.

If you incorporated fermented foods into your diet, and take the Probiotic T50 supplement, you can change the dynamic of these important organisms that live in your gut and improve your overall wellbeing.

If you’ve tried probiotic supplements and/or fermented foods, let us know which you prefer and how it’s worked out for you. We would love to hear what’s worked/not worked for you, or just to hear about your favourite fermented food! Let us know in the comments below.

Ever heard about prebiotics? Learn about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics here.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith Labs

If you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

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