top 10 Gut-nourishing foods

Top 10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

The holidays are around the corner. This means that you will be tempted with all kinds of unhealthy treats and comfort foods that may lead to gut inflammation. The good news is that it is possible to eat delicious food while following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and gut-protecting diet rich in gut-nourishing foods.

Your gut health matters. A healthy microbiome and well-functioning gut are absolutely essential for optimal digestion, absorption of nutrients, elimination of toxins, and your overall health. A compromised gut flora may lead to leaky gut syndrome, an underlying cause of many digestive issues and other health complaints, including chronic pain, fatigue, and autoimmune diseases.

Take control of your health and nourish your body with gut-friendly foods that promote well-being. Learn about the best gut-health foods and incorporate them into your diet today.

Top 10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

Sauerkrauts

Sauerkrauts mean sour white cabbage in German. They are incredibly common in Germany, my motherland, Russia, and other parts of Eastern-Europe. They are fermented cabbage that serves as fantastic gut-health food. Sauerkrauts are not only rich in fiber but provide they are loaded with good bacteria. They help a healthy gut microbiome balance, promote smooth digestion, and help to prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

You can find sauerkrauts at your local health food stores, grocery stores, and farmer’s markets. You may even make it yourself. I recommend that you also try another powerful gut-friendly food, kimchi, a Korean version of sauerkrauts.

I like to get sauerkrauts in the local store, like Zabar or Fairway, sprinkle it with high-quality olive oil, shred some fresh carrots, chop some red onion and sprinkle with fennel. Takes 5 minutes to prepare and what a great salad to increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables! Bon Appetit!

Yogurt

Speaking of fermented foods, yogurt is another fantastic gut-nourishing food. It is made with fermented milk and is incredibly rich in probiotics. It helps to balance your gut flora, reduce digestive distress, and prevent leaky gut syndrome. If you like yogurt, I also recommend it’s close cousin, kefir, another gut-health food made with fermented milk with similar gut health benefits.

You may find yogurt and kefir at any grocery store. Make sure to buy organic and avoid added sugar and artificial ingredients. If you are intolerant to dairy or avoid dairy for other reasons, you may find dairy-free yogurt and kefir options made from coconut milk or nut milk. These dairy-free options are also fantastic gut-friendly foods. Trader Joy sells delicious cashew nuts kefir, it is delicious and what a great alternative to dairy!

Dandelion Greens

You may remember waving dandelion crowns as a kid. As an adult, you can use green leaves as a gut-health food that grows everywhere in the spring. Yes, the dandelions in your backyard are gut-nourishing free food. Dandelion greens may help to improve gastric motility relaxing the muscles between your stomach and small intestines. It is a powerful cholegogic (stimulates bile production and drainage). As a result, this ubiquitous plant will improve your digestion and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Dandelions may reduce inflammation balance your blood sugar, and lower blood pressure.

Dandelions are versatile and nutritious. You can eat their stems, roots, and flowers. They serve as a beautiful garnish on your salads and dishes and make gut-nourishing tea.

Recipe: Saute green leaves of dandelion in olive oil with onion and garlic. What a great garnish! Remember, more bitter is better for your digestion!

Asparagus

When you think of asparagus, the first thing that comes to mind is that they make your pee smell funny. While it’s true, asparagus is excellent gut-friendly food. Asparagus is a gut-nourishing food that may reduce inflammation, pain, and disease in your gut and body. It may improve nutrient absorption. Asparagus is a fantastic prebiotic food that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut and prevent intestinal dysbiosis.

You may enjoy asparagus steamed, grilled, roasted, sauteed, and baked. It makes an excellent side dish and is fantastic in soups, salads, and baked vegetable dishes.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Don’t confuse Jerusalem artichokes with globe artichokes. Jerusalem artichokes are actually related to sunflowers. They are delicious tubers that are one of the best gut-nourishing foods. They are rich in fiber and promote the absorption of nutrients. They may help to keep your microbiome balanced and gut inflammation levels low. Jerusalem artichokes may also prevent diarrhea, constipation, and leaky gut syndrome.

You may find Jerusalem artichokes in the produce aisle and try them instead of potatoes next time. You may steam, boil, bake, or saute them, or even eat them raw (shredded) in a salad.

Onions

Onions are one of the best gut-nourishing foods. They are rich in prebiotics that supports your healthy digestion. They also contain flavonoids and antioxidants, including quercetin that fight free-radical damage. Besides boosting your gut health, they are beneficial for your immune system and heart health.

You may enjoy onions raw or cooked. They add a delicious flavor to most soups, salads, stir-fries, baked vegetables, and other main dishes.

Garlic

When talking about the best gut-nourishing foods, you cannot forget about garlic. As fantastic prebiotics, they have similar benefits as onions do. They are rich in manganese, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. It has a significant antibacterial effect and also works against parasites and fungi, like candida. I use garlic in tablets (Garlic Forte by MediHerbs) as part of the gut flora restoration protocol. If you choose to do raw garlic, then one clove twice a day will give you close to a therapeutic dose.

Garlic is the most nourishing when eaten raw, however, you can enjoy its gut-health food properties when it’s cooked as well. If you choose to cook garlic, first crush or chop it and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to activate its beneficial gut-healthy enzymes before cooking. You may add garlic to your soups, salads, and favorite dishes.

Seaweed

Seaweed is also referred to as a sea vegetable. It is a form of algae that I recommend you to try as a gut-nourishing food. Seaweed is incredibly rich in antioxidants and fiber. It may help gut flora balance, promote gut health, and aid digestion. Seaweed is full of polysaccharides that help the production of short-chain fatty acids that protect and feeds your gut cell lining.

Add seaweed flakes to your salads and meals. Try nori snack as a crunchy treat. Be adventurous and enjoy a seaweed salad.

Pineapples

Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit that is also powerful gut-nourishing food. They are rich in bromelain, an enzyme that helps your digestive system by breaking down protein from large food molecules into smaller, more digestible peptides. Bromelain in pineapples, if eaten on an empty stomach, also helps to reduce pain and inflammation, including gut inflammation. As a result, it may help to promote a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

You can find pineapples at any grocery store or health food store. You can eat it as it is, or as part of a fruit salad, salad, vegetable stir-fry, or pineapple salsa. Make sure to eat it fresh and avoid canned pineapples that are full of added sugar.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is one of the best gut nourishing foods. It is a nutritious clear liquid made from brewed bones and connective tissue. It is a fantastic source of collagen, glutamine, and amino acids that may help to reduce gut inflammation, maintain a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome. Besides being a delicious gut-friendly food, bone broth may also support your metabolism, joints, and immune system.

You can make your own bone broth from organic, free-range poultry, pasture-raised beef, and wild-caught fish bones. You may also find organic bone broth at your local health food stores. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may substitute bone broth for a vegetable broth. While vegetable broth doesn’t have collagen, it is still a gut nourishing food. However, bone broth is a high histamine food, so some people may not tolerate it well. If you are one of them please consult with your functional medicine practitioner and get tested.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing digestive troubles or suspect that the root cause of your health issues is your gut health, as a functional medicine practitioner, I am happy to help. Together, we can identify and address the root cause of your health complaints. With the help of a personalized treatment plan along with some gut-nourishing foods, I can help you to repair your body, and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about my integrative and functional medicine services or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.

In the meantime, share this article with your friends and family to help them regain their health with the power of gut-nourishing foods and holistic medicine.


References:

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 5: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 5: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 5: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Is your constipation making you miserable?

You are not alone.

Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the country, impacting everyone at some point in their life, and nearly 20 percent of the population.

The problem with constipation is that it seems like a simple disorder that can easily be fixed with over the counter stool softeners and laxatives, but that often leads to worsening health conditions.

Don’t brush your constipation under the rug. Get to the root cause through a proper diagnosis and find lasting relief and improved overall health. Identifying what causes constipation is the key to treating your underlying condition and ridding yourself of painful constipation for life.

In this six-part series, we are looking at the causes of constipation to help you find the root cause of your discomfort and achieve lasting constipation relief. The first four parts, we looked at low hydrochloric acid, low bile flow, dysbiosis, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.

In part five of this series, we will examine pelvic floor dysfunction and how it can cause painful constipation. We examine the importance of the pelvic floor, symptoms of dysfunction, what causes pelvic floor dysfunction, and constipation remedies when it’s caused by pelvic floor dysfunction.

The Importance of Your Pelvic Floor & Symptoms of Dysfunction

Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support your organs in the pelvic area, they work like a sling. Your pelvic floor is responsible for supporting the uterus in women, prostate in men, bladder, and rectum. It’s through contraction and relaxation of these muscles that allow you to control your bladder and bowel movements.

How you get rid of constipation is completely dependent on the cause and pelvic floor dysfunction is one of the trickier causes to treat. When your pelvic floor muscles remain contracted it can be extremely uncomfortable and confusing when common remedies don’t help. Some of the other symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Painful urination
  • Straining pains accompanying bowel movements
  • Feeling as though you need several bowel movements in a short period of time
  • Frequent urination
  • Urination that stops and starts
  • Feeling like you can’t complete your bowel movements
  • Lower back pain
  • Consistent pain in your pelvis, genitals or rectum
  • For women, pain during intercourse

If you are experiencing any of these other symptoms, it’s likely your constipation is caused by pelvic floor dysfunction. Because treating this form of constipation isn’t as straightforward as the other causes, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to be certain of your root cause.

Part 5: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction is one of the leading causes of constipation, impacting about 7 percent of the adult population. Unlike the other causes of constipation, this type is caused by the bowels physically being blocked.

The muscles of the pelvic floor are contracted instead of relaxed, which leads to incomplete or prevented bowel movements. This can be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and even lead to worse health conditions.

Another problem with constipation caused by pelvic floor dysfunction is that often home remedies such as added fiber and stool softeners don’t work well. What helps constipation caused pelvic floor dysfunction best are exercises and biofeedback therapy.

When you’re experiencing constipation from pelvic floor dysfunction, it isn’t as though you feel the contracted muscles in your pelvic region. In fact, you can’t be 100 percent certain this is the cause without a full examination by your functional medicine doctor.

An examination includes both a full physical examination and taking a careful medical history. The physical examination is to check for muscle spasms, weakness, knots and your ability to control your pelvic muscles. Some of the questions you may be asked during your medical history include:

  • If you’ve had recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • If you have given birth
  • If you experience pain during intercourse
  • If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • If you have interstitial cystitis
  • If you’ve experienced any other symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction

Unlike the other causes of constipation explored in this series, pelvic floor dysfunction is not relieved with quick fixes. This could be considered a good thing, because it requires those suffering to find long term solutions.

Causes of Pelvic Floor Function

The causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are largely unknown and can occur in both men and women. Though traumatic injuries and complications of childbirth can contribute to issues with proper pelvic floor function.

Natural Remedies for Constipation Caused by Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Due to the nature of the condition, most of the treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction happen to be natural remedies. Techniques include working closely with your doctor to retain your pelvic floor muscles and improving relaxation. Retraining your pelvic floor muscles proven to be effective, showing improvement in 70 percent of patients.

After a proper diagnosis with your doctor, some of the treatment options you’ll likely explore include:

  • Biofeedback – Done with a doctor, this technique uses monitoring to help you improve control over your pelvic floor muscles
  • Pelvic floor exercises – These are taught to you by your doctor and can be done at home
  • Relaxation techniques  – Yoga, warm baths, and other relaxing methods can help reduce pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Myofascial release  – A very effective technique where sustained pressure is applied to the myofascial connective tissues, which results in restored function and reduced pain.
  • Craniosacral therapy  – This form of bodywork focuses on your cranium and synarthrodial joints (fibrous joints with little range of motion). This treatment improves the flow of your cerebrospinal fluid, which reduces pain and improves pelvic floor function.
  • Acupuncture  – A form of ancient Chinese medicine known for its ability to alleviate pain through the application of acupuncture needles at appropriate meridian points.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a treatable condition. Biofeedback and physical therapy are the two most common treatment options. In some severe cases, muscle relaxants or surgery might be recommended but this isn’t common.

When to See Your Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

Treating constipation caused by pelvic floor dysfunction is going to require guidance by your functional medicine doctor. When you experience constipation that lasts more than 10 days or is reoccurring, do yourself a favor and make an appointment. A thorough examination eliminates other causes and narrows in on exactly what type of treatment remedy your root cause.

Constipation should never be taken lightly because it leads to a cascade of health consequences. Work with your functional medicine doctor to diagnose and treat your pelvic floor dysfunction so you can live your life free of constipation discomforts.

You can read part 1part 2part 3 and part 4 from Dr. Klimenko’s blog.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325). If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 4: Metabolic Disorders - Thyroid & Diabetes

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 4: Metabolic Disorders – Thyroid & Diabetes

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 4: Metabolic Disorders – Thyroid & Diabetes

Though constipation seems like a simple discomfort that can be easily blamed on something you ate and readily remedied by over the counter stool softeners, it’s actually a condition that shouldn’t be taken so lightly. Recurring constipation is usually a sign of an underlying condition that could be very serious.

Defined as less than three stool movements per week, constipation blocks new nutrients from passing through your body and can lead to compounding health consequences.

So in addition to potential health issues causing your constipation, leaving it untreated could add complications, which can make identifying the original cause of the constipation difficult. This is the compounding nature of constipation due to the fact that it impacts overall gut health, which is why it’s important to bring it up with your doctor.

In this six-part series, we are investigating the different causes of constipation so we can help you identify the problem and find you lasting constipation relief. In parts one through four, we looked at low hydrochloric acid, low bile flow, and dysbiosis (imbalanced gut microflora).

You can read part 1part 2 and part 3 from Dr Klimenko’s blog.

In part four of this series, we are going to look at the different metabolic disorders that can cause chronic constipation. We will examine diabetes and hypothyroidism and examine how we can influence better digestion despite these disorders.

What helps constipation is completely dependent on the underlying cause, so let’s take a closer look at constipation caused by metabolic disorders.

Part 4: Metabolic Disorders

Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal issue in America, impacting as many as 63 million people. Nearly everyone will experience constipation at some point in their life. In fact, you shouldn’t worry about your constipation unless it lasts longer than 10 days or it becomes a reoccurring issue.

A metabolic disorder can occur when there are abnormal chemical reactions occurring in the body (such as hormones), which then alter metabolic processes. Metabolic disorders may be present when you born or may be developed or diagnosed later in life.

Gut microflora is very important to metabolic processes, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that constipation would be a symptom that commonly accompanies metabolic disorders.

The two metabolic disorders we want to focus on are diabetes and hypothyroidism – these are well known to cause chronic constipation if go undiagnosed and untreated.

Diabetes and Constipation

Constipation in diabetics is a common complication of the disease. Poor blood sugar control, nerve damage, and medications are all factors of diabetes that can lead to constipation.

Studies have found that people with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to experience constipation. When your constipation is related to diabetes, in conventional medicine your treatment will be to focus on long term solutions, which may include stool softeners and laxatives.

When there’s elevated sugar level in a diabetic, this slows down digestion and peristalsis of the intestine so sugar does not absorb into the bloodstream too fast, which further increases overall blood sugar levels. This is your body’s innate defense mechanism trying to reduce the rate of sugar elevation after the meal.

Lifestyle choices regarding diet and aiding your body in metabolism regulation is going to be the solution to helping reduce your constipation episodes. Work closely with your doctor to manage these metabolic processes and listen to your body to work with it, not against it.

If you’re diabetic or suffer from constipation and suspect you’re diabetic, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor to look into these suspicions. Also keep in mind that the earlier you catch your diagnosis and implement necessary  changes the better because you can prevent damage and work to counterbalance the impact of your diabetes.

Thyroid Disorders and Constipation

Constipation is often one of the first apparent symptom of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Your thyroid is responsible for producing important hormones that impact your metabolism and when there isn’t sufficient production it can cause the muscles that move your stool through the gastrointestinal system to become weak.

If you have already been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, it’s also important to look at your gut health if you are experiencing chronic constipation. Certain gut bacteria is essential to converting T4 hormone to T3, which is needed for proper metabolism and digestion. Have your doctor check your thyroid if you experience regular issues with constipation.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Metabolic Disorders

There are some natural remedies for constipation caused by metabolic disorders you can start at home. However, because each disorder is inherently different it’s a good idea to incorporate these suggestions under the supervision of your regular doctor (if she or he know what to do) or seek for a certified functional medicine doctor to get a thorough evaluation. Natural remedies for constipation that are also safe for those with metabolic disorders include:

  • Adding good fiber to your diet
  • Drink more water
  • Increase physical activity
  • Careful blood sugar management
  • Heal your gut microflora imbalance
  • Consider trying gluten and dairy free diets
  • Be sure you’re getting enough healthy fats
  • Take magnesium supplements
  • Try starting your day with warm lemon water

Unlike low stomach acid, where we recommended an apple cider vinegar test, you’ll have to be tested in-office for metabolic disorders. How to get rid of constipation completely depends on the cause, so get tested early and you may save yourself a lot of discomfort down the road.

When to See Your Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

Your certified functional medicine doctor is your best ally in helping you figure out how to get rid of constipation once and for all. Treating constipation alone means you’re only treating the symptom and not the underlying cause. If you want long term relief, especially if you suspect your constipation is due to a metabolic disorder, see your doctor and get a diagnosis earlier rather than later.

Check for thyroid issues and diabetes if you experience long lasting or chronic constipation. And be sure to tell your doctor how often and for how long you’re affected by constipation to help them gain a clear understanding of you condition. Your certified functional medicine doctor helps you identify the underlying cause and build a comprehensive treatment plan so you can find lasting comfort and relief.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.

 

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 1: Low Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid)

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 1: Low Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid)

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 1: Low Stomach Acid (Hydrochloric Acid)

Constipation can be uncomfortable or downright painful if left untreated. You may experience few bowel movements, the sensation that everything isn’t coming out, small and hard stools, a swollen belly, pain or throwing up.

But you’re not alone – an estimated 42 million Americans suffer from constipation, making it the most common gastrointestinal problem in the United States.

When you experience constipation, it may seem like a good idea to reach for fast relief like a stool softener or other common constipation remedies such as prune juice – but these are usually just a quick fix that doesn’t solve the underlying cause.

If you want long-term constipation relief it’s a good idea to get to the root of what’s causing your chronic constipation.

There are a number of causes of constipation, which we are going to address in throughout this six-part article series. First, we are going to take a closer look at low hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach – an often-overlooked cause of constipation.

Part 1: Low Hydrochloric Acid

Your stomach acid is made up of three parts: hydrochloric acid (HCl), potassium chloride (KCl), and sodium chloride (NaCl). Hydrochloric acid is the primary acid in your stomach and it plays important roles in keeping the digestive tract running smoothly. Often, stomach acid and hydrochloric acid are used interchangeably.

When your body isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid, it can cause serious and chronic constipation. Also called achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria, low stomach acid can disrupt several important bodily processes.

The Importance of Stomach Acid

Why is stomach acid so important? Stomach acid frequently gets a bad rap because an overabundance can cause heartburn or ulcers, but it’s just as problematic to have low stomach acid. Your stomach acid is involved in many critical roles, including:

  • Completely digesting food
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Encouraging the pancreas and intestines to produce necessary enzymes and bile
  • Ensuring good absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Activating pepsinogen – a protein-digesting enzyme
  • Helping to kill unwanted bacteria, viruses, and parasites

When your stomach isn’t making enough hydrochloric acid, you can experience an array of unpleasant and sometimes painful symptoms, such as:

If your stomach has low hydrochloric acid levels, you might experience constipation but also nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating a healthy diet. This can make identifying your health issues difficult. In fact, low hydrochloric acid is a condition that is often misdiagnosed or overlooked.

Causes of Low Hydrochloric Acid

Low levels of hydrochloric acid can make you constipated and uncomfortable but it can also be responsible for a cascade of health consequences, which is why it’s important to address constipation with techniques that treat the root cause and not just the symptom.

Understanding some of the causes of low hydrochloric acid can give you clues to help you determine if low HCl is causing your constipation. Some causes of low stomach acid include:

  • Medications – Some prescriptions and over the counter drugs suppress HCl production.
  • Chronic stress – This is when HCl secretion is inhibited by chronic low-grade worry (acute stress may cause overproduction of HCl, which is associated with ulcers).
  • Older age – Your body tends to decrease HCl production levels as you get older.
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiency – In particular, low zinc and thiamine levels can contribute to insufficient hydrochloric acid levels.
  • H. pylori infection – When there’s an overgrowth in the stomach, H. pylori can cause low HCl levels.
  • Processed foods and refined sugars – These foods are mineral deficient and cause inflammation of the stomach, which alters your gut microbiome and can reduce stomach acid production.
  • Chronic illness – Some chronic illnesses have an increased risk of low HCl production.
  • Antacids – Antacids interfere with your acid levels and can be the cause of low HCl production.

If you are experiencing constipation – other related symptoms – and also have any of the above contributors to low hydrochloric acid, you should test yourself for low stomach acid. There are three simple ways you can test your HCl levels at home before you make a trip to the doctor.

How to Test Your Stomach Acid (HCl) at Home

These three easy ways to test for low hydrochloric acid production in your stomach are much cheaper than a conventional HCl test administered by many doctors. Keep in mind a negative test result for these techniques is not an absolute diagnosis. These methods are simply for seeing if your constipation is caused by your stomach’s inability to produce enough stomach acid.

Self-Exam for Low Stomach Acid

A quick method for checking low hydrochloric acid levels is an old homeopathic trick. Take both your hands and find your xiphoid process – the bottom of the sternum where it meets the ribs – marked in red in the image below.

Then, with both hands slide along the rib cage in both directions while pushing in and under your ribs – on your left and right side of your body.

In people experiencing low levels of stomach acid, it’s common for the left side to be more tender than the right side – this area is marked in blue in the image below. It can be so tender it may cause you to jump when you find the right area – if this occurs you likely have low hydrochloric acid levels.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Low Stomach Acid

Another test you can try at home is taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar when you experience temporary symptoms after eating, such as indigestion or upset stomach. If your symptoms are relieved after taking apple cider vinegar, that could be a sign of inadequate hydrochloric acid production.

Betaine HCl Test for Low Stomach Acid

The betaine HCl is another at-home test you can use to check for low stomach acid. Take a betaine HCl capsule during or right before your last bite of a meal containing protein and fat. If you experience indigestion or burning, then you have plenty of HCl and shouldn’t take any more of that supplement. But if you don’t experience any burning, your stomach isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Low Hydrochloric Acid

The best choice of remedy for any individual’s constipation always depends on the underlying cause. If you’ve determined the underlying cause of your constipation may be low stomach acid, here are a couple of changes you can make:

  • Add fermented vegetables to your diet
  • Reduce processed food consumption
  • Increase zinc intake
  • Reduce chronic stress in your life, especially at mealtime
  • Have a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water before each meal
  • Add betaine HCl supplements to your diet

These are a couple of remedies that may give you constipation relief. But if you continue to struggle with constipation, you should see your doctor so you can have a comprehensive diagnosis made as early as possible.

When to See Your Doctor for Constipation

As with many conditions, using temporary fixes that relieve symptoms only prolongs the underlying issue. Waiting to treat your condition can cause complications and make it more difficult to treat. If you are experiencing constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, or if one of the three at-home self-tests for low stomach acid appears positive, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

There is a myriad of ways to treat low hydrochloric acid levels naturally. By working closely with a holistic physician, you can restore balance to your stomach and relieve uncomfortable and widespread symptoms.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.

Seeds for Good Digestion

Seeds for Good Digestion

What is Cumin?

Cumin is a seed-derived spice with a nutty-peppery flavor that packs a punch from the moment its aroma seeps into your senses. It immediately activates the salivary glands which kicks-off the digestive process. Cumin, also known as jeera in Ayurvedic medicine, is native to the eastern Mediterranean area. It is used in cuisine from many parts of the world, including Tex-Mex, Eastern, and Indian. Cumin seeds have been used in folk medicine since antiquity to promote digestion and treat flatulence, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating and gas.

What are its uses?

Medicinally, cumin is recognized as a carminative, which means that it soothes digestive irritation, such as gas, and thereby improves digestion. It is widely used by many natural medicine doctors as a tool to help patients holistically heal from their symptoms. Due to its essential oils, magnesium and sodium content, cumin can also provide relief for stomach ache and irritable bowels. Current research shows that cumin’s beneficial effects may be due to the spice’s ability to stimulate secretion of pancreatic enzymes. Which are necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food. Adding to its nutritional potency,cumin also contains flavonoids and antioxidants, which are beneficial to overall health.

Cumin in food

It’s best to cook with whole cumin seeds that you grind with a mortar and pestle. Packaged cumin powder is more convenient but it loses its flavor faster than whole seeds. Whole seeds will stay fresh for a year, when stored in a cool and dark place, while powder should be used within six months. For enhanced flavor, roast cumin seeds before using them.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to improve your nutrition and gastrointestinal health. In her practice, she uses herbal and food based supplements such as cumin to help patients address the root cause of their medical symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).
If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.

References:

“Curcumin v. Cumin: Not the Same” Accessed on October 4, 2016: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/curcumin-vs-cumin-10292.html

WorldsHealthiestFoods.com: Cumin. Accessed on October 4, 2016: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=91

Agah, Shahram et al. “Cumin Extract for Symptom Control in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Case Series.” Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases 5.4 (2013): 217-222.

What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health?

What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health?

While discussion of poop is probably not a hot topic in your household, in our home it is the most important topic of discussion. “Honey,how was your poop today? Did you have a good one?” Jokes aside, composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health. Did you know the features of fecal matter–such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning? Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), pancreatitis, and cancer.

To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart (see attached picture and diagnosed yourself). The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid–as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.

5 BMs that Require Medical Attention (Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs).

Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining, or is accompanied by abdominal pain.

Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.

White, pale, or grey stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.

Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.

Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.

How Often Should You Go?

How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. For most people, daily BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).

How Low Should You Go?

There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers–they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.

You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P8L0r4JVpo

Resources

Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015.

Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.

Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.

Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.