How to Improve Gut Health: 25 Ways to Prevent and Heal Leaky Gut, Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria, and Improve Your Health and Well-Being

The gut is often referred to as the body’s “second brain,” because like the brain, the gut impacts virtually every bodily system in one way or another. Poor gut health is linked to fatigue, inflammatory disease, skin conditions, a variety of chronic diseases, and even mental health. It’s vitally important to be mindful of digestive health and take steps to preserve the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.

We’ve put together list list of 25 ways to improve gut health to help you start taking action today to promote a healthy gut, increase your energy levels, reduce the risk of disease, eliminate skin conditions and other inflammatory conditions throughout the body, and improve your overall well-being. If you’re looking for ways to foster a healthy gut, here are 25 tips to get you started (click on a link for more detail):

  1. Consume a diversity of foods.
  2. Follow the four Rs.
  3. Limit your use of antibacterial soaps and alcohol-based sanitizers.
  4. Take probiotics to restore the gut’s optimal bacterial flora population.
  5. Eat whole foods that contain an abundance of good bacteria.
  6. Avoid overuse of antibiotics.
  7. Laugh a little.
  8. Take other steps to reduce stress.
  9. Limit high-fat and processed foods.
  10. Prebiotic-rich foods (such as high-fiber foods) provide a hospitable environment for healthy but bacteria.
  11. Pay attention to indicators of toxin buildup.
  12. Try intermittent fasting.
  13. Learn how your body responds to different foods to customize your diet.
  14. Avoid inflammatory foods.
  15. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and yogurt promotes bacteria diversity in the gut.
  16. Bone broth can promote gut healing.
  17. Play in the garden or snuggle with your pets.
  18. Eat foods containing polyphenols.
  19. Check your hormones.
  20. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol.
  21. Find out what effect gluten has on your body (and mind).
  22. Cut back on added sugars.
  23. Kombucha has a healing effect on leaky gut.
  24. Add yellow and green vegetables to your diet.
  25. Eat clean and practice the 80/20 rule.

Ready for improved health and well-being thanks to a healthier gut? Read on to find out how you can start implementing these tips today for a healthier gut and improved overall health.

"Generally speaking, a diverse microbiota is considered to be a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the greater number of health benefits they may be able to contribute to." - Dr. Ruairi Robertson

1. Consume a diversity of foods. “There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines. Each species plays a different role in your health and requires different nutrients for growth.

“Generally speaking, a diverse microbiota is considered to be a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the greater number of health benefits they may be able to contribute to.

“A diet consisting of different food types can lead to a diverse microbiota.

“Unfortunately, the Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of the world’s food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species.

“However, diets in certain rural regions are more diverse and rich in different plant sources.

“A few studies have shown that gut microbiota diversity is much greater in people from rural regions of Africa and South America than those from Europe or the US.” – Dr. Ruairi Robertson, 10 Ways to Improve Your Gut Bacteria, Based on Science, Authority Nutrition; Twitter: @AuthNutrition

2. Follow the four Rs. “In Functional Medicine, there is a very successful protocol called the 4Rs, which stands for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair. There are many resources for learning more about the 4 R’s. I like Raphael Kellman, M.D.’s book, The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss. You can also listen to my interview with Dr. Kellman on my radio show, Flourish.

“The beautiful thing about the 4Rs protocol is that it doesn’t have to be followed in order. Once you remove the processed foods and toxins from your diet, you can start doing all of the remaining 3 steps together. Unless you suffer from a serious digestive disorder or other condition, you can follow the 4Rs on your own. Or, find a practitioner who can tailor the protocol to your specific needs.” – Christiane Northrup, M.D., How To Improve Your Gut Microbiome in A Day, DrNorthrup.com; Twitter: @DrChrisNorthrup

"Most of the gut experts say we ought to be picky about the household cleaners we use to disinfect our homes. Most of them are like antibiotics: they obliterate everything, which includes some of the helpful bacteria we need to stay sane." - Therese Borchard

3. Limit your use of antibacterial soaps and alcohol-based sanitizers. “Our obsession with sanitization is making us sick. Ironic? The Sonnenburgs cite a May 2013 study published in the journal Pediatrics that found that children whose parents cleaned their dirty pacifier by sucking on it instead of boiling it in water were less likely to have eczema than the kids of the sanitization freaks. Two years ago, a team of scientists discovered why children who grow up in homes with a dog have a lower risk of developing allergies and asthma — they help diversify the microbiome community, of course. The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that dog ownership is associated with a kind of house dust that exposes us to important strains of bacteria, like Lactobacillus. I believe it, based on the substantial dust and hairballs that used to grace every corner of our home when we had two Lab-Chow dogs. Soil, especially, has wonderful healing elements that we need. Gardening or weeding can serve as a way of boosting our immune systems.

“Most of the gut experts say we ought to be picky about the household cleaners we use to disinfect our homes. Most of them are like antibiotics: they obliterate everything, which includes some of the helpful bacteria we need to stay sane. The Sonnenburgs suggest using less toxic cleaners such as vinegar, castile soap, and lemon juice. Limiting our exposure to such chemicals as chlorine can help protect our health as well. If you’re a swimmer with gut issues, like I was, you might want to think about swapping the activity with a more microbiome-promoting exercise such as yoga. And avoid antibacterial soaps and alcohol-based sanitizers if you can.” – Therese Borchard, 10 Ways to Cultivate Good Gut Bacteria and Reduce Depression, Everyday Health; Twitter: @EverydayHealth

4. Take probiotics to restore the gut’s optimal bacterial flora population. “This is done with the introduction of probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. A probiotic is a good bacteria and is ingested to help reinforce and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract and to help fight illness. In general a healthy lower intestinal tract should contain around 85% good bacteria. This helps to combat any overgrowth of bad bacteria. Unfortunately in most people these percentages are skewed and this allows for the gut health to drastically decline. The human gut is home to bad bacteria like salmonella and clostridium, which is fine as long as they are kept in order and don’t get out of control.” – Brad Sly, The Four Rs: How To Restore Optimal Gut Health, Breaking Muscle; Twitter: @BreakingMuscle

"When looking for probiotic-rich foods, avoid vinegar-based and/or pasteurized varieties, since these elements kill good bacteria." - Kris Carr

5. Eat whole foods that contain an abundance of good bacteria. “You can also eat whole foods that are fermented and contain large amounts of good bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, microalgae and coconut kefir are fantastic plant-based probiotic-rich foods. When looking for probiotic-rich foods, avoid vinegar-based and/or pasteurized varieties, since these elements kill good bacteria. You want to pick up (or make!) lacto-fermented probiotic foods (FYI–this is a plant-friendly approach, no whey is necessary). If you’re interested in making your own probiotic foods, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz is a popular book on the subject. Word to the wise: Get educated on fermenting at home before diving in–it can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing!” – Kris Carr, How to Improve Your Gut Health, KrisCarr.com; Twitter: @Kris_Carr  

6. Avoid overuse of antibiotics. “Antibiotics kill bacteria. Although that includes the bad bacteria that can make you sick, it also includes the good bacteria your body needs. This disruption of intestinal harmony can cause a lack of diversity among bacteria that’s sure to affect your health.” – Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM, 5 Tips to Help You Restore and Maintain Your Gut Health, Global Healing Center; Twitter: @GHChealth

"Stress plays a role in almost every kind of gut flora problem – undergrowth, overgrowth, the wrong types of bacteria, lack of diversity, or whatever else might be troubling you." - Paleo Leap

7. Laugh a little. “There’s a reason why researchers talk about the ‘gut brain’ as a crucial part of your overall nervous system around 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin, for example, is actually located in the gut. Brain health and gut health are connected. Stress or anxiety in your brain will rebound down to the gut: there’s a reason why Irritable Bowel Syndrome is so strongly associated with depression and mood disorders!

“Stress plays a role in almost every kind of gut flora problem – undergrowth, overgrowth, the wrong types of bacteria, lack of diversity, or whatever else might be troubling you. And that implies that stress-reducing activity will probably help almost any gut.

“One practical way to make that happen is to find a way to get a laugh out of yourself – and yes, there’s actually been a study on this. The researchers studied healthy controls and patients with atopic dermatitis, a disease typically accompanied by gut flora problems. The patients had notably different gut flora from the healthy controls. After watching funny movies every day for a week, their gut flora had changed to look much healthier.

“Finally, justification for watching as many adorable kitten/puppy/seal/red panda/penguin videos as your heart desires: it’s for your health!” 5 Simple Ways to Support Your Gut Flora, Paleo Leap; Twitter: @PaleoLeap

8. Take other steps to reduce stress. “Stress may change the makeup of your gut flora. A 2011 ‘Brain, Behavior, and Immunity’ study reported that stressed-out mice (which had been left in a cage with aggressive mice!) experienced a plunge in beneficial bacteria and an increase in inflammatory chemicals in the blood serum.
“Stress ‘alters the functioning of the immune system — either by suppressing or enhancing its response to foreign invaders,’ says Ohio State University associate professor of oral biology Michael Bailey, the paper’s author.

For the good of your gut — and health — figure out why you’re anxious, and take measures to eliminate those stressors.” – Martha Stewart, 4 habits for a healthy gut, CNN; Twitter: @cnnhealth

"If you want a healthy gut, you should try to keep fatty and processed foods to a minimum in your diet." - IgY Nutrition
9. Limit high-fat and processed foods. “We know that fatty foods are linked to obesity and inflammation.”Because these systemic disorders can then turn into more serious health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is real reason for concern.”Studies have demonstrated that the problem with too much fat in the diet is that it inhibits the growth of healthy bacteria.”Because carbohydrates are digested very easily and absorbed into our small intestine without any help from the microbes, the gut bacteria have nothing to digest and end up eating the mucus lining of our intestines — which is meant to be a strong barrier between the gut and the rest of the body.”When the wall of the intestine is permeated, particles of food enter the bloodstream, and our immune system alerts our brain and other organs to attack the foreign substance, causing inflammation in various parts of our body.

“As we have discussed, inflammation is the root of a lot of health problems.

“Similarly, sugar also feeds organisms like Candida Albican, a kind of fungus that grows in the gut and attacks the intestine wall.

“If you want a healthy gut, you should try to keep fatty and processed foods to a minimum in your diet.” – How to improve Gut Health, IgY Nutrition; Twitter: @NutritionIgY


10. Prebiotic-rich foods (such as high-fiber foods) provide a hospitable environment for healthy but bacteria. “I also want to give my new guests plenty of nourishment, to make them feel at home and inclined to stick around. That means serving up plenty of fiber-rich foods. In particular, I want to seek out foods that are high in soluble fiber, such as flax and chia seeds, beans and legumes, apples, oats and oat bran.” – Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS, Foods to Restore Your Intestinal Flora, Quick and Dirty Tips; Twitter: @quickdirtytips

"There is a strong connection between your gut health and the quality of your skin. Is your skin breaking out? Breakouts can indicate toxic buildup in your system." - Kimberly Snyder

11. Pay attention to indicators of toxin buildup. “The body expels solid wastes through the digestive tract, but if there is a blockage or an inefficient flow of elimination, then toxins build up. This can even lead to the reabsorption of toxins into the bloodstream, filtering through the wall of the colon (a problem commonly known as leaky gut). The toxins come from the normal by-products of metabolism (endogenous toxins) and from the endless chemicals, pesticides, pollutants and more from the outside world (exogenous toxins).

“There is a strong connection between your gut health and the quality of your skin. Is your skin breaking out? Breakouts can indicate toxic buildup in your system. Your elimination organs may be overwhelmed, which can encourage impurities to push out through your skin. There may be excessive phlegm buildup from overeating congestive, difficult-to-digest foods (such as dairy), or your digestive system may be compromised. So when you want your skin to be better, great products, while super important; simply aren’t going to cut it! You need to go deeper to get deeper, better results.

“More efficient digestion can also allow you to clean out toxins more productively and make it easier to restore and maintain your natural weight.” – Kimberly Snyder, 16 Ways To Improve Gut Health, The New Potato; Twitter: @TheNewPotato

12. Try intermittent fasting.Intermittent fasting refers to a reduced ‘feeding window’ and extended ‘fasted state’. A classic way of approaching this is the 16/8 split.

“That means 16 hour fast and 8 hour feeding window. People will commonly run the fasting time between 9pm and 1pm, eating all of their calories then between the corresponding 1pm to 9pm window. This time split can be adjusted to fit your lifestyle and isn’t as hard to do as you would think if you are completely new to the idea of not eating for a slightly extended duration.

“Other fasting time splits could be:

  • 12pm – 8pm
  • 11am – 7pm

“Or if you get up very early, around say 5am or before: 10am – 6pm.” – 3 (Unusual) Ways To Improve Gut Health, Applied Movement Neurology; Twitter: @AMNAcademy

"It might take some trial and error, but learning how your body responds to different foods will help you make better choices in the foods that you eat." - WorldHealth.net

13. Learn how your body responds to different foods to customize your diet. “Having balanced hormones is extremely important. Hormones play a key role in maintaining health. Many hormones, and several essential vitamins and minerals, can only be absorbed through the gut and the digestive tract. If the PH in your gut is not healthy, these essentials are discarded through the waste process, and are never able to nourish and stablilize your body.

“Dr. Brady suggests that the most important thing you can do for your body is to feed it right. It might take some trial and error, but learning how your body responds to different foods will help you make better choices in the foods that you eat. White blood cells react differently to different foods, for different people. Discover which foods your body gets along with. Probiotics are an excellent way to maintain a healthy gut. Drink plenty of water and move around a lot, even if you don’t consider it exercise, try not to be sedentary. Still having difficulties improving your health? Dr. Brady talks about how some doctors are using parasites to achieve a healthy gut, relieving systemic inflammation. Find what works for you, and what helps you to feel your best. As you improve the health of your gut, you will begin to see massive changes in your overall health and wellbeing.” – 9 Reasons to Improve Your Gut Health, WorldHealth.net; Twitter: @Anti_AgingNews

14. Avoid inflammatory foods. “When it comes to inflammatory foods, highly processed and sugary foods are at the top of the list.
“‘Sugar is very inflammatory, it’s going to feed your bad bacteria and upset your balance of good and bad flora,’ cautions Lee Holmes, nutritionist and whole food chef, who runs a four week Heal Your Gut program on her website, Supercharged Food.

“Adds Angel [Dr Nicola Angel, sequencing facility manager and microbiome expert at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics], ‘A lot of autoimmune diseases weren’t prevalent until our diet became highly processed. If you look at the microbiome of ancient people, as well as hunter gatherers who still exist today, they’re markedly different and you don’t have the correlation of diseases we have.'” –  Zoe Muenier, Eat your way to good gut health, Good Food; Twitter: @goodfoodAU

"High amounts of carbohydrates and soda drinks are associated with reduced microbiota diversity, whereas diets high in fruits, vegetables and yogurts are linked with increased diversity." - Alexandra Zhernakova

15. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and  yogurt promotes bacteria diversity in the gut. “Naturally, diet is important. ‘High amounts of carbohydrates and soda drinks are associated with reduced microbiota diversity, whereas diets high in fruits, vegetables and yogurts are linked with increased diversity,’ says Alexandra Zhernakova, a researcher at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands whose work focuses on the composition of the gut microbiome. Because antibiotics are still used on Canadian farms to fatten livestock (a practice banned in Europe), look for meat and eggs that are antibiotic-free. Emma Allen-Vercoe, an associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Guelph, also recommends avoiding processed foods with artificial additives. ‘Most of these additives have never been assessed for their effects on gut microbes and those that have show detrimental effects,’ she says. Instead, feed kids high-fibre, unprocessed foods.” – Sydney Loney, 3 ways to improve your kid’s gut health after antibiotics, Today’s Parent; Twitter: @Todaysparent

16. Bone broth can promote gut healing. “Your grandmother or great-grandmother may have offered real chicken soup (not the stuff you buy in cans) to anyone who was sick with the flu or a cold.

“This was not just a gesture to offer comfort to someone who is ill, but real chicken soup contained bone broth which introduced lots of minerals and beneficial amino acids, including glutamine, into the body.

Studies have shown that there is a significant link between glutamine and the repair of the epithelial lining of the gut.

“If you can’t make bone broth at home, you may want to consider buying bone broth from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals online.” – Kristen Michaelis, How to Recover Gut Health After Antibiotics, Food Renegade; Twitter: @FoodRenegade

"I view each unwashed carrot my girls eat as the ultimate vitamin: a fiber-filled supplement that nourishes the gut microbiome. And though I don’t have any lab results to prove that my kids’ guts are benefiting, they rarely get sick, and when they do, their illnesses never last long." - Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.D.

17. Play in the garden or snuggle with your pets. “Both activities are easy ways for your child to encounter good bacteria while avoiding the ones that can make him sick. Our dog actually serves as an ideal conduit between the bacteria-laden dirt in our yard and our children. Instead of cringing when I see him nuzzling my daughters and licking their faces, I think about the benefits that the bacteria he’s carrying can bestow on them. For example, a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggested that babies who grow up exposed to dogs are less likely to develop asthma before they reach age 6. As for gardening, it exposes children to bacteria from soil and animals. My kids routinely dig carrots out of our garden with their bare hands and quickly brush the dirt off before snacking on them. In fact, I view each unwashed carrot my girls eat as the ultimate vitamin: a fiber-filled supplement that nourishes the gut microbiome. And though I don’t have any lab results to prove that my kids’ guts are benefiting, they rarely get sick, and when they do, their illnesses never last long.” – Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.D., 5 Ways to Boost Your Kid’s Gut Health, Parents Magazine; Twitter: @parentsmagazine

18. Eat foods containing polyphenols. “You’ve probably heard that free-radical-fighting antioxidants known as polyphenols are essential in reducing inflammatory, disease-causing oxidative stress, but a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemical Nutrition found an additional benefit might be due to their contribution to gut health. In rats fed a high-fat diet, only rats who also consumed an anthocyanin polyphenol extract (similar to what you’d find in blueberries) were able to decrease the damaging effect on the rats’ gut microbiota. Looking at the results together, the researchers speculated polyphenols may play a significant role in the prevention of degenerative diseases (as well as aiding in weight loss) because they improve your microbiome environment. What are you waiting for, grab these polyphenols, stat!” – Olivia Tarantino, How Good Gut Health Can Change Your Life, Eat This, Not That!; Twitter: @EatThisNotThat

"A hormone imbalance can point a finger at potential gut dysfunction." - Andy Scott, DHEd

19. Check your hormones. “A hormone imbalance can point a finger at potential gut dysfunction. Poor thyroid function can be due to an unhealthy gut as some of the less active thyroid hormone,T4, is converted to the more active thyroid hormone, T3, in the GI tract along with a required enzyme for the conversion called intestinal sulfate. The stress hormone, cortisol, increases as more and more pathogens penetrate the gut lining. This increased stress directly impacts important hormones such as pregnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA which leads to a decreased production of estradiol and testosterone. Lastly, melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the gut. If an individual has an unhealthy, more than likely, their melatonin levels will be decreased.” – Andy Scott, DHEd, MS, FDN-P, Pn1, NASM-CPT, CCWS, How You Can Improve Your Gut (and Overall) Health, Lifetime Training; Twitter: @Core3Training

20. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. “With a few changes, your good health bacteria can thrive and a happy gut is happy body. There are the obvious things you will need to reduce in your diet: sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed food. Then there is also the focus on good quality sleep and making sure you are not exposed to long periods of stress (Pilates is a good way to de-stress! See how Pilates has helped me in my life.).” – Sarah Vrancken, Follow Your Gut – Tips on How to Improve Your Gut Health, Kalm Pilates; Twitter: @KalmPilates

For many people, limiting gluten will also have positive effect on their gut microbiome." - Dr. Josh Axe

21. Find out what effect gluten has on your body (and mind). “For many people, limiting gluten will also have positive effect on their gut microbiome. The traditional methods of soaking, sprouting and souring grains in order to make them digestible and nutritious has been abandoned for a fast and convenient method of mass producing food.” – Dr. Josh Axe, The Gut-Brain Connection: What Remedies Can Both Heal & Improve It?, Dr. Axe; Twitter: @drjoshaxe

22. Cut back on added sugars. “At this point you might be saying to yourself, ‘The link between gut issues and health is understandable, but what if I think I already have leaky gut? What can I do now?’ The good news is that there are many effective strategies to heal the lining of the intestines and in turn also heal digestive issues and other chronic diseases related to leaky gut. A good place to start is to begin to cut back on or completely eliminate sources of added sugars. Some other helpful steps to take include:

  • switch to an all-organic diet if possible
  • determine and remove foods you are intolerant to (can be identified through testing or an elimination diet)
  • eliminate other inflammatory foods (ie. cooking oils made with vegetable oils, highly processed foods, alcohol, etc.)
  • consider drinking homemade bone broth several times per week (contains powerful nutrients for healing the gut lining)
  • supplement with probiotics (may need to start slowly)
  • reduce stress (ie. meditation, biofeedback, yoga, etc.)
  • keep use of antibiotics and NSAID drugs to a minimum, as they can contribute to leaky gut” – Improve Gut Health: Avoid the Sweets!, Holtorf Medical Group; Twitter: @HoltorfMed

"Research has shown Kombucha can prevent and heal leaky gut (where bacteria, food particles and/or viruses 'leak' through your digestive lining and into your bloodstream) and stomach ulcers." - Brad Hoppmann

23. Kombucha has a healing effect on leaky gut. “Kombucha is an ancient Chinese drink. It’s been around for more than 2,000 years.

Known in the East as the ‘immortal health elixir,’ Kombucha is a type of fermented tea that’s loaded with gut-benefiting bacteria.

“Research has shown Kombucha can prevent and heal leaky gut (where bacteria, food particles and/or viruses ‘leak’ through your digestive lining and into your bloodstream) and stomach ulcers.

“Kombucha can also help keep candida yeast from overpopulating within the gut. In other words, it helps restore balance to your digestive system.

“Kombucha is full of powerful antioxidants, including a very unique one known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL).

“DSL, and the accompanying vitamin C present in Kombucha, provide you with protection against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, tumors and overall depression of the immune system.

“You can find Kombucha at most grocery stores now, but be wary of brands that use a lot of sugar.” – Brad Hoppmann, 3 Delicious Ways to Improve Your Gut Health, Uncommon Wisdom; Twitter: @uncommon_wisdom

24. Add yellow and green vegetables to your diet. “Your gut health diet should also contain foods with a rich fibre content, as these foods assist with digestion and allow the waste to pass through easily from the colon. Fibre rich foods include, apples, beans, broccoli, wheat bran, pears and figs. Start with just a few of these foods and gradually add more fibre to your gut health diet. A sudden influx of fibre in your body can cramping, bloating and gas. Make sure you drink about 6 to 8 glasses of water each day to keep yourself hydrated.

“In addition to these foods, include green and yellow vegetables in your gut health diet. These vegetables are a rich source of carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. They also contain folate which can help safeguard against stomach cancer.

“A moderate amount of eggs, fish and meat will give your body sufficient protein to keep it healthy.” – How To Improve Gut Health Naturally, Love Thyself; Twitter: @lovethyselfaus

"The 80/20 rule means covering 80% of our plates with greens and vegetables and 20% with proteins and good fats. It’s a great way to start eating for a healthy gut." - Dr. Alejandro Junger, MD

25. Eat clean and practice the 80/20 rule. “A poor diet can result in what’s commonly called ‘leaky gut syndrome.’ While it’s not totally understood, its symptoms include all manner of gut health issues like gas, cramps, sensitivities to certain foods and stomach pain.

“By implementing rules for eating a healthy gut diet, we can potentially overcome virtually all the problems associated with leaky gut syndrome and increase our stomach health and total health. What we eat is up to us. It’s all about choice.

“By implementing the 80/20 rule in our diet, we can begin eating for a healthy gut. The 80/20 rule means covering 80% of our plates with greens and vegetables and 20% with proteins and good fats. It’s a great way to start eating for a healthy gut.

“Living with stomach problems and a low quality of life can be prevented by learning about what foods your hut needs to get healthy and stay healthy.” – Dr. Alejandro Junger MD, Improve Your Gut Health With Clean Eating, Health Talks Online; Twitter: @HealthSummits

How to Improve Your Digestive Health: 25 Tips on Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Digestive System

Most people have experienced gastrointestinal upset at some point throughout their lives and are acutely aware of just how miserable digestive troubles — from bloating and gas to indigestion and more — can be. But gastrointestinal upset isn’t the only challenge associated with poor digestive system health; your digestive system plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being.

Digestive system health is impacted by the foods and beverages you consume, but also by the balance of bacteria in your gut, emotions, and more. And your digestive system is linked to your whole-body health. For instance, allergies or sensitivities to certain foods lead to not only digestive upset but also to other inflammatory conditions such as hives, swelling, and, in severe cases, even anaphylaxis.

Clearly, there are many compelling reasons to focus on maintaining a healthy digestive system, and we’ve put together a list of 25 informative tips to help you achieve this goal. Check out our top 25 tips for improving digestive system health below (click on a link for more detail):

  1. Move daily.
  2. Consume ample fiber.
  3. Cut back on processed foods, choosing those with the fewest ingredients.
  4. Limit processed meats, as well as beef, pork, and lamb.
  5. Pay attention to your energy level after eating.
  6. Avoid eating when stressed.
  7. Keep your gut bacteria in balance.
  8. Drink plenty of water — even when you’re not thirsty.
  9. Choose ancient (over refined) whole grains.
  10. Opt for soothing foods.
  11. Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
  12. Start each morning with a glass of lukewarm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
  13. Eat slowly and until you’re satisfied, but not full.
  14. Avoid excessive sugar, even non-refined sugar.
  15. Get enough calcium and Vitamin D.
  16. Practice yoga.
  17. Take high-quality probiotics supplements.
  18. Avoid eating a lot of raw plant foods, particularly during digestive flare-ups.
  19. Know the common culprits that tend to upset the digestive system.
  20. Eat on a regular schedule.
  21. Maintain consistency, but plan meals according to your daily schedule.
  22. Drink a glass of warm water about 20 minutes before eating.
  23. While it’s good to drink a glass of water about 15-30 minutes before eating, you should avoid drinking beverages during meals.
  24. Use food combining and food sequencing techniques for digestive health.
  25. Keep it simple and keep your portions manageable.

Let’s take a look at each of these 25 helpful tips in more detail so you can start implementing them today to improve your digestive system health.

"A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that a short 15-minute walk after each meal helped to control sugar spikes after eating. These short post-meal walks were more effective than taking a longer, 45-minute walk once daily." - Sheila Patel, M.D.

1. Move daily. “A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that a short 15-minute walk after each meal helped to control sugar spikes after eating. These short post-meal walks were more effective than taking a longer, 45-minute walk once daily.” – Sheila Patel, M.D., 6 Ayurvedic Practices to Improve Your Digestion, The Chopra Center; Twitter: @chopracenter

2. Consume ample fiber. “Fiber can help your GI tract stay ‘regular,’ improve cardiovascular health and regulate blood sugar levels. Fiber also reduces cholesterol levels in the blood, enhances proper bowel function, prevents constipation and diverticulosis, and provides a feeling of fullness without adding calories. It is found in plant sources, so be sure to eat a diet containing a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

“Health and nutrition experts recommend eating 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. Fiber is found only in plant food, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It’s the part of the plant that is not digested in the human body. It’s important to eat foods containing both soluble fiber, such as oat bran and beans, and insoluble fiber, such as whole-wheat products. Both forms are necessary for a healthful diet.

  • Soluble fiber mixes with water to create a gel-like consistency; this slows digestion to help the body absorb more nutrients and remove substances like cholesterol. Soluble fiber may play a protective role in heart disease and diabetes. Research has shown that eating foods with soluble fiber can help control the blood levels of both cholesterol and glucose. Oats and oat bran, nuts, legumes, peas, and some fruits and vegetables such as dried plums, apples and carrots all provide soluble fiber.
  • Insoluble fiber does not mix with water but adds bulk to stool and helps move food through the digestive system. Insoluable fiber helps prevent conditions of the gastrointestinal tract such as constipation, diverticulosis (a condition effecting 10% of people over the age of 40 where sections of the colon protrude through weak spots forming what look like pouches) and hemorrhoids. Insoluble fiber may also play a role in preventing some types of cancer. Whole grains (especially wheat bran), skins of fruits, dried plums and many vegetables (cauliflower and potatoes) provide insoluble fiber.” – 10 Steps to Build and Maintain Digestive Health, California Dried Plums; Twitter: @CaDriedPlums

Choose foods that have the fewest ingredients listed on their labels, and chow down on those that contain probiotics (including milk, sauerkraut, and yogurt) and prebiotics." - Dana White


3. Cut back on processed foods, choosing those with the fewest ingredients. “Consume more fiber from fruit and veggies and cut back on processed foods, animal protein, and simple sugars, all of which feed harmful bacteria and contribute to obesity and disease, says Carolyn Snyder, RD, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. Choose foods that have the fewest ingredients listed on their labels, and chow down on those that contain probiotics (including milk, sauerkraut, and yogurt) and prebiotics, which are certain nondigestible ingredients (found in high-fiber fruit like bananas; whole grains, such as barley and rye; and vegetables like onions and tomatoes) that act as fertilizer for the probiotics in our guts.” – Dana White, What Your Gut Says About Your Health, Fitness Magazine; Twitter: @FitnessMagazine

4. Limit processed meats, as well as beef, pork, and lamb. “Choose poultry or fish more frequently than red meat, and limit processed meats. Smaller portions of meat, consumed less often (a 12-ounce porterhouse is really three servings, not one), are also beneficial. Most people do not need to consume more than six to eight ounces of meat every day. Try replacing meat with dried beans for more fiber. One half cup of beans provides the same amount of protein as in 1 ounce of meat.” – Keeping Your Digestive Tract Healthy, Cleveland Clinic; Twitter: @ClevelandClinic

"When your system is under strain your body needs to direct its energy to digesting and assimilating the food, leaving you feeling tired." - Jayne Leonard

5. Pay attention to your energy level after eating. “If you need a post-dinner nap then you may be suffering from a sluggish digestive system. When your system is under strain your body needs to direct its energy to digesting and assimilating the food, leaving you feeling tired.

“If you are overeating your body will also struggle to fuel both you and your digestive system and you’ll feel sleepy. Try smaller meals with healthy snacks in between to give your system a break.

“Taking a short walk after your meal has been shown to improve digestion – plus the fresh air should help give you a burst of energy. You could also try taking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before each meal, which is beneficial for some in helping digestive issues.” – Jayne Leonard, 10 Warning Signs Of Poor Digestion That You Are Probably Ignoring, Natural Living Ideas; Twitter: @NatLivingIdeas

6. Avoid eating when stressed. “Eating when stressed is a common cause of bloating, which many of our clients think is normal because it happens day in, day out. But it’s not, and you can reduce it if you calm your system before eating. Taking a few deep breaths replaces the arousal-based nervous system associated with stress with the calming parasympathetic nervous system. When this is activated, digestion can work properly again.” – Helen Foster, How to take care of your digestive system: an expert guide, Telegraph.co.uk; Twitter: @Telegraph

"Factors such as stress, lack of sleep, antibiotics, illness, aging and poor diet choices can often lead to an imbalance of your digestive tract bacteria." - Keri Glassman

7. Keep your gut bacteria in balance. “Factors such as stress, lack of sleep, antibiotics, illness, aging and poor diet choices can often lead to an imbalance of your digestive tract bacteria. Certain probiotics, mostly found in dairy products and some fortified cereals, can help to maintain the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive tract. Try a daily helping of yogurt with probiotics, such as Activia.” – Keri Glassman, Digestive health: 10 Tips for getting your digestive system back on track, SheKnows; Twitter: @SheKnows

8. Drink plenty of water — even when you’re not thirsty. “Dehydration is known to wreak havoc on our digestive system. We need to drink at least 3 litres of water a day to keep our system well hydrated. Our intestines use water to push the digested waste through the system and convert it into a form that can be easily eliminated. Continuous low water intake leads to constipation and the build-up of toxins in the body, and this in turn increases your risk of developing more complicated digestive issues. So make sure you consciously take the time to drink the amount of water you need every day, at regular intervals. Don’t wait to be thirsty.” – Dr.Mandar Doiphode, 5 Powerful Tips to Improve Your Digestion, Smart Cooky; Twitter: @SmartCooky

"Even if you’re not sensitive or allergic to gluten, opting for gluten-free, ancient whole grains in place of refined grains that contain gluten." - Heather McClees

9. Choose ancient (over refined) whole grains. “Even if you’re not sensitive or allergic to gluten, opting for gluten-free, ancient whole grains in place of refined grains that contain gluten. Since highly processed sources of gluten can be a potential problem for digestion, go for gluten-free, ancient whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet, and teff instead. These are some of the healthiest grains you can eat and contain no potential allergens like glutinous grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye do.” – Heather McClees, Improve Your Digestive Health in Just One Week With These Eating Tips!, One Green Planet; Twitter: @OneGreenPlanet

10. Opt for soothing foods. “‘Try foods called ‘carminatives’ that prevent or relieve gas, and are used to help the digestive process,’ says Jennifer Salib Huber, a registered dietitian and naturopathic doctor in Dartmouth, N.S. ‘Cumin, for example, helps with the digestion of black beans, which is why they’re often found in recipes together. Other carminatives include caraway, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.’

“Ginger is a traditional nausea remedy, and new studies are backing up the claims. Research shows that it can help quell nausea due to pregnancy, chemotherapy and operations. A 2008 study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found that when healthy volunteers took ginger capsules along with a bowl of soup, their stomachs emptied more quickly. This may be useful for treating gastro-paresis, or delayed stomach emptying, a side effect of diabetes.” – The Foods to Eat for a Healthy Gut, Best Health Magazine; Twitter: @besthealthmag

"Smoking seems to be bad for every part of the body, and our digestive system is no different." - Organic Facts

11. Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit. “Smoking seems to be bad for every part of the body, and our digestive system is no different. Smoking has an astringent effect on the body, narrowing blood vessels and increasing the likelihood of inflammation; in the gut, this sort of effect can be very harmful, leading to heartburn, ulcers, and other intestinal complications.” – 20 Tips To Improve Digestive Health, Organic Facts

12. Start each morning with a glass of lukewarm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. “This gives your digestive system a gentle jump start and prepares it for the food that you will start your day off with. Starting your morning with smoother digestion goes a long way towards a better functioning system overall.” – Stephanie Langford, Simple Ways to Improve your Digestion and Gut Health, Keeper of the Home; Twitter: @KeeperHome

"Eating slowly allows enough time for the digestive system to communicate satiety to the brain. Overeating slows digestion and encourages bad habits." - Lisa Tsakos

13. Eat slowly and until you’re satisfied, but not full. “Eating slowly allows enough time for the digestive system to communicate satiety to the brain. Overeating slows digestion and encourages bad habits.” – Lisa Tsakos, 8 Steps to Improving Digestion, Naturally Savvy; Twitter: @naturallysavvy

14. Avoid excessive sugar, even non-refined sugar. “Even in healthy diets, there can be a considerable amount of sugar. While it may not be refined, if you are particularly health conscious, eating excess fruit, fruit juices, honey and any other natural sweetener (with the exception of stevia or xylitol, which don’t actually contain any sugar), can actually create digestive problems by weakening your pancreas.

“When you eat sweet foods, the sugar contained therein finds its way into your bloodstream (and quite quickly at that). Your body maintains a very delicate balance of sugar levels in the blood; and a sudden influx from eating highly sweetened foods—especially if the sugar therein is refined—causes your blood sugar levels to spike. In order to get things back under control, your pancreas begins to secrete insulin, which then safely transports the excess sugar out of your bloodstream. This is a normal, healthy process; but like anything in excess, it leads to digestive problems.” – Justin Faerman, How to Heal Your Digestive Problems Naturally, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine; Twitter: @ConsciousLMag

"You can prevent digestive problems by making sure you consume an adequate amount of calcium-rich foods and beverages, such as milk, tofu, and yogurt." - Erica Cirino

15. Get enough calcium and Vitamin D. “Get enough calcium and vitamin D. You can prevent digestive problems by making sure you consume an adequate amount of calcium-rich foods and beverages, such as milk, tofu, and yogurt. Taking vitamin D supplements and safely increasing your exposure to sunlight can also help prevent digestive issues.” – Erica Cirino, Medically Reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD, What Do You Want to Know About Digestive Health?, Healthline; Twitter: @Healthline

16. Practice yoga. “Remember how you feel after a good body massage? Well, your digestive system feels much the same after a sequence of yoga postures. Your mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine make up your digestive system, with your teeth, tongue, salivary glands, liver, gall bladder and pancreas acting as accessory organs. Throughout the day your digestive system is ingesting food, secreting fluids, breaking down and digesting fiber, absorbing nutrients and defecating waste. This is when it is all working correctly.

“Sometimes you might experience indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation or diarrhea. A regular practice of Hatha yoga can help prevent these kind of  problems or aid in healing many types of chronic digestive complaints. There are certain simple, basic postures that you can easily incorporate into a regular practice. Putting them together in short sequences can be very effective and work within your time constraints.” – Delia Quigley, 10 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Digestion, Care2; Twitter: @Care2

"Research is showing that the healthier our digestive tract microflora, the healthier we are." - Dr. Melina Roberts

17. Take high-quality probiotics supplements. “Probiotics are the good healthy bacteria which will help to build a foundation of healthy microflora in the digestive tract. Research is showing that the healthier our digestive tract microflora, the healthier we are.” – Dr. Melina Roberts, 6 Ways To Improve Your Digestive Health, Food Matters; Twitter: @FoodMattersFilm

18. Avoid eating a lot of raw plant foods, particularly during digestive flare-ups. “In the midst of a flare-up, it is best to eat mainly soft, cooked plant foods, the best ones being steamed zucchini, porridge made with white rice, and potato-based soups.

“What about those folks who point to white rice being a highly refined food and therefore not a healthy food choice? In theory, white rice is inferior to fresh vegetables and whole grains that are minimally processed. But sometimes, one has to recognize that theory doesn’t apply to every circumstance, and because I have experienced good results firsthand in feeding well cooked white rice to folks who were having dozens of bouts of bloody diarrhea a day while eating nothing but fresh vegetables, I stand behind this recommendation with confidence.

“For some people, even small amounts of raw plant foods (including raw vegetable juices and green food powders) can increase the intensity and frequency of their symptoms.

“Raw plant foods and their juices can be added back into the diet on a gradual basis once a flare-up has subsided.” – Dr. Ben Kim, How to Improve Digestive Tract Health, DrBenKim.com; Twitter: @Ben_Kim

"Try cutting out one at a time to determine what is affecting your health." - Steven Macari

19. Know the common culprits that tend to upset the digestive system. “Gluten, dairy, corn, soy, nuts, eggs, chocolate, citrus fruits. These are the common culprits, you may or may not be able to tolerate these foods. Thinking about how you feel after you eat these foods can be particularly helpful. If you experience any bloating, brain fog, skin problems, etc. you should consider avoiding. Try cutting out one at a time to determine what is affecting your health.” – Steven Macari, 13 Ways to Improve Digestion Naturally, Harper’s Bazaar; Twitter: @harpersbazaarus

20. Eat on a regular schedule. “Try to establish a meal schedule that you can stick to. Pick times in the day that work with your daily routine. Remember to take into account work, social, and active parts of your day. I recommend not eating for 2 hours before engaging in any exercise, check out our Top 4 Tips for Exercising with IBS article for more tips. Of course there are days when our schedules will change and we have to remember this. I am not always successful at this as life as an entrepreneur is always changing and to be honest, my days are never the same. However, I always try to get my breakfast, lunch and dinner in at the same time… at the very least! This pattern helps your body get into a routine of when it expects to eat.

“Example:

  • Breakfast       @        8 am
  • Lunch             @        12 pm
  • Snack             @        3 pm
  • Dinner            @        7 pm” – Stephanie Clairmont and Team, Top 3 Strategies for Healthy Digestion, StephanieClairmont.com; Twitter: @BeyondFODMAPs

"If you sleep at night and rise in the morning, eating at night exposes you to weight gain, indigestion and other uncomfortable consequences." - Rob Callahan


21. Maintain consistency, but plan meals according to your daily schedule. “Some people keep unusual hours. If you work a night shift, the time you spend sleeping during the day is the time at which your metabolism enters a resting state. You might have the equivalent of breakfast late in the evening, and take your lunch and dinner while other people are asleep. Under these conditions, maintain regular late-night meals to foster a healthy digestive system. However, if you sleep at night and rise in the morning, eating at night exposes you to weight gain, indigestion and other uncomfortable consequences.” – Rob Callahan, Late Night Eating and Healthy Digestion, Livestrong; Twitter: @livestrong

22. Drink a glass of warm water about 20 minutes before eating. “A simple glass of warm water twenty minutes before a meal can improve digestive function by as much as 24%.” – John Immel, 10 Healthy Eating Habits to Improve Your Digestion from Ayurveda, Joyful Belly; Twitter: @joyfulbelly

"Liquids are best consumed about 15-30 minutes before meal or about and 1-2 hours after a meal to help avoid diluting enzymes needed to breakdown foods." - The Chalkboard

23. While it’s good to drink a glass of water about 15-30 minutes before eating, you should avoid drinking beverages during meals. “Avoid drinking with meals. Liquids are best consumed about 15-30 minutes before meal or about and 1-2 hours after a meal to help avoid diluting enzymes needed to breakdown foods. If you do reach for a drink with your meal (like most of us do), reach for an herbal tea or kombucha that that will enhance the digestive process.” Food Combining: What to Eat to Flatten Your Tummy and Optimize Digestion, The Chalkboard; Twitter: @chalkboardmag

24. Use food combining and food sequencing techniques for digestive health. “Some people – especially when coming from a standard American diet – will see a lot of benefits from getting very strict about food combining. It can do wonders for healing your digestive tract, and balancing your system.

“My brother was having some real problems when he moved to New York from Shanghai. The totally different food was giving him a ton of gas. He felt awful, and heard about food combining so decided to try it.

“By eating very simple combinations for his meals, and being really strict about his food combinations for a few months, he got rid of his gas. Once he got his digestion working properly, he had to take in all of his pants because his belly wasn’t bloated anymore.

“If your stomach is bloated with gas, if you find yourself tired after meals, if you feel full for hours after eating, or if you notice your food isn’t getting broken down fully you should try following the food combining rules for a while to see if it helps.” – Heather Nicholds, Food Combining Guidelines To Relieve Your Bloated Belly, HeatherNicholds.com; Twitter: @HeatherNicholds

"One of the ways to make sure that you get a positive net gain of energy from food is to eat nutrient-dense foods. Another way is to make sure that those nutrients can be easily absorbed into your body by keeping food combinations simple." - Nadya Andreeva

25. Keep it simple and keep your portions manageable. “One of the ways to make sure that you get a positive net gain of energy from food is to eat nutrient-dense foods. Another way is to make sure that those nutrients can be easily absorbed into your body by keeping food combinations simple.

“Food combination theories can be quite complicated to understand, and almost impossible to remember right away. However, there is one key rule that will save you a lot of memorizing: SIMPLICITY. The fewer ingredients the less different enzymes you need to digest food and the less likely the food will get stuck in our body fermenting. Simple meals are easier because they require less resources to break down and turn them into nutrients.

“Another rule is to keep portions manageable. If you know that you will be eating a complicated meal consisting of hard-to-digest products, keep the amount small (Yes, I am talking about Thanksgiving). It is easier to deal with a small problem rather than a large one.” – Nadya Andreeva, 10 Interesting Facts About Food Combining, Spinach and Yoga Blog; Twitter: @realyoganyc

 

 

 

What Is Gut Flora (and How Do You Restore It)?

Definition of Gut Flora

Gut flora is defined as the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract of almost all living things. There are more than 400 different types of bacteria that can live in the gut, which is why ensuring that your gut flora levels are balanced is crucial for ensuring overall health and well-being. Too much of one and/or not enough of another can result in problems such as difficulty with nutrient absorption, excessive gas and bloating, or even diarrhea or constipation.

How Gut Flora Works what is gut flora

Because there are so many different types of bacteria living in the gut, it’s not entirely known exactly how they all work together in the human body. However, there have been several studies into gut flora that demonstrate the impact of gut flora on the overall state of the body as well as disease states and acute illnesses. “There’s a good chance your microbiome is associated with every disease you can think of — diabetes, cancer, autism,” Michael Snyder, PhD, and director of Stanford University’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine tells WebMD. “And the area where bacteria have a huge impact is your gut.”

Gut bacteria have been linked to illnesses such as diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, and obesity. Scientists have also recognized the connection between the health of the gut and brain health for many years. This is known as the gut-brain connection. The bacteria in your gut can actually communicate messages to the brain via the nervous system, hormones, and the immune system. Researchers have found connections between intestinal bacteria and mental health conditions including autism, ADD, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others.

Examples of Gut Flora

There are several types of gut flora, with some research finding up to 400 different types of flora in the feces of a single person. Some gut flora strains found in the human body include:

  • Giardia
  • Helicobacter
  • Campylobacter
  • Shigella
  • Entamoeba
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium
  • Lactobacillus

Most of the microbes in the gut are anaerobic — which means they do not require oxygen in order to survive — making the body an ideal living environment. There are few gut flora in the stomach and upper intestinal system, with the majority of a person’s gut bacteria taking up residence in the lower bowel. There are some located in the mouth, throat, and esophageal area, but these are usually involved in digestion and don’t always make it to the lower bowel.

Benefits of Gut Flora

The importance of well-balanced gut flora cannot be stressed enough. A healthy level of gut flora is essential for ensuring good digestion, especially when it comes to fiber and lactose in the diet. These bacteria are necessary for breaking down food and keeping things moving through the digestive tract.

When out of balance, gut flora can also cause issues with the absorption of nutrients, resulting in deficiencies and even illnesses. They also send signals to your immune system, which can trigger immune responses like hives or increased mucous production. This can also lead to painful autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation in the body has also been linked to diseases affecting the skin, lungs, heart, and other body systems.

Healthy gut flora is also a key contributing factor in maintaining ideal levels of blood clotting agents. For instance, research shows that those with low levels of vitamin K who have recently taken antibiotics have lower clotting factors.

How to Restore Your Gut Flora

You can boost your own beneficial gut flora primarily through nutrition measures. Avoid eating a diet high in processed foods, which has been shown to contribute to a less diverse community of gut flora. Experiments on mice showed that when fed a standard American diet, the mice would become obese, as it was difficult for the good bacteria to set up shop in the digestive tract. The more you’re able to vary your diet, the more diverse and healthy your gut flora will be.

Avoid overusing antibiotics. Each time you take an antibiotic, you are wiping out critical gut flora essential for health. While this is sometimes necessary in order to get rid of an infection in the body, you’ll want to ensure you replenish these good bacteria either by consuming a probiotic supplement or probiotic-rich foods.

restoring gut flora with probiotic rich foods

Increasing your intake of probiotic-rich foods is probably one of the best ways to restore your levels, and the variety, of healthy gut flora. Probiotic-rich foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha
  • Sour pickles
  • Dark chocolate
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Sourdough bread

Expectant mothers may also consider breastfeeding. Research shows that formula-fed infants have gut microbes not seen in breastfed babies until solid foods are introduced. It’s thought this early introduction of certain microbes may be linked to asthma, eczema, and allergies.

By avoiding antibiotics, reducing stress levels, eating a diverse diet, and increasing your intake of probiotic-rich foods or probiotic supplements, you can help to balance and maintain a healthy gut flora.

Images via Pixabay by OpenClipart-Vectors and Pexels

What Foods Have Probiotics?

Gut health is essential to overall well being and a major contributing factor to this is probiotics. You can take probiotics in a supplement form, but eating foods that are rich in these natural immune-boosting microbes is a more delicious way to get these healthy bacteria into your gut. This can be easy to do since there is no shortage of probiotic-rich foods, including:

  1. Yogurt
  2. Sauerkraut
  3. Kimchi
  4. Dark Chocolate
  5. Kombucha
  6. Miso
  7. Kefir
  8. Tempeh
  9. Pickles
  10. Sourdough Bread

Let’s take a closer look at these ten probiotic-rich foods and how consuming these (and other foods rich in probiotics) can help you improve gut health and overall well-being.

1. Yogurt – Probably the most widely-known and frequently consumed probiotic food is yogurt. It is easily found in any grocery store and can safely be eaten by people of all ages on a daily basis to help add beneficial bacteria back into the gut. A study published in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, found probiotics in yogurt can even help reduce uptake of mercury and arsenic levels — especially in pregnant women.

2. Sauerkraut – Another food rich in probiotics that is ready available in stores is sauerkraut. Made simply from cabbage and salt, it’s also incredibly easy to make yourself. It contains more beneficial lactobacillus bacteria than yogurt and even has anti-cancer properties. Yogurt and other probiotic-rich foods

3. Kimchi – Filled with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, this traditional food is eaten with gusto by Asian cultures and has been gaining popularity in North America. The Journal of Medicinal Food notes that kimchi provides a number of health benefits including: “anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-constipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.”

4. Dark Chocolate – Because chocolate is a fermented food, it contains beneficial probiotics. There are also several compounds in cocoa that research has shown to help with everything from boosting skin health and blood flow, to reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. Kombucha – Long thought of as a beverage choice of hippies, kombucha has become a mainstream drink choice thanks to its high level of probiotics. Several flavors can be found in most major retailers, but it’s another food that’s easy to make yourself. Those who are immunocompromised should steer clear though due to a slight alcohol content and potential for food safety issues.

6. Miso – This staple of Asian cultures is rich in flavor and probiotics, due to being made from fermented soybeans. It also contains a number of trace vitamins and minerals including vitamins E, K, and B, as well as copper and zinc. Research has also found that including moderate amounts of soy foods in one’s diet to be beneficial.

7. Kefir – Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy food that has a consistency perfect for drinking. It packs a powerful probiotic punch and has a slightly effervescent mouthfeel, thanks to the 10-20 different bacteria strains that are typically used in its production.

8. Tempeh – Another soy-based food, tempeh is a popular protein choice for vegetarians and has been a traditional food of Asian cultures for generations. It’s also an excellent non-dairy source of iron and calcium, and a 2015 study found that it can even provide anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects when eaten sparingly.

9. Pickles – You probably eat them all the time without realizing that pickles are a food source of probiotics. Thanks to the vinegar used in the pickling process, both the pickles and their juice can help increase levels of healthy bacteria in your gut. They’re even reported to be curative for hangovers, heartburn, and PMS!

10. Sourdough bread – Not only does sourdough contain beneficial probiotic bacteria, but the unique fermentation process that occurs in its production allows it to be more easily digested by those with gluten sensitivities.

How Probiotics Help to Bolster Immune Health: What the Research Shows:

While there are an infinite number of probiotics and research is still somewhat new, many studies have found that eating foods rich in probiotics can help replenish the healthy bacteria in your gut after taking antibiotics, as well as relieving unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

The American Gastroenterological Association also shares how probiotics are beneficial to people of all ages, and how maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora can boost overall health.

Foods With Probiotics to Help Prevent Cancer:

Research out of UCLA has found that healthy gut bacteria can help to prevent cancers, and eating probiotic-rich foods is one way to help bolster these beneficial microbes.

“If the good bugs in the gut outnumber the bad bugs, you’re less likely to develop some of the conditions that we know are highly associated with obesity and certain cancers and a whole host of things,” Cleveland Clinic dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick told WebMD.

Certain probiotics in foods or consumed via probiotic supplements can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn directly contributes to lowering the risk of developing many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis and more.

As you can see, it’s easy to add foods with probiotics into your daily diet in order to reap the many health benefits of these immune-boosting bacteria.

Image via Pixabay by ponce_photography

How to Improve Colon Health: 25 Ways from Diet, to Cleansing and Lifestyle Tips that Help Prevent Disease and Promote Colon Health

The colon, or the large intestine, is an integral part of the digestive system. A variety of conditions can have a negative impact on colon function, causing digestive upset and other symptoms, ranging from functional disorders (in which the colon looks normal but doesn’t function properly) like irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, to conditions like Chron’s disease, colitis, diverticulitis, cancer, and more.

Colorectal cancer, the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, is one of the most serious conditions that affect the colon. There are a number of risk factors that make people more likely to develop colorectal cancer, including:

  • Older age
  • Personal history of colon polyps or cancer
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions (like irritable bowel syndrome and Chron’s disease)
  • Family history
  • A low-fiber, high-fat diet
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption

Like most diseases, risk factors for developing colorectal cancer and other colon-related health conditions include both modifiable and non-modifiable factors. You can’t do anything about your family health history, for instance, but you can certainly make lifestyle changes that eliminate other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, and more. And while colorectal cancer is certainly one of the most serious health conditions, many other colon-related conditions can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life. That’s why it’s crucial to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other conditions that affect the colon.

To help you start making positive lifestyle changes, we’ve rounded up 25 of the best ways to improve colon health and reduce your risk of developing colon-related health conditions today.

Check out our top 25 tips for improving colon health (click on a link for more detail):

  1. Limit your consumption of red meats and processed meats.
  2. Choose healthy fats.
  3. Increase your fiber intake.
  4. Get more exercise.
  5. Pay attention to your stool.
  6. Drink plenty of water.
  7. Focus on consuming fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting processed foods across all food groups.
  8. Aim for a primarily plant-based diet.
  9. Get screened for colon cancer.
  10. Maintain a healthy weight.
  11. Get enough calcium.
  12. Talk to your doctor if you experience frequent constipation.
  13. Identify underlying contributors to digestive issues.
  14. Take an occasional aspirin.
  15. Prepare your foods in a safe manner.
  16. Consume fermented foods and probiotics.
  17. Avoid caffeine.
  18. Get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
  19. Try a safe, natural colon cleanse.
  20. Drink an apple cider vinegar cleanse to promote probiotic growth.
  21. If you have an inflammatory bowel disease, consult a nutritionist for targeted dietary guidance.
  22. Find a good source of soluble fiber.
  23. Create meal plans to avoid eating processed foods, particularly during busy times.
  24. Reduce your alcohol consumption.
  25. Fit more physical activity into your daily routine.

"It is best to limit processed meats to a special treat now and then because they have other components, such as preservatives, that may cause cancer.'" - Heather Rasmussen, PhD


1. Limit your consumption of red meats and processed meats. “According to the ACS, the risk of colon cancer increases by 15 to 20 percent if you consume 100 grams of red meat (the equivalent of a small hamburger) or 50 grams (equivalent of one hot dog) of processed meats, like sausage, bacon or hotdogs, per day.

“‘You can still have a little bit of red meat — about two four-ounce servings of red meat per week,’ says Rasmussen. ‘However, it is best to limit processed meats to a special treat now and then because they have other components, such as preservatives, that may cause cancer.'” – Heather Rasmussen, PhD, a registered dietitian at Rush, Eating for a Healthy Colon, Rush University Medical Center; Twitter: @RushMedical

2. Choose healthy fats. “Not all fat is off-limits — just choose unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats as part of your colon cancer diet. The American Heart Association states that polyunsaturated fats can help lower blood cholesterol levels and improve cell health. Include good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon, milled flaxseed, walnuts, and plant-based oils, such as olive and canola, in your daily diet. Research published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology noted that while unhealthy saturated fats, typically found in animal foods like red meat and butter, have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, eating omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish can decrease colon cancer risk by 12 percent.” – Diana Rodriguez, Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD, 8 Diet Tips to Help Prevent Colon Cancer, Everyday Health; Twitter: @EverydayHealth

"We need both soluble and insoluble fibre for colon cleansing every day. " - Ken Babal, CN

3. Increase your fiber intake.Plant-based diets containing generous amounts of vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains are high in fibre, which is the essential, non-digestible component of food. A high-fibre diet supports a healthy digestive tract by sweeping debris from the colon, much like a broom. Fibre exercises the intestinal tract by stimulating peristalsis, the wave-like muscular contractions of the bowel that decrease bowel transit time. Fibre also holds moisture in the colon, softening the stool.

“We need both soluble and insoluble fibre for colon cleansing every day. Soluble fibre dissolves in water whereas insoluble does not. Insoluble fibre is especially good for improving elimination and preventing constipation. Soluble fibre increases beneficial bacteria, which produce natural antibiotics that eliminate potentially harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. Researchers believe adequate and consistent levels of healthy intestinal flora can also help prevent colon cancer. Soluble fibre is also important for binding cholesterol and aiding its passage through the body.” – Ken Babal, CN, The Best Colon-Cleansing Diet, Alive; Twitter: @aliveHealth

4. Get more exercise. “When you’re trying to keep your colon healthy, exercise is a huge part of the equation. By increasing blood flow and circulation through exercise, your colon (and entire gastrointestinal system) gets more oxygen. This may help ward off colon cancer and other diseases. Your fitness routine doesn’t need to be extreme. Stretching, doing yoga or walking for 10-15 minutes a day is sufficient to help keep your colon healthy.” – Aislinn Vaughan & Philip Knox, 7 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Colon, Gaiam; Twitter: @Gaiam

"If you are not eliminating frequently enough, toxins will be accumulating in your colon and also throughout your entire body...right down to each individual cell." - Nancy Sphar and Donna Gates

5. Pay attention to your stool. “Bowel movements should occur at least once per day and ideally after each complete meal. If you are not eliminating frequently enough, toxins will be accumulating in your colon and also throughout your entire body…right down to each individual cell. Your entire body will look and feel toxic!” – Nancy Sphar, as quoted by Donna Gates, Powerful Tips to Improve Your Digestive System’s Health: From a Conversation with Nancy Spahr, CBE & Colon Therapist, Body Ecology; Twitter: @DonnamGates

6. Drink plenty of water. “Fill up your glass water bottle and get sipping! Frequently, increasing eliminations can happen simply by drinking more water throughout the day. 8-10 glasses of distilled or filtered water can aid in wonderful hydration, better brain function and immediate bowel improvement.” – Eileen Fedyna, Everybody Poops! 7 Ways To Have Great Bowel Movements, Mind Body Green; Twitter: @MindBodyGreen

"One of the best things a person can do to improve colon health is eat well. " - Casey Beeghly

7. Focus on consuming fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting processed foods across all food groups. “One of the best things a person can do to improve colon health is eat well. Eating healthy means having a balanced diet. One way to do this to focus on lots of fruits and veggies, freshly prepared meals and limiting processed foods.” – Casey Beeghly, Clinical Dietitian, Sentara Leigh Hospital, Top eating tips for optimal colon health, Sentara; Twitter: @SentaraHealth

8. Aim for a primarily plant-based diet. “Beyond just fruits and veggies, a plant-based diet, which includes whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, may offer additional protection.  A new study, shows that vegetarians had about 22% less risk of developing colorectal cancer, while plant-based eaters who included fish & seafood once a month and had the biggest risk reduction at 43%.  These Pesco-vegetarians also limited meat consumption to once per month, another important colorectal cancer preventive strategy.  Red meat intake has long been associated with increased risk for developing this type of cancer.Whether it’s the fiber, folate or phytonutrients in plants that help to lower colorectal cancer risk, the take home message is that delicious, meatless meals may help.” – Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist, 6 Eating & Juicing Tips For A Healthy Colon, Reboot with Joe; Twitter: @RebootWithJoe

"Colon screenings can often find growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer." - Stacy Simon

9. Get screened for colon cancer. “Screenings are tests that look for cancer before signs and symptoms develop. Colon screenings can often find growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. These tests also can find colon cancer earlier, when treatments are more likely to be successful. The American Cancer Society recommends testing starting at age 50 for most people; talk to your doctor about when you should start and which tests might be right for you.” – Stacy Simon, Six Ways to Lower Your Risk for Colon Cancer, American Cancer Society; Twitter: @AmericanCancer

10. Maintain a healthy weight. “Except for smoking, nothing else raises the overall risk of cancer more than being overweight. At least 11 different cancers have been linked to weight gain and obesity, including colon cancer. An ideal goal is to weigh around what you did when you were 18 years old. Realistically, if you’ve put on weight, the first goal is to stop gaining weight, which has health benefits by itself. Then, for a bigger health boost, slowly work to lose some pounds.” – 8 Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer, Siteman Cancer Center; Twitter: @SitemanCenter

"Calcium is proven to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer." - Colon-Cleanse-Information.com

11. Get enough calcium. “Calcium is proven to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Calcium can be found in a wide variety of foods including dark green vegetables, low-fat dairy products, canned salmon and sardines, soy and tofu products, and fortified products such as orange juice. Almonds, cottage cheese, and yogurt make healthy high calcium snacks. Calcium supplements may also be needed to reach your daily intake level.” – Healthy Colon Diet: Foods That Keep Your Colon Clean, Colon-Cleanse-Information.com

12. Talk to your doctor if you experience frequent constipation. “Unfortunately too common of a problem among the population today is constipation. People are consuming less nutritious foods, are over stimulated and stressed, are not maintaining healthy exercise habits and are damaging their entire bodies with highly processed, chemical ridden food from man rather than nature.

“Understanding if you have chronic constipation and addressing the concern with your doctor can save you from suffering from a condition or allowing a disease to progress. Individuals over 50 years of age are at increased risk of Crohn’s disease, bowel polyps and ulcerative colitis and are recommended for medical screening.” – Dr. David Jockers, 16 Ways to Achieve Healthy Poop!, DrJockers.com; Twitter: @drjockers5

"Too many carbohydrates may make you constipated." - Dr. Jacqueline Wolf

13. Identify underlying contributors to digestive issues. “Dr. Wolf recommends taking an in-depth look at what you’re eating to see if you’re consuming potential offenders. ‘Too many carbohydrates may make you constipated. Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol are big offenders for diarrhea and bloating,’ she explains. Dietary supplements such as calcium and iron can also make you constipated.

“Sometimes the culprit may be a physical intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant don’t have the enzyme to break down milk sugar (lactose). Some people are unable to digest casein, a protein in milk. People with celiac disease (a toxic body response to the protein gluten, found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye) or a gluten sensitivity often struggle with bloating and diarrhea.

“Medications may also cause digestion problems. They may be common over-the-counter medicines, such as the pain reliever ibuprofen (Advil) or the heartburn reliever omeprazole (Prilosec), or they may be prescription medicines such as antibiotics or even chemotherapy drugs.” – Editors at Harvard Health Letter, quoting Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Rethinking fiber and hydration can lead to better colon health, Harvard Health Publications; Twitter: @HarvardHealth

14. Take an occasional aspirin. “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, are thought to cut colorectal cancer risk. But routine use can cause serious problems, such as gastrointestinal bleeding.

“People with high heart-attack risk can take a baby aspirin every day, but at the higher doses of aspirin that could help prevent colorectal cancer, the risks appear to outweigh the benefits.

“Still, Dr. Neugut says, if you’re taking aspirin to prevent coronary artery disease, you could get a bonus in colon-cancer prevention. Only a very high colon-cancer risk might warrant NSAIDs for cancer prevention, he says.” – Anne Harding (sharing insights from Alfred Neugut, MD, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City), The 12 Best Ways to Prevent Colorectal Cancer, Health.com; Twitter: @goodhealth

"Burning or overly charring your meats while barbecuing creates carcinogens which are harmful to your colon health." - Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California

15. Prepare your foods in a safe manner. “Eating healthy isn’t enough, it is important that you prepare all of your food in a safe way. Burning or overly charring your meats while barbecuing creates carcinogens which are harmful to your colon health.” – 6 Essential Dietary Tips for a Healthy Colon, Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California; Twitter: @Gi_Doctor

16. Consume fermented foods and probiotics. “The human digestive system is composed of a vast network of beneficial bacteria that are responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients, battling harmful bacteria, and eliminating toxins. When these bacteria get thrown out of balance, digestive health can suffer and the longer this bacterial balance is out of whack, the more severe the damage that can be.

“To help offset the damage to your gut flora caused by environmental and food chemicals, antibiotic drugs, processed foods, and other factors, it is important to supplement with probiotic bacteria and eat plenty of fermented, probiotic-rich foods. These include cultured vegetables like kimchi, tempeh, Greek yogurt, sauerkraut and fermented beverages like kombucha tea and kefir.” Detox the Body and Cleanse the Colon with These 13 Foods, The Science of Eating; Twitter: @Xceller8ed

"Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces in pure water each day. " - Ginny Rawls

17. Avoid caffeine. “Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces in pure water each day. If urine is still dark in color increase this amount further. Caffeine & other substances found in soft drinks, tea, & coffee are dehydrating so these should be avoided. If you choose to drink these add an additional equal amount of pure water for what is consumed.” – Ginny Rawls, Lifestyle Tips to Aid Colon Health, Abundant Living Lifestyle Center: @rawchefrawls

18. Get your daily dose of Vitamin D. “According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D can help maintain a healthy colon and even lower your risk of colon cancer. You can get a sufficient dose of daily vitamin D by spending 15-20 minutes in the sun. If that isn’t a viable option, you can also get vitamin D from:

  • Fatty fish
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Milk
  • Vitamin D supplements

“This type of vitamin can also help prevent osteoporosis by keeping the bones healthier.” – 8 Steps to a Healthier Colon – Detox Your Colon, Accord Clinical Research

"If you are looking for colon cleansing, then it is important for you to stay away from processed foods and cooked foods for two days. " - MyHealthTips.in

19. Try a safe, natural colon cleanse. “If you are looking for colon cleansing, then it is important for you to stay away from processed foods and cooked foods for two days. It is ideal for you to only depend on fresh vegetable juice for a day or two to improve bowel movement and also to cleanse the colon.

  • Switch over to a fresh vegetable juice diet for a couple of days if you are looking to cleanse your colon.
  • Drink fresh vegetable juice several times a day as it contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and sugar that will help in improving bowel movement and to keep your body healthy.
  • Make sure that you only consume freshly prepared vegetable juices.” – sharib, Top 10 Home Remedies For Colon Cleansing, MyHealthTips.in; Twitter: @MyHealthTips_in


20. Drink an apple cider vinegar cleanse to promote probiotic growth. “Apple cider vinegar is full of enzymes that promote probiotic growth. A study from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany published in a 2008 article in Nutrition concluded that apple pectin and other apple extracts can stimulate the formation of butyrate, which is a nutrient linked to colon health. And Dr. Frank Lipman touted apple cider vinegar as having an impressive ability to improve digestion and ease gastrointestinal issues. Try mixing eight  ounces of warm water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of organic honey. After shaking and stirring, drink the concoction every morning until you notice regular bowel movements.” – Alexa Erickson, 8 Ways to Naturally Give Yourself a Colon Cleanse, Collective Evolution; Twitter: @CollectiveEvol

"Nutritional needs are specific to the individual and differ with disease state, body size and age." - USF Medical Center

21. If you have an inflammatory bowel disease, consult a nutritionist for targeted dietary guidance. “Nutritional needs are specific to the individual and differ with disease state, body size and age. A nutritionist can help you estimate your individual needs. Calorie and protein needs are similar for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In both diseases, needs increase during inflammation and immediately after to restore losses.” – Nutrition Tips for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, USF Medical Center; Twitter: @UCSFHospitals

22. Find a good source of soluble fiber. “A good source of soluble fiber to compensate for all of the fibreless processed foods, meat, and dairy that we eat is recommended. The three best sources of fiber are psyllium seed husks, freshly ground organic flaxseed meal (It should be freshly ground, or at the very least stabilized, so that it does not go rancid), and white chia seeds. One tablespoon of psyllium each day or 1.5 tablespoons of ground flax in the morning and evening with juice or 1-2 tablespoons of white chia seeds sprinkled on your food will keep you regular. Flax and chia also provide you with healthy omega-3 essential oils. And with flax, the sulfur-rich proteins and lignans present in the seeds work hand in hand with the omega-3 oils to reverse mutated cells and cancer in the body. But again, psyllium has the advantage of not fermenting in the colon.” – Jon Barron, Colon Cleanse: Death Begins In The Colon, Baseline of Health Foundation; Twitter: @BaselineHealth

"Create a meal plan that helps you avoid grabbing a burger on the run or ordering a pizza." - Virtual Imaging, Inc.

23. Create meal plans to avoid eating processed foods, particularly during busy times. “Create a meal plan that helps you avoid grabbing a burger on the run or ordering a pizza. Decide what you will eat each day of the week then purchase the ingredients you will need to prepare fresh and nutritious meals.” – How to Keep Up With Colon Health During the Holidays, Virtual Imaging, Inc.; Twitter: @VImagingAtlanta

24. Reduce your alcohol consumption. “When it comes to cancer prevention, less (alcohol) is more. Alcohol use is a known risk factor for colorectal cancer – among other cancers – with risk increasing as alcohol intake increases. If you choose to drink, try limiting your intake to no more than one drink daily.” – Tamara Duker Freuman, 10 Ways to Help Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer, U.S. News Health; Twitter: @tamaraduker

"From housecleaning to running, the latest report finds that moderate physical activity – of all types – reduces the risk of colon cancer." - American Institute for Cancer Research

25. Fit more physical activity into your daily routine. “From housecleaning to running, the latest report finds that moderate physical activity – of all types – reduces the risk of colon cancer. (There was insufficient evidence to make a similar conclusion regarding rectal cancer.)

“Starting Step: Find 10 minutes today to move. Whether taking a break at work or while watching TV, you can jog in place, walk the stairs, do push-ups or chair exercises. Build on that over time by taking more activity breaks or extending the 10 minutes to 30 minutes.” – Preventing Colon Cancer: Six Steps to Reduce Your Risk, American Institute for Cancer Research; Twitter: @aicrtweets

 

What is Colon Health?

A Definition of Colon Health

A part of the large intestine, and sometimes referred to as the large intestine, the colon is the final area of the digestive system. The colon contains four parts:

  • the descending colon
  • the ascending colon
  • the transverse colon
  • the sigmoid colon

The descending colon travels down the left abdomen, the what is colon health?ascending colon travels up the right side of the abdomen, the transverse colon runs across the abdomen, and the sigmoid colon is the short curve of the colon that sits just above the rectum.

The colon’s purpose is to prepare for eliminating waste from the body while reabsorbing fluids. Specifically, the colon removes water and salt and some nutrients that eventually form stool. The muscles lining the colon squeeze its contents through, and the colon’s coating of billions of bacteria help keep the body healthy.

Colon health is adversely affected by age, family history, unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and obesity. There are several conditions that cause the colon to work improperly including inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and colorectal cancer. Treatment for many colon-related conditions include medication, surgery, and diet and lifestyle changes.

The Connection Between Diet and Colon Health

There is a strong connection between diet and colon health. Dr. Joshua Melson, a gastroenterologist who specializes in colorectal cancer at Rush University Medical Center, explains there also is a strong correlation between obesity and an increased risk of developing colon cancer. Similarly, the National Cancer Institute highlights the connection between obesity and increased colon cancer risk and points to factors such as increased levels of insulin in the blood and insulin resistance as the reasons for the increased risk in obese people.

Additionally, the American Cancer Society claims the links between diet, exercise, and weight and colorectal cancer are among the strongest for any type of cancer, and the Colon Cancer Foundation estimates that 50%-75% of colorectal cancer can be prevented with lifestyle changes and healthy eating. In short, nutrition plays a powerful role in colon health.

Foods that Promote a Healthy Colon

Your diet plays a key role in your colon health and can reduce your risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders like constipation, diverticulosis, and colon cancer. There are a few diet dos to improve colon health:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables contain fiber that helps the colon’s contents diet and colon healthmove through. The fiber in fruits and vegetables also helps people have regular bowel movements and avoid constipation. Nutrients found in fruits and vegetables reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants that remove harmful substances from the colon and the body as a whole. One study found that fruits and vegetables also contain folate, a B-complex vitamin that may lower colon cancer risk
  • Whole grains – Whole grains also contain dietary fiber that reduce constipation
  • Fish – Studies are finding that consuming fish reduces the risk of colon cancer, especially when you substitute fish for red meats
  • Dairy products – Dairy products may reduce the risk of colon cancer and gastrointestinal problems; active bacteria in yogurt aid in maintaining colon and gastrointestinal health by balancing good bacteria that help digest food with bad bacteria that are toxic. Specifically, the lactobacteria and acidophilus found in yogurt combat colon cancer, and calcium in milk also may reduce colon cancer risk
  • Water – Drinking plenty of water improves colon health by making the colon work to absorb it into the system. Water also aids the colon by hydrating it and cleansing the entire body

The Benefits of Probiotics for Colon Health

Probiotics and other vitamin supplements promote colon health by delivering beneficial bacteria and nutrients to the gut that provide key support for overall digestive health. The bacteria help the body produce vitamin B12. Yogurt, soy beverages, and fermented foods like miso and kimchi also contain probiotics.

If you supplement your diet with probiotics, you should strive to take those containing 10 billion live bacteria per dose. It’s especially important to take probiotics when you are taking antibiotics because antibiotics kill not just the bad bacteria that cause illnesses but also the beneficial bacteria in your gut that improve immune function and digestive and colon health.

Images via Pixabay by Elionas2 and dbreen

Does Cold Weather Weaken Your Immune System?

Your mother may have told you that you’ll catch your death of cold, but it was only recently that scientists were able to prove that cold weather does indeed make people sick. Yale University scientists found that lower temperatures weaken the nose’s first line of immune defenses.

The researchers discovered that cooler temperatures result in a “sluggish immune response” and leave people more susceptible to infection. The immune cells’ response was weaker under cold conditions, which enabled the rhinovirus to invade and multiply.

Later research by the Yale team found that in colder temperatures, immune cells were less likely to commit intentional suicide, or apoptosis, to prevent the spread of the virus to other cells. Under warmer conditions, cells sacrifice themselves via apoptosis to protect the body; however, colder temperatures slow down the infected cell’s ability to commit suicide. As we breathe in cold air, the temperature inside our nose drops and leaves immune cells at a disadvantage in protecting us from invading viruses and other pathogens.

Cold Weather and Immune Health: Getting to the Bottom of an Old Wives’ Tale

The idea that cold weather can make you sick (or weaken your immune system) has long been considered an Old Wives’ Tale, yet for centuries it’s been obvious that there’s an increase in colds, viruses, and other illnesses during the winter months. In fact, “flu season” in the United States begins as early as October and can end as late as May, a time frame in perfect sync with cooler temperatures throughout most of the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu season is the period when flu viruses circulate at higher levels (get expert flu prevention tips).

While it would be easy to link cold weather with illness and place blame squarely on winter for a nasty bout of the flu, it’s not actually cold air that makes you sick. Germs are what make you sick; it just so happens that “cold air may contribute to conditions that lead to illness,” Healthline explains. There are a few things going on behind the scenes that contribute to this phenomenon.

Lack of Vitamin D Suppresses the Immune System During Cold Weather

does cold lower your immune health?

During cold weather, people tend to stay inside more often. This means that people are not being exposed to as much sunlight, and a lack of vitamin D leads to a weakened immune system. Scientists know that vitamin D is critical to immune defense activation. When we get sufficient levels of vitamin D, our immune system’s killer cells, or T-cells, can react to invaders and protect us from serious infections.

In fact, T-cells first seek out vitamin D in order to activate; when a T-cell activates, it becomes a ruthless immune cell that seeks out and destroys every trace of a foreign pathogen. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen discovered that if T-cells cannot find enough vitamin D, they fail to activate and leave us vulnerable to infections and diseases.

Facts about the Nose and the Immune System

The effects of cold temperatures on your nose also play a role in the increased incidence of colds and illnesses during the winter months. You may not have considered your nose as part of your immune system, but it plays a very important role in protecting you from illness. Your nose is one of the first lines of defense against sickness because it is lined with ciliar, or tiny hairs. The mucus (snot) inside the nose keeps it from drying out, but it also works with cilia to collect dust, bacteria, and other potential invaders.

Nasal mucus is made of water, proteins, antibodies, and salt and becomes yellow or green when the body fights an infection. Our noses run when the body produces more mucus to flush invaders out; the immune system turns your nose to a faucet in order to keep you healthy. But, the immune response of your nose is suppressed by cold weather.

How to Boost the Immune System During Cold Weather cold weather and your immune system

One of the best things people can do to keep their immune systems strong in cold weather is to wrap a scarf around their noses and moths. Keeping a higher temperature inside the nose enables the immune cells inside the nose to carry out apoptosis and protect the body from viruses. It’s also a good idea to eat well during the winter and include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet. Make it a point to get fresh produce from the market even when you can’t grow your own garden because of the cold temperatures.

You also can boost your immune system in winter by taking probiotics. The good bacteria found in probiotics strengthens the immune system and helps defend against infection. In fact, a study found that people who took probiotics had approximately 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections. Products containing Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum are most effective at boosting the immune system and protecting against colds and infections.

Images via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures and Ana_J

How to Reduce Inflammation in the Body: 5 Steps to Better Health and Well-Being

Inflammation is linked to a multitude of chronic health conditions like heart disease and COPD, but absence of disease doesn’t mean you’re not suffering from inflammation. In fact, inflammation can trigger a variety of symptoms and conditions such as fatigue, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain, allergies, recurring infections, and more. If you’re experiencing these or other symptoms and suspect chronic inflammation, you don’t have to learn to live with your symptoms.

Here are 5 simple steps to help you reduce inflammation in your body and combat your symptoms:

  1. Identify allergens and sensitivities.
  2. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet.
  3. Focus on gut health.
  4. Get adequate sleep.
  5. Eliminate toxins and chemicals from your home.

If you’re ready to eliminate your unpleasant symptoms by getting at what causes of inflammation in your body and reducing those triggers, here’s how to get started with each step. reducing inflammation in your body starts with identifying allergies

Step 1: Identify Allergies and Sensitivities

Allergies and sensitivities naturally evoke an inflammatory response as the body attempts to remove foreign substances it perceives as a threat, so it makes sense to eliminate allergies and sensitivities to reduce inflammation – but it’s easier said than done. You may not even be aware of the various things you might be sensitive to, especially if they don’t cause a full-blown allergic response. Having an allergy test can help to identify allergies and even some sensitivities, and an elimination diet can also be helpful in pinpointing specific issues.

Step 2: Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

According to Health.com, foods high in sugar (particularly refined sugar) and saturated fat can fuel inflammation in the body. Scott Zashin, MD, a clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, tells Health.com that a diet high in sugar and saturated fat can lead to inflammatory overdrive, ultimately contributing to health issues such as joint pain, blood vessel damage, and fatigue.

It’s not just about eliminating inflammatory-promoting foods from your diet but also adding foods that can help fight inflammation, such as:

  • Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oil supplements if you’re not a fan of seafood
  • Whole grains instead of refined grains – make sure whole grains are the first listed ingredient and that there are no added sugars
  • Dark, leafy greens rich in vitamin E, which can help to protect the body from inflammation-causing cytokines (think spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens)
  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts, packed with inflammation-fighting vitamins, antioxidants, omega-3 fats, and other beneficial nutrients
  • Low-fat dairy for calcium and vitamin D
  • Colorful vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and squash, packed with essential vitamins and nutrients

Anti-inflammatory foods with omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients reduce inflammation in our bodies

While this isn’t a complete list of foods that can help ward off inflammation, it’s a good starting point. Check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s articles on the anti-inflammatory diet and pyramid for more information on adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.

Step 3: Focus on Gut Health

Your GI tract, or your gut, is home to a sizeable portion of your body’s immune system. While researchers at Johns Hopkins and other leading institutions are still trying to determine precisely how the immune system and gut bacteria interact – and how this interaction changes in various disease processes – there’s a clear connection between gut health and immunity.

Because inflammation is an immune response, paying attention to gut health is one of the most effective ways to maintain the ideal balance, fueling your body’s immune system in order to fight disease without creating an over-reaction that leads to inflammation throughout the body. In addition to the other crucial steps for reducing inflammation in the body, taking probiotic supplements is a natural way to support immune health and digestive balance.

Step 4: Get Adequate Sleep

Believe it or not, it’s not always something that you’re exposed to or have ingested that contributes to inflammation in the body. A lack of sleep is one of the biggest contributors to inflammation. Medical Daily reports on a meta-analysis published in Biological Psychiatry which found that a chronic lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of chronic health conditions and even mental health issues ranging from arthritis to periodontis and cancer.

Editor Dr. John Krystal explains that both too much sleep and not enough has been linked to inflammation, which in turn can lead to depression as well as medical problems. “Getting less than, or more than, 7-8 hours of sleep per night has been shown to result in increased levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6),” Medical Daily explains. “These markers have been linked to chronic diseases like heart problems, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, suggesting that poor sleep is a behavioral risk factor for inflammation, in line with high fat diets or sedentary lifestyles.”

The solution? Aim for the sweet spot of 7 to 8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep each night as often as possible. If you’re finding it difficult to get enough sleep, you might consider making some lifestyle changes or modifications to your routine for better health, both today and in the future.

Step 5: Eliminate Toxins and Chemicals from Your Home

Environmental toxins and irritants are seemingly everywhere you turn, and if you’re like most people, your home isn’t exactly a safe haven free of potential pollutants. Reliance on chemicals and commercial cleaning solutions makes us feel like our homes are clean, but use of these products can also introduce irritants into the home environment. Toxins, pollutants and irritants lead to inflammation in our body

While you can’t always avoid exposure to pollutants in your local community or the town in which you work (after all, you have to get to the office somehow), you can take steps to minimize the amount of potential toxins and irritants in the home. Keep dust under control with regular dusting, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to filter allergens and dust mites from the air. Filter your tap water and choose glass bottles and containers over plastic – and when you do need plastic, make sure it’s BPA-free. Choose environmentally-friendly or “green” cleaning products that don’t contain ammonia or chlorine, or better yet, turn to all-natural cleaning solutions.

When in doubt, natural, organic, and eco-friendly options are generally better for your health and don’t contain harmful chemicals or irritants, but not all natural products are created equal. Learn how to read labels to identify the best products for your health.

These steps are crucial for reducing inflammation in the body, but they’re not a once-and-done deal. The key to lifelong health and well-being is to consciously pursue a healthy lifestyle and continuously opt for healthy choices such as anti-inflammatory foods and eliminating refined sugars and saturated fats from your diet, taking steps to promote a healthy home environment free of pollutants and potentially toxic irritants, regularly getting ample, quality sleep, and taking steps to promote a healthy gut for optimal immune functioning.

Images via Pixabay by Mojpecattalin, and geralt

 

Inflammation and the Immune System: 50 Guides, Articles, Videos, and Other Resources on How Inflammation Impacts Immune Health

Inflammation involves white blood cells and their substances protecting the body from infection and against invaders like bacteria and viruses. As such, inflammation is an immune system response that helps defend the body. But, when the immune system prompts inflammation to occur even though invaders are not putting the body at risk, the immune system attacks normal tissues as though they are infected or abnormal, and the person develops an autoimmune disease.

Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gouty arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain are associated with unnecessary inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation commonly include redness, swollen areas that may be warm to the touch, joint pain, joint stiffness, and loss of joint function. Some people treat inflammation with anti-inflammatory drugs, but doctors do not always recommend treating inflammation because it may be a necessary immune response. That’s why it’s a good idea to check with your doctor and educate yourself about inflammation and the immune response before taking any medication.

To help you learn more about inflammation, it’s causes and its how it relates to the immune system, we have rounded up 50 resources from across the internet. Our resources are from trusted sources and leading publications and authorities on health and include tips for naturally reducing inflammation, knowing when inflammation is a concern, and understanding the connection between inflammation and the immune system. While we have listed our top 50 resources on inflammation and the immune system here in no particular order, we have grouped them by type and included a table of contents so you can easily get to the resources that are of most interest to you.

Jump to:

Guides and Tips

1. 10 Best Ways to Blast Inflammation from Your Body
@easyhealthdaily

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Easy Health Options is a leading health advisory service on natural healing therapies and nutrients. In her Easy Health Options guide, writer Margaret Cantwell explores how Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and author, explains the difficulty people have in dealing with autoimmune disease. One of the suggestions is to follow the paleo diet.

Three tips we like from 10 Best Ways to Blast Inflammation from Your Body:

  • Eat whole foods rather than those that are packaged and processed
  • Ensure your digestive tract functions properly to keep your immune system healthy
  • Take supplements such as vitamins C and D, fish oil, and probiotics to fight inflammation

2. 10 Things I Tell Anyone Who Wants to Fight Inflammation
@mindbodygreen

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Mind Body Green is on a mission to revitalize the way people eat, move, and live. As registered dietitian and author Desiree Nielsen points out in her Mind Body Green guide on inflammation and the immune system, inflammation is a common problem for people today because of our unnatural diets. Nielsen also reminds us that inflammation is helpful when we need to heal, but it is harmful when it becomes a chronic condition.

Three tips we like from 10 Things I Tell Anyone Who Wants to Fight Inflammation:

  • Eliminate junk food, condiments, processed foods, and packaged foods that contain ingredients you would not cook with from your diet
  • A healthy gut with a health community of bacteria is key to keeping the immune system functioning properly and controlling inflammation properly
  • Choose whole grains and whole-grain pastas to avoid  grains that contain gluten and can cause inflammation

3. 12 Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Boost Your Immune System
@EcoWatch

12-antioxidantrich-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system

A leading environmental news site, EcoWatch drives fundamental change via online news. In 12 Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Boost Your Immune System, EcoWatch reminds us that inflammation may be controlled by boosting the immune system and eating antioxidants that protect us from free radicals and other hazards to our health.

Three tips we like from 12 Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Boost Your Immune System:

  • Beets and beetroot juice contain powerful antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory
  • Broccoli contains antioxidants because it is a source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, which are anti-inflammatory phytonutrients
  • Garlic is powerful in combatting inflammation; one study found that garlic is 100 times more effective than two antibiotics at fighting bacteria that causes intestinal illnesses

4. 5 Natural Ways to Reduce Chronic Inflammation
@Kris_Carr

5-natural-ways-to-reduce-chronic-inflammation

New York Times best-selling author and wellness activist Kris Carr explains the role of diet in chronic inflammation and offers five tips for reducing it in this guide. Understanding that diet is key to improving immune responses is the first step toward reducing chronic inflammation and healing the body.

Three tips we like from 5 Natural Ways to Reduce Chronic Inflammation:

  • Strive to achieve a balanced life with plant-based food and less stress and fast food
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle to improve immunity and reduce inflammation
  • Focus on gut health and start by taking a daily probiotic

5. Boost Immunity & Reduce Inflammation with Mushrooms
@Care2Healthy

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Care2 shares thousands of ways for readers to enhance their life, from food and recipes, to health and wellness, to pets. In his Care2 guide, Dr. Michael Greger explains why mushrooms should be part of your diet if you want to boost the immune system’s ability to fight infection and reduce chronic inflammation at the same time.

Three tips we like from Boost Immunity & Reduce Inflammation with Mushrooms:

  • Increase the amount of cooked mushrooms you eat to boost the amount of immunoglobulin A your body produces in its first line of defense against toxins, viruses, and bacteria
  • White button mushrooms were included in the study, and eating them once a day increased IgA secretion by 50%
  • It is better to eat cooked mushrooms for anti-inflammatory purposes

6. 9 Power Foods that Boost Immunity
@PreventionMag

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Prevention magazine offers expert tips on weight loss, fitness, health, nutrition, and more. In this guide, they share some of the best foods for boosting immunity naturally and reaping the benefits of their anti-inflammatory power at the same time.

Three tips we like from 9 Power Foods that Boost Immunity:

  • Yogurt containing live and active cultures boosts the immune system and includes probiotics to keep the GI tract healthy
  • Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, which has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties to improve immune response and wound healing
  • Salmon, mackerel, and herring contain omega-3 fats that  reduce inflammation to increase airflow and protect the lungs from colds and respiratory infections

7. 14 Foods that Fight Inflammation
@goodhealth

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Health.com helps readers life their best life by sharing the latest news and tips for fitness, food, beauty, and more. As their guide points out, inflammation is an important part of the immune response that helps us heal, but inflammation damages the body when it occurs unchecked as it does in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Because inflammation partly may be to blame for obesity, heart disease, and cancer, it’s important to know which foods to eat to reduce inflammation.

Three tips we like from 14 Foods that Fight Inflammation:

  • Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation; for people who do not like fish, taking fish-oil supplements is effective
  • Choose whole grains and foods that list whole grain as the first ingredient and do not contain added sugar
  • Spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens contain vitamin E that protects the body from cytokines that cause inflammation; they also contain phytochemical that help the immune system fight disease

8. 21 Foods That Will Reduce Pain, Inflammation and Boost Immunity More Effectively than Medication
@Prevent_Disease

21-foods-that-will-reduce-pain-inflammation-and-boost-immunity-more-effectively-than-medication

PreventDisease.com promotes strategies for preventing disease, advancing health, and improving people’s overall well-being. Mae Chan’s PreventDisease.com guide reminds readers that there are natural ways to combat inflammation and pain. She suggests several foods that pack the diet with nutrients to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Three tips we like from 21 Foods That Will Reduce Pain, Inflammation and Boost Immunity More Effectively than Medication:

  • Acai juice reduce joint pain and improves antioxidant levels to improve health
  • Raw almonds and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that counteract pain and inflammation
  • Celery and celery seeds reduce inflammation because they contain more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds

Slide Decks and Infographics

9. The Crosstalk between Cancer Inflammation and Immunity: Exploring Cancer Immune Responses
@QIAGEN

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A leading provider of molecular sample to insight solutions, Qiagen presents Crosstalk between Cancer Inflammation and Immunity, part of a host defense webinar series. The SlideShare presents information on the mechanisms of anticancer immune responses and the effects of gut microbiota on cancer and drug effects.

Three facts we like from The Crosstalk between Cancer Inflammation and Immunity: Exploring Cancer Immune Responses:

  • Anticancer immune responses include “crosstalk between cancer cells and the cellular mediator of inflammation and immunity”
  • Gut microbiota spur immune responses against cancer
  • Tumors either are not inflamed (immunologically-ignorant tumors) or are T cell inflamed

10. Diseases of Immunity

diseases-of-immunity

From the Fatima College of Medicine Department of Pathology Dr. Roberto D. Padua presents the diseases of immunity in this robust SlideShare. Complete with charts, graphs, and definitions and descriptions, Diseases of Immunity takes an in-depth look at inflammation and the immune system from a medical provider’s standpoint.

Three facts we like from Diseases of Immunity:

  • Macrophages initiate inflammatory responses and have antiviral and anti-tumor characteristics
  • Cytokines activate inflammatory cells
  • Tissue injuries are caused by activation of inflammatory responses to healthy tissue

11. Inflammation Infographic
@ricochetscience

inflammation-infographic

Ricochet Science promotes science for everyone. Their infographic visualizes the ways in which inflammation affects the body and explores solutions for reducing inflammation. As the infographic shows, inflammation is a specific immune response that removes damaged tissue and foreign substances but problems occur when it becomes chronic.

Three facts we like from Inflammation Infographic:

  • Acute inflammation is caused by injuries and infections and lasts minutes to weeks
  • Chronic inflammation is caused by poor diet, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy lifestyle
  • Chronic inflammation is linked to cardiovascular disease, depression, and cancer

12. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
@PiedmontHealth

antiinflammatory-diet

Piedmont Healthcare is a nonprofit system of hospitals and offices in Georgia. Dedicated to patients and care, Piedmont shares information about controlling chronic inflammation in this infographic that highlights foods that help the body combat inflammation.

Three facts we like from Anti-Inflammatory Diet:

  • Tart cherry juice helps the body fight off inflammation
  • Blackberries and blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Good nutrition enhances the immune system and reduces inflammation

13. Inflammation, Pain, and Resolvins
@LucyIkkanda

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Freelance infographic designer Lucy Reading-Ikkanda has an interest in science that shines through her Inflammation, Pain, and Resolving for The Scientist. This infographic describes the basic processes involved in inflammation and its associated pain and explains how the body, medication, and certain foods reduce inflammation and pain.

Three facts we like from Inflammation, Pain, and Resolvins:

  • As a first-line of immune response, neutrophils engulf and kill invading microbes and release inflammatory cytokines to help heal the body
  • Aspirin can speed the process of reducing inflammation by converting omega-3 fatty aides into resolution mediators that block the production of additional inflammation
  • When resolving factors reduce pain signaled by nerve endings, they also reduce the level of cytokines and inflammation

14. Innate Immunity and Inflammation
@MDAndersonNews

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MD Anderson Cancer Center is a leader in cancer care, cancer research, and the fight to end cancer. In this presentation on innate immunity and inflammation, Dr. Willem Overwijk provides a detailed look into the cells and processes involved in protecting the body.

Three key facts we like from Innate Immunity and Inflammation:

  • Because certain cells and molecules drive specific types of inflammation, innate immunity and inflammation are umbrella terms for a variety of responses to threats to the body
  • Inflammation and innate immunity work to provide a rapid response to tissue damage, limit spread of infection, spur adaptive immune response, and drive tissue repair
  • Innate immune molecules act as a complementary system by recognizing pathogens, antibodies, and lectins and causing inflammation

Videos

15. Inflammatory Response
@khanacademy

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Khan Academy shares lectures, course content, and resources to help bring education to anyone, anywhere, anytime. This Khan Academy video gives viewers a first-hand look into the immune system and its inflammatory response and helps us see exactly what happens when we get a cut.

Three facts we like from Inflammatory Response:

  • Symptoms of inflammatory response include redness, swelling, and the area feeling warm to the touch; in some cases, people experience pain
  • Inflammatory response is “the initial field of battle of our immune system”
  • Histamine is a main component of inflammatory response and serves as part of the first line of defense to protect the body from harmful bacteria and pathogens

16. The Inflammatory Response

the-inflammatory-response-video

A highly-detailed video, The Inflammatory Response clearly shows the process the body goes through to response to invading pathogens at an infection site. Though only four minutes in length, the video shares a great deal of information about the immune system protecting the body via inflammation.

Three facts we like from The Inflammatory Response:

  • The inflammatory response is non-specific, in that it attacks all foreign invaders in the body
  • Redness, swelling, and pus are part of the inflammatory response
  • Injured cells release distress signals that result in increased blood flow to the site of infection that help the body heal itself and cause the redness and selling associated with inflammation

17. 11 Ways to Reduce Inflammation, Improve Your Immunity and Cleanse Your Lymphatic System
@FitLifeTV

11-ways-to-reduce-inflammation-improve-your-immunity-and-cleanse-your-lymphatic-system

FitLife.TV offers resources and help for people looking to improve their health and wellness and have fun while doing it. Their video on inflammation, immunity, and the lymphatic system explains that we have toxins in our body that build up when we don’t get enough exercise or cleanse the body to release the toxins, which results in a weak immune system, inflammation, illness, and disease.

Three tips we like from 11 Ways to Reduce Inflammation, Improve Your Immunity and Cleanse Your Lymphatic System:

  • Drink water, apple cider vinegar, and lemon in the morning
  • Avoid sugar, caffeine, refined sugars, and replace them with healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Test for food sensitivities and allergies to recognize how you are impacted by what you eat

18. Inflammation and the 3 Stages of Tissue Healing

inflammation-and-the-3-stages-of-tissue-healing

Regenerative Health Education releases health videos to help viewers understand more about their bodies and how to get healthy. One of their videos, Inflammation and the 3 Stages of Tissue Healing, highlights key information about inflammation in joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and explains that inflammation begins as soon as an injury occurs to protect the body from the most dangerous effects of the injury.

Three facts we like from Inflammation and the 3 Stages of Tissue Healing:

  • All musculoskeletal injuries undergo three stages of healing: inflammation, repair, and remodeling
  • Inflammation results in swelling, redness, and pain for three to five days and causes pain
  • Supplements can aid the body during the repair process by supplying nutrients the body needs to heal and maintain healthy inflammation levels

19. Inflammation and Immunity
@elita_parto

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Elita Partosoedarso, educator and life-long learner, shares her lecture on inflammation and immunity in this YouTube video. Partosoedarso includes topics such as innate immunity, inflammatory response, pro-inflammatory chemicals, principles of wound healing, and chronic inflammatory response.

Three facts we like from Inflammation and Immunity:

  • The function of the immune system is to defend and protect the body, and it includes three lines of defense: the first line of defense with natural and physical barriers and normal gut flora, the second line of defense with inflammation, and the third line of defense with adaptive/acquired immunity
  • The inflammatory response is quick and most often localized with the goals of neutralizing and limiting the cause of tissue injury, to clean up damage caused by injury, and to heal the affected tissue
  • Cells such as lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils are involved in inflammation

20. Acute Inflammation (Innate Response)

acute-inflammation-innate-response

Created by a veterinarian student, Acute Inflammation (Innate Response) features an unconventional introduction yet contains thorough, informative content about the body’s response to injury via inflammation. Over the course of four minutes, the video describes how acute inflammation helps heal the body.

Three facts we like from Acute Inflammation (Innate Response):

  • Acute inflammation occurs before the body’s full-blown immune response in an effort to clear the body of the agent that caused the injury and protect from tissue damage
  • Actue inflammation occurs at the vascular and cellular stages
  • There are five classic signs of inflammation: redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of function

21. Inflammation
@johnbchiro

inflammation

Dr. John Bergman focuses on natural health alternatives and shares information on diabetes, high blood pressure, sciatica, depression, chiropractic techniques, arthritis, and much more. His inflammation video reminds us that while acute inflammation is a critical component of the immune system that protects from life-threatening bacteria and pathogens, chronic inflammation is a cause of disease and death.

Three facts we like from Inflammation:

  • Redness, swelling, and heat are necessary for healing, and people need to allow acute inflammation occur because it is  a sign of the body doing its job
  • People may be misdiagnosed with certain conditions if they have chronic inflammation that presents as other conditions
  • Healthy water, vegetables, and a healthy thyroid help the immune system to function properly and reduce chronic inflammation

22. How Inflammation is Measured | Immune System Hacks
@ThomasDeLauer

how-inflammation-is-measured-immune-system-hacks

Thomas DeLauer is a body and business coach who helps clients optimize their health and life. He shares How Inflammation is Measured, an educational video that helps viewers understand exactly how inflammation affects our bodies and the importance of knowing how much chronic inflammation they have.

Three facts we like from How Inflammation is Measured | Immune System Hacks:

  • Inflammation is much more than swelling and bloating
  • Excess proteins in the blood cause chronic inflammation
  • Ask your doctor for testing to determine inflammatory markers and discuss your level of chronic inflammation to know the dangers posed to your health by it

23. 5 Strategies to Heal Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmunity
@djockers5

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Dr. David Jockers specializes in maximized living via corrective care chiropractic, nutrition, exercise, and strength and conditioning. He shares five keys to healing autoimmunity and chronic inflammation in this ten-minute video, available on YouTube. The video especially is helpful for people dealing with autoimmune disease, allergies, asthma, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and other health concerns that are related to chronic inflammation.

Three facts we like from 5 Strategies to Heal Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmuity:

  • Heal your gut to prevent holes in its protective lining from allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream and throwing the immune system into overdrive and promoting chronic inflammation; try bone broth, probiotics, fermented foods, collagen protein, and good fiber sources to heal the gut
  • Eliminate food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy protein, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, and nuts to reduce inflammation
  • Stabilize your blood sugar to reduce chronic stress and inflammation by eating good fats such as avocados, olive oil, organic chicken, grass-fed beef, and vegetables

24. Autoimmune Diet for Autoimmune Disease, Leaky Gut and Inflammation
@Just_In_Health

autoimmune-diet-for-autoimmune-disease-leaky-gut-and-inflammation

Dr. Justin Marchegiani, a holistic doctor, uses functional medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle to help patients tackle the underlying cause of disease. His inflammation video pinpoints an autoimmune diet as being a solution for people who have chronic inflammation or autoimmune disease.

Three facts we like from Autoimmune Diet for Autoimmune Disease, Leaky Gut and Inflammation:

  • An autoimmune diet is appropriate for people who don’t have autoimmune disease but want to take advantage of its anti-inflammatory properties and reduce the stress on their digestive system to promote healing
  • Most people are sick due to inflammation that is caused by stress, toxins, unstable blood sugar, gut or parasitic infections that create malabsorption, and food allergies
  • Medication that treats symptoms of inflammation is not recommended because people need to change their diet and lifestyle to address the causes of chronic inflammation

25. Stop Attacking Yourself: Autoimmunity and Inflammation
@DarouWellness

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Dr. Hilary Booth, of Darou Wellness integrative health center in Toronto, is a naturopathic doctor who focuses on digestion and autoimmune disease. In Stop Attacking Yourself: Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Dr. Booth shares five steps for reducing inflammation and eliminating symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, cold and flu, and headaches even if you don’t have autoimmune disease.

Three facts we like from Stop Attacking Yourself: Autoimmunity and Inflammation:

  • Chronic inflammation occurs because the immune system has gone into overdrive and produces far too many “immune soldiers”
  • 70% of our immune system starts in the gut, and gut health is key to controlling inflammation
  • Stress, certain medications, and certain food harm the gut lining and cause more inflammation; avoiding inflammatory foods and taking probiotics helps heal the gut

26. 10 Steps to Reverse Autoimmune Disease
@markhymanmd

10-steps-to-reverse-autoimmune-disease

Dr. Mark Hyman is a New York Times bestseller ten times over who is dedicated to transforming healthcare by tackling the causes of chronic illness through functional medicine. In 10 Steps to Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Dr. Hyman looks at the ways people can deal with chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease without taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

Three tips we like from 10 Steps to Reverse Autoimmune Disease:

  • More people have autoimmune disease today than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined
  • The drivers of autoimmune disease are toxins, microbes, allergens, poor diet, and stress
  • Ingredients for health include fresh, whole food, the right nutrients, the correct balance of hormones, movement, sleep, and rest; when people are out of balance, they develop chronic inflammation

Articles and Scholarly Papers

27. Inflammation and the Immune System
@AboutKidsHealth

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AboutKidsHealth is a Canadian resource that provides families with reliable, up-to-date health information created in collaboration with experts from The Hospital for Sick Children. Their Inflammation and the Immune System article provides a thorough introduction to and overview of inflammation as an immune response to injuries and pathogens.

Three facts we like from Inflammation and the Immune System:

  • Inflammation and infection are two different things and should not be used interchangeably: infection is the invasion and multiplication of a pathogen in the body, an inflammation is the body’s response against infection
  • Under normal circumstances, inflammation disappears on its own after the body has been protected and the invader has been removed

28. The Inflammatory Response

the-inflammatory-response

Alan Kennedy researches the association between Mycobacterium avian subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) and Crohn’s Disease and writes about his findings and knowledge at The Crohnie. In this article, Kennedy describes the inflammatory response from beginning to end and explains how the immune system uses it to protect the body.

Three facts we like from The Inflammatory Response:

  • Phagocytes are immune cells that consume and destroy invading bacteria; they migrate to the site of invasion and produce more cytokines that actives even more immune cells
  • The primary effect of inflammation is for blood circulation to increase around an infected area so that blood vessels dilate to allow immune cells to pass to the infected area
  • A large supply of proteins fuel the immune response as well

29. How Does the Immune System Power Inflammation?
@mnt

how-does-the-immune-system-power-inflammation

Medical News Today shares the latest breaking health news along with information on a variety of health issues to help readers stay well. In How Does the Immune System Power Inflammation? MNT writer Grace Rattue reports on a study published in Nature detailing a key step in the immune system’s inflammation response.

Three facts we like from How Does the Immune System Power Inflammation?:

  • Neutrophils are the main cells that protect the body from bacterial infections, but they also have inflammation-producing properties that cause issues in heart disease and several autoimmune diseases
  • We now know that neutrophils attach to the blood vessel wall using membrane tethers much like slings
  • While inflammation is an important part of healing, it is undesired when people have certain diseases; understanding the new discovery about neutrophil adhesion may help researchers and doctors better understand autoimmune disease and chronic inflammation

30. Attack of the Immune System
@MensJournal

attack-of-the-immune-system

Sharing the best in men’s gear, adventure, travel, style, craft beer, and more, Men’s Journal is all about helping men learn how to live a more adventurous life. But, when active and healthy men don’t feel right, inflammation may be to blame, as Ethan Watters’ Men’s Journal article points out.

Three facts we like from Attack of the Immune System:

  • Short-term consequences of chronic inflammation include weight gain, fatigue, aches and pains, indigestion, and low-grade depression
  • Researchers refer to chronic inflammation as the “hidden disease” because there are no obvious symptoms or indicators of the condition
  • The best way to diagnose chronic inflammation is to have a test like an hsCRP test

31. Does Inflammation Cause Depression? Growing Evidence Suggests Immune System May be Behind Condition
@medicaldaily

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Medical Daily focuses on the health questions friends share with one another. Dana Dovey’s Medical Daily article explores the recent theory that the immune system is a cause of depression; specifically, people with high levels of inflammation suffer from an altered mood and that the inflammation causes depression rather than being a side effect of it.

Three facts we like from Does Inflammation Cause Depression? Growing Evidence Suggests Immune System May Be Behind Condition:

  • If inflammation is to blame for depression, it would give doctors new ways to treat patients who do not improve with antidepressants or therapy
  • In 2015, researchers found that people with clinical depression had a 30% increase in brain inflammation, or neuroinflammation
  • People on anti-inflammatory medication have surprisingly better levels of well-being and improved moods

32. The Body on Fire
@TuftsUniversity

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A student-centered research university, Tufts is committed to helping its students and faculty pursue bold ideas to innovate and become active citizens. Two members of the Tufts family who are making strides in understanding chronic inflammation, its effects on the body, and the role nutrition plays in squelching chronic inflammation are professor Joel Mason, director of the Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Laboratory, and professor José Ordovas, directoor of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory.

Three facts we like from The Body on Fire:

  • Inflammation is linked to many illnesses that occur in old age
  • Inflammation may be the link between weight gain and diabetes
  • Inflammation also may be the connection between obesity and cancer

33. Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
@ScienceDaily

inflammation-triggers-unsustainable-immune-response-to-chronic-viral-infection

Science Daily delivers breaking news about the latest science, health, environment, and technology discoveries. One such piece of breaking news involves research that finds a new mechanism that explains the inadequate immune defense against chronic viral infection. The implications of the study relate to vaccines, as the results may present new opportunities for vaccine development.

Three facts we like from Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection:

  • Strong inflammatory reaction upon infection is behind the inadequate antibody response to chronic viral diseases
  • In some cases, B cells react too hastily to chronic infections and enable the virus to thrive rather than eliminating it
  • By helping improve the B cells’ reaction to chronic infections, researchers may unlock new vaccination strategies to combat them

34. Role of the Microbiota in Immunity and Inflammation
@CellCellPress

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Cell is a journal that aims to publish the most exciting and provocative research in biology. Yasmine Belkaid and Timothy Hand’s paper on the role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation examines how the microbiota of people in high-income countries may be the cause of the rise in autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

Three facts we like from Role of the Microbiota in Immunity and Inflammation:

  • Healthy immune system microbiota aids in sparking inflammation and other protective responses to pathogens and invaders
  • Antibiotic overuse, diet changes, and the elimination of nematodes have resulted in individuals having an inadequate microbiota for balanced immune response in high-income countries
  • The immune system relies on a complex microbiota to effectively protect the body from pathogens

35. Adrenal Fatigue and Your Immune System
@fawnehansen

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A holistic wellness expert who specializes in chronic stress and adrenal fatigue treatment, Fawne Hansen explains how maintaining a balanced level of cortisol helps the immune system regulate itself and prevent chronic inflammation, regular infections, and autoimmune diseases or allergies. Adrenal fatigue is to blame for imbalanced cortisol levels.

Three facts we like from Adrenal Fatigue and Your Immune System:

  • The adrenal glands produce hormones, such as cortisol, that play a key role in regulating the immune system
  • One of cortisol’s functions is to reduce inflammation
  • Cortisol levels may be elevated for months or even years because of the nature of today’s modern stress: it does not disappear after a few hours

36. 13 Ways Inflammation Can Affect Your Health
@goodhealth

13-ways-inflammation-can-affect-your-health

Health.com continues to help readers live their best life now by sharing articles that relate to health and well-being. One such article, 13 Ways Inflammation Can Affect Your Health, provides a thorough overview of inflammation and more than a dozen ways that it impacts both short-term and long-term health.

Three facts we like from 13 Ways Inflammation Can Affect Your Health:

  • Temporary inflammation helps the body fight infection and often includes a fever, sort throat with swollen glands, swelling, redness, and warmth because the immune system sends white blood cells and nutrients to the affected areas
  • Inflammation also occurs in response to emotional stress, and people with chronic stress often also have chronic inflammation
  • Inflammation is detrimental to gut health and plays a role in inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

37. Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms & Anti-Inflammatory Diet
@LiveScience

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Live Science shares science news that covers health, the environment, animals, and more. In this article on inflammation, Live Science contributor Jessie Szalay provides a comprehensive look at the condition and the link between the immune system and inflammation.

Three facts we like from Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms & Anti-Inflammatory Diet:

  • Chronic inflammation also may be called persistent, low-grde inflammation and occurs when the body sends inflammatory responses to perceived threats that do not require inflammatory responses
  • Chronic inflammation plays a role in heart disease and often is due to poor diet
  • Chronic inflammation is associate with increased bone loss and lack of bone growth

38. What is the Relationship between the Immune System and Inflammation?
@wiseGEEK

what-is-the-relationship-between-the-immune-system-and-inflammation

wiseGEEK is on a mission to help people learn at least one interesting thing each day. Their article detailing the relationship between the immune system and inflammation includes several interesting facts about how these body processes protect us from harmful invaders. The problem is, when the immune system is unhealthy or inflammation occurs when it shouldn’t, people are at a greater risk of developing health issues.

Three facts we like from What is the Relationship between the Immune System and Inflammation?:

  • The immune system acts as the commander directing cells and fluid to the region of the body that is affected by harmful invaders
  • Temporary inflammation projects against infection and protects the body, but chronic inflammation puts the body at risk of autoimmune disease
  • Inflammation is necessary for protecting the body, but we need to take steps to ward off chronic inflammation because of its effects on the body

39. The Curious Relationship between Diseases and Immune Systems
@ResearchMedia

 

the-curious-relationship-between-diseases-and-immune-systems

With a focus on making research more personal to readers, Research Media and International Innovation present articles such as The Curious Relationship between Diseases and Immune Systems. This article features an interview with Dr. Tom Monie, who conducts research to better understand the immune system and how to control and treat diseases.

Three facts we like from The Curious Relationship between Diseases and Immune Systems:

  • The body uses proteins to defend against infection; if researchers get a better handle on the process, their findings could improve treatment options for inflammatory diseases
  • Researchers are working to identify the interactions that  occur between cascade recruitment domains in the protein structure
  • Researchers also are working to understand how to control signals to reduce inflammation and improve immune response

40. UltraWellness Lesson 2: Inflammation & Immune Balance
@markhymanmd

ultrawellness-lesson-2-inflammation-and-immune-balance

Dr. Mark Hyman strives to transform healthcare by addressing the root cause of chronic illness through functional medicine. His article on inflammation and immune balance explores the ways in which a blood test measuring hidden inflammation in the body can save your life.

Three facts we like from UltraWellness Lesson 2: Inflammation & Immune Balance:

  • A blood test, C-reactive protein, measures inflammation and helps doctors determine whether you are at risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and dementia or arthritis, autoimmune disease, allergies, and digestive disorders
  • Treating the symptoms of inflammation does not help improve health, but addressing causes of inflammation and achieving an anti-inflammatory lifestyle do
  • People can feel healthy but still have chronic inflammation

41. Can You Boost Your Immune System and Lower Inflammation at the Same Time?
@Selfhacked

can-you-boost-your-immune-system-and-lower-inflammation-at-the-same-time

Selfhacked.com shares information about innovative technologies that help people upgrade themselves to be healthier and perform better. Their Can You Boost Your Immune System and Lower Inflammation at the Same Time? is an article that explains how boosting the immune system can lead to increased inflammation but pursuing other kinds of immune boosters will reduce inflammation over time.

Three facts we like from Can You Boost Your Immune System and Lower Inflammation at the Same Time?:

  • Vitamin D boosts immunity and is much less inflammatory than other immune boosters
  • It is more complex to boost the immune system than you may think, but it is possible to boost immune response to infectious agents and lower base levels of cytokines
  • A 1:1 ratio of immune boosting and inflammation reducing does not exist

42. Nutrition, Inflammation, and Disease
@TodaysDietitian

nutrition-inflammation-and-disease

Today’s Dietitian is a premier independent trade publication and continuing education resource for registered dietitians and nutrition professionals. In this article for Today’s Dietitian that doubles as a continuing education course resource, Mary Franz provides a comprehensive overview of inflammation and explains that for thousands of years it has  signaled illness and injury but in more recent years has been identified as a cause of chronic illness.

Three facts we like from Nutrition, Inflammation, and Disease:

  • Dietary factors may contribute to or reduce inflammation
  • Chronic inflammation is a long-term response to exposure to environmental toxins, a microbial or viral infection, poor nutrition, stress, and the aging processes
  • The immune system must maintain balance in order to reduce chronic inflammation

43. The Role of Inflammation in the Healing Process
@KeithWassung

the-role-of-inflammation-in-the-healing-process

Keith Wassung is well-known  as an author and speake in health education and research. He researches, writes, and lectures about the scientific principles of chiropractic in articles such as The Role of Inflammation in the Healing Process. As Wassung points out, inflammation is critical to the human healing process as part of the immune response.

Three facts we like from The Role of Inflammation in the Healing Process:

  • The inflammatory response has three purposes: preceding the spread of damaging agents to nearby tissues, disposing of cell debris and pathogens, and setting the stage for the repair process
  • It may not be best to treat inflammation with steroids because of the side effect they have that alter the immune response
  • Chronic inflammation causes tissue damage and is accompanied by numerous attempts to heal and repair because the immune system is out of balance

44. Exercise and the Inflammation Process
@ideafit

exercise-and-the-inflammation-process

IDEA Health & Fitness Association is the world’s leading organization of fitness and wellness professionals who coach, train, and influence health-minded individuals and inspire fitness. Their article reminds readers that exercise boosts the immune system but also can produce inflammation.

Three facts we like from Exercise and the Inflammation Process:

  • For individuals with chronic inflammation, too much exercise is dangerous and can lead to injuries
  • It is important to modify exercise programs to reduce inflammation as needed
  • When inflammatory stressors become long-term and accumulate, people begin to have trouble because the immune system’s homeostasis is disrupted

45. Nature and Role of Inflammation – Benefits and Drawbacks

nature-and-role-of-inflammation-benefits-and-drawbacks

Established to promote the practice and training of Tibb in South Africa, the Ibn Sina Institute of Tibb presents Nature and Role of Inflammation – Benefits and Drawbacks by Dr. Linda Mayer and professor Rashid Bhikha. This paper details the role of inflammation in healing and the importance of allowing it to occur to help heal the body.

Three facts we like from Nature and Role of Inflammation – Benefits and Drawbacks:

  • Dietary fats and specific nutrient problems can result in chronic inflammation
  • Inflammation is responsible for keeping us alive when we get even a small cut
  • Interfering with acute inflammation negatively impacts the body’s ability to heal itself

46. Innate Immunity and Inflammation in Aging: A Key for Understanding Age-Realeated Diseases
@BioMedCentral

innate-immunity-and-inflammation-in-aging-a-key-for-understanding-agerelated-diseases

An open access publisher of science, medicine, and technology research, BioMed Central shares Innate Immunity and Inflammation in Aging. This paper explains that chronic inflammation damages organs and is linked to aging and age-related chronic diseases.

Three facts we like from Innate Immunity and Inflammation in Aging: A Key for Understanding Age-Related Diseases:

  • Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer are linked to inflammation
  • Controlling inflammation may lead to more successful aging
  • The immune system works from the day we are born until the day we die, and it becomes weaker as we age, which may account for some age-related diseases

47. Cellular Inflammation: The Secret Killer

cellular-inflammation-the-secret-killer

The Inflammation Research Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing support for clinical research projects that utilize innovative nutritional approaches to reducing the inflammation that causes chronic disease conditions. Their article explains that inflammation protects us from bacteria, viruses, and parasites but may also be responsible for a host of health issues.

Three facts we like from Cellular Inflammation: The Secret Killer:

  • Chronic inflammation can be due to a genetic predisposition
  • Researchers are working to determine if reducing chronic inflammation is better than treating each disease separately
  • Inflammation commonly is caused by a western lifestyle that includes a diet high in sugar and saturated fats and a lack of exercise

48. From Inflammation to Sickness and Depression: When the Immune System Subjugates the Brain
@NCBI

from-inflammation-to-sickness-and-depression-when-the-immune-system-subjugates-the-brain

NCBI provides access to biological information and advances science and health by doing so. In From Inflammation to Sickness and Depression: When the Immune System Subjugates the Brain, the authors explain that innate immune cells produce cytokines to trigger inflammation but the brain can get too much signaling if there is a systemic infection, cancer, or autoimmune disease and continue to promote inflammation.

Three facts we like from From Inflammation to Sickness and Depression: When the Immune System Subjugates the Brain:

  • Excessive inflammation worsens sickness and leads to the development of depression in some people
  • Inflammation may increase the risk of major depressive episodes
  • The brain-cytokine system guides physiological and pathological behavior, and people who have chronic inflammation experience depression more often than those who do not because of the imbalance in their immune system

49. Inflammatory and Immune Pathways in the Pathogenesis of Periodontal Disease
@NCBI

inflammatory-and-immune-pathways-in-the-pathogenesis-of-periodontal-disease

Inflammatory and Immune Pathways in the Pathogenesis of Periodontal Disease is a scholarly paper by Ali Cekici, Alpdogan Kantarci, Hatice Hasturk, and Thomas E. Van Dyke. Originally published in Periodontol 2000, this paper explains that innate and acquired immunity must be coordinated in order to return the body to homeostasis.

Three facts we like from Inflammatory and Immune Pathways in the Pathogenesis of Periodontal Disease:

  • When chronic inflammation occurs, the adaptive immune  response is activated with cellular and non-cellular mechanisms of acquired immunity
  • The immune system is responsible for resolving inflammation, healing, repairing, and regenerating lost or damaged tissues
  • Periodontal diseases are mediated by inflammatory response to bacteria

50. Signaling in Innate Immunity and Inflammation
@cshperspectives

signaling-in-innate-immunity-and-inflammation

Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology is a monthly online publication featuring reviews in all aspects of the molecular life sciences. Kim Newton and Vishva M. Dixit’s CSH Perspectives paper on innate immunity and inflammation examines whether chronic inflammation is a risk factor for cancer.

Three facts we like from Signaling in Innate Immunity and Inflammation:

  • Vascular alterations play a key role in the inflammatory response
  • Part of the immune response is signaling recognition of infection and injury to get cells where they are needed to fight invaders
  • It is possible that chronic inflammation promotes tumor development

What Causes Inflammation in the Body?

Inflammation is a crucial component of the body’s immune response, and it’s typically characterized by the swelling and redness, as well as warmth, at the site of a wound or infection. While inflammation resulting from an obvious external wound is easy to identify, inflammation can also occur inside the body – and it’s not as easy to detect. There are many causes of inflammation in the body: what causes Inflammation in your body

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Certain foods and dietary habits
  • Hormonal changes, such as those associated with menopause
  • Allergies or sensitivities to certain foods or environmental factors
  • Environmental toxins, such as pollution and pesticides
  • Increased cortisol production associated with stress
  • Infections in the bloodstream, which may be subtle and otherwise unnoticed
  • Exposure to lead and mercury
  • Lack of sleep

Dietary factors are one of the biggest contributors to inflammation in the body. Specifically, certain dietary habits and some specific ingredients have been linked to inflammation:

  • Polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn oil, peanut oil, soy oil, safflower and sunflower oils, which contain omega-6 fatty acids
  • Gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) and casein (found in whey protein products)
  • High-carbohydrate, low-protein diets
  • Refined sugars and carbohydrates – generally foods with a high glycemic index
  • Aspartame, an artificial sweetener
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats, commonly found in fast food
  • Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), most often found in soy sauce and Asian foods
  • Alcohol

The Link Between Inflammation and Chronic Disease

While inflammation is sometimes painful, it’s not always accompanied by pain. The swelling associated with inflammation is a result of increased blood flow to the area, triggered by your immune system as your body sends white blood cells, nutrients, and hormones essential for healing.

Inflammation can result from a chronic condition, such as arthritis, or as a result of diet and lifestyle habits such as inadequate sleep or excessive alcohol consumption. But because inflammation within the body can be sneaky, manifesting in less-obvious ways, many people who have inflammation experience a variety of symptoms without realizing that they may be caused by a case of chronic inflammation.

It’s even trickier considering that inflammation is a necessary physiological response that helps your body heal and recover from illness or injury, yet excessive inflammation or chronic inflammation are detrimental to your health and well-being. Chronic inflammation is associated with several health conditions impacting various areas of the body:

  • The gut – Typically, the body’s immune cells ignore the healthy bacteria that naturally converge in the gut, but in some cases, immune cells begin reacting to healthy gut bacteria, leading to chronic inflammation. When immune cells begin to attack the digestive tract, it can lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease. Inflammation in the joints - arthritis
  • The joints – Rheumatoid arthitis (RA) is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis, impacting 1.3 million Americans. While there is no definitive cause, RA appears to have genetic components but has also been linked to smoking. In RA, the body’s immune cells attack healthy joint tissue, leading to chronic inflammation.
  • The heart – People with heart disease have a buildup of fatty plague in the arteries, which can trigger an immune response resulting in chronic inflammation. As white blood cells accumulate around plagues in the arteries, blood clots may form, leading to a heart attack.
  • The lungs – Inflammation is often the culprit behind some of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as inflammation in the lungs causes fluid buildup that in turn narrows the airways, making it more difficult to breathe.
  • The gums – Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, although technically it includes any disease that impacts any of the teeth’s supporting tissues, has been associated with heart disease and other chronic diseases, although a causal relationship has not been established. Recent research indicates that the association between oral health and systemic disease is related to inflammation – in the most simplistic terms, that oral inflammation may trigger inflammatory responses in other areas of the body.

Inflammation and Insulin Resistance

Clearly, inflammation plays a role in many chronic health conditions and diseases, serving to help the body fend off invaders and disease but also contributing to a variety of unpleasant effects and long-term health impacts. One of the most concerning associations is the link between obesity and inflammation. In studies of obese mice, scientists noted a high concentration of immune cells in fat tissue. Inflammation linked to insulin resistance/diabetes

“Stranger still, the immune cells aren’t just watching; they’re activated, ready to take on an invader that isn’t there. Just as in humans, the obese mice with chronic inflammation were more likely to become insulin resistant,” explains DiabetesForecast.org. “Insulin resistance is a key component in the development of type 2 diabetes; if the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin by absorbing sugar, or glucose, from the blood, the consequences can be disastrous.” Of course, people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of a variety of other health conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, skin and eye complications, and more.

There’s still much research to be done, as scientists are just beginning to understand the full impacts of inflammation in the body and the intricate ways inflammation is associated with so many bodily systems, health conditions, and chronic disease. It’s clear, though, that chronic inflammation comes with some serious health concerns, and it’s wise to take steps to reduce your risk of developing chronic inflammation in the body. From taking a natural probiotic supplement to balance the healthy bacteria in your gut (where most of the body’s immune cells are found) to eating a healthy diet, minimizing alcohol consumption, and avoiding environmental toxins and pollutants, there are many lifestyle changes that can reduce inflammation.