Category: Gut Health

What Are Postbiotics and What Do They Have to Do With Gut Health?

Gut health is an enormous topic that just got even bigger.

You know about probiotics: bacteria that provide benefits to our gut, metabolic, and/or overall health when eaten. Some probiotic bacteria colonize our guts—they take up residence in our digestive tract and provide lasting effects. Some probiotic bacteria are transients—they visit and impart benefits and interact with our guts and its inhabitants, but do not stay.

You also know about prebiotics: non-digestible food components that nourish and provide food for the bacteria living in our guts. Prebiotics include fermentable plant fibers, resistant starch, “animal fiber,” and certain polyphenols.

This is standard stuff. Entire store shelves are devoted to fermented dairy, pickles, sauerkraut, supplements, kombucha, and other sources of probiotics. You’ve probably got all sorts of strange gums and fibers and powders that serve as prebiotic substrate for gut bugs. Gut health is mainstream.

But you probably don’t know about postbiotics.

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The Definitive Guide to FODMAPs

You could be having a fairly routine conversation about health and nutrition where everything discussed is familiar. You hear things like “carbs” and “medium chain triglycerides” and “fructose” and “macros” and “gluten” and “PUFAs,” thinking nothing of it. Like I said, routine. Then someone mentions FODMAPs. Huh? What the heck is that? Quite possibly one of the strangest, seemingly contrived acronyms in existence, FODMAPs represents a collection of foods to which a surprisingly large number of people are highly sensitive. To them, paying attention to the FODMAPs in their diets is very real and very serious if they hope to avoid debilitating, embarrassing, and painful digestive issues.
What is a FODMAP?
FODMAPs are carbohydrates and fibers that gut bacteria can ferment in the gut and cause excessive gas, intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and/or constipation. In other words, FODMAPs are a potential source of digestive distress in susceptible people.

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Do Keto Diets Affect the Microbiome?

Just how important is the gut microbiome — you know, the “critters” who live in your gut? Well, it plays a key role in digestion, metabolism, the immune and endocrine systems, and neurological functioning. Gut microbiota synthesize key nutrients like B vitamins and vitamin K, and neurochemicals like GABA and serotonin. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by gut microbes promote glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity. The microbiome “talks” to the brain via the gut-microbiome-brain axis, and the actions of gut microbes affect things the permeability of the blood-brain barrier and development of glial cells in the brain. The integrity of the gut lining also depends on a healthy microbiome. When that integrity is compromised and the gut becomes “leaky,” systemic inflammation, autoimmune illnesses, and central nervous system disorders ensue.

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How to Use Collagen Powder: 12 Interesting Uses that Go Beyond Smoothies

If you’ve been a part of the Primal, keto, or clean-eating community for a while, you’re likely well aware of all the various reasons to add collagen into your daily routine. It contains glycine, it may improve your sleep and skin elasticity, and it might even been beneficial to healing joints and injuries.

Whether you take collagen to support your hair, skin, and nails or to aid in your post-workout recovery, supplementing your diet with collagen peptides is easy and effective.

We tend to associate supplement powders with adding a scoop or two into your blender to make a midday shake or early AM smoothie, but collagen peptides can mix into virtually anything. Taking collagen can become a culinary pursuit: this versatile supplement sneaks into coffee, baked goods, savory dishes, and so much more.

Here are 12 ways to use collagen that you may not have thought of yet.

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Dear Mark: What’s With The Bean Protocol?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a reader question about beans. But it’s not just about beans. It’s about something called the Bean Protocol, a rather new dietary approach that many of my readers have expressed interest in. The Bean Protocol is supposed to improve the liver’s ability to clear out toxins, thereby preventing them from recirculating throughout the body in perpetuity. Today, I’m going to discuss where it fits in a Primal eating plan. Let’s go: Hi Mark, Have you heard about this “Bean Protocol”? From what I can tell people are eating tons of beans and getting great results. It’s supposed to remove toxins from the liver or something else that only beans can do. What do you think? Thanks, Matt I did some digging around. I read the Bean Protocol coverage over at PaleOMG, where Juli has been following the protocol for several months now and seeing great results. There’s a Bean Protocol E-course that I did not sign up for, but I think I have a decent handle on the topic. How to Do the Bean Protocol Here’s the gist: No caffeine No sugar No dairy No gluten No processed food No factory-farmed meats; no fatty meats Eat 6-8 half-cup servings of beans or lentils a day. Fill the rest of the food with lean meat, leafy green vegetables, alliums (onion, garlic, leek, etc), and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower). What’s Supposed to Happen on the Bean Protocol The soluble and insoluble fiber in the beans binds to toxins which the body can then flush out more easily. Without the fiber from the beans, your body can’t process and excrete the toxins, so they simply recirculate, stay in the body, and sometimes express themselves in the form of acne and other diseases. Adherents credit the bean protocol for fixing longstanding issues like acne, Crohn’s, and many other conditions. Bored with beans? We have 41 ways to make them more fun.  Is this true? Is there any evidence of this in the scientific literature? Well, there isn’t much direct evidence for beans improving liver clearance of toxins, but there is circumstantial evidence. For one, prebiotic fiber is good for liver health. There are plenty of studies to support this. Synbiotics (a combination of probiotics and prebiotics) and BCAAs taken together improve hepatic encephalopathy, a feature of liver failure where the liver fails to detoxify excess ammonia. However, it does not do so directly. The fiber isn’t necessarily “binding” to the lead and excreting it. Instead, it does so by increasing levels of lead-binding gut bacteria which in turn bind and excrete it, shoring up the gut lining so that lead can’t make it into circulation, increasing bile acid flow, and increasing the utilization of healthy essential metals (like zinc and iron). The bacteria are essential for the effect; pre-treatment with antibiotics abolishes the benefits. So we can’t say for sure that the fiber itself is “binding” to the toxins. Allium, Inulin The Bean Protocol is … Continue reading “Dear Mark: What’s With The Bean Protocol?”

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Does Your Digestion Need a Tune-up?

Well, does it?

We’re all going to be putting food in our bodies just about every day for the rest of our lives. Most of us will do it several times a day. We’ll chew it, send it down the esophagus into our stomach, and expose it to gastric juices and digestive enzymes. We’ll strip it of nutrients and send the excess down to the colon for dismissal, feeding resident gut bacteria along the way. The whole process should go smoothly. There shouldn’t be any pain or discomfort, bloating or constipation. Oh sure, nobody’s perfect, and there will be slow-downs or speed-ups from time to time, but in general a vital, fundamental process like digestion shouldn’t even register in our waking, conscious lives.

But sometimes it does.

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