Curbing GERD

Ever felt that burning sensation creeping up in your chest? More than 60 million Americans experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) at least once a month. But indigestion doesn’t have to have the last word. Before you pop that next antacid, consider these tips for tackling heartburn before it starts.

  • Break slow. Gulping down a quick morning meal stirs up stomach acid. Instead, get up 10 minutes earlier and sit down to eat. One of the best breakfasts for suppressing symptoms: oatmeal with sliced bananas or applesauce — the bland nature of both the fruits and high–fiber cereal are easy on your belly. Sprinkle with a little ginger, which has anti–inflammatory properties believed to calm upset tummies.
  • Steer clear of the red zone. Tomato sauce, salsa, even ketchup can trigger acid reflux. If you’re experiencing symptoms, go with light broths — which are mild but flavorful — and avoid spicy dishes. But even if it doesn’t flash that ruby color, don’t be deceived. Heavy sauces like Alfredo and gravy can be just as potent.
  • Incline and decline. Avoid lying flat on your back. Propping yourself up with an extra pillow can help refuse acid’s attempt to bubble up. Be especially mindful of what you eat and drink before bedtime — chocolate, alcohol, coffee, and carbonated beverages can not only disrupt your sleep, they stir up reflux.

The Pros of Probiotics

THE HUMAN BODY contains an estimated 100 trillion bacterial cells from at least 500 species, not including viruses and fungi. These bacteria are known as “friendly” bacteria, or probiotics, and are vital for many important biological functions, including digestion; combating harmful bacteria, fungal and yeast infections; manufacturing vitamins B and K; producing hormones to store excess nutrients; and stimulating the immune system.

The website GreenMedInfo has assembled a list of more than 200 studies, investigating more than 170 diseases alleviated or treated with probiotics. These include irritable bowel syndrome, atopic dermatitis, diarrhea, allergic rhinitis and the common cold. One of the studies linked on the site says, “The ability of the gut microbiota and oral probiotics to influence systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control, tissue lipid content and even mood itself, may have important implications.”

Benefits beyond the gut

According to the January 17, 2012, edition of The Wall Street Journal, current research shows the gut affects bodily functions beyond digestion and immune function. Studies have shown intriguing links between the gut’s health and bone formation, learning and memory, and even conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Recent research found that imbalances in intestinal bacteria can prompt depression and anxiety—at least in lab rats. The gut is important in medical research, not just for problems pertaining to the digestive system but also problems pertaining to the rest of the body.

As Candace Pert, an internationally recognized pharmacologist, explains in her book Molecules of Emotion, more than 90 percent of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, is found in the digestive tract. To quote self-help guru Deepak Chopra, who earned an M.D., “When you say you have a ‘gut feeling’ about something,
you’re not talking metaphorically.”

Unfortunately, a modern fast-food diet and high-stress lifestyle can result in nutritional deficiencies and an imbalance of pathogenic bacteria versus beneficial bacteria in your gut.

The remedy? Boosting your probiotic intake.Dr.believes that “a daily probiotic is more important than a daily multivitamin.”

Probiotic sources

There are natural food sources of probiotics. Historically, people used fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir (fermented milk), some cheeses, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage) and tempeh (a fermented soybean product). Some people still derive probiotics from such food sources, but it’s questionable if the bacteria can survive the pasteurization, transportation and storage of commercially prepared foods.

Other sources include over-the-counter supplements that contain bacteria (usually freeze-dried) in amounts likely to remain viable in your digestive tract after you’ve swallowed the supplement.

Cautions and care

Are there any side effects or risks attached to probiotic use? Beneficial bacteria occur naturally and are generally well tolerated. However, individuals with immunodeficiency (e.g., those with AIDS) or who are taking immunosuppressive drugs, or receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment or treatment for any serious medical condition, should follow the advice of their doctor or health professional. As with all medications and supplements, read the label and follow the directions for dosage and frequency.

Some brands advise refrigeration and others claim it is not necessary. Most health professionals recommend the former, but some supplement manufacturers assert that improvements in encapsulation technology maintain shelf stability well past the expiry date, which certainly helps when traveling.

Another divisive issue is whether a probiotic should be taken with food or on an empty stomach. Again, follow the directions on the label or the advice of your health professional. Your gut is a battleground: dark angels of pathogens battling bright angels of wellbeing. You may be able to help the latter with a daily supplement of probiotics.

Take Digestive Enzymes

Not only does the kind of food that you eat have an influence in keeping your weight stables, but so does your ability to properly digest your food. Digestive enzymes that are created in the mouth, the stomach and the small intestine break down the food nutrients into simpler forms so that the body can sue the food for energy, instead of storing it as fat. The younger you are and the healthier you are, the more enzymes you will have, so the goal is to keep as many enzymes as you can, for as long as you can, by eating as healthily as you can. Raw food contains its own enzymes that aid in digestion, however, as soon as you cook food it kills off enzymes and is harder to digest. That is why it is often a good idea to take a digestive enzyme supplement when you are eating a more complex cooked meal with many different food groups, as the additional supplement will take the pressure off your won enzymes and help you digest. In addition, protein and carbs require different enzymes so you might want to try eating them in separate meals. This will also help with stabilizing your weight.

How do the USANA Digestive Enzyme ingredients work?

Raw food does not generally exist in a form that the body can use as nourishment. Food and drink must be broken down in order to be absorbed and carried to cells throughout the body. Digestive enzymes work alongside mastication (chewing), peristalsis (muscle contractions), stomach acid, bile, and other gastrointestinal components to help reduce food to smaller, more absorbable forms.

Each enzyme in the USANA Digestive Enzyme product is capable of breaking down a specific food component.

•Amylase: breaks down starch
•Bromelain: breaks down protein
•Cellulase: breaks down cellulose
•Lactase: breaks down lactose
•Lipase: breaks down fat
•Papain: breaks down protein
•Protease: breaks down protein

What is USANA Digestive Enzyme?

USANA Digestive Enzyme supplies supplemental enzymes, including amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, cellulose, bromelain, and papain. These enzymes support the breakdown of dietary carbohydrates (including sugars and starches), fats, and proteins.

When should I use the USANA Digestive Enzyme product?

For best results, take one (1) to three (3) tablets with a meal.

A quick tour of the digestive system

To help you understand how your digestive system works, let’s take a quick tour.

Like a winding tube, the digestive system carries food through your body, sending nutrients to the bloodstream and waste products to the large intestine to be eliminated. Here’s how it works:

1. Start at the mouth. Here’s where you chew your food into small pieces, allowing it to pass through the esophagus and enter the stomach.
2. The first stop is the stomach where the food is broken down into smaller pieces in preparation for entry into the small intestine.
3. Then the small intestine breaks the food down even further. Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream, and what’s left is mainly water and waste products.
4. Next, the large intestine, also known as the colon, moves the waste to the rectum. Under normal conditions this process is amazingly efficient. For every 10 quarts of excess water entering the colon, approximately 9.9 quarts are reabsorbed into the body!
5. Waste exists through the rectum. This is how the waste is eliminated.

There are common problems that can occur during transit. If transit through the large intestine or colon is slowed, then the waste becomes hardened and causes constipation. However, if transit is too fast, then the colon cannot absorb the excess liquid and the result is diarrhea.

Autoimmune Disorder

Constant overstimulation of the immune system can also lead to an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system can mistake the tissues of the body for an invader. The white blood cells and T cells may actually attack the body rather than the invasive bacteria or offending substance. This can be a cause of chronic conditions such as asthma, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

With the development of chronic illness an even greater toxic burden is placed on the liver. Under this increased stress, the liver may no longer be able to perform competently. This sets the stage for a whole new arena of possible problems.


Inflammation is a normal consequence of our immune response. Yet if the immune system is continually on hyperalert, inflammation can become chronic. This is often a feature of digestive disorders, and can be caused by many of the stressors.

If inflammation continues in the long term, changes in the tissue can occur, degrading resilience and function. Over decades more serious tissue damage can occur, manifesting in conditions such as accelerated aging, diabetes, and cancer. For example, research shows that as many as 40 percent of stomach ulcer cases caused by H. pylori infection go on to become stomach cancer. The body’s attempts to combat infection cause low-level inflammation in the lining of the stomach. If the infection persists, this sets the stage for the development of cancer.

For this reason it is extremely important to resolve inflammation. The best approach is to take it seriously, particularly if it doesn’t seem to be improving or if it recurs.

Challenges to the Immune System: Free Radicals

The chronic overwork of the liver’s detoxification mechanisms, caused by hyperpermeability, sets in motion a series of stresses. The first of these is the increased production of toxic by-products called free radicals. We hear about free radicals in the media, because they have been identified as a major cause of cancer. The assault of free radicals, also referred to as oxidative stress, further overstimulates the liver, causing it to send out signals that can confuse the immune system. These signals may trigger inappropriate reactions in both the immune and neurological systems and cause inflammation. This can occur even in a liver that is still generally functional.

If the liver’s detox mechanisms are held in constant operation, its functions may eventually become compromised. Increased stress on the liver can be caused by even minor but frequent GI complaints, such as chronic constipation or an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. Continual stress may ultimately compromise the liver’s detoxification capacity. At the same time, free radicals (with the potential to cause cellular damage) could be generated in excessive amounts. Their effects are experienced throughout the body in cell membranes, connective tissue, and genetic material. This oxidative stress can lead to serious chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Parkinson’s disease.

Oxidative stress from free radicals can also cause problems by depleting essential nutrients. This can short-circuit immune function, the activity of the nervous system, and the production of hormones. Over decades these compromises can develop into conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Free radicals have also been identified as a primary cause of aging.

The Development of Allergies and Sensitivities

When permeability increases, unprocessed substances can be passed on to the liver, completely undigested. This means that the liver would have to process undigested foods, bacteria, toxic chemicals, or whatever happens to be in the gut. The system could become overwhelmed and release these substances directly into the bloodstream. When this toxic material begins to circulate in the body, the immune system can become triggered, producing allergic responses to foods or other material released from the GI tract. An allergy or a hypersensitivity is typically an overreaction by the immune system, and can cause symptoms anywhere in the body. The food or substance causing the reactions may be relatively innocent – it is actually the overactive response of the immune system that causes the damage.

This dynamic can have a number of causes and result in a wide range of symptoms. For example, eating an allergic food is also a common cause of hyperpermeability and can be such a powerful trigger that permeability can increase within a matter of hours. This is a vicious cycle – hyperpermeability increases the absorption of more toxins and food fragments, which stimulates more allergic responses and amplifies the reactions in a snowball effect.

Innocent Foods and Toxic Effects

There are a number of ways in which problems associated with an overloaded liver can cause additional symptoms. One is the hypersensitization of the immune system just described. Another is direct damage to the body’s tissues caused by the toxic effects of chemicals in food or digestive debris. For example, certain elements in milk or wheat can have direct toxic effects on the nervous or immune system. Specific sensitivities to proteins in wheat have even been implicated in certain forms of schizophrenia.