Tag: probiotic

The 5 Best Natural Supplements To Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea

After a very long two years, people are once again traveling all over the world. But when you visit an area of the world with microbes your body isn’t used to, there’s a good chance you can get an unwanted souvenir: traveler’s diarrhea. Sharing her wisdom gained by visiting Southeast Asia, Veronica “V” reveals her favorite natural remedies for prevention. 

It’s a near certainty that if you travel anywhere in the world, especially somewhere with a developing economy, your digestive system will be attacked by a pathogenic bacteria, virus or parasite. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 70% of people who travel abroad will become stricken with traveler’s diarrhea.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of people who experience loose watery stools will have a mild case that will go away on its own after a few days.

So there’s no reason to panic about traveler’s diarrhea. Go on your trip and fully experience the food and culture! Don’t let fear of the runs stand in your way. Life’s too short to eat all your meals in the hotel restaurant. Live a little and eat some street food you’ve never tried before.

Still, experiencing traveler’s diarrhea is no fun. Most of the time, the culprit is bacteria. In fact, according to the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, bacteria is responsible for roughly 90% of all traveler’s diarrhea cases, with e. Coli being the pathogen most likely to cause it.

Viruses are to blame for about 10% of all cases. Nasty parasites might receive all the gory attention because they can wreak havoc on the digestive system and they can be really hard to get rid of. But thankfully, parasitic causes of traveler’s diarrhea make up a tiny fraction of all cases. The bad news is that with traveler’s diarrhea that lasts for over 2 weeks, the cause is almost always a parasite.

But fear not because I have 5 supplements that may help prevent being glued to the porcelain throne during your trip (or when you come home).

Probiotics

Having a lot of friendly bacteria in your gut and lots of different varieties (strains) of probiotics are crucial for defending against pathogens. But not any probiotic will do. There’s one in particular that’s been the focus of many research studies on diarrhea prevention or treatment. And it’s the only probiotic that’s a yeast rather than a bacteria. It’s called Saccharomyces Boulardii, or S. Boulardii for short.

It comes in capsule form and you don’t need to refrigerate it so it’s really convenient for traveling. It takes a few days to fully build up in your gut so I start taking it about 4 days before I leave for an overseas vacation. I’ll continue taking it as long as I’m away and then I’ll stop taking it 3-5 days after I get back just to make sure all’s good back there.

You can take other probiotics at the same time you’re taking S. Boulardii. But for diarrhea prevention, only S. Boulardii is backed by extensive research.

Oil of Oregano

So the next supplement that may help prevent ruining your bucket-list trip is oil of oregano. It’s a very potent natural antibiotic. And remember, the most likely cause of traveler’s diarrhea is a bacteria (which is caused by consuming contaminated food and/or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces).

You can tell that oil of oregano is potent just by the taste. It’s so strong so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Some people put oil of oregano drops directly on their food just in case the food is contaminated. But talk about ruining a meal! I prefer to use it away from meals so I can actually taste the food.

It’s probably not a good idea to take oil of oregano for a very long time. So if you’re traveling for a few weeks or longer, use it sparingly, like maybe every other day or every few days.

Oregon Grape Root

Another herbal tincture, Oregon Grape Root contains the active ingredient berberine, which has been shown in research to help prevent diarrhea, and not just against bacterial pathogens that cause it but also viral, parasitic and fungal. So it’s like a broad-spectrum antimicrobial. And it doesn’t taste as harsh as oil of oregano.

Activated Charcoal

This is what they give to people (usually kids) in the ER at hospitals who accidentally swallow something poisonous. Activated charcoal, which is a black odorless powder,  binds to toxins and removes them out of the digestive tract. Personally, I wouldn’t use it for prevention but it’s one natural supplement I would consider for treating traveler’s diarrhea.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

GSE is a liquid that some people squirt directly on their food to neutralize any potential pathogens. It doesn’t taste as harsh as oil-of-oregano, but it’s pretty close. Again, I wouldn’t want to alter the flavor profile of a meal I’m enjoying just to prevent a mild case of the runs. So GSE is something I’d use away from food or for treatment.

At the end of the day, a mild case of traveler’s diarrhea is no big deal. It’ll usually go away on its own within 1-3 days. But if you’re on a very long bus or plane ride, I wouldn’t blame you if you took an over-the-counter remedy to stop things up. I should also point out that if you do have bloody loose stools, call your doctor right away to get checked out.

But no matter what … keep on traveling!

Dark Leafy Greens & Gut Health: What’s The Connection?

The fact that dark, leafy greens are healthy isn’t exactly headline, groundbreaking news. We all know they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. But what you may not realize is how the 7 leafy greens in Organic Green Drink may improve your gut microbiome, that tiny universe that’s home to your trillions of bacteria.

If you want to be happy and healthy, you have to make sure your gut microbiome is in top-top shape. So let’s learn exactly what consuming Green Drink does for your gut galaxy of bacteria.

This is Your Gut Bacteria On Green Drink

Eating or drinking dark, leafy greens doesn’t directly make you healthier. There’s a middleman involved. Trillions of them in fact. And when you feed the trillions of bacteria enough dark, leafy greens, they feast on a compound that makes us healthier.

To enjoy a balanced immune system, flawless skin, a positive mood and abundant energy, you need about 85% of the bacteria in your gut microbiome to be friendly strains. At that percentage, the 15% potentially harmful bacteria don’t stand a chance to overwhelm the good guys.

When you consume dark leafy greens, your friendly bacteria feast on an X-factor compound that helps them reproduce. It’s only by continuously feeding your good bacteria that the dark, evil forces in your gut—harmful bacteria—can never emerge victorious. Remember, gut health is everything. I’ve probably said that a million times over the years but I can’t emphasize this point enough.

You can pop all the vitamins and other supplements you want. But if you’re not feeding your friendly bacteria dark, leafy greens, they won’t be able to “make copies of themselves” or have microorganism babies, or however else you want to put it. The bottom line is that the friendly bacteria you do have can only go to work for you if you feed it the best stuff.

SQ For Gut Health

If you’ve been reading my articles over the years, I’ve probably scared you away from consuming sugar. But every single food with carbohydrates, fruits and veggies included, contains sugar. And some sugars are actually great for gut health. Dark, leafy greens contain a carbohydrate (sugar) called sulfoquinovose or SQ for short.

SQ is the only sugar molecule that contains sulfur and this is a very important fact. This is because sulfur is the 7th most abundant mineral in the body and many people don’t get enough of it. Now, it might not seem that 7th place is very important. After all, who remembers who came in 7th place in an Olympic race. But let me tell you why sulfur is important…

Your body needs sulfur to build and fix your genetic material (DNA). Every day and all day, your body is constantly trying to repair your DNA and protect your cells from damage that can lead to premature aging and chronic diseases. So you can think of sulfur as superfood for your DNA.

Without sulfur, you wouldn’t be able to metabolize your food or have healthy skin and joints. And when you consume leafy greens, you’re getting sulfur in the form of biotin (vitamin H; bet you didn’t know there was a vitamin H!). Biotin is made by your friendly gut bacteria! So eat lots of leafy greens to get your daily dose of sulfur.

Good Bacteria Love Protein, Too 

Who doesn’t love to sink their teeth into a tasty morsel of protein, whether it’s a carnivore tearing into a T-bone or the plant-based dieter enjoying tempeh tacos. Well, it turns out that our friendly bacteria love protein, too. They need amino acids just as much as we do. And it’s that X-factor compound, SQ, the sulfur-based sugar that produces amino acids for our good bacteria.

Some of the best sources of SQ include the 7 certified organic leafy greens in Organic Green Drink, which you can have delivered right to your front door. No wasting time on shopping, prep work and cleaning. Just drink it straight out of the bottle right into your gut, like superfuel for your friendly bacteria.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GREEN DRINK

Chef V’s 3 Simple Tips For Great Gut Health

We often hear the phrase gut health. But what exactly does that mean and how can it be achieved? Veronica Kress, aka “V” of Chef V fame, shares how she’s been able to keep her tummy flat and keep her mind sharp despite the stress of running a demanding business. 

Gut health is everything. And by that I mean how you feel mentally, physically and spiritually is directly connected to a tiny universe in your gastrointestinal (GI) system. So if you wanna look and feel your best, you gotta have great gut health.

Whether your skin is flawless or blemished…

Whether you can have a cheat meal and not put on weight or just look at food and feel bloated…

Whether you can concentrate on work for hours at a time without any effort or feel brain fog just minutes into a task…

Whether you feel calm and steady or every day is a roller coaster ride of emotions…

All these wellness factors are determined by the state of your gut.

But what is gut health anyway?

Gut Health, Explained

Have you heard the term “gut microbiome?”

On a simple level, it’s a collection of the trillions of bacteria—both good and bad—that are living rent-free mostly in your large intestine (colon), and to a lesser extent in your small intestine. These bacteria help digest our food.

And while it’s kind of disgusting to think about it, when the bacteria help us digest our food, they poop just like us. You see, when friendly bacteria eat specific types of foods, they produce a healthy type of fatty acid called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

Feeling awesome day in and day out depends on producing enough SCFAs. Most people think that it’s probiotics that are vital for overall health. And by now, who hasn’t heard of probiotic supplements? Probiotics are specific strains of beneficial bacteria that have been clinically proven to offer health benefits to the host (the person taking the probiotic). This assumes the probiotic is of high-quality and can survive the acidic environment of the stomach.

But the surprising thing is that it’s not just the probiotics that provide us with good gut health. It’s their metabolic byproduct (poop), the short chain fatty acids I was just talking about.

Having good health means that you should have at least 85% friendly bacteria. When your gut microbiome is at that level, the friendly bacteria prevent the potentially unfriendly bacteria from crashing the party in your gut and leading to poor digestion, bad skin, brain fog, infections, and potentially chronic illnesses.

You might think that popping a probiotic pill is all you need to do to achieve great gut health. But that’s only one small piece of the puzzle. Here are 3 things I do to support my gut and overall health.

Organic Green Drink: A Natural Prebiotic

Every morning, the first thing I do after I wake up (and use the potty) is drink water and then have a Chef V Organic Green Drink about 20 minutes later. I’m not using this space as a shameless promotional spot. This routine that Brandon (my hubby) and I have been doing for over the past decade has served us well. Doing this not only continues the detoxification that occurs while we sleep, but it also does our gut good.

The reason why is because the 7 certified organic leafy greens in Green Drink contain prebiotic fiber. You can think of prebiotic fiber as your friendly bacteria’s favorite food. Unlike simple sugars that get digested very rapidly, prebiotic fiber resists digestion and gets gobbled up by friendly bacteria. This helps stimulate the growth of more friendly bacteria.

Many people don’t get enough prebiotic fiber in their diet. Again, you can’t just rely on taking a probiotic supplement, especially if your diet isn’t all that great. By drinking 8 to 16 ounces of Green Drink in the morning—as my breakfast—I know I’m fueling my trillions of friendly bacteria with their favorite food that will help them grow just like breast milk does for a baby.

Fermented Foods: Natural Probiotics

Personally, I don’t even take a probiotic supplement, at least I don’t everyday. I might take one from time to time if I’m traveling and eating foods that I’m not used to. Or maybe I’ll take some in the rare instances I indulge in my vice: french fries. Not that I think probiotic supplements are overrated, I just think people rely on them too much without doing the other things necessary to achieve great gut health.

Instead of relying on probiotic supplements as a magic gut health bullet, I stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in my gut with natural sources of probiotics. I’m talking about fermented foods like no-sugar-added plant-based yogurt (cashew, coconut), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (sauerkraut with a spicy kick), and fermented soy like miso.

There is one fermented food that I think is overrated: kombucha. Some brands of kombucha have way too much sugar and they may not contain enough probiotics to contribute to gut health. But there are some brands of kombucha that are low-sugar. Just don’t rely on kombucha alone for adding more good bacteria to your gut microbiome.

Avoid Unfriendly Bacteria Triggers

My third easy tip for having better gut health is avoiding certain foods and drinks that stimulate the growth of unfriendly bacteria. Here’s my “Don’t Eat This” list:

  • Gluten (avoid most products made with wheat)
  • Dairy (avoid conventional dairy unless it’s made with A2 protein and/or fermented organic, grass-fed dairy)
  • Beer (most of which contains gluten)
  • Sugar (for the most part, the only sugar I get in my diet comes from fruit; on occasion, I’ll add coconut sugar to my tea or healthy dessert)

So there you have it … 3 easy ways to support your gut. And when you support your gut microbiome, your “feel-good” hormones and neurotransmitters will be better activated. That means a healthier, happier you.

To your health,

V

Chef V’s 5 Easy Healthy Gut Makeover Tips

Have you ever heard the saying, “a healthy mind lives in a healthy body?” The way Chef V founder Veronica “V” Wheat sees it, a healthy mind exists because of a healthy gut. But it’s not just mental health that’s linked to gut health. The immune system, cardiovascular health, skin appearance, and, of course, how you look in a swimsuit is all controlled by the health of your gut. So V is here to offer 5 easy tips to boost gut health.

Healthy Gut Makeover Tip #1: Take It Easy On The Kombucha

When it comes to improving gut health, some people think all it takes is drinking some kombucha.

But as I mentioned here, many brands of kombucha are just glorified sugar water. The major selling point of kombucha is that it’s loaded with probiotics. Probiotics just so you know are clinically-proven strains of bacteria that may offer health benefits. (Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are two of the most common species of probiotics).

Forget the fact that the probiotic content in kombucha is hardly ever verified. So it’s hard to tell if you’re getting any of the friendly-bacteria boosting benefits of kombucha to begin with. Not to mention if you struggle with yeast infections, drinking kombucha is the last thing you want to do. That’s because chugging a whole bottle of it, as refreshingly bubbly as it may be, may cause harmful bacteria and yeast to grow in your gut.

So my first healthy gut makeover tip is don’t be fooled thinking that kombucha is a magical elixir. Instead, eat and drink other things that are fermented with beneficial bacteria that aren’t loaded with sugar like coconut yogurt, sauerkraut/kimchi, beet kvass, tempeh and miso.

#2: Probiotics

Popping probiotic pills might help improve gut health, then again it may not. Many brands of probiotics are low quality. So don’t buy the cheapest probiotic supplement you can find because you’ll just be throwing your money away.

The reason why is that in order to colonize in your large intestine (also called the colon), the friendly microorganisms have to travel through some dangerous territory: the stomach.

You can think of your stomach as a swimming pool filled with acid. Containing the lowest pH level in the digestive system, the stomach and its highly acidic juices help break the big bites of food you swallow into partially-digested morsels called chyme.

Chyme then passes into the small intestine where enzymes further break it down into amino acids and nutrients.

So the cards are stacked against probiotics surviving this harsh acidic environment. Only high-quality probiotics that are formulated to break down once they reach the relative safety of the intestines are worth paying for. But even if you splurge on a pricey probiotic, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the best gut makeover…

#3: No Added Sugar Diet

Taking a probiotic supplement and eating and drinking things with added sugars is like not flossing and expecting your dentist to tell you that your gums look great.

(By the way, you should be flossing every day because if you don’t, the unhealthy bacteria will take over in your mouth and possibly other organs—including your gut!)

Sure, taking a really good probiotic is better than not taking one and consuming lots of sugar. The problem is, you might think you’re not consuming that much added sugars because you don’t eat candy, drink soda or other typical junk foods. But food manufacturers are sneaky. They put added sugars into all kinds of things, from salad dressing to coffee creamer to salsa, pasta sauce, bread … you name it.

So start paying attention to food labels on every single item you purchase from a supermarket. This is especially true of anything that comes in a package or can.

Consuming sugar from natural sources like vegetables and fruit is fine. But added sugars are to your bad gut bacteria what gasoline is to a car. Excess sugar fuels the pathogenic, disease-causing invisible critters in your gut.

I’m a purist when it comes to this rule. If I even see that a product contains just one gram of added sugar, I won’t buy it.

#4: Take It Easy

Constantly being on the go is the American way. But that lifestyle is terrible for gut health. And remember, if it’s terrible for gut health, it’s bad for your overall health and wellness. There are a ton of research studies (like this one) that show a connection between excess bad stress and poor gut health. In order to have great gut health, your brain and gut need to have great communication, just like in a healthy marriage.

The problem with chronic stress is that it totally disrupts gut and central nervous system communication. And when that happens, your happy hormones and chemicals like serotonin won’t get activated.

Even if you have a super slammed schedule like yours truly, you must take the time to decompress from stress.

I like to take mini-meditation breaks. You can meditate even while you’re stuck in traffic. Instead of being annoyed that you didn’t make the light, take advantage of the situation by taking some slow deep breaths. Notice the plants and scenery around you. Don’t stare at the red light with nervous energy.

Do a 5-minute yoga routine a few times a day, take a walk during lunch. Knit, garden, do whatever it takes to chill out—in a healthy way.

#5: Sleep Like A Baby

Like the link between gut and brain communication, there’s been a lot of research lately on the association between sleep quality and gut health.

It’s easy to say get enough sleep but if you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of insomnia and poor sleep quality, what can be done?

I recommend meditating or doing deep, steady breathing at 9:00 at night for about 20 minutes. Then, take a warm bath with soothing, relaxing essential oils and bubble bath. You can also try drinking some chamomile tea and then get in bed with all electronics out of the room and your phone in airplane mode several feet away from you. If you’re still having trouble getting enough deep sleep after trying these tips, you may want to try a full-spectrum CBD oil or consult with a natural health professional.

Personally, I don’t think getting 8 hours of sleep is necessary. Not if you’re eating clean and drinking organic greens, managing your stress, getting plenty of movement activity during the day and having an attitude of gratitude.

I hope that these tips help you achieve a healthy gut makeover!

Love,

V

Gut Health Survival Guide: Chef V’s 5 Tips For Success

Holiday Gut Health Survival Guide - Chef V & Coco

Good gut health – maybe you feel powerless on vacation and special occasions. With people getting out again and traveling, and holidays right around the corner,  you may run the risk of overwhelming your digestive system. So follow these 5 tips for a healthy gut.

Gut Health Survival Guide Tip #1: Eat one big meal a day

If you love to pig out during special occasions, I have great news for you. Feasting like a Roman gladiator is totally doable, if you know how to do it right. And here’s how. 

Step #1: When you wake up in the morning, don’t eat anything. Instead, first drink a tall glass of water. If you have electrolyte drops, add them to your water or sprinkle a teaspoon of sea salt and stir. The minerals in the salt or drops will help give your cells a zero-calorie energy boost. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon to give your liver a little helping hand in the detoxification process. 

Step #2: Roughly 30 minutes after you chug some water, break your fast with a low-calorie, low-sugar Organic Green Drink. If you’re not getting enough green leafy veggies in your diet, this is the easiest way to get ‘er done. There’s no excuse not to consume enough veggies when you get them delivered to your front door in cold-blended juice form!

Step #3: Eat a light meal or have a plant-based protein drink about an hour or so after Green Drink. 

Step #4: Eat one huge late lunch. At around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, eat whatever you want and as much as you want. Just make sure to avoid high-sugar junk. For dessert, treat yourself to some berries and a piece of dark chocolate. 

Step #5: You can have a very light snack no later than 7 p.m. A small portion of nuts, a piece of fruit or yogurt. Then don’t eat anything or drink anything with calories until 11 a.m. or later the following day. The beauty of combining one main meal a day and intermittent fasting is that you can eat as much turkey and stuffing as you want. Your digestive system will have plenty of time to work. For even better results, exercise in the morning before breaking your fast. 

digestive bacteria

Tip #2: Don’t Take An Antacid

Holiday gut health – If you have acid reflux because you ate way too much, taking an antacid may offer immediate relief, but it comes at a price. If you’re going to take an antacid once or twice a year, most likely that’s fine. 

But frequent use of antacid creates chronically-low stomach acid. If you don’t have enough stomach acid, you’ll have indigestion all the time; the very problem that antacids are supposed to eliminate. (And don’t get me started about Zantac, the most popular antacid of all time. It was pulled off the market because it contained a cancer-causing chemical.)

Tip #3: Take Digestive Enzymes

Instead of taking an antacid to help eliminate symptoms of indigestion, solve the root cause of indigestion. And what’s the root cause? You can blame it on sluggish digestive enzymes. 

Your body contains several kinds of digestive enzymes, starting with amylase. Before your food even enters your stomach, your eyes and nose spring digestive enzymes into action. Your sense of smell and sight sparks your salivary glands into action. Spit (saliva sounds so much nicer) contains amylase, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates. 

There’s also lipase to break down dietary fat and pepsin for protein and several others. But if your digestion is sluggish, your digestive enzymes need outside help. Enter digestive enzyme supplements. Now, I’m not in the supplement business so I’m not going to recommend one brand. But I encourage you to do your research (read product reviews) and start taking digestive enzymes with every meal—especially the massive holiday ones. 

Chef v walking

Tip #4: Walk It Out

Holiday gut health – Been there, done that. Before I became a certified nutritional therapist, I would celebrate the holidays by overindulging. But then I read research studies that said walking right after a meal was a great way to control blood sugar and lose weight

It’s so easy not to do anything after a big holiday meal. The furthest people want to walk after a big meal is from the dining room to the living room where the couch and TV are. 

But if you can just force yourself to go for a walk immediately after a meal, it’s really the simplest thing to do to prevent excess blood sugar from getting stored in the liver and eventually as body fat. See if you can get someone to join you. If not, listen to some good tunes or a podcast to make the time go by quicker. Even just 10 minutes will do your body and your gut some good. 

probiotics

Tip #5: Make Perfect Poop With These Helpers

Holiday gut health – In this article I wrote about preventing food poisoning while travelling, I mentioned a probiotic yeast that’s the best for preventing diarrhea. It’s called Saccharomyces Boulardii. Buy it and take it before you eat a huge meal. It’s always good to have on hand. 

This probiotic is the only one that’s a fungus. (Yeast is a fungus.) That may sound gross to take a fungus. But remember that edible mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungus and they are one of the best things to consume for immune support. Anyway, S. Boulardii is the best probiotic if your poops could use an image makeover. 

Tip #6: Have A Great Healthy and Safe Holiday Season!

That about says it all!

© 2021 Chef V, LLC.