Heart-Healthy Eating: A Little Insurance Against Holiday Excess

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Filed Under: General Health, Digestive Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Heart-Healthy Eating: A Little Insurance Against Holiday Excess

No matter how disciplined you are, the holidays always seem to lead to a few dietary indiscretions. There’s those delicious cookies that appear only at this time of year, an extra glass (or two) of wine, and little dishes of nuts and candies that seem to be everywhere. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a lot more refined sugar and other carbohydrates than you normally would.

As I wrote in a recent blog, the problem with sugar is that it can lead to inflammation of the arterial walls. Plus, there’s another consequence I’m concerned about as well. A sudden influx of dietary sugars can upset the balance of flora in our digestive system. If our flora is out of balance, it can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Your best insurance against digestive distress is to take a supplemental probiotic which helps to reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your gut and regulate your immune system. In fact, you can’t really be healthy unless your “good” bacteria are in top shape.

But the benefits of probiotics don’t end there. One study, by French and Swiss researchers, suggests that the presence of inflammation and chronic diseases in the elderly can be altered favorably with the use of probiotics.

Another study, out of the University of Helsinki, shows that patients with irritable bowel syndrome who took probiotics had a marked reduction in their symptoms—particularly distension and abdominal pain. Additional experiments are exploring the most effective combinations of bacterial strains to counteract declining immune function in the elderly.

Beneficial bacteria can be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut. I also recommend taking a good probiotic supplement. The best probiotic strain I’ve found is Lactobacillus plantarum 299V (Lp299v) that supports normal cholesterol and healthy blood pressure. Plus, it helps to comfort your irritable bowel and improve digestion.

Now it’s your turn: Do you take a probiotics supplement?

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