January 21, 2017

Taking Care of Colon Problems

Strategies to Keep Your Colon Healthy

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

The colon is the least appreciated organ of the body – until it doesn’t work!  People with colon problems can be miserable.  The symptoms of colon trouble can include a wide variety of issues:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • And even cancer

the wrong bacteria in your colon can make you fatIf you’ve been wondering how to care for your colon, this is the article for you!

The colon is the large intestine.  It is the waste dump for everything we eat.  The small bowel absorbs all the nutrients from our food. Whatever is left over goes to the colon where the waste ferments through multiple types of bacteria. 

In the colon we have our main store of bacteria – trillions of them!

The types and amounts of bacteria we possess in our colon are essential to life. Even though they are residents of the colon, bacteria are very much a part of us, and in some ways make us what we are. They may determine our:

When we were babies in the womb we were sterile. Our first exposure to bacteria came from the birth canal, which supplied our intestines with bacteria needed to digest milk. People who are born by caesarian section don’t pick up the bacteria from their mother’s colon. Instead, their intestines start growing bacteria obtained from the skin. These bacteria don’t help digest food and can even cause inflammation over one’s entire lifetime!

One researcher concluded:

“Concurrent with the trend of increasing [Caesarean Delivery], there has been an epidemic of both autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis and allergic diseases, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis.[5]

The Wrong Bacteria in Your Colon Can Make You Fat!

Additionally, those who are born by C-section are more susceptible to metabolic diseases and obesity.[6] Multiple studies in rats and humans have shown that bacteria in the colon have a large effect on obesity. One study used mice that had intestinal bypass surgery. Those mice that had the surgery now developed different bacteria. When that bacteria was given to obese mice, they lost weight without the bypass surgery. Essentially, bacteria from a thin mouse caused an obese mouse to lose weight.[7]

Humans also experience weight gain or loss associated with their gut flora.  In one study, humans with higher levels of a certain bacteria, M. smithii, were much more likely to be overweight than those with low levels.[8]

Wrong Colon Bacteria Can Cause Arthritis

Studies on the types of bacteria in the colon suggest that arthritis can be caused or worsened by our bacteria.  One study suggested that a single organism can make the difference between having arthritis – or not.[9] The organisms that cause inflammation grow on simple sugars and starches.  On the other hand, those bacteria that grow on prebiotics create butyrate. Butyrate acts as an energy source for cells lining the colon and reduce an inflammatory response.

Prebiotics are the fiber found in fruit and vegetables. They have certain fibrous carbohydrates that nourish the good bacteria to help them to grow.

Best Prebiotic FoodsGod gave us quite the gift when it comes to prebiotic foods because there are many that have just the right “ingredients” to improve gut function without us having to do anything else but eat them! The top most nutrient-dense prebiotic foods are:

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Artichokes
  • Root vegetables
  • Apples

Prebiotic foods are like fuel for good bacteria. They escape digestion in our small intestine but continue to the colon where the “good” bacteria digest them.  These bacteria make butyrate, which prevents inflammation, such as arthritis.

Because of these bacterial studies, many have proposed fecal transplants to treat arthritis and obesity, instead of surgery and drugs.

What is a Fecal Transplant?

It is just as it sounds. Stool from one person is given to another person to change the bacteria in their colon.  When this procedure first started, the diluted donor stool was put through a tube that went from the nose into the small intestine. However, standard procedure today is done by way of an enema.  Doctors who do this procedure will use a colonoscope to get the bacteria all the way through the colon.

The purpose of a fecal transplant is to populate the colon with good bacteria and give it more biodiversity.

We not only need lots of bacteria, but a diverse population of bacteria growing together in harmony.  Research shows that this procedure can remedy many different problems such as drug resistance, chronic diarrhea, arthritis, obesity, and diabetes.

Probiotic Supplements

Because of this research, many advocate that we take probiotic pills that contain certain amounts of good bacteria.

Until the modern era, humans (and all animals for that matter) ate food laced with bacteria.  Dung fertilized the soil, allowing colon bacteria on the growing food.  People ate food that easily fermented and contained live bacteria. These are foods such as sauerkraut, natto (fermented soybeans), miso (another type of fermented soybeans), yogurt, kefir, and cheeses of all kinds.  Also, without refrigeration, food grew bacteria quickly.

Traditional cultures did not know all these important reasons to eat cultured foods.  However, they definitely knew that fermented food lasted longer, tasted better and made them feel better.  We would be wise to remember techniques our ancestors have left us about probiotics to help the colon!

By contrast, today, we take great measures to prevent bacteria from getting into our food.  For a longer shelf-life, food is:

  • Pasteurized
  • Radiated
  • Gassed
  • Sprayed with chemicals
  • Refrigerated
  • Frozen

Milk that has not been pasteurized lasts only a few days, even refrigerated. Whereas, pasteurized milk lasts for weeks. And ultra-pasteurized milk lasts for months without even being refrigerated!  Many think they may be getting some bacteria in yogurt or cheese. But most dairy products are also heated to prolong their shelf-life.  Canned kimchi and sauerkraut are heated so they contain little or no bacteria.  While there are benefits to decreasing bacteria in food, such as less food poisoning, there is a downside, as well. We don’t get many probiotics anymore.

The bacteria in your colon are like a fingerprint. Your native gut flora have been present since birth. They are uniquely you. They don’t like other bacteria coming in and growing so they usually kick them out.  If you thought you could take a probiotic for a short time to get it to grow inside the colon, guess again!  Probiotics do not become established members of your gut ecosystem. When you stop taking them, their numbers dwindle quickly. That specific probiotic strain level declines and eventually disappears. Within a couple of days to weeks, you’re back to your old self again.

This is why we need a constant supply of good bacteria, or probiotics, from our food.  However, since we don’t get much from food, we often supplement with probiotic pills.  For some people, taking probiotics can make a huge difference in:

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Weird Remedies That Work

By Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

I read all sorts of literature on healthcare and I’m continually amazed at the number of remedies that exist for ailments.  I have tried countless remedies with my patients and have found some really crazy ones that work!

In medical school, sometimes we called weird remedies that worked “the placebo effect.” But, that doesn’t really matter, does it?  If something works, it works, no matter how or why!  Just because I can’t explain it chemically, doesn’t mean a remedy doesn’t have value.

For example, I give vitamin B12 shots for all sorts of neurological problems. But, one of my colleagues believes I shouldn’t be doing that because it’s just a “placebo” and isn’t widely accepted by the medical community.  However, to that thought I responded, “I promise I will stop using it as soon as it stops working!”  I’m still giving those shots because they work – weird or not!

Weird Cures That Work

Humans all over the world for thousands of years have used weird disease cures and methods to become and stay healthy. While modern Western medicine has evolved into a system of doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical drugs, other remedies— some pretty silly remedies — are still in use around the world.

Here are 6 weird remedies that actually happen to work, no matter how foolish you feel.

1. Lemon peels for headaches

In a small book on home remedies, I read about using lemon peelings for headache.  Years later, I had a woman with chronic headaches who had a very hard time with the medications she took that didn’t really work very well. I mentioned the lemon peel trick: peel a lemon and take the white part of the peeling and rub it on your temples, massaging it in to the skin on both sides.  Within a minute or so the headache will be gone!  She did it and it worked – better than the drugs she had been taking.  Now she always has a lemon with her, in case she gets a headache.

2. Soap for cramps

One woman came into my office because of nighttime leg cramps.  I know what to routinely do for leg cramps:

  • Take coral calcium, magnesium or potassium.
  • If that doesn’t work, I tell people to drink more water to assure hydration.
  • Some are low in sodium, so I tell them to use more salt on their food.  A good trick is V-8 vegetable juice, which has sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium all together.

However, none of the usual remedies worked.  She tried increasing her stomach acid for better absorption, without any help.  I also tried glycine and taurine to relax the muscles but to no avail.  We then tried medications for Restless Legs Syndrome, but that didn’t help either.

I didn’t see her for a while and then when she came in to see me for something else I asked her about the cramps.  She said a neighbor told her to put a bar of soap under her sheet by her legs. She did – and she slept all night without cramps!  After a few months she started getting cramps again and the neighbor told her to change the soap.  She swapped out the bar of soap for a new one and hasn’t suffered with leg cramps since discovering this weird remedy.

Another patience of mine had the same problem with leg cramps, so I told her about the soap trick, which she said she had used in the past and it worked.

Diatomaceous Dirt for Diarrhea

3. Dirt for diarrhea

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Giving Thanks for What You CAN Eat

A friend of mind, Ginger Klein, has agreed to share her experience of suffering from Celiac disease. Her diagnosis is not uncommon, but she shares her gluten free diet tricks she has learned over the years, as well as what do when eating out, how to cope with holidays and making favorite recipes at home.  Her personal story and success will inspire anyone with gluten problems and help the rest of us understand more about those this debilitating disease.

Second Time Around is Worse

I was experiencing mild expression of Celiac Disease while in graduate school, had bouts of lactose intolerance, and seemed to catch a lot of colds and flues.

For the next 6 years, I had frequent, unexplainable bouts of diarrhea (I even got tested for parasites once, with negative results). I slowly lost weight during that time, but then went through a month and a half during which I got severe diarrhea about every 3-4 days. I kept trying different ways to treat it, fasting and then doing the BRAT diet (and of course once I got to toast, I got diarrhea again) and getting various kinds of medicine to treat intestinal illnesses (Imodium was the worst, because it trapped the gluten in my intestines and made me get WORSE).

My skin got dry, my complexion was pallid, my hair started falling out and my nails were extremely brittle. I dropped weight very rapidly, and then started to lose coordination. I tripped walking down the street one day, and couldn’t even catch myself to break my fall — I landed on my knees hard, splitting them both open. They didn’t form proper scabs, and for weeks the weak scab that did form would wash off in the shower and they would bleed like they were freshly wounded. It took about 2 months for them to finally heal.

About a week before I started eating gluten free, I talked to my Mom was said I was diagnosed with Celiac disease as an infant, but at the time our family doctor said that it was “a childhood disease and I would grow out of it,” so when I started school my mother put me back on a regular diet.

I gave it some thought, and about a week later (after a day of fresh bread and pasta), woke up in the middle of the night vomiting and having diarrhea at the same time. I realized I should try a gluten free diet. The next day, I announced I was going to stop eating bread or pasta, and see if that helped. Then I started looking on the internet and got a clearer idea of other dietary changes I would need to make to fully test the childhood Celiac diagnosis theory. I learned that there were others like me who had been diagnosed in childhood, had a period of several years when they ate normally, and then got very sick — the disease went into remission but came back with a vengeance in their late twenties or early thirties. I also learned that now there are blood tests and other procedures that can diagnose the disease, but these weren’t available to me.

Trio of Triggers

I went 3 days, then a week, then two full weeks without getting diarrhea. I began to feel ever so slightly better, but was incredibly weak and continued losing weight. My supervisors recommended a vacation (and there were other things going on, too; a break-up  — usually some particularly stressful incident, be it emotional or physical, will somehow trigger active Celiac Disease — and the combination of physical illness and emotional distress sent me into clinical depression), so I vacationed for a month to rest, ate lots of rice, and meet with a psychologist I knew.

One of my greatest delights was discovering after a few weeks that I could eat dairy again without any problems. In fact, for the next year I could get away with eating large bowls of ice cream every day and have no tummy aches and not gain any weight. I picked the highest fat content I could find for milk and yogurt, and spread the butter thickly on the pancakes I made from the rice flour I found at the store. I created mini rice-cake pizzas, and came up with a few other special recipes using locally available foods.

After going gluten free for two years, I was delighted to find a growing awareness about Celiac Disease and an explosion of new, gluten free products, not only in health food stores but also in ordinary grocery stores, and even at Wal-Mart.

Now, over six years after changing my diet, my intestinal lining has recovered and I’ve regained weight; in fact, now I have to make healthier choices and work to incorporate less fattening options and more fiber into my diet. Also, infertility is associated with *untreated* Celiac Disease; but that complication has also healed with my new baby! 🙂

Go For the Bacon Double Cheeseburger! (But skip the fries)[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’ ]

My own diet consists of eating a lot of corn tortillas 🙂 and I go to Mexican restaurants, because there are corn options. Chipotle burrito bowls are my favorite. Taco bell tacos (hard shell) are one of the few reliable fast food items I can eat on the road. I NEVER trust French fries, and go for the bacon double cheeseburger without a bun when I can’t get anything else (and have to eat fast food).

When eating out at a sit-down restaurant, I check for an online menu before I go (lots of chains have them now), and remind myself to tell my waitress, “I need everything gluten free,” to see if there is a specific gluten free menu available. In some places, this brings a visit from the cook to my table, who goes over my options and can verify if, for example, they have a dedicated fryer for fries (one that doesn’t have battered things fried in it), or a separate grill for grilled foods, and to remember to withhold croutons and check the labels on the salad dressings.

Measure for Measure, Gluten Free Comes Out Equal

For at-home baking: Bette Hagman has lots of ideas in her cook books (The Gluten Free Gourmet line), but I’ll confess I haven’t used as many of them as I thought I would, because I hate having to buy a hundred different kinds of flour. I keep my flour and starch supplies pretty basic, and add ground flax seed for fiber. The best tip I’ve ever heard is to find out what the proper weight is for flours, and when substituting, not go on dry measurements, but on equal weights.

For holidays, I always take food (bread, crackers, cookies, etc) with me when going to someone else’s house. Pamela’s Mini Ginger Snapz are the best thing for Christmas. For Easter, I’ve developed a bread machine recipe that satisfies the nostalgia for a doughy treat.

When people want to cook for me, I steer them towards some simple classics, like oven-roasted chicken (with a warning to not add soy sauce if they are using a recipe), mashed potatoes from scratch (use milk and butter instead of chicken broth), and veggies. I recommend staying away from any kind of sauce or packaged mix, and just using whole, plain ingredients (spices are fine, but not spice mixture packets, as they could contain wheat flour or starch).

Betty Crocker has done a wonderful thing in making four gluten free baking mixes available in the regular baking aisle in many grocery stores: yellow cake, devil’s food cake, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. While 3-4 times more expensive than their normal counterparts, they are still considerably cheaper than those offered by specialty companies, and they’re easy to find, and with directions that look normal. Also, they TASTE GREAT. One of the problems with gluten free baked goods is that they tend to have a gritty texture. Somehow, the Betty Crocker mixes don’t have this. So I steer people towards these when they want to make baked goods that I can eat.

It’s Not Worth It

The biggest thing that helps me handle Celiac disease is that I got so sick before I tried going gluten free. I was seriously worried I was going to die, because nothing I ate stayed in, and my body was wasting away and breaking down in front of my eyes. The return to health from changing my diet has been such a delight and relief, that I only rarely struggle with temptations to eat things that aren’t allowed. The second biggest thing is that we have an amazingly good gluten free bakery in town, and I know that even if I can’t eat the cookies, pies, cinnamon rolls, or pizza in the office or at an event, I just have to wait until I get home. It’s just not worth getting sick.

I’ve seen people struggle with bitterness and self-pity, and by the grace of God I haven’t. I’ve had people try to offer me pity, and it’s something I can’t accept — I continue to be too grateful to be alive and healthy as I follow a somewhat restricted diet. I would offer the advice to focus on the good health, the restored strength and lack of intestinal pain, and to pause and let yourself get teary-eyed in the supermarket aisle when you discover a new packaged food that is safe to eat (like the Betty Crocker mixes), or a restaurant that has come out with a gluten free menu (like the Olive Garden!), and to give thanks for what you CAN eat.

The hardest thing is helping people understand that I can’t cheat. If I eat the wrong thing, it will destroy the lining of my intestine, causing the symptoms I have mentioned above, but also leading to mal-absorption and a host of complications from diabetes to osteoporosis to colon cancer. NOT WORTH IT. And unlike other food allergies, I can’t just take a pill for it; there has not yet been a medication put on the market that will block the autoimmune response to the gluten protein.

I’m always glad to help in ways that will enable others to live with being gluten free! So, I hope this assortment of things I’ve done helps!

Grandma Barton is grandmother to Joe Barton, founder of Barton Publishing and Home Cures That Work. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor with the help of Dr. Saunders and natural remedies. Grandma loves finding cures within the home to treat all sorts of ailments. With tips she’s learned on the farm and along the way, Grandma Barton brings a time-tested and trusted voice when it comes to home remedies. She really is an inspiration to us all.
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