Category Archives: Homeopathy

Got Blues? Or Blood Sugar Crash?

A person’s blood sugar level is basically the amount of glucose present in their blood at any given time. You might be wondering why anyone would need to know this? Well, keeping your blood sugar balanced is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health – in particular when it comes to energy levels and a healthy weight.

How glucose works in the body

Glucose is a simple sugar that is produced by the body from the carbohydrates that we eat. It is necessary for a wide range of critical processes. Most notably, the glucose in your bloodstream is available to your cells to make energy. Glucose is transported from the intestines or liver to cells via the bloodstream, and is made available for cell absorption via insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas). Glucose that is not directly used as an energy source (for instance, because blood sugar levels are too high) is either:

  • sent to the liver, adipose tissue and muscle cells, where it is absorbed and stored as glycogen (our temporary fuel store)
  • or converted into fat (our long-term fuel store). Stored glycogen can be converted back into glucose and returned to the bloodstream whenever insulin is low or absent.

Why are balanced blood sugar levels important?

It is estimated that as many as 3 in every 10 people have an impaired ability to keep their blood sugar levels stable – it may go too high and then drop too low. Blood sugar is normally measured in molecular count (millimoles per litre), or as a weight in grams (milligrams per decilitre).

Normally, the body maintains its blood sugar level at a reference range of between 3.6 and 5.8 mmol/L (or 64.8 and 104.4 mg/dL). The mean normal blood sugar level is around 4 mmol/L (or 72 mg/dL), although it obviously fluctuates throughout the day.

As you might expect, levels tend to be lowest in the morning, before the first meal of the day, and spike for 1 to 2 hours after meals by a few millimolar. However, when it comes to diabetics, blood sugar fluctuates more widely. Over the years, a continual imbalance in blood sugar levels can result in weight gain (if not obesity), increasing feelings of lethargy and possibly more serious health conditions.

Low blood sugar

When blood sugar levels are too low (referred to as hypoglycemia), a host of symptoms can be experienced. These include everything from irritability, nervousness and depression, to fatigue, headaches and digestive problems. In particular, when the level of glucose in your blood drops, you feel hungry. This is how blood sugar can have a direct impact on appetite and weight gain.

High blood sugar

Persistently high blood sugar levels are referred to as hyperglycemia. This can involve a suppressed appetite in the short term, with more serious health problems in the longer term. The bottom line – if you are able to control your blood sugar levels and keep them stable, the result is usually an even weight, healthy body and consistently high energy.

More about the effects on health

As mentioned above, unstable blood sugar levels over a prolonged period can lead to serious health problems or may be indicative of an underlying medical condition, some of which are described below. Advice should always be sought from a qualified medical practitioner if you have any concerns.

Diabetes

Diabetes is an extreme form of blood sugar imbalance and, possibly, the most well-known – certainly the most common. According to NHS Choices, in England in 2010, there were approximately 3.1 million people aged 16 or over with diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed). By 2030, this figure is expected to rise to 4.6 million, with 90% of those affected having type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a lifelong condition which is characterised by persistent hyperglycemia. Early warning signs are similar to those of mild glucose imbalance, but most notable is a sense of raging thirst. There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 1 usually develops before the age of 40 (often in the teenage years), while type 2 tends to be diagnosed in older people. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance (see below). Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2. For those with diabetes, it is particularly important to keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges to avoid the development of serious health complications which can include kidney, nerve, eye and heart problems.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition where the body fails to recognise the consumption of sugars and carbohydrates, which means that it continues to pump out insulin which is not needed. If this continues for a prolonged period, the pancreas can shut down and cease to produce insulin altogether. If care is not taken by those who have this condition to ensure a healthy diet and maintenance of balanced blood sugar levels, it can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Keeping your blood sugar levels stables

A wide range of factors can affect a person’s blood sugar levels. For example, it can be temporarily elevated as a result of severe stress (such as trauma, surgery or illness), as a result of medication use or through alcohol intake. However, diet, weight and exercise are key. The most obvious cause of unstable blood sugar levels is eating too much sugar. Arguably, the best way to achieve an optimal balance of blood sugar levels is to control the glycemic load (GL) of your diet. This is widely considered to be a more accurate measure than the glycemic index (GI), as the GL score takes into account both the quality and quantity of the carbohydrate. The GI will only tell you if a food is ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ releasing – it won’t tell you what the particular carbohydrate will do to your blood sugar or waistline. That’s not to say that the GI isn’t helpful – it is worth understanding that fast-releasing foods provide a quick burst of energy, which then rapidly burns out – leading to the peaks and troughs which can be so damaging. Prime offenders are sugar and sugary foods, sugary soft drinks, white bread, white pasta, potatoes and white rice. However, the GI can give some misleading results. For example, carrots and chocolates have almost the same GI score, but we all know that carrots are healthier than chocolate. This is because the GI is not taking into account the quantity of carbohydrate – you would have to eat 7x the carrots to get the same amount of carbohydrate and the same effect on your weight. The GL score addresses this inconsistency and provides a truer picture. So, it’s not just about what you eat, it is also about the quantity you eat, the quality of the food (i.e. whether natural or processed), how you prepare the food you eat and what you drink.

Interestingly, neither fat or protein have any appreciable effect on blood sugar. While they can both be converted into fat, this does not happen in the blood. So, if you are looking for some healthy foods with a good GL score, below are some examples:

  • oats
  • peas
  • beans
  • lentils
  • berries
  • plums
  • apples
  • pears
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • and spinach.

The fibre content of a food also lowers the GL, so make a conscious effort to include quality sources of dietary fibre in your diet. When you eat carbohydrate foods with a low GL with quality protein foods, you help to stabilise your blood sugar level even more.

As a final tip for keeping those blood sugar levels stable, it is also better to ‘graze’ throughout the day (eating little and often), than to ‘gorge’ on large meals. Opt for natural, whole foods – preferably organic and, whenever possible, raw!

Here are 3 of our most popular supplements to help you keep your blood sugars stable:

Bloated?

Most people, especially women, recognise that uncomfortable feeling when their stomach suddenly swells up like a balloon, often accompanied by stomach pain and wind. This may be triggered by eating the wrong kinds of food, stress or a number of other factors.

Stomach bloating is actually a very common condition, which affects around 1 in 5 people on a regular basis. For many sufferers, this is just an accepted part of everyday life, because they are either too embarrassed to seek help or because they have had no luck in terms of a specific diagnosis of the root cause.

Some others, who have suffered for a number of years, may simply start to believe that it is ‘normal’.

It is not.

Bloating can be very unpleasant. Listen to your body – everyone experiences a bit of bloating from time to time, but if you are feeling bloated on a regular basis (and perhaps suffering with excessive wind, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea) then your body is trying to tell you something.

There is no need to simply accept bloating as an unwanted part of your life. Get to the bottom of what is causing it and then take action!

Some common causes of bloating

The first step in stopping bloating is identifying what causes it in your specific case – everyone is different. The actual swelling of the belly associated with bloating is most often caused by gas in the bowel. However, when we talk about the cause of bloating, we are talking about what triggers this reaction.

Some common triggers include:

  • high-fat, high-sugar diets (including high levels of refined carbohydrates and/or processed foods)
  • excessive intake of inflammatory (acid-forming) foods or drinks, such as alcohol, caffeine, red meat or dairy
  • food allergy or intolerance
  • an imbalance of the good bacteria and harmful micro-organisms in your gut (including parasites, yeast, fungi and bad bacteria)
  • digestive disorders, including chronic constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut
  • a high toxic load (particularly in the digestive tract).

Many of these triggers are also connected or inter-dependent. For example, if your gut is inflamed or your bowels are sluggish, it can create the perfect environment for bacterial overgrowth (or dysbiosis). Similarly, food allergies or intolerances can contribute to gut permeability. Poor diet Considering that the digestive tract is the system through which we access nutrients and eliminate waste and toxins from the foods we eat, it is hardly surprising that diet plays a key role in the health of the digestive system and, in particular, the bowels. For example, a high intake of sugar can place a great deal of stress on the body and increase gut toxicity, by feeding bad bacteria and yeast. This can in turn increase the amount of fermentation, which can lead directly to bloating. In fact, abdominal bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, gas (both burping and flatulence) and IBS are all symptoms of a digestive system and liver overloaded with toxins.

Poor digestion

The average person consumes more than 25 tonnes of food over their lifetime! To avoid creating internal toxins, which can lead to symptoms like bloating, digestion must be efficient. In real terms, this equates to 1 – 3 bowel movements per day, depending on the amount of food eaten. All too often, people eat too quickly because they are in a rush or feeling stressed – this is a bad start for the complex process of digestion.

Digestive enzymes, required for the complete break-down of food, are released at different stages of the digestive process. If food is not chewed thoroughly, the enzymes do not get a proper chance to act. Similarly, stress inhibits all enzyme secretion.

Hydrochloric acid also plays a key role in the digestion of protein in the stomach. Many people with poor diets and/or digestion suffer with indigestion (heartburn) on a regular basis. As such, they start to routinely take antacids and other stomach acid blockers; these people are unlikely to be digesting protein properly and may therefore experience abdominal bloating, reflux and burping. It is also worth noting that, as we age, our levels of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes decline.

Food allergy / intolerance

If digestion is poor, or there is an imbalance in gut flora, or there are nutritional deficiencies or gut inflammation, what is known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’ can develop. This means that the intestinal lining becomes more permeable than it should be, allowing toxins and partially digested food molecules to enter the bloodstream. This can place the immune system under immense strain and, over time, can contribute to the development of food intolerances and/or allergies that can produce wide-ranging symptoms. These commonly include bloating, abdominal pains, water retention, IBS, weight gain, cravings and fatigue. In the majority of cases (upwards of 95% of cases), food allergies and intolerances develop over time, so that a food that you once tolerated well now makes you unwell. Any foods that you are allergic or intolerant to essentially act like poisons in your body. Continuing to include them in your diet can create inflammation, further weakening your immune system. If you continue to eat these foods, your body will try to dilute them to minimise their harmful effects. This can, in turn, congest the lymphatic system, leaving you feeling puffy and bloated.

Imbalance of gut flora

It’s estimated that there are more than 500 different species of bacteria present in the human gut in concentrations of between 100 billion to 1 trillion microbes per gram. This amounts to around 95% of the total number of cells in the human body. The naturally-occurring friendly bacteria in the stomach and intestines can quite easily be disrupted, resulting in an imbalance between the beneficial bacteria on the one hand, and harmful micro-organisms on the other (dysbiosis). Such an imbalance of gut flora makes the body more vulnerable to the overgrowth of yeast (such as Candida albicans), fungi, parasites and harmful bacteria. The toxins produced by these micro-organisms, along with poorly digested food, a high-sugar diet and medication (like antibiotics) can all alter the intestinal pH, destroy good bacteria and then lead to bloating.

Digestive disorders

As mentioned above, as well as poor digestion, actual digestive disorders can play a significant role in recurrent bloating. Some examples are discussed below:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Previously known as ‘mucous colitis’ and ‘spastic colitis’, IBS involves the colon being held in spasm. The four main symptoms are bloating, stomach pain, excessive wind and altered bowel habits (diarrhoea may alternate with constipation and the condition is often accompanied with the sensation that the bowel is incompletely emptied). Discomfort is usually relieved on passing stool or wind. IBS is often linked to emotional factors (such as stress) rather than allergies / intolerances (although it is thought that cow’s milk and antigens in beef can precipitate the condition), with around one-third of cases being linked to diet. Women are more susceptible than men.
  • Bowel disease: Bloating is one of the symptoms of an inflamed bowel, which can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as severe food sensitivity (as seen with coeliac disease, for example – an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten intake).
  • Chronic constipation: Constipation can have a number of underlying causes, but if food is only partially digested (for instance because of a lack of digestive enzymes) and that food reaches the colon, it can putrefy and ferment. The problem is compounded if there is a lack of fibre and water in the diet. The longer food sits in the bowel, the longer gas-forming bacteria have to work, leading to bloating.

Stop bloating!

So, if you suspect that any of the above could be contributing factors to your bloating, how can you beat the bloat? Well, a diet packed with natural whole foods (such as raw fruit and vegetables, rich in enzymes); quality dietary fibre; fermented foods (rich in probiotics); low in saturated fats, additives, preservatives, salt and sugar; and with plenty of pure water, is a great start! Combine this type of well-balanced diet with regular exercise and you have one of the best ways to keep your digestive system healthy, regular and efficient, and therefore to beat the bloat. You can also help to ensure healthy bowel function by:

  • eating slowly and chewing well (to avoid fermentation, gas formation and therefore bloating)
  • eating only when calm and relaxed (to encourage the secretion of digestive enzymes)
  • supplementing your diet, as required, with high-strength, multi-strain probiotics, digestive enzymes and dietary fibre.

If you suspect that years of poor diet have resulted in a sluggish bowel or ‘hidden’ constipation (where, despite daily bowel motions, waste-matter actually sits in the colon for several days before elimination), a colon cleanse or full body detox may also be of benefit. All the long-established dietary and nutritional therapies used down the ages recognise the benefit of regularly cleansing the system, starting with the colon. This can help to rid your body of accumulated toxins and therefore reduce the likelihood of bloating.

Our best-selling digestive suppements include:

What’s in your supplements?

More and more people in the UK and around the world are turning to alternative medicine and natural remedies to support their health and well-being, or to help them achieve their health goals. However, as with anything, when it comes to health supplements you get what you pay for.

If you walk into a supermarket, health shop or pharmacy nowadays, you will more than likely find a huge (and confusing!) selection of vitamins, minerals and other supplements – often with wide ranging price points.

One important differentiating factor can be the quality of the ingredients used. It would seem logical that, in products that are designed to support health, quality and purity should be of paramount importance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some vitamin manufacturers focus more on profit margins and low retail prices than on the quality and effectiveness of their products. So, if your supplements are suspiciously cheap, take a look at the ingredients list. You may be in for a nasty surprise!

Added ‘nasties’

Many of us choose to support our daily diets with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in supplement form, to help ensure that we are meeting our body’s daily nutritional requirements. However, there is little point in taking supplements that are actually putting more harmful substances into your body. But, believe it or not, this is exactly what can happen if you are not careful in your selection.

For instance, watch out for vitamins, minerals or herbs in tablet form. Very often, the active ingredients (the actual nutrients) can make up as little as 15% of the tablet! The remaining 85% comprises additives, preservatives and other added ‘nasties’ such as fillers, binders, excipients, artificial colourings, sweeteners, disintegrants, dilutents and more.

The lower the price of the tablets, the more likely it is that a high level of these undesirable ingredients have been included. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. When it comes to your health, isn’t it worth spending that little extra if it means you are getting a purer, more effective product? Otherwise, you might simply be wasting your time and money on products that either pass through your body with little effect, or worse, could actually be harmful.

Reasons to avoid cheap vitamins and supplements

Apart from the fact that you will be paying for a sub-standard product that can have little if any beneficial effect on the body, there are some other very practical reasons why you might want to avoid cheap vitamins and minerals. For instance, there are many reports of cheap tablets either passing through the digestive tract undigested (which means that there has been no benefit to the user) or, more worryingly, that they can get stuck there – neither disintegrating or passing through.

Another common example is that of ascorbic acid, often used in cheap vitamin C supplements. Ascorbic acid is actually a man-made chemical, which is manufactured in chemical plants by applying heat, pressure and chemicals to glucose (sugar), which converts the glucose to ascorbic acid.

Contrary to popular belief, ascorbic acid and natural vitamin C are not the same. Vitamin C is a naturally-occurring nutrient, found in a variety of fruit and vegetables, while ascorbic acid is an artificial, reduced form of the natural vitamin. When it is heated, the vitamin itself breaks down and can become largely ineffective.

Ascorbic acid is an isolate, a fraction, a distillate of naturally-occurring vitamin C – basically the “antioxidant wrapper” which protects the functional parts of vitamin C from rapid oxidation or breakdown. In addition to ascorbic acid, vitamin C must include rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen and other components. In addition, mineral co-factors must be available in proper amounts. If any of these are missing, there is no vitamin C and, more importantly from a health perspective, no vitamin activity. When only some of them are present, the body will draw on its own stores to make up the difference, so that the whole vitamin may be present. Only then will vitamin activity take place, provided that all other conditions and co-factors are present – but this is, of course, a drain on your body’s own reserves – not ideal.

What’s more, isolated ascorbic acid is not absorbed or used by the body in the same way as food, and (as an acid) can actually upset the stomach and irritate the digestive tract, and even worsen medical conditions. In the same way, alpha-tocopherol is not vitamin E, retinoic acid is not vitamin A and so on through the other vitamins. Another key difference between whole food vitamins and synthetics is that the former naturally contain within them many essential trace minerals necessary for their synergistic operation. In contrast, synthetic vitamins contain no trace minerals, relying on, and depleting, the body’s own mineral reserves.

It is telling that the man who coined the word “vitamin”, Dr. Casimir Funk (a Polish biochemist), stated that synthetic vitamins “… are highly inferior to vitamins from natural sources, also the synthetic product is well known to be far more toxic.”

Food form – sticking close to nature

The body is unable to manufacture most vitamins itself. As such, they must be obtained from the food we eat. The best sources then are obviously natural whole foods, rich in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that are in a form that is easily recognised, absorbed and utilised by the body – what we call “food form” or “food state”. Unfortunately, because of soil depletion, mineral depletion, pesticides, air pollution, erosion and other toxins and pollutants in the environment, foods grown in soil today have only a fraction of the nutrient value of even 50 years ago. That means a fraction of the vitamins and minerals necessary for normal cell function and overall health and vitality. What we are often left with in the supermarket, is a choice of empty, ‘dead’ foods of commerce. This is one of the main reasons why so many people now choose to support their nutrient intake with natural food form supplements, where you can be sure of what you are getting.

Natural, unadulterated food is what our bodies are best able to break down; in contrast, they struggle with synthetic vitamins, chemically polluted and refined / processed foods. A “food form supplement” is simply one which has been specially prepared to be as similar to real food as possible to assist this process, which in turn means that the body can absorb the nutrients more easily. Food form supplements usually come in capsule form. Not only are capsules easier to swallow, they help to increase the absorption of the product and you will not find a capsule passed through the digestive tract – it is designed to dissolve. This means that the supplement’s nutrients can be efficiently released into the system and absorbed much more easily.

And why not go organic?

In an age when we are exposed to an ever-increasing number of environmental toxins and chemicals, opting for both organic food and supplements wherever possible is an ideal means of helping to reduce your toxic load and get the most out of the nutrients in your diet. Produced from organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains, organic food form supplements will not have had any chemical compounds (such as additives) introduced into their plants at any point. Health supplements that are organic and natural may also have a higher content of vitamins and minerals and contain lower levels of toxic metals (including mercury, lead, and aluminium) than their non-organic counterparts. Don’t obsess about the milligrams! And one last thing, don’t overly concern yourself with ingredient milligrams. While you will, of course, want an idea of the concentration of nutrients in your vitamins and supplements, synthetic vitamins are refined, high potency chemicals, and therefore may be accurately measured in milligrams, just like drugs. This has nothing to do with vitamin activity or nutrition (except in a negative way), and is actually much more difficult to measure in natural food form products. This is not a reflection of their efficacy – quite the opposite.

Here are our most popular food-form supplements, free from unnecessary additives or synthetic vitamins!

Natural food form vitamin c elderberry rosehip

Can’t beat a beet!

So you think you know beetroot – the humble root vegetable, so often found in pantries in its pickled form since World War II.

But truly, it is so much more. In fact, it is a nutritional powerhouse now widely regarded as a superfood!

Humble beginnings

The beetroot is no stranger to the average household. Also known as “table beet”, it is one of the many cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris and the most common variety found in Britain, North America and Central America today. In the earliest days of its consumption, the leaves were most commonly eaten by people living in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Romans then began to make use of the root for various medicinal purposes. Over the years, it became popular in Central and Eastern Europe for culinary purposes too. Beetroot, as we know it today, was only cultivated in the 16th century. You may be surprised to learn that modern varieties are derived from the sea beet, an inedible plant that grows wild along the coasts of Europe, North Africa and Asia.

A super-root in disguise

Unlike some of the other, better known superfoods, like wheatgrass, spirulina or acai berry, beetroot is not overtly exotic. But don’t let that fool you! What has traditionally been viewed as a boring, somewhat unappetising vegetable, is really a “super-root” in disguise! It is a rich source of both carbohydrates and plant proteins, along with a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (considered in more detail below). At the same time, it has a very low caloric value and is almost entirely free of fat. It is also a low-GI food – the sugar conversion process is slow, which supports stable blood sugar levels.

Antioxidants

You can’t have failed to notice the vivid colour of beetroot – whether the deep purple, the bright yellow or the lesser seen candy-stripes! Like so many other superfoods, these colours offer a visual clue about the high level of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids found in beetroot.

The notorious red colour compound is called betanin (or beetroot red), a pigment which is a well-known antioxidant and phyto-chemical. However, all beets contain betalain antioxidants – a class of red and yellow pigments found in plants.

Vitamins and minerals

Beetroot is also rich in a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, contributing to its reputation as a superfood. For example, it contains high levels of folate and vitamin C (another powerful antioxidant), as well as riboflavin, niacin and thiamin, vitamin K, calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

Dietary fibre

Beetroot is high in dietary fibre – both soluble and insoluble. A 100g portion “ about two or three small beetroot “ contains as much as 10% of your recommended daily allowance. Fibre is an essential component of healthy digestion and supports everything from stable blood sugar levels to natural cleanse and detox processes in the body.

Dietary nitrate

More recently, much research has been undertaken on beetroot’s capacity to absorb and store exceptionally high levels of nitrate – a nutrient involved in many of the processes that are essential for efficient exercise performance, including blood flow and oxygen usage. In particular, a study conducted by Exeter University in the UK received a lot of media attention when it found that cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice. Since that study, both beetroot and beetroot supplements have been of particular interest to athletes.

Supporting health and vitality

The unique combination of nutrients found in beetroot mean that it can offer ideal support for all-round health and vitality, including:

  • a healthy heart and cholesterol levels
  • detoxification and liver function
  • a strong immune system
  • healthy homocysteine levels
  • normal tissue growth
  • musculo-skeletal health
  • healthy skin, hair and nails
  • stable blood sugar levels
  • stamina and energy levels
  • stable moods
  • and healthy digestion.

Belonging to the same family as two other nutritional titans, chard and spinach, both the leaves and roots of beetroot can be eaten. Incorporate it into your daily diet and your body will thank you!

Bad breath?

I think that most of us have experienced bad breath at some point in our lives, even if only as a first thing in the morning.

However, when it becomes a lingering problem, it can cause embarrassment and have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life when it comes to work interaction or even social life.

Identifying the cause of bad breath is often the first step towards treating this mostly preventable condition.

So, what is bad breath and what can cause it?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is basically an unpleasant odour emitted from a person’s mouth. It is a common problem, which can affect people of all ages. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 people are estimated to suffer with bad breath on a regular basis, although the level of its severity can vary grealtly between them.

What are some common causes of bad breath? Bad breath can be caused by a number of factors which may range from dental health and hygiene, to digestive problems and dietary choices, e.g. persistent bad breath is often caused by the smelly gases released by the bacteria that coat teeth and gums. Bits of food that get caught between the teeth and on the tongue will decay and can sometimes result in an unpleasant smell. However, strong foods like garlic, coffee and onions can add to the problem. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the role of digestive health and diet in causing bad breath.

Poor Digestion = Bad Breath?

For many people, grabbing a mint or a piece of gum is their ‘go-to’ solution, as it quickly masks the problem. However, this approach often fails to address the root causes of bad breath, which for many people includes digestive problems or dietary deficiencies. In addition to that, most of chewing gums are packed full or artificial sweeteners which may not be the best solution for your overall health.

The digestive tract extends all the way from the mouth, right through to the anus. It is therefore logical that any digestive disorders (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, poor digestion, fermentation in the gut and putrefaction in the stomach), could result in bad breath. Similarly, if your digestive tract is overloaded with accumulated toxins, if you have a poor diet, routinely use antibiotics or have a lifestyle that is otherwise conducive to an imbalance in your bowel flora, bad breath could merely be a side effect of another underlying problem – most likely related to digestion.

In adults, bad breath is often one of the earliest signs that bacteria levels in the gut are out of balance. Dysbiosis (also sometimes called dysbacteriosis) is a microbial imbalance on or in the body; in other words, an imbalance of friendly versus harmful bacteria (and other micro-organisms, such as yeast, fungi and parasites).

When levels of friendly bacteria in the digestive system are low, partially digested food is allowed to decay, resulting in the production of foul gas (as well as the release of toxins into the bloodstream).

Efficient digestion is essential for keeping things moving in the gut. The quicker that food is broken down, nutrients are absorbed and waste and toxins are removed from the body, the better. If you suffer from constipation, have a sluggish digestive system or a high toxic load, you are a prime candidate for developing bad breath. This is because these conditions create an excess of gas in your body, and much of that gas exits through your mouth. Digestive enzymes, both produced by the body and obtained from dietary sources (in the natural whole foods, fruits and vegetables that we eat), are essential for the efficient breakdown of food. However, these enzymes can be in short supply for a number of reasons, e.g.

  • age: our production of digestive enzymes decreases as we age, plus we have a finite reserve of them
  • the cooking process: a large percentage of the digestive enzymes naturally present in foods is destroyed by heating
  • stress: stress inhibits all enzyme secretion

Low levels of digestive enzymes can potentially lead to excess gas formation and putrefaction in the intestines. For many, this can contribute to bad breath gases travelling through the bloodstream and to the lungs, where they are exhaled.

Love dairy?

Whether or not you suffer from a dairy allergy or intolerance, many people find that reducing their dairy intake can help to control bad breath odours. Not only is dairy a highly acid-forming food, which is hard to digest, it can also thicken mucous in the mouth and contribute to the anaerobic environment that bacteria thrive in. This can in turn lead to the production of volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs).

Yeast overgrowth

Yeast overgrowth is now so common that it is referred to as a “silent epidemic”, particularly amongst women. All of us naturally have low levels of Candida growing in our digestive tract. It is only when digestion is poor, and the immune system and liver aren’t functioning correctly, that Candida is allowed to flourish. When it does, it then gradually spreads to other parts of the body (systemic candidiasis). It is a resilient and invasive parasite, which usually attaches itself to the intestinal wall and can (if left untreated) become a permanent resident of the internal organs. One of the known symptoms of Candida is bad breath. This is because an abnormally high level of fungal organisms in the intestines result in increased fermentation of the carbohydrates you eat. This then produces a variety of toxins and gases. If you want to find out more about candida, check out my blog post dedicated to Candida overgrowth.

The link between bad breath, poor diet, inefficient digestion and an imbalance in gut flora is clear. So, what can you do to support your body if you suspect that any one of these factors could be the cause?

  • Improve your diet: avoid foods that are hard to digest (such as meat and dairy), that are going to disrupt digestion (such as refined foods) or that are going to feed harmful micro-organisms (such as sugar). Instead, eat more probiotic-rich and fermented foods (like kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha), which can help to support your levels of beneficial bacteria naturally. Many people also choose to supplement with probiotics. In 2011, a study published in the journal ‘Current Opinion in Gastroenterology’ found that probiotic supplements can help to replace odour-causing oral microbes with beneficial varieties.
  • Eat more raw foods: Raw fruit and vegetables not only contain higher levels of digestive enzymes than cooked foods, they are also rich in dietary fibre – useful for ‘sweeping’ the digestive tract clear of waste, toxins and debris and keeping the digestive system healthy and regular.
  • Stay hydrated: Surprisingly, dehydration is one of the most common causes of bad breath. It is so simple to remedy, but many people drink far too little water throughout the day to ward off the bacteria in the mouth that are largely responsible for causing bad breath.
  • Consider a body cleanse and detox: Cleansing the blood and eliminating toxins from the body can help to stimulate the lymphatic system, increase the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys and boost adrenal function, all of which target halitosis at its root. Bad breath is often indicative of a system overloaded with toxins and a strained liver. Consider a colon cleanse, liver flush or full body detox!
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