Tag: gut

How I Tamed my Gut – Gut Disruptors to Avoid

Certified nutritional therapist and founder of ChefV.com, Veronica Wheat has a warning if you’re trying to improve digestion and overall wellness: Avoid gut health disruptors! Veronica has avoided them for years with great success and now she’s dedicated to shielding her newborn from them. You’ll be surprised what’s on this gut-microbiome-wrecking list!

Antibiotics. Junk food. Stress. Nearly everybody knows they are major gut health disruptors. Gut disruptors destroy friendly bacteria and encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. 

Before my son was born, I  decided to inventory my family's diet and remove the gut disruptors from our lives. I never suspected  that some of the things I found can make a mess of your gut!

Here's what I discovered…

Veronica and Kaden

Why Are Gut Disruptors Bad?

These gut health destroyers don’t just lead to chronic digestive problems. They negatively impact your well-being in every way. Here’s what can happen when gut disruptors significantly alter the ecosystem in your gut microbiome:

  • Weak immunity (infections and illnesses)
  • Chronic inflammation (allergies, autoimmune disorders)
  • Mood disorders (anxiety and depression caused by poor neurotransmitter activity)
  • Poor metabolism and weight gain (insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes)
  • Skin problems (Inflammatory skin breakouts like acne, eczema, psoriasis)
  • Cardiovascular stress (high blood pressure, hardening of arteries)
  • Sleep quality (lower melatonin production)
  • Hormonal imbalances (worsening of PMS or menopausal symptoms) 

woman cleaning window frame

When you have too many harmful bacteria and not enough friendly ones in your gut, the medical term for this is gut dysbiosis. Think of your gut health like a house party. Everyone’s having a great time because all the guests are mellow, funny and enjoying stimulating conversation. This is the equivalent of great gut health.

But then a group of rowdy party crashers shows up and spoils the fun for everybody. This is what gut dysbiosis is like. Except with party crashers, the problem is resolved when the party crashers finally leave. But in your gut, harmful bacteria can stick around for a long time. And that can cause all the problems above. 

kids in a field

Common Gut Disruptors

Skip ahead to the next section if you already know about the leading gut disruptors. Because not everybody knows about the connection between gut health and overall wellness and the things that can easily destroy gut health, here’s a recap:

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are necessary—and potentially life-saving—if you have a bacterial infection. But if you have a history of popping them like they’re Pez candy whenever you had the sniffles, your gut microbiome has likely taken a beating. 

“Antibiotic use can have several negative effects on the gut microbiota, including reduced species diversity, altered metabolic activity, and the selection of antibiotic-resistant organisms, which in turn can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhea and recurrent C. difficile infections.” Environment International

If you have recently taken antibiotics, I recommend taking a high-quality probiotic supplement to repopulate the good bacteria in your gut.

junk food

Highly-processed, low-nutrient-density food (Junk Food)

“Foods and beverages provide nutrients and alter the gut microbiota, resulting in eubiosis or dysbiosis,” says the study I reference below. In other words, every bite and sip you take impacts your gut health. What you eat at your next meal will drive you further into a state of eubiosis (a healthier gut microbiome) or dysbiosis (you’ll have more unfriendly bacteria crashing the party in your gut). 

“Chronic consumption of a diet that is high in saturated or trans fats, meat proteins, sugars, and salt and low in fiber induces dysbiosis.”

Annual Review of Food Science and Technology

—-> Want the easiest way to get more green leafy veggies in your life? Drink them fresh and unpasteurized, which is great for your gut microbiome! Get on the Chef V Organic Green Drink Plan.

man with postits over body

Stress

Got stress? Of course you do. Everybody does. Chronic stress can lead to junk food binging, which obviously disrupts your gut health. But never mind the consequences of negative behavior from dealing with stress like eating unhealthy or giving in to addictive behaviors. The inflammation caused by mental stress is itself a gut disruptor. In a study of frontline health workers during the pandemic, the researchers concluded:

“Stressful events … disrupted the gut microbiome; gut dysbiosis persisted for at least half a year.” 

Journal of Affective Disorders

I’ll also add insomnia here because chronic stress severely impacts sleep quality. 

“Accumulating evidence suggests that gut microbiota dysbiosis is associated with sleep-deprivation-induced human diseases.”

International Journal of Molecular Sciences

So learn to manage your stress by meditating, doing yoga, gardening, journaling, breathing, or taking a big whiff of Rescue Remedy

people running

Lack of Exercise—And Too Much Exercise

Studies show that exercise has a beneficial impact on your gut microbiome, which is the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi in your GI tract. That’s why it’s important to move your body every day. (One reason why I love pickleball and yoga.)

But you don’t have to do crazy CrossFit workouts to support gut eubiosis. In fact, working out too hard can lead to gut dysbiosis. 

“Exercise is associated with increased biodiversity and a beneficial metabolic function, while exhaustive exercise training might be associated with dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, promoting negative metabolic effects and inflammation.”

World Journal of Gastroenterology

12 Uncommon Gut Disruptors Chef V Avoids (And Baby Kaden, Too)

So now that we’ve covered these obvious gut disruptors let’s now take a look at some that you may least expect. I’ve avoided these for most of my adult life and plan to keep baby Kaden away from them. Hey, call me a helicopter parent, I don’t care. When it comes to my baby’s health, I’ll go all grizzly mama. After all, as the study I reference above about antibiotics says, “Early childhood exposure to antibiotics can lead to several gastrointestinal, immunologic, and neurocognitive conditions.” 

And I bet the same goes for early exposure to junk food. 

OK, so here we go. Ready to have your mind blown by these gut disruptors? 

chewing gum

Chewing Gum

You’re not only what you eat, you’re what you chew. Pretty much the only time I’ll chew gum is when I’m on an airplane to prevent my ears from popping. Other than that, here’s why I avoid it:

For starters, sugarless gum is made with artificial sweeteners. Research (like this study) shows that artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol, and sucralose are major gut disruptors. 

In addition, chewing gum not only disrupts your gut microbiome, it negatively impacts your oral microbiome. Your mouth, of course, is also a breeding ground for bacteria, both good and bad. Chewing gum is an oral disruptor. It prevents the growth of bacteria in your saliva. 

That may seem like a good thing if you have bad breath. But you need enough good bacteria to prevent infections of the mouth—and dank breath. Also, your oral microbiome (and the “feminine microbiome”) directly impacts the health of your gut microbiome. (And vice versa.)

Now let’s move on to the next uncommon gut disruptor…

Mouthwash

Just like chewing gum, gargling with conventional mouthwash brands can be a huge oral health disruptor. 

One common ingredient in major brands of mouthwash is chlorhexidine or CHX. CHX, says this study in Scientific Reports is “associated with a major shift in the salivary microbiome, leading to more acidic conditions and lower nitrite availability in healthy individuals.”

Now here’s why “nitrate availability” is important. Your mouth has bacteria that convert nitrate into beneficial compounds like nitric oxide (NO), which helps to open up your blood vessels, allowing for better circulation. 

So what do I do after I eat healthy garlic bread (with cassava flour) and my breath is kicking? I use organic or natural mouthwash. It may cost a few bucks extra. But the health of my oral and gut microbiomes is worth it. 

teflon pan

Next up seems like a random list:

Non-Stick Cookware
Microwave Popcorn Bags
Fast-food and Take-Out Wrappers
Stain-Resistant Carpet and Fabrics
Waterproofing Sprays

Why am I lumping these uncommon gut disruptors together? 

They all contain “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances” or PFAS for short. PFAS substances are known as “forever chemicals” because, if not literally forever, they take a really long time to decompose. Like hundreds or thousands of years. Not only are PFAS chemicals terrible for the environment, they are deadly for your gut microbiome and health. 

PFAS chemicals are added to products to make them fireproof, and resistant to grease. However, studies show that PFAS chemicals are major gut disruptors. I found one study from 2023 that especially hits home for me. It researches the effects of PFAS on a group of moms and their babies. PFAS compounds were shown to increase a specific type of unfriendly bacteria in the mommy’s stool and to a lesser extent (thank goodness), the babies’ poop. 

man with chemical testing

Preservatives & Additives

I’m gonna revisit junk food. Besides the loads of sugar and salt, another reason highly processed food is horrible for the gut microbiome is that it contains preservatives and additives. One example of an additive is polysorbate 80. It’s an emulsifier. Emulsifiers mix ingredients together that don’t normally blend well. Like oil and water for instance.

Studies suggest polysorbate 80 causes low-grade inflammation in the colon (large intestine). It’s in the colon where the majority of your gut bacteria colonize. They live here rent-free in exchange for helping you digest your food and produce byproducts that contribute to health like short-chain fatty acids. 

If you buy organic food, you don’t have to worry about ingredients like polysorbate 80. No need to panic if it’s not organic. But you should really start reading nutrition labels. 

So what are some examples of foods that include gut disruptors like polysorbate 80?

  • Salad dressings 
  • Processed cheese 
  • Ice cream
  • Sauces
  • Baked goods
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Candy

Want to learn to make your own healthy version of these foods? Then check out my recipe archives!

Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers

Got a minor headache? Does your tummy feel a bit off? Is your boo-boo throbbing? When those things happen to me, I try to toughen it out instead of taking OTC pain-relief medicines. That’s because non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can destroy your gut lining when taken in excess. And when your gut lining erodes, harmful bacteria can move into your colon, acting like gut party crashers. 

So take it easy on the ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin (Bayer) and naproxen (Aleve). Instead, use herbs, homeopathic remedies or essential oils to manage pain and swelling. Don’t worry, baby Kaden, I’ve got Rescue Remedy with me at all times. 

clean water

Tap Water

If your home doesn’t have a whole house water filtration system, consider installing filters on your shower head and kitchen tap. That’s because chlorine is added to tap water as a disinfectant. You wouldn’t drink water from a swimming pool. So why drink water from the tap or let your skin be exposed to chlorine in the shower? 

“Given the importance of the microbiome in health, persistent exposure to low levels of chlorine may be a hitherto unrecognized risk factor for gut dysbiosis, which has now been linked to virtually every chronic non-communicable disease of the modern era.”

Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

cleaning products in arms

Household Cleaners and Personal Care Products

If you’re still using mainstream brands of hair care products, skincare products, laundry detergent, dryer sheets and household cleaners, I beg you to stop. And so does your gut microbiome. 

Personal care and laundry products are severely unregulated and contain synthetic chemicals that can cause cancer and disrupt hormonal balance. 

Take, for example, formaldehyde in hair relaxers, which are used primarily by African-American women. Formaldehyde was classified as a carcinogen in 2004 but because of a lack of regulations for cosmetic products, it’s one of the main chemicals in hair straighteners. 

Thankfully, the FDA is considering banning dangerous gut-disrupting, cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde. And not a moment too soon after thousands of women, most of them African-American, have developed or are in danger of developing ovarian cancer and other reproductive cancers. 

I’m not in the habit of calling out brands that use harmful chemicals. But stroll through any supermarket aisle and pretty much every single brand of shampoo, conditioner, hair straightener, cosmetics and laundry contains deadly gut disruptors!

And that’s not an exaggeration. 

Bisphenols, phthalates, volatile organic compounds (fragrance), and not to mention heavy metals and pesticides literally kill your friendly bacteria.

Again, it may cost more to buy an organic or natural brand. But your gut health—which is your overall health—is worth it. Slash unnecessary spending so you can afford healthy brands. Research the toxicity levels of the cosmetics you use on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

Veronica with pickleball

The Benefits of Avoiding Gut Disruptors 

It’s pretty easy to avoid most of these gut disruptors by:

  • Eating real food at least 90% of the time. (Organic, non-GMO preferably.)
  • Drinking and using purified water. (That includes cooking.)
  • Using organic or natural oral health, household and beauty products. 
  • Managing your stress.
  • Doing a periodic CLEANSE to reboot your digestive system.
  • Try Pickleball! (I love pickleball.) Or other regular exercise.

When you avoid gut disruptors and do other things to support your gut microbiome like having a GREEN DRINK every morning, good things happen. Here are the health benefits I’ve been enjoying for years. 

  • Strong immune function (Knock on wood.)
  • Iron stomach digestion (Even when I’m on vacation in another country. Again, knock on wood haha.)
  • Balanced mood (Hubby, Brandon, may disagree with me on that one!)
  • Weight management and metabolism (Great gut health is way more than having a flat tummy, although that doesn’t hurt.)
  • Looking Great and Feeling Great (‘nuff said.)

These benefits, I hope, will be passed on to baby Kaden. I’m breastfeeding him and gave birth to him vaginally. So he’s got a great gut microbiome head start. Let’s hope he doesn’t turn into a rebellious teenager and use these gut disruptors…

To great gut health.

Love, 

Veronica Wheat
ChefV.com Founder

No B.S. If You have IBS: Try A Chef V Cleanse To Repair Your Gut

leaky gut

Having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) means experiencing frequent bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation and other digestive disturbances. Thankfully, Chef V has one effective recommendation for improving your IBS, courtesy of a Facebook post testimonial. 

Unless you have IBS, it’s hard to empathize with someone who has it. It’s such a challenging condition not to mention a frustrating one. 

On one hand, it’s one of the most commonly-diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders, affecting up to 50 million people in the U.S. alone. At the very least, roughly 15% of adults in the U.S. have IBS, but only 5% of people have been officially diagnosed. 

Despite how pervasive IBS is, there is no single cure, root cause, or effective treatment. 

If you don’t have IBS, consider yourself lucky and imagine how harrowing it must be to be totally in the dark when IBS symptoms strike! What if you’re out in public and can’t get to a bathroom in time? 

IBS can severely impact your quality of life.

So let’s get to know this baffling condition…

irritable bowel

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

As mentioned, IBS is one of the most common albeit underdiagnosed gastrointestinal disorders. Unlike Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), which is caused by a functional and structural problem of the bowels, with IBS there’s nothing going on under the hood, so to speak, that explains the symptoms. 

If there’s no noticeable abnormality in the gut, then what explains the frequent or chronic bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas and belching?

What Causes IBS?

Here’s a list of things that may cause IBS symptoms:

  • Gut dysbiosis (This means not having enough friendly bacteria in the large intestine and too many unfriendly bacteria.)
  • Poor gut-brain communication (The gut and brain should always be communicating effectively, just like in a healthy relationship.)
  • Poor motility (This means having abnormal muscle contractions in the bowels.)
  • Stress (Research studies like this one suggest a strong link between psychological stress and IBS. Stress is definitely a trigger.)
  • Food intolerances (Dairy and gluten are major triggers of IBS symptoms.)
  • Unresolved gut infections. (Did you travel to a developing country in the tropics? Maybe you picked up a parasite?)

Out of the 6 factors above, I think stress is the most prevalent because it can cause or exacerbate the other triggers. 

For example, stress negatively impacts gut-brain communication (the Gut-Brain Axis); causes gut dysbiosis; can lead to poor motility and leaky gut; and can worsen inflammation-associated food sensitivity.

leaky gut

How To Manage IBS

In light of the fact that psychological stress is one of the biggest triggers of IBS symptoms, it helps to have a daily stress-management practice. 

  • Yoga.
  • Meditation. 
  • Visualization exercises. 
  • Journaling. 
  • Immersing yourself in nature. 

Do at least one of these practices every single day. 

For IBS sufferers, the condition is frustrating and challenging because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment like there is for let’s say high cholesterol. (Not that I’m endorsing statin drugs for everybody!)

For a dietary intervention, a low FODMAP diet may help. I won’t go too deep here but FODMAPS are basically different types of sugars that are difficult for people with IBS to digest. 

I previously touched on FODMAPS here.

Basically, you’ll want to avoid foods that give most people gas. That means no:

  • Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies (especially raw!)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Dairy
  • Cereal, bread, wheat products and other high-gluten foods

Drink Low FODMAP Leafy Greens 

A lot of veggies, even though they are considered healthy, can trigger IBS symptoms. Cauliflower and cabbage: I’m talking about you!

What’s even more frustrating is that there are at least 3 subtypes of IBS: IBS-C, IBS-D, IBS-M. IBS-C is constipation-dominant; D is diarrhea-dominant and M is mixed. 

What may trigger IBS symptoms in a person with IBS-D may not trigger symptoms in a person who is IBS-C dominant. 

So wanna know the best way to get your daily dose of antioxidants—without freaking out your digestive system?

Try drinking them. 

With Chef V Organic Green Drink, you’re getting the cleanest (no pesticides) low FODMAP leafy green veggies. 

In a way, they’re pre-digested for you through the processing method of cold-blending. 

As mentioned, IBS is caused in part by gut dysbiosis, meaning there’s not enough friendly bacteria in the gut. 

The Chef V Green Drink advantage over conventional juice brands is that it’s never high-heat pasteurized. 

That means that all the friendly bacteria is alive in the Green Drink. 

And when you drink Green Drink every morning, you will supply your gut with the friendly bacteria it needs to manage IBS symptoms.

Manage IBS Symptoms With A Chef V 5 DAY Cleanse

If you want to take your IBS management to the next level, check out Tina’s recommendation below. 

Tina has IBS and says that doing a 5 Day Cleanse (Chef V offers a 21 Day Detox which includes a cleanse period) has helped her get rid of gas and bloating. 

With the 5 Day Cleanse you get everything you need to reduce IBS symptoms—without feeling deprived:

  • 4 Green Drinks per day
  • 2 vegan, low FODMAP protein shakes per day
  • 1 DETOX SOUP for dinner per day
  • Health resources to keep the results going and unlimited email support.

Learn more about CHEF V CLEANSE options here

To your success in kicking IBS’ butt!

Love, 

Veronica “V” Kress

Founder, ChefV.com

The Best Natural Probiotic (Hint: It’s Not Yogurt)

apple core

I recently talked about how important it is to have good gut health. Your gut plays such a huge role in your overall health. But in the article, what I didn’t really focus on was how to achieve a healthy gut. And we’re not talking about crunches so you can have chiseled, six-pack abs here. Rather, we’re talking about hosting a multitude of good bacteria and a diverse amount of different bacteria species inside your gastrointestinal tract (the microbiome). 

So what’s the easiest and best way to do that? In the article on gut health, I mentioned taking a probiotic. If you eat a low-fiber diet rich in processed (junk) food, then you should definitely be taking a high-quality probiotic. 

But there’s an even easier, and perhaps healthier way to achieve a healthier microbiome. It turns out that the best probiotic source is …. Wait for it … wait for it…..

Best natural source of probiotics

So, is the best way to get lots of friendly, diverse bacteria in your gut by eating lots of yogurt? How about kombucha? Or is the best source of probiotics some other fermented food like kimchi or sauerkraut or kvass? 

Turns out it’s none of these. 

An article in The Atlantic, which references a study in Frontiers of Microbiology, suggests that the single best natural source of probiotics is: an apple. 

The average apple, the study says, contains about 100 million bacteria. 

Now, after I read that fun fact, my first reaction, I’ll admit, was the following, “Big deal, my probiotic supplement contains 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units).” That’s right, my probiotic supplement, in just one tiny little capsule, contains almost 10,000% more bacteria than an apple. 

But here’s the thing. It turns out that eating the apple might be better for you than popping a pill. The reason why? For the same reason eating unprocessed whole foods (especially fruits and veggies) is better for you than vitamin supplements. 

Makes sense, right? After all, whole foods offer the whole puzzle of interlocking health pieces, from micronutrients, antioxidants, as well as fiber, which the good bacteria feed on. On the other hand, supplements, perhaps probiotic pills included, represent, only a few pieces of the total health puzzle. 

In other words, just like in many other aspects of life, it’s quality that usually matters, not quantity. The 100 million or so bacteria in the typical apple are comprised of a myriad of different types of bacteria. Compare that to the average probiotic supplement, which contains maybe a few different friendly microbe species.

Work On Your Core – Apple that is

Now, before you rush out to your local supermarket and stock up on apples, there is a catch. Approximately 90% of the bacteria in the apple is contained, not in the skin, or the juicy main part of the flesh, but in the core. 

If you’re like most people, you probably throw the core away. And when you do that, it’s like throwing away the world’s best probiotic pill down the toilet. 

So from now on, it’s all about the core. Eat the seeds, too. They actually contain a trace amount of the natural toxin, cyanide. But if you eat an apple or two a day, core included, it’ll still keep the doctor away. 

Do you struggle to get enough vegetables in your diet? If so, don’t feel bad. You’re in good company. Approximately 9 out of 10 people don’t eat enough veggies, especially green leafy ones, which most nutritionists (like myself) consider the healthiest kind. 

The good news is that if you’re not getting enough leafy greens in your diet or can’t stomach the thought of eating apple cores, I have an easy solution for you….

Organic Green Drinks (Core Included)

Chef V’s Organic Green Drink is the easiest way to get your full day supply–and then some–of dark, leafy greens veggies. Containing two kinds of kale; collard greens; green leaf lettuce; curly parsley; green chard, and dandelion greens, Organic Green Drink is raw and cold-blended. This means the fiber and micronutrients are preserved for optimal nutrition and, yes, gut health. Fresh produce, suggests The Atlantic article, might just be the best source of natural probiotics in general. (But that finding seems like a no-brainer in my opinion.)

And guess what else is in Chef V Organic Green Drink? That’s right … an apple! Core and all. 

For every 16 oz of Green Drink you consume, you’re gut benefits from hundreds of millions of good bacteria. And remember, it’s not just the quantity of good bacteria that matters, it’s the diversity. 

As Dr. James Hamblin, author of The Atlantic article on probiotics puts it, “Food is the main way that our gut biomes are populated throughout our lives, and microbe-rich foods [especially the 7 certified organic greens in my Green Drink] seem to be important to maintaining diversity.”

Best Source of Natural Good Bacteria: Conclusion

Remember, when it comes to eating apples, don’t think if you throw away the core that you’re still getting a decent amount of probiotics. In fact, it’s only by eating the core that you’ll get the same strains of bacteria that are sold in pricey probiotic pills.  

Eating a plethora of fresh produce every day supports the intricate interconnectedness of the immune and digestive systems. By eating a wide variety of fresh produce, we feed our gut microbes the fiber and sugars they need to support our health. We scratch the bugs’ back, they scratch ours. 

And whether you eat a huge fresh salad everyday or not, Chef V Organic Green Drink is the perfect way to gently wake up your digestive system in the morning, and gently cleanse your vital organs, and, of course, feed the friendly microbes in your gut.

Go With Your Gut: 3 Ways to keep your microbiome healthy

your microbiome

Scientists say that the state of our gut is vital to good health and influences our ability to lose weight. Each of us have a “microbiome” in our belly – our own set of bacteria. Staying mindful of the impact of what we eat on our gut and following a healthy diet  has a huge impact on how we feel. The good news is that most of the bugs in your gut are friendly. But when the bad ones start multiplying, that's when your skin and digestion can suffer. Here's 3 things you need to know about your microbiome.

It's kind of creepy when you think about the fact that there are about 100 trillion bugs (bacteria) in the human gut.

Imagine looking under a microscope and seeing all those critters swimming around in your belly, enjoying a buffet of the food that's in your gastrointestinal tract.

If you think you're human, think again. We're actually more bacteria than we are human. In fact, your body has at least 10 times more living organisms in your gut alone than your whole body has human cells.

your microbiome - bacteria

1. Your Gut controls your health – understand it.

Think about that. All the cells that make you, well, you, including skin cells, bone cells, and muscle cells, all over your body is tiny in comparison to the number of bacteria that's living inside of you. Scientists consider your gut so important that they call it your “second brain”.

The good news is that the majority of the bacteria in your gut is friendly. Friendly microbes play an important part of your immune system.

But because of several factors including genetics, antibiotic use and lifestyle choices (poor diet), you may have too many unfriendly bacteria.

Researchers just a relative blink of an eye ago have discovered that the bugs in your gut more than anything else including diet and exercise determine your health.

For example, we now know that obesity isn't just linked to eating too many calories and junk food. It's also a consequence of lacking certain beneficial bacteria. (Want to read more on this topic? Here's a good article.)

weight and your microbiome

image courtesy Custom Probiotics Inc

The Gut Health Overall Health Connection

In addition to the examples of the overall connection between bacteria in the gut and overall health, here's another one: joint pain.

It used to be assumed that joint pain was a result of simple wear and tear. But now, researchers believe that the bacteria in your gut can determine whether or not you develop osteoporosis and other joint disorders.

The bugs in your gut can also determine how healthy your blood vessels are and whether or not you'll develop hardening in your arteries.

Moreover, all kinds of inflammatory disorders such as autoimmune disease and cancers of the GI tract may be caused by poor gut health.

Your mood can also be directly related to your gut bacteria. Anxiety and depression may not only be the result of circumstantial, external factors, but also because of your internal environment.

As you can see, having a diverse amount of good bacteria is perhaps the biggest influencer of  overall health. Gut health can even determine skin health.

If you spend a lot of time and money on skin care products, perhaps you need to rethink your skin care regimen entirely. That's because poor skin, from excessive dryness to acne and other skin conditions can be traced to what's inside your gut.

skin health and your microbiome

2. Feed Your Gut Good Stuff – Probiotics & Green Drink

But if genetics is a major determining factor in your bacteria portfolio, is there anything that can be done to change what's inside your gut?

The good news is there are a few simple things you can do to boost the number of beneficial bacteria.

For starters, if you're not taking a probiotic supplement, buy one today and start taking it every day. It should contain at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per serving (usually one or two capsules).

Like any other supplement, not all probiotics are created equal. If you buy a cheap one from Rite Aid it might not be effective. Do some research before you buy.

Another easy thing you can do to improve your gut health is having 16 oz of my Green Drink every morning. Good bacteria love to feast on the seven certified organic green leafy veggies in my Green Drink. The veggies contain prebiotic fibers. You can think of prebiotics as food for probiotics (good bacteria).

You can take the most expensive probiotic supplement in the world, but if you're not feeding the good bacteria with prebiotics, they're not going to flourish and multiply and colonize your gut.

Which is why if you haven't been eating healthy lately, I also recommend doing a Chef V Cleanse. With a Chef V Cleanse, you get four Green Drinks per day plus a detox soup for dinner and two vegan protein shakes in between. The soup and shakes also are loaded with prebiotic fuel to stimulate beneficial bacteria in your gut.

probiotic

3. You can reset your Gut Health with a Detox

Diet is crucial for gut health. Even if you eat a large salad with organic veggies every day, if you're also drinking beer and eating bread and other foods that are rich in either white or wheat flour, your good bacteria won't flourish.

That's because drinking beer and eating baked goods causes yeast overgrowth in the gut. Too much yeast results in the good bacteria not being able to do its job effective of protecting your immune system and fighting inflammation.

Bloated belly, foggy brain, chronic congestion and indigestion … all these are symptoms of poor gut health. And yeast overgrowth (especially from the species, candida albicans) is often the culprit.

If you need a longer digestive system overhaul that will keep the yeast at bay, I recommend trying my 21 day detox challenge. It's easy to follow. I provide all the coaching and instruction you'll need to easily finish it through, and give your gut the fuel it needs to populate good bacteria.

After your 21 day detox is over, you won't be tempted by eating yeasty, sugary foods again. And I'll teach you what to eat after the detox is over to ensure that your success will carry over and your good gut bacteria will thrive.

In the meantime, to boost the friendly bacteria in the gut, you can also eat foods that are rich in probiotics. Drinking kombucha is an easy way to get some probiotics. So, too, is eating fermented foods  like kimchi (Korean cabbage), tempeh and sauerkraut. If you happen to live in a town with good farmers markets, look for stands that sell fermented foods and drinks.

Here's to your (gut) health….

Love,

Chef V

21 day detox from Chef 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

What Is Leaky Gut & Do You Have It?

leaky gut

Leaky anything never sounds good: Pipes. Faucet. Radiator. Can you think of a situation where leaking is a good thing? I can’t think of one. The worst leak of all, one that affects millions of people’s health and happiness is leaky gut. 

How Do You Fix Leaky Gut?

Fixing a leaky gut isn’t easy and it takes time. Unlike calling a plumber, you can’t call a GI handyman to fix it fast. This is especially true if you’ve been experiencing the above symptoms for many years. 

The first step in conquering leaky gut is to stop it from leaking more. And to do that, you need to stop eating and drinking things that will continue to weaken it. For this, I recommend two options. The more accurate but more expensive way is to get a food sensitivity blood test. That takes the guesswork out. If you want to go the cheaper but longer route, follow an elimination diet. That’s where you avoid all potential allergenic foods like gluten for at least 4 weeks and then reintroduce them one by one to see if you have any allergy symptoms. 

There are certain foods like bone broth and collagen protein that may actually help repair the gut lining. But you can’t just sip a cup of bone broth and continue eating allergenic foods expecting miracles. 

As a certified nutrition therapist, I wish I could work one on one with you to help repair your gut. But one recommendation I have for you—besides replacing the typical American breakfast every day with my Organic Green Drink—is working with a functional medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor. Through diagnostic testing and supplement recommendations, these natural health experts can help you overcome leaky gut and get you living your best life. It’ll cost a pretty penny but isn’t looking and feeling your best worth it?

Gut: Not The Same As Belly

You’ve probably heard of leaky gut but aren’t quite sure what it means. In order to understand what leaky gut is, it’s important to first understand what the gut refers to. 

Many people think the gut is the stomach or abdomen. But your belly is just a small part of your gut. Your gut, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract actually begins in your mouth. Digestion begins even before you take the first bite of food. When you so much as look at or even smell what you’re about to eat or drink, saliva starts forming, ready to soften food for transit down the digestive tract. Eventually, what you eat is eliminated through your backside, which is where the gut ends. 

So now that you have a clear definition of what the gut is, let’s focus on a specific area of the gut that heavily influences your immune system, mood and overall health… 

Your intestines are home to trillions of bacteria. It’s also here that 80% of your immune cells reside. Some people believe that in order to have strong digestion, you need a strong stomach. But actually, the part of your body that has the most influence on your health is called the intestinal mucosal barrier. 

stomach mucosa - leaky gut

The Mucosal Barrier & Gut Health

Years ago, when I first heard the term mucosal barrier, I was kind of grossed out. When you hear the word mucus what do you think of? Disgusting runny noses, right? But it turns out that mucus is one of your best friends. Your intestines are lined with a mucosal barrier. This barrier protects you from potentially-disease-causing pathogens like harmful bacteria, viruses, fungus, etc. In addition, the barrier interacts with immune cells, absorb nutrients and is also responsible for directing waste out of the body. 

Your mucosal barrier is lined by epithelial cells. A healthy mucosal barrier has tight junctions between the cells. 

Leaky Gut Explained

So here’s where we get to leaky gut. Because of several reasons I’ll mention in just a sec, the tight junction can weaken over time. And when this thin intestinal mucosal wall leaks now you have a leaky gut. What exactly is leaked? Undigested food particles, toxins and microorganisms (bacteria, etc.). 

leaky gut

What Happens When You Have Leaky Gut?

Bad things. Autoimmune disorders can arise. A weak gut lining can cause rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other imbalances in which the body attacks itself. 

Why does the body attack itself? It’s because when these undigested food particles, toxins and bacteria flow unimpeded through the bloodstream, the immune system mounts a defense and tries to destroy them. This creates a high inflammation response in the body, leading to painful joints, skin and digestion problems and more…

Why Hasn’t My Doctor Told Me About Leaky Gut?

Because leaky gut isn’t an officially recognized medical disorder. The closest thing to it is “intestinal permeability.” But in order to get diagnosed with that, you need to undergo a biopsy, in which a slice of your intestinal tissue is removed. 

There is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario with leaky gut. Did the weakening of the mucosal barrier cause an autoimmune disease or is it the other way around? 

I’m convinced that because of various factors, leaky gut causes inflammatory conditions, not the other way around. 

probiotics

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

You don’t have to have an autoimmune disorder to have a leaky gut. Other signs that your intestinal wall has gotten weaker include:

  • Brain fog
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Acne, eczema and rashes
  • Anxiety and depression

Causes Of Leaky Gut

If you have any of the above symptoms do you relate to any of the following causes? 

  • Frequent antibiotic use
  • Gut dysbiosis (not having enough friendly bacteria, having too many harmful bacteria)
  • Chronic stress 
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals like glyphosate
  • Excess alcohol
  • Consuming too much sugar
  • Eating foods to which you are allergic or sensitive, e.g. gluten, dairy. (This is also a chicken or egg question: are you allergic because of leaky gut or did leaky gut cause the allergy? Hmmm.)

There are other causes of leaky gut but these are by far the most common. 

That’s NASty! Are Non-Caloric Artificial Sweeteners (NAS) Making Us Sick?

non-caloric artificial sweeteners

Here’s a one-question nutrition pop quiz … what’s better for your health: regular soda or diet?

Clearly the answer is not regular soda, right? After all, a regular can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. And all that sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity. So even though diet soda has chemicals, it’s much better for your health to have 0 grams of sugar than all that sugar in regular soda … right?

Wrong!

According to recent research, artificial sweeteners may be just as bad for your health as regular sugar. In fact, this study suggests non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) damage your gut bacteria.

What does that mean for your health?

Well, I previously wrote about how your gut is like your second brain and plays a major role in your overall health. The amount of beneficial (good) bacteria versus harmful bacteria in your gut determines how effective your digestion is, how strong your immune system is functioning, and even how healthy your skin looks.

gut bacteria

They’re Everywhere, They’re Everywhere!

As if anybody needed more convincing that artificial sweeteners are bad for you, this new research takes the cake.

If you have a diet soda once in a blue moon, I’m not suggesting that your gut bacteria will be damaged over night. But the problem is artificial sweeteners are in so many products.

Chewing gum (Any brand of sugar free). Bread (Thomas English Muffins 100% Whole Wheat) Yogurt (Yoplait Light). Iced Tea (I’m talking about you, Snapple). Popcorn (Orville Redenbacher). Hot Chocolate (Nestle). Ice cream (Breyer’s Low Carb Smart).

Getting the idea?

So if artificial sweeteners are so bad for your health, why does the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) allow it?

I’ll play devil’s advocate for a second and say that in moderation, these fake sugars probably don’t do much damage. Maybe you’ve heard about studies that feed rats or mice the equivalent of 100 cans of soda a day. Of course, the rodents are going to get sick with that much junk pumping through their tiny, sensitive systems.

But here’s the thing….

Because these artificial sweeteners are in so many foods, most people aren’t aware they are consuming so much of them.

That’s why I try to eat as much organic and all-natural foods as possible. Not that I eat bread, but if I did, I wouldn’t buy a conventional name-brand loaf; I’d be buying it from a farmer’s market, knowing that the bread has only a few ingredients with no added or fake sugars.

gut flora

Artificial Sweeteners Are Making Us Sick

It’s easy to be cynical and say that I, as someone who is selling Organic Green Drinks for a living, is just trying to demonize sugar (be they real or fake) in order to make a buck. And don’t get me wrong, I am in business to make a living. But the reason I wake up excited in the morning has nothing to do with income and everything to do with the daily success stories I read on Yelp or that come in my email inbox.

The seven certified organic green leafy veggies in my Green Drink contain prebiotic fiber that result in good gut health. And as I mentioned above, your gut is in control of all aspects of your health. But millions of people who consume foods and drink with hidden artificial sweeteners have, or are in danger of having one or more metabolic diseases. What are metabolic diseases? Here’s a list:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Dementia
  • High Blood Pressure

metabolic syndrome

image courtesy healthfreedoms.org

Stay Sweet, Naturally

As a certified nutritional therapist, my advice is to have real sources of sugar in moderation, mostly from fruit. If you need your healthy morning juice with a little sweetness, try my Tropical Smoothie. It’s contains the same 7 leafy greens in Green Drink that are great for gut health. It’s sweetened with a little pineapple juice. Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain, which is good for digestion. There’s only 3 grams of naturally-occurring sugar in an 8 oz. serving of my Tropical Smoothie. (Compare that to other leading juice brands, which contain 30 or more grams of sugar!)

There’s some controversy over stevia and whether or not it’s really all-natural. True stevia comes from a plant and is therefore natural. But some brands of stevia also contain maltodextrin (corn sweetener) and/or are made in a lab.

My take on the stevia debate? You have to pick and choose your battles. I think stevia sweetener isn’t nearly as bad as other synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium (ace-K), and sucralose. That’s why I recommend avoiding as much as possible the following brand-name fake sugars: Splenda, Sweet’N Low, Nutrasweet, Equal, and Splenda.

The best natural zero-calorie sweetener in my opinion is monkfruit extract. It’s more pricey than stevia. But isn’t your health worth a couple extra bucks? Your gut will thank you in many ways.

monkfruit

Conclusion

For several years, there’s been lots of concern about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. Do they cause cancer? Can they lead to hyperactivity in kids? Do they trick the brain into eating more calories? While the FDA still maintains that fake sugars are safe in moderation, this new research tying the synthetic sweet stuff to poor gut health, in my opinion, is the nail in the coffin (no pun intended).

Stay sweet, naturally, my friends….

Love,

Chef V

Chef V and kale

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