gut bacteria

  1. Gut bacteria levels plunge while in intensive care

    Home from the ICU? Do this first!

    When you're in the intensive care unit, there's really just one thing on your mind: Survival.

    It's a "big picture" kind of moment, with no time to sweat the small stuff -- and as a result, some of the smallest stuff of all can end up getting ignored.

    And there's not much smaller than the essential microbes that live in your gut.

    They're smaller than any of the cells in your body, yet they can play a huge role in your overall health.

    The good ones will protect you... and the bad ones will make you sick.

    But if you end up in the ICU for any reason, the balance will suddenly shift. According to the new study, there's a "massive depletion" in the levels of essential bacteria you need for good health.

    Those are the germs that help digest food, pull out nutrients, and produce the serotonin used by the brain. They also help power your immune system, giving you a fighting chance against disease.

    The same good bugs can also overwhelm the bad ones that want to make you sick, keeping them in check and preventing infection even when you've been exposed to those infection-causing bacteria.

    But when you're in the ICU, those levels drop so rapidly you're practically running on empty.

    In fact, the new study finds the shift happens so fast that illness-causing "bad" bugs can make up as much as 95 percent of your gut flora within days of your admission into the ICU.

    That could lead to all kinds of problems from poor digestion to infection to another trip to the hospital down the road -- and maybe even a return to the ICU.

    There are probably a number of factors in play here. Many patients in the ICU are put on antibiotics, which kill off all but some of the worst germs -- allowing them to take over, as we see in the new study.

    Lousy low-nutrition hospital food can make the situation even worse.

    Obviously, there's not much you can do about your gut bacteria when you're laid up in the ICU.

    But once you're back home from a hospital stay -- especially if you've been in the ICU -- make sure you take a probiotic supplement. Take it for several weeks to a month at a minimum but honestly, at this point, you should probably consider taking a probiotic daily even if you haven't been in a hospital.

    Studies show that even "healthy" Americans suffer from bacterial imbalances, increasing the risk of chronic disease later on.

    Look for a formula with a blend of human-tested antibiotic strains, ideally with several billion colony-forming units (CFUs).

  2. Probiotics can help beat the cold

    Cure your cold with probiotics

    I'm exposed to patients sick with the cold all the time, yet I haven't had a cold myself in years.

    It's not good luck, a powerful drug, or even a magic trick. In fact, you can avoid the cold yourself if you optimize your immune system so it has the power to fight off the virus that causes it.

    And even if you do happen to get sick, there are 100 percent natural remedies that can do what drugs cannot, reducing the symptoms so you're not as miserable and shortening the length so you're back on your feet as quickly as possible.

    One new study even finds that a dose of friendly gut bacteria can help give your immune system the boost it needs to beat the coughs and sniffles.

    Researchers gave 198 college students 1 billion colony-forming units each of two powerful probiotics in powder form, or a placebo, and then tracked both the duration and severity of their colds.

    Those who got the placebo had the typical cold: Six days of coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and a nose that runs like it's training for a marathon.

    Those who got the real probiotic had an average cold length of just four days as well as a 34 percent reduction in severity of the symptoms.

    It's worth noting that the company that makes this particular probiotic blend also sponsored the study -- an obvious conflict of interest. However, it doesn't surprise me in the least that probiotics could help beat the common cold, since gut bacteria can play a critical role in overall immune health and other studies have shown that probiotics prevent colds in kids.

    But don't rely on probiotics alone. Instead, make sure your cold-beating strategy is centered around more proven remedies -- and I don't mean NyQuil.

    Start with zinc. One study I told you about over the summer found that zinc lozenges can shorten cold duration by 1.6 days -- and some studies have found they can actually cut cold duration in half.

    In addition, don't forget the best natural immune boosters around -- vitamin D, which has shown to help beat the common cold and even the flu, as well as the old standby, vitamin C.

    They may not cure the cold. But together, they're the next best thing.

  3. Gut bacteria may play a big role in diabetes

    Diabetes isn’t always caused by what you eat – it could be caused by what’s already in your stomach, including harmful gut bacteria.
  4. The deadly 'new' superbug -- and how to avoid it

    Going to the hospital is supposed to be the beginning of your recovery -- but for millions of us, it's the beginning of a nightmare.
  5. How toilets spread disease

    British researchers recently conducted a series of tests on toilet seats -- and before you dismiss this as a bit of wacky and unnecessary research, check out what they learned: Toilets can spread potentially deadly bacteria when the lid is up.

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