1. Probiotics with antibiotics can slash infection risk

    Don't take antibiotics without taking this first

    I wouldn't dream of giving a patient an antibiotic without a probiotic supplement to balance it out even before new research proved the benefits of taking probiotics with antibiotics.

    The drug goes into the body and kills both good and bad bacteria, including the friendly bugs your gut needs for good digestion -- so it only makes sense to replenish your supply by taking  probiotics with antibiotics.

    Sadly, most mainstream doctors don't share my opinion on this just yet -- but that may be changing now that a major new study backs the wisdom of my common-sense approach.

    Take probiotics with antibiotics, and you can slash your risk of infection with Clostridium difficile, according to the new review of 31 strong studies.

    C. diff, as it's known, is a dangerous and even deadly superbug that causes severe diarrhea during and after antibiotic use. It's responsible for 336,000 infections and 14,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

    Many of the victims are seniors, and almost all had recently taken an antibiotic -- but if you take probiotics with antibiotics, you can reduce your own odds of a C. diff infection by 64 percent, according to the study.

    The most effective bacteria for fighting off C. diff infections are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei as well as a yeast called Sacharomyces boulardii -- but the trick here isn't just in getting the names right.

    You also need the right numbers.

    Many supplements promise several hundred million or even a billion colony-forming units (or CFUs), which certainly sounds impressive if you're not familiar with probiotics.

    But that's not even close to what you really need, especially when it comes to fighting a superbug such as C. diff.

    The new study finds you need a minimum of 10 billion CFUs, and I often recommend even more to help reduce the risk of infection and even for general daily support.

    I recommend taking a probiotic for up to a month after an antibiotic, in some cases longer. And these days, I often recommend a probiotic supplement for generally daily support even among people who aren't taking antibiotics.

    I had the full story on probiotics -- including what to choose, what not to choose, and common probiotic scams -- in the May 2012 issue of my Health Revelations newsletter. Subscribers can use the password in this month's issue to read it online.

    Not a subscriber? It's not too late -- sign up today and get your own password for complete access to my online archives as well as all my future issues delivered right to your mailbox.

  2. Coconut oil can kill the germs that cause tooth decay

    Forget fluoride -- try coconut instead

    I have to admit I got a laugh out of a campaign for water fluoridation in Oregon that claims the "benefits" include a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay.

    Are these folks easily impressed or what?

    Twenty-five percent is not worth the risk of thinning bone, discolored teeth, and brain damage, especially since there are much safer and far more effective ways to get rid of tooth decay.

    And now, one new study points to what could be the tastiest cavity-beater yet.

    Coconut oil, one of the healthiest plant oils around, has long been recognized for its antimicrobial and antibacterial powers, especially in the stomach. That's because stomach enzymes break down the fatty acids, and the compound created by this process can kill bacteria.

    The trick is unlocking that power without having to actually swallow the coconut oil first, and researchers accomplished that by treating the coconut oil with enzymes similar to the ones seen in digestion.

    Then, they put this enzyme-treated coconut oil to the test against the Streptococcus bacteria.

    Actually, it wasn't much of a test. The bacteria never really had a chance -- the enzyme-treated coconut oil wiped it out, including the acid-producing Streptococcus mutans strain that builds up inside the mouth and rots teeth.

    The researchers carried out similar experiments with vegetable oil and olive oil, but only the coconut oil killed bacteria.

    And for an encore, the enzyme-treated coconut oil also killed the yeast that causes thrush.

    Of course, there's no way to get your hands on enzyme-treated coconut oil just yet without swallowing the oil yourself, and by then it's too late to expect it to kill off any bacteria clinging to your teeth.

    But this definitely holds promise for toothpaste and mouthwash down the road... as long as they don't ruin it by combining it with fluoride.

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