How to Control Acid Reflux

Heartburn usually kicks in when you lie down to sleep, especially after a heavy meal.

You wake up in the middle of the night with a fire in your throat and a sour taste in your mouth. A blob of something vile pops up from your stomach and you have to spit it out.

After you get rid of it, your throat feels sore and you sound hoarse when you talk. Sometimes you start to cough or your chest sounds wheezy.

What you have experienced is heartburn… which has nothing to do with your heart.

It happens when stomach acids, which you use to digest your food, flow back into your oesophagus (the long tube between your mouth and your stomach). These acids irritate and burn the lining of your oesophagus and throat.

Everyone experiences some heartburn now and then. But it can become chronic, ie recur constantly. If you experience heartburn a few times a week, it is likely you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known in short as GORD (or GERD if you are American).

The chronic condition should be treated with seriousness for several vital reasons.

What chronic acid reflux (GORD) does to your body

The constant backflow of stomach acid into your oesophagus can lead to:

[1] Dental problems… stomach acids in the mouth can wreak havoc on tooth enamel, requiring more trips to the dentist than usual.

[2] Voice and throat problems… stomach acid in the throat can cause hoarseness and laryngitis, and even changes in the voice. However these problems tend to resolve easily when GORD is treated.

[3] Asthma … studies have found that up to 80% of patients with asthma also have chronic acid reflux. Whether asthma causes GORD or chronic heartburn causes asthma is not known, but some medical scientists are of the opinion that acid that backs up from the stomach can get into the airways and damage them.

[4] Other respiratory problems… GORD has been statistically linked to other respiratory conditions including… chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, chronic sinusitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis (scaring of the lung), and recurrent pneumonia.

[5] Narrowing of the oesophagus… chronic acid reflux can, over time, produce scarring (strictures) that narrow the opening of the oesophagus. This can make swallowing difficult. It can also cause oesophageal spasms that can mimic a heart attack (a frightening experience).

The weird thing is that people who develop strictures find a bit of relief from their heartburn… as the narrowing stops the stomach acids from refluxing into the oesophagus.

[6] Oesophagitis… the sensitive lining of the oesophagus can be injured by refluxing acid and this can cause a painful inflammation called oesophagitis. Eventually the acid causes bleeding which, if it is heavy enough, it can pass into the digestive tract and show up as dark tarry stools.

Oesophagitis can also cause painful ulcers on the lining of the oesophagus.

[7] Barrett’s oesophagus and cancer… in a small number of people, long-term acid reflux can lead to a condition (Barrett’s oesophagus) in which abnormal cells take the place of cells damaged by the acid. These cells have the potential to turn cancerous.

Persons with Barrett’s oesophagus have an increased risk of cancer of the oesophagus. This risk is increased if you smoke, are obese or are a white male over the age of 50.

A few decades ago, most cancers of the oesophagus were caused by cigarette smoking and alcohol. But over the last 15 years oesophageal and other cancers of the upper digestive tract caused by GORD have been developing into an epidemic. This is likely caused by changes in diets in the modern world.

Whatever the cause, it is obvious that putting a stop to the backflow is vital. There are many ways in which this can be done successfully once you understand what is going on.

What causes heartburn?

Your oesophagus joins your pharynx (at the back of your throat) to your stomach. A ring of muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) controls the junction between the oesophagus and the stomach. The LES acts like a valve, opening and closing the entry to the stomach.

When you swallow the LES opens to allow the food or drink coming down the oesophagus to enter the stomach. The LES then closes to prevent the food and your digestive juices flowing back up the oesophagus. Each time you swallow, the LES relaxes and allows the food into your stomach.

Certain medical conditions can weaken the LES and prevent it from closing properly after you swallow. These include:

Hiatal hernia (an abnormality where a part of the stomach slides up into the chest cavity)
Obesity
Some asthma medicines
Pregnancy
Smoking
Diabetes
Delayed stomach emptying (a consequence of nerve damage, often due to diabetes)

Acid reflux statistics

In both Europe and America, chronic heartburn is becoming extremely widespread, affecting about one-third of the populations on both continents.

There is a strong link between chronic heartburn and being overweight. Research shows that people who are overweight are 50% more likely to have GORD compared to persons who are at a healthy weight. Persons who are obese are 200% more likely to have the disease.

Diabetics are also likely to suffer from GORD. A study published in 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that about 40% of people with diabetes suffer from chronic heartburn.

The researchers also found it to be more common in people with diabetes who also had neuropathy or nerve damage due to diabetes. In addition, the study showed that people with both diabetes and neuropathy were more likely to have the disease, regardless of their weight, compared to people without neuropathy.

Medical treatments for heartburn

Conventional doctors have several approaches to treating chronic heartburn.

Antacids such as Tums®, Maalox® and Rennies® are very popular. These products come in the form of tablets that you chew or dissolve in your mouth. They work by using simple mineral salts such as calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate to neutralize stomach acid.

You do get temporary relief from your symptoms… but they treat the symptom, not the cause. Using them, however, is unlikely to damage your health.

Some doctors prescribe H2 blockers (more properly called histamine H2-receptor antagonists) such as like Zantac®, Tagamet® and Gertac®. These medications block the action of histamine, which normally stimulates the secretion of stomach acid. Personally, I have found that Gertac®, which contains ranitidine, to be gently effective in reducing GORD.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, also block the production of stomach acid. These drugs target the last stage in the production of stomach acid and the blockage is irreversible. These drugs are significantly more effective than H2 blockers and reduce the secretion of gastric acid by up to 99%.

With more than 100 million prescriptions written for these three medicines every year, Big Pharma makes a cool US$14 billion a year on just these drugs. Many professional organizations recommend that people take the lowest effective PPI dose to achieve the desired therapeutic result when used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease long-term. In the USA, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has advised that no more than three 14-day treatment courses should be used in one year.

For good reason… here is why blocking the production of stomach acid is not a smart thing to do:

Why you should NOT use proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)

The parietal cells in your stomach secrete the stomach acid used in the digestion process. The secretion of the acid is governed by proton pumps which provide energy for the process.

Proton-pump inhibitors prevent the proton pumps from working and so reduce the amount of acid produced by the parietal cells. This prevents acid reflux (no acid, no reflux!).

The problem is that proton pumps are present in just about every cell in your body, not just the parietal cells in the stomach. These proton pump systems are necessary for the production of the energy used in a wide variety of your body’s processes. Though this energy can be produced in several ways, without proton pumps them these processes could not work at their best.

While proton-pump inhibitors are designed to interact specifically with the proton-pumps in the parietal cells in your stomach, research suggests that it is likely that their effects are not limited to the specific acid producing cells of the stomach.

There are many other good reasons why you should not use proton-pump inhibitors:

(1) Stomach acid is a critical part of your immune system

PPIs reduce the acidity of your stomach. This is dangerous as certain harmful bacteria thrive in low-acid environments. Examples include H Pylori, which is a major cause of stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastritis and can even cause gastric cancer (according to a report in Drug Safety in 2003).

Several recent studies have shown that PPIs alter the micro-organisms in the gut by reducing its overall diversity. As a result, dangerous pathogens, such as Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli, tend to be more prevalent in the guts of PPI users.

As stomach pH becomes less acidic, many ingested microorganisms that get in through the mouth but which would normally be destroyed are able to make their way into the gut. Those who use acid blockers increase their chances of acquiring Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, and pneumonia compared to persons using other medications.

(2) PPIs impair the absorption of nutrients

Stomach acid is essential for the digestion and absorption of food, both macro- and micro-nutrients. Studies show that persons who use PPIs have an increased risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Persons who use acid blockers can also end up with achlorhydria (a lack of stomach acid). This, combined with atrophic gastritis (stomach inflammation), allows bacteria, which compete with the host (you!) for the consumption of micronutrients such as vitamin B12, to flourish.

Studies have found an association between the use of PPIs and the total number of bone fractures in the elderly. The association was significant enough for the FDA in the USA to issue a warning in 2010. A more recent study has shown a similar association between PPI use and bone fractures in young adults.

(3) PPIs damage the cardiovascular system

A study published in May 2016 found a link between proton-pump inhibitors and the premature aging of blood vessels, with the cells losing their ability to split into new cells.

Other recent studies indicate that PPI users have a significantly greater risk of heart attack compared to person using other antacid medications.

PPIs reduce the production of nitric oxide, a nutrient that increases lung power, helps your heart pump blood and oxygen to your cells, and even helps with erectile function by allowing blood vessels to expand and relax when you are on the job.

PPIs also affect lysosomes. Those are acid-producing cells in your body that clear up unwanted debris. Without enough acid to remove the waste, the cells protecting your blood vessels age rapidly. That can lead to a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.

(4) PPIs harm the kidneys

Patients using PPIs were compared to patients using H2 blockers, another common antacid drug in a study published in 2016.

The study indicated that, over five years, the PPI users were 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and 96% more likely to develop end-stage renal disease.

(5) PPIs harm cognitive function

A study published in 2015 that assessed cognitive function in users of PPIs compared to controls found statistically significant impairment in visual memory, attention, executive function, and the working and planning function among the PPI users.

Another study in 2016 found that regular PPI users had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared to non-users.

Why this is so is not known. However, communication between brain cells requires the action of proton pumps. It may be that the proton pumps in the brain are affected by PPIs that target stomach acid.

(6) Rebound reflux

When your body senses a reduced production of stomach acid, it produces gastrin, a hormone that stimulates the secretion of gastric (stomach) acid by the parietal cells.

As a result, the individual parietal cells expand in size. Larger parietal cells have more proton pumps and can produce larger amounts of stomach acid. An overproduction of stomach acid caused by PPIs is called rebound hyper-secretion.

Rebound hyper-secretion illustrates why getting off PPI therapy is so difficult once you start using them… long-term use fundamentally changes the physiology of stomach cells.

The basic problem with PPIs is that they treat the symptoms of a condition (the production of acid that flows back up the oesophagus) rather than the underlying cause (a weakness in the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES)).

There are two main approaches you can take to dealing with chronic heartburn that focus on the underlying causes:

Heartburn avoidance techniques
Natural remedies for heartburn

How to avoid heartburn

Here are some simple ways you can prevent heartburn:

Eat smaller meals… this makes digestion easier and reduces the pressure in your stomach that causes reflux.
Eat slowly … digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food thoroughly reduces the likelihood of reflux.
Avoid tight clothes… tight clothes can put pressure on your stomach, pushing food back up into your oesophagus.
Don’t smoke… smoking irritates the membranes of the throat and oesophagus. Nicotine also weakens the oesophageal valve, allowing stomach acid to come up to your throat.
Avoid certain foods… chocolate, tomatoes, fatty or fried foods, fatty meats (choose lean cuts), synthetic dressings (use olive oil), spicy sauces (choose mild or avoid), alcohol, cola and other sodas as well as caffeine are all contributors to LES malfunction.
Avoid certain spices… hot spices as used in curries and other hot Eastern foods, as well as cinnamon, can irritate your stomach and oesophagus causing pressure that forces acid back up through the LES.
Avoid peppermint tea… as it tends to relax the LES and allow acid to flow back up the oesophagus.
Raise the back of your bed… use short planks of wood between the legs of the bed and the floor to raise the pillow-end 4 to 6 inches higher than the foot-end; by sleeping with your head lightly higher than your feet you will be using gravity to reduces the chances of stomach acid flowing back up to your throat… this really does work in my experience.

Persons who take these simple steps to prevent acid reflux experience fewer and milder bouts of acid reflux.

Natural remedies for heartburn

There are several natural remedies for heartburn that actually work:

D-limonene
Magnesium
Ginger
Baking soda

Some of these ‘cure’ acid reflux for a time at least if not permanently. Others provide temporary but effective relief.

D-limonene

D-limonene is an extract from orange peel which is safe to use as a food additive or supplement.

Research at WRC Laboratories in the USA indicates that a daily intake of one 1000mg capsule of d-limonene every second day for 20 days reduces or eliminates acid reflux in most people for at least six months. This is supported by anecdotal evidence among researchers and further research that has yet to be published.

D-limonene is a cell rejuvenator yet scientists don’t know why it is so effective. Researchers have speculated, however, that as d-limonene is lighter than water, it floats to the surface of the gastric juices in your stomach.

The minor burping you experience with d-limonene causes it to be carried directly into the oesophagus. By coating the oesophagus, d-limonene may protect it against the caustic contents that are regurgitated during acid reflux. This would help heal and strengthen the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) and heal erosion in the oesophagus.

It is also thought that d-limonene may promote quicker movement of food and gastric juices out of the stomach so that these oesophageal irritants promote less reflux.

Scientists also suggest that d-limonene may provide a barrier in the oesophagus and stomach against bacterial infection, such as helicobacter pylori, which are ingested in food or water. H pylori attack the lining of the stomach eventually causing ulcers and even stomach cancers.

The generally accepted opinion (or shrewd marketing) suggests that the best d-limonene, which is available in health food stores, is the Jarrow Formulas D-Limonene.

I recently took a 1000mg capsule of the Jarrow Formulas D-Limonene (sourced online through Amazon) each day for 30 days. There were no side-effects and it appears to have cured my acid reflux.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It is an ingredient in several antacids.

This mineral helps your LES to relax so that it can close properly, thus preventing the backflow of stomach acid that causes heartburn.

Magnesium chloride is absorbed better than other compounds of magnesium and is thus more likely to be effective in relieving your heartburn.

Take 450 to 500mg once or twice a day to see if it helps. Each dose should contain about 150mg of magnesium and about 350mg of chloride.

Ginger

Ginger is prized for its health-giving qualities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Most of the health benefits of ginger are in the woody root of the plant, the rhizome.

Ginger is absolutely loaded with antioxidants. It has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-parasitic properties. It can relieve the discomfort of heartburn without side-effects.

Fresh ginger is best, though you can use dried ginger. When buying ginger root, make sure it feels firm and fresh. Fresh ginger, provided it is unpeeled, can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three weeks or in a freezer for up to six months.

You can peel ginger with a paring knife and add it to cooked dishes, mix it into a stir-fry or drop it into homemade chicken soup. But taking it as a supplement is not recommended as the ginger in capsules is not easily absorbed or used by your body.

In Uganda, doctors and herbalists use ginger tea to treat heartburn. The root’s anti-inflammatory properties speed up the digestive process, preventing the build-up of gas, and helping to regulate bile and gastric juices.

Adding a simple ginger tea to your daily diet will tighten your LES and help prevent the backflow of acid from your stomach according to a report by the Thai Medical Association in 2010.

Here’s an easy recipe:

Remove the skin from a piece of fresh ginger root and chop it into small pieces or slices
Fill a small pot with two cups of water and boil
Add the ginger and cover.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes
Strain the tea

You can drink it hot or cold. You could try adding a pinch of cinnamon to boost the flavour.

I make a batch twice a week, store it in the refrigerator and drink a chilled glass first thing in the morning.

Bicarbonate of soda

Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, offers a very quick remedy when you are having an attack of acid reflux.

Just mix a flat teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water, stir and wait for it to dissolve and then drink it down. Relief will be fairly immediate.

Baking soda works because it contains bicarbonate which neutralises the acid in your stomach.

This is not a permanent solution for chronic heartburn. But it works a dream for a quick fix and there are no side effects.

Your Blood Pressure Reading May Predict Diabetic Retinopathy

In July of 2017, the online journal Scientific Reports (Nature) published an article on diabetic retinopathy and the importance to people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes of keeping on top of their blood pressure reading. Workers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil studied five hundred and forty-four Type 2 diabetics who were at high risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, a severe eye disease. Over the course of six years, the participants had an annual eye examination. Their blood pressure reading was taken as they went about their normal routines. Their aorta (artery from the heart to the rest of the body), was examined for stiffness. By the end of the study, one hundred and fifty-six of the participants either developed diabetic retinopathy or saw the condition grow worse. They had…

a higher blood pressure measurement,
a longer duration of having Type 2 diabetes,
a stiffer aorta,
poorer blood sugar control, and
higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol measurements.

than the participants without diabetic retinopathy.

Diastolic (lower number) blood pressure and high LDL were the measurements most strongly linked with diabetic retinopathy.

To lower blood pressure…

engage in physical activity several times a week.
take your dog to the park.
go swimming.
walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
park at the farthest reaches of the parking lot and walk to the shops.
normalize your weight or keep it in a healthy range.
take the blood pressure medication prescribed by your doctor.

To lower LDL…

eat different fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole wheat products.
avoid fatty foods such as meat and dairy products.
cook with extra virgin olive or other vegetable oil instead of butter.

Diabetic retinopathy develops when sugar in the blood damages small arteries in the back of the eye. New, weak, incompetent blood vessels proliferate. Sometimes there is bleeding into the eye’s center. The condition often goes unnoticed until it has advanced sufficiently to cause sight issues. Usually, dots or lines (floaters) can be seen, problems with different colors are noticed as well as loss of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by an ophthalmologic exam, which is one reason why regular eye exams are essential. When retinopathy is diagnosed, laser surgery can cauterize or stop troublesome blood vessels developing.

One study put together thirty-five earlier individual studies showing how much diabetic retinopathy exists in the world. The results showed about 34.6 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have the condition. Preventing or controlling Type 2 diabetes protects many important parts of your body, and your eyesight is one of them. Unfortunately, many Type 2 diabetics fail to take their condition seriously because it does not hurt. Your eyes are two good reasons to keep your blood sugar and body weight under control.

Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.

For nearly 25 years, Beverleigh Piepers has searched for and found a number of secrets to help you build a healthy body

6 Signs That You Must Visit A Dentist

For an overall dental hygiene, an appointment every six months functions as a vital pillar. However, there are many instances where we feel that our mouths are not at their very best. And whether 6 or 60, dental visits become a must in such scenarios.

Be it your busy schedule or hectic social life, if you’re one of those putting off that much-needed dentist visit, you could seriously regret it later in life.

Additionally, here are a few sure shot signs that you should definitely knock your dentist’s door:

1. Tooth ache: Tooth ache is, in fact one of the most common, yet one of the most ignored indications that you immediately require a dental visit. Although it hits seriously hard, and is often too difficult to ignore, it could be something more serious than you perceive, and thus it’s mandatory that you seek dental consultation.

2. Inflamed gums: Medically known as gingival inflammation, gum inflammation is a condition wherein the gums are swollen and red. It has the potential to contribute to periodontal infection such as gingivitis. This is generally caused by hardened plaque that accumulates under the gum line. If untreated, it can also lead to altered teeth structure, tooth loss and cardiac problems.

3. Tooth sensitivity: This is another sort of tooth pain and occurs whenever you take in something colder, hotter or sourer. Further damage can be easily ruled out if one chooses to diagnose it on time. Sensitivity is indicative of tooth decay. The earlier you check out with your dentist, the better it is for your oral health.

4. Dryness within mouth: There are many reasons that can contribute to this condition. That said, there is, however, no explanation for a sudden dry mouth syndrome. Mouth dryness can contribute to tooth decay, and ultimately, to other oral disorders as well. It is, therefore, important to visit your dentist if the condition persists.

5. Oral Ulcers: Canker sores are quite a common sight, and often not a cause for concern. However, if it is one of those which doesn’t heal, you need to immediately seek dental attention. It could easily turn out to be an oral ulcer and is also indicative of oral cancer.

6. Headaches: Not most people know, but headaches and oral care are very closely related. Frequent headaches are often a sign of teeth grinding which, contrary to what most people believe, is a cause for concern. Grinding can cause additional damage and further expose your teeth to contamination.

Miniscule issues, if resolved early into their life, can prevent major oral diseases from forming up. Timely dental care is all you need.

How Dental Implants Work – What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Whoever said that a picture is worth a million words might as well have replaced the word ‘picture’ with ‘smile’. There is no denying that a beautiful smile speaks more about your personality even before you utter a word. While everyone would love to have a dazzling smile, a missing tooth can ruin all this. If you have a missing tooth, you will inadvertently find it harder to socialize freely while your dietary habits will also be affected. This is where dental implants come in handy.

Dental Implant Technology in Detail

A single missing tooth or several teeth on your gum can now be replaced using advanced technology in dentistry. The surgical procedure involves placement of a metal post mostly made of titanium into the jaw bone to form a strong foundation for a replacement tooth. This metal ossifies into the jawbone and has no side effects and once it has been fully integrated into the bone, an abutment is fixed on top where a crown is then screwed firmly.

The American Dental Association (ADA) has identified the following implant procedures as safe:

Endosteal: This is an implant that is fixed directly into the jawbone. A post is later connected before an artificial is fixed.
Subperiosteal: A metal post is fitted onto the jawbone just below the gum tissue. Posts will protrude through the gums where a crown is then fixed to give you a perfectly natural oral outlook.

Advantages of Implant Technology

There are many reasons your family dentist will recommend this procedure for improved oral health. These include:

Improved appearance: You will get back the look and feel of your natural teeth.
No more slurred speech once the replacement is in place. This cannot be said for other alternatives such as dentures, which can slip and cause embarrassments.
Better dietary habits: With missing teeth, you might find it hard to eat your favorite foods and drinks. Once you are done with the implant treatment, you can enjoy all meals that will boost your overall health.
Improved oral health: This procedure does not affect the rest of your gum and in fact serves to protect the jaw bone against exposure. Common oral complications such as bone loss are avoided.
Permanency: This is a permanent treatment that deals with the missing tooth conclusively. You don’t have to worry about special maintenance of the replacement.

These implants enjoy a high success rate and this has been rated as one of the best oral care procedure. If you are looking for a way to bring your beautiful smile back, it is time to talk to your dentist. A comprehensive evaluation of your jaw bone mass is done as well as an assessment of your health history before treatment starts.

Sedation Dental Services Are A Way to Overcome Dentophobia

Many people develop a fear of dentists early in their lives. This could be due to a combination of factors, such as wrong diagnosis, poor pain and discomfort management, embarrassment over teeth and mouth conditions, and previous negative experiences among others. A recent survey shows that 9 to 15% of Americans avoid seeing their dentist due to these fears and anxiety.

This means many families suffer silently while dental services today have advanced tremendously. Without proper oral care, you are exposing yourself to the risk of gum disease, tooth loss, poor dietary habits among other related health problems.

Sedation Dentistry to Overcome Anxiety

If you or someone close to you is suffering from dentophobia, it is high time you tried a whole new dental experience through sedation dentistry. This is a Godsend for anyone with an extreme fear of oral care professionals. To appreciate the importance of this approach in medical care, you need to appreciate how it works.

In the simplest form, you doctor will use sedatives to help you relax and reduce patina and discomfort during the procedure. The sedatives can be administered in different forms;

Oral: A pill is given to promote a high level of relaxation.
Gas: This helps you to relax throughout the procedure although you will still be conscious.
Intravenous: A sedative is administered through the veins into the blood.

Benefits of Sedatives in Dentistry

The advantages of using sedatives are enjoyed by both the patient and the doctor and they include:

Quicker procedure because the doctor is able to focus solely on the affected area as the patient lies calmly. More work is done in one sitting as opposed to numerous visits.
No fear and anxiety: The entire procedure goes on smoothly for the patient without any accompanying fears and anxiety.
Pain-free treatment: The mouth is one of the most sensitive body parts and no one enjoys sharp objects prodding inside. With sedation dentistry, you are assured of a pain-free experience, which is what everyone wants.
No painful memories: One major reason many adults suffer oral problems is the fact that they avoid dentists like the plague. This is understandable in cases where painful memories are involved. Luckily, your family doesn’t have to go through such horrendous situations because advances in dentistry will create only pleasant memories.
More effectiveness: It is possible to talk to your dentist even when under sedation and this can lead to better outcomes of the treatment procedure.

Still worried about your next dental visit? You need not be; with this advanced procedure, you will have a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment without any accompanying pain and discomfort.

Complete dentistry of Orland Park has successfully performed numerous implant procedures. Complete Dentistry of Orland Park offers top quality Dental Services and excellent patient aftercare. Sedation dentistry Orland Park is an advanced procedure, where you will have a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment without any accompanying pain and discomfort.

Best Foods For Your Teeth

When it comes to the health of your teeth, you really are what you eat. Sugary foods, such as candy and soda, contribute to tooth decay. One of the first areas to decline when your diet is less than ideal is your oral health, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Use this healthy foods list to improve your diet and the health of your mouth.

Cheese

If you’re one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, reported at EurekAlert! found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It’s thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens typically find their way onto any healthy foods list. They’re full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They’re high in calcium, which builds your teeth’s enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits, including possibly treating gum disease in pregnant women, according to MedlinePlus. If you have trouble getting leafy greens into your diet, add a handful of baby spinach to your next salad or throw some kale on a pizza. You can also try adding some greens to a smoothie.

Apples

While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples, might be sweet, but they’re also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums. Eating an apple isn’t the same as brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, such as Colgate® Total®, but it can tide you over until you have a chance to brush. Pack either a whole apple or apple slices in your lunch to give your mouth a good scrubbing at the end of the meal.

Carrots

Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fiber, carrots are a great source of vitamin A. Top a salad with a few slices of raw carrots, or enjoy some baby carrots on their own.

Celery

Celery might get a bad reputation for being bland, watery and full of those pesky strings, but like carrots and apples, it acts a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost. Make celery even tastier by topping it with cream cheese.

Almonds

Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.

Along with adding more leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you’re drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

Healthy Gut, Healthy Brain

Your brain’s health is dictated by what goes on in your gut. That’s right: What’s taking place in your intestines affects not only your brain’s daily functions, but also determines your risk for a number of neurological conditions in the future.

Your intestinal organisms, or microbiome, participate in a wide variety of bodily systems, including immunity, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption, whether you feel hungry or full, and how you utilize carbohydrates and fat. All of these processes factor into whether you experience chronic health problems like allergies, asthma, ADHD, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or dementia.

What you might not know is that your microbiome also affects your mood, your libido, and even your perceptions of the world and the clarity of your thoughts. A dysfunctional microbiome could be at the root of your headaches, anxiety, inability to concentrate, or even negative outlook on life.

Put simply, nearly everything about our health — how we feel both physically and emotionally — can hinge on the state of our microbiome. In fact, the connection between gut flora and the brain is so important that in 2014 the National Institute of Mental Health spent more than $1 million on a research program to study this relationship.

In my work as a neurologist, I’ve discovered that no other system in the body is more sensitive to changes in gut bacteria than the central nervous system. What’s more — and this is the good news — I have seen dramatic turnarounds in brain-related conditions with simple dietary modifications and, on occasion, with more-aggressive techniques to reestablish a healthy microbiome.

If you’re wondering how to care for your own microbiome in a way that can change your brain for the better, check out my new book, Brain Maker. Here are some of the details of that program.

Meet Your Second Brain
Understanding just how closely the gut and the brain are related is essential.

Think of the last time you felt sick to your stomach because you were anxious, scared, or over-the-moon elated. Scientists are learning that this intimate relationship between the gut and the brain is bidirectional: Just as your brain can send butterflies to your stomach, your gut can relay its state of calm or alarm to the brain.

The vagus nerve, the longest of 12 cranial nerves, is the primary channel between millions of nerve cells in our intestinal nervous system (sometimes called the enteric nervous system) and our central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord. “Vagus” is Latin for “wanderer,” an apt name for this nerve that runs outside the brain and through the digestive system. The vagus extends from the brain stem to the abdomen, directing many bodily processes that don’t require thought, like heart rate and digestion.

At the same time, the bacteria in the gut directly affect the function of the cells along the vagus nerve. And some of the gut’s nerve cells and microbes release neurotransmitters that speak to the brain in its own language.

The neurons in the gut are so innumerable that many scientists are now calling them the “second brain.” This second brain not only regulates muscle function, immune cells, and hormones, but also manufactures an estimated 80 to 90 percent of serotonin (the “feel-good” neurotransmitter).

This means the gut’s brain makes more serotonin — the master happiness molecule — than the brain in your head. Many neurologists and psychiatrists are now realizing that this may be one reason antidepressants are often less effective in treating depression than proper dietary changes.

There are other chemicals manufactured in the gut that are also critical for the nervous system. GABA is an amino acid produced by gut bacteria that calms nerve activity by inhibiting transmissions and normalizing brain waves, helping return the nervous system to a steadier state after it’s been excited by stress.

Glutamate, a neurotransmitter also produced by gut bacteria, is involved in cognition, learning, and memory. It is abundant in a healthy brain. A slew of neurological challenges — including anxiety, behavioral issues, depression, and Alzheimer’s — have been attributed to a lack of GABA and glutamate.

Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain
You may have heard about the perils of a leaky gut, where the protective junctions in the intestinal lining become compromised. This is a response to a variety of factors, including pathogenic bacteria, some medications, stress, environmental toxins, elevated blood sugar, and potentially gut-irritating food ingredients like gluten.

Once the intestinal barrier is compromised, undigested food particles leak into the bloodstream, where they elicit an immune response. This can create systemwide inflammation.

When your intestinal barrier is compromised, you become susceptible — due to that increased inflammation — to a spectrum of health challenges, including arthritis, eczema, allergies, and even autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. (For more on leaky gut syndrome, see “How to Heal a Leaky Gut“.)

Still, the problems of a leaky gut become even more monumental in light of new science that shows how loss of gut integrity can lead to a “leaky” brain.

We’ve long assumed that somehow the brain was insulated from what goes on in the rest of the body. You’ve heard about the highly protective, fortified portal keeping bad things out of the brain — the blood-brain barrier. We used to think of this barrier as an impenetrable wall.

The problems of a leaky gut become even more monumental in light of new science that shows how loss of gut integrity can lead to a “leaky” brain.
It has now become clear that many substances threaten its integrity. And once the brain’s barrier is compromised, various molecules that may spell trouble — including proteins, viruses, and bacteria — can get inside it.

For an example of how dangerous this can be, look at how the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) molecule behaves once it gets outside the gut.

LPS makes up the protective outer membrane of a class of bacteria that typically represents 50 to 70 percent of our intestinal flora. We’ve long known that LPS induces a violent inflammatory response in animals if it finds its way into the bloodstream. It’s so violent that it’s also termed an endotoxin, a toxin that comes from within the bacterial cell.

In one critically important study on LPS, researchers at Texas Christian University showed that injections of LPS into lab animals’ bodies (not brains) led to overwhelming learning deficits, demonstrating that LPS was able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

In addition, the animals developed elevated levels of the protein beta-amyloid in their hippocampi, the brain’s memory center. (Beta-amyloid is strongly implicated in Alzheimer’s.)

Other studies have implicated LPS in memory problems and decreased production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that is critical for the growth of new brain cells.

This is powerful information that once again speaks to the gut-brain connection and the impact of inflammation, gut permeability, and the critical importance of a healthy gut to a healthy brain.

Food Matters
Perhaps the most significant factor related to the health of the microbiome — and thus, the brain — is the food we eat. It is also the greatest challenge to the microbiome and brain. Food matters enormously, trumping other factors in our lives that we may not be entirely able to control.

As I described in my previous book, Grain Brain, the two key mechanisms that lead to brain degeneration are chronic inflammation and the action of free radicals, which are byproducts of inflammation that cause the body to “rust.” (For an excerpt from Grain Brain, see “Overcoming Grain Brain“.)

Brain Maker takes a new look at these mechanisms to understand how they are influenced by gut bacteria and overall gut health. My recommendations are designed to treat and prevent brain disorders; alleviate moodiness, anxiety, and depression; bolster the immune system and reduce autoimmunity; and improve metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes and obesity, which factor into long-term brain health.

The idea that food is the most important variable in human health is not news. But our new understanding of the connection between what you eat and how it affects your microbiome, and your brain, is exciting.

You can change the state of your microbiome — and the fate of your health — through dietary changes, opening the door for better health in general, and improved brain function in particular. My plan, outlined on the following pages, can help you get started.

5 Ways to Boost Your Brain Through Your Gut
I am frequently asked how long it takes to rehabilitate a dysfunctional or underperforming microbiome.

Research shows that significant changes in the array of gut bacteria can take place in as little as six days after instituting a new dietary protocol, like the one I present in my book (the highlights of which I’m sharing here). But everyone is different; your Brain Maker rehab will depend on the current state of your gut and how quickly you commit to making changes.

1. Eat Foods Rich in Probiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that support good digestive health. Long before probiotics became available in supplement form, the health benefits of fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt were well recognized. The Chinese were fermenting -cabbage 6,000 years ago.

The type of fermentation that makes most foods rich in beneficial bacteria is called lactic-acid fermentation. In this process, good bacteria convert sugar molecules in food into lactic acid, and, in doing so, the good bacteria multiply. This lactic acid, in turn, protects the fermented food from being invaded by pathogenic -bacteria because it creates an environment with a low pH. This kills off harmful bacteria, which has a higher pH.

While supplements are helpful, there’s still no better way to consume bifidobacteria and lactobacilli (some of the most important healthy bacteria in the gut) than to get them from food sources, which are easiest for the body to use.

These probiotic bacteria help maintain the integrity of the gut lining; serve as natural antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals; regulate immunity; and control inflammation. They even improve nutrient absorption.

These are some of the best food sources for probiotics (for more ideas, visit “Probiotics at Work“):

Live-Culture Yogurt: Check the label to make sure your yogurt contains live cultures, and avoid products that are heavily sweetened. Coconut yogurt is an excellent alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy.

Kefir: A fermented-milk product that has a more liquid texture than yogurt.

Kombucha Tea: A tart, fizzy, fermented black tea.

Kimchi: Spicy, fermented vegetables that are Korean in origin. Kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet.

Sauerkraut: Real, fermented sauerkraut (instead of cabbage soaked in vinegar) fuels healthy gut bacteria and contains choline, a chemical needed for proper transmission of nerve impulses from the brain through the nervous system. You can make your own real sauerkraut at home or find it in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.

Pickles: The most basic and beloved probiotic. As with sauerkraut, choose real, brined pickles that have been refrigerated.

2. Go Lower-Carb; Embrace High-Quality Fats
A diet that keeps your blood sugar balanced keeps your gut bacteria balanced. A diet high in rich sources of fiber from whole vegetables and fruits feeds good gut bacteria and produces the right balance of short-chain fatty acids to keep the intestinal lining in check. A diet that’s intrinsically anti-inflammatory is good for the brain.

Diets high in sugar and low in fiber fuel unwanted bacteria and increase the chances of intestinal permeability, mitochondrial damage, a compromised immune system, and widespread inflammation that can reach the brain. It’s a vicious cycle; all of these further disrupt our protective microbial balance.

We’ve been taught to demonize saturated fat. But coronary artery disease — a leading cause of heart attacks — may have more to do with inflammation than high cholesterol. And a great deal of research shows that when cholesterol levels are low, the brain simply doesn’t work well.

Studies of deceased patients with Alzheimer’s found significantly reduced amounts of fats in their cerebrospinal fluid compared with controls. People with low cholesterol are at much greater risk for neurological problems, including depression and dementia.

I have a host of recipes in my book, but here’s the cheat sheet: Make your main entrée mostly fibrous vegetables and fruits that grow above ground, with protein as a side dish. Far too often people think that a low-carb diet is all about eating copious amounts of meat. Much to the contrary, an ideal plate in the Brain Maker protocol is a sizeable portion of vegetables (two-thirds of your plate) and about 3 to 4 ounces of protein. You’ll get your fats from those naturally found in the protein, from butter and olive oil used to prepare the dish, and from nuts and seeds.

3. Enjoy Chocolate, Coffee, Wine, and Tea
You can rejoice in the fact that, as far as your brain’s health is concerned, you can embrace chocolate, coffee, and wine in moderation, and tea to your heart’s desire.

Research abounds concerning dark chocolate’s benefits. In one study, Italian researchers demonstrated that in elderly individuals suffering mild cognitive impairment, those who consumed the highest level of flavonols (one category of polyphenols) from cocoa and chocolate showed heightened cognitive function.

Other studies have shown that consuming flavonols leads to improved blood flow to the brain, which is typically diminished in dementia patients.

Like chocolate, coffee supports a healthy balance of gut flora and exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Coffee and chocolate also stimulate a specific gene pathway called the Nrf2 pathway. When triggered, it causes the body to make higher levels of protective antioxidants, while reducing inflammation and enhancing detoxification. Other Nrf2 activators are green tea, turmeric, and resveratrol, a compound in red wine.

On that note, Spanish researchers have found that LPS levels, a marker for both inflammation and intestinal permeability, were dramatically reduced in individuals who consumed red wine in moderation (one to two glasses per day).

Polyphenols found in black tea are now being explored for their ability to positively influence gut microbial diversity. They’ve been shown to increase bifidobacteria, which help stabilize gut permeability. Green tea has also been shown to increase bifidobacteria and to lower levels of potentially harmful bacteria species.

4. Consume Foods Rich in Prebiotics
Prebiotics are food-borne fuel for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, and they occur naturally in raw garlic, cooked and raw onions, leeks, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, and jicama. Estimates suggest that for every 100 grams of prebiotic carbohydrates we consume, a full 30 grams of good gut bacteria are produced.

Prebiotics have many additional benefits, including the ability to reduce inflammation in inflammatory-bowel disorders, enhance mineral absorption, and promote a sense of satiety. Animals given prebiotics produce less ghrelin, the hormone that signals the brain that it’s time to eat.

5. Drink Filtered Water
Consuming plenty of water is important to intestinal health, but it’s critical that the water doesn’t contain gut-busting chemicals like chlorine. Environmental toxins can disrupt the microbiome and disturb brain physiology.

I recommend using a household water filter. There are a variety of home water-treatment technologies available, from simple filtration pitchers to under-sink units with a separate spigot. Make sure the filter you buy removes chlorine as well as other contaminants, and be sure to maintain and change it regularly.

Finally, ditch plastic water bottles and choose reusable bottles made from stainless steel or glass instead.

What is a Healthy Relationship?

Different people define relationships in different ways. But in order for a relationship to be healthy, it needs a few key ingredients!

Healthy Communication
Open, honest and safe communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. The first step to building a relationship is making sure you both understand each other’s needs and expectations—being on the same page is very important. That means you have to talk to each other! The following tips can help you and your partner create and maintain a healthy relationship:

Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s best to talk about it instead of holding it in.
Respect Each Other. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value, and so do yours. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to each other. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.
Healthy Boundaries
Creating boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner want. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped or like you’re “walking on eggshells.” Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust — it’s an expression of what makes you feel comfortable and what you would like or not like to happen within the relationship.
Remember, healthy boundaries shouldn’t restrict your ability to:

Go out with your friends without your partner.
Participate in activities and hobbies you like.
Not have to share passwords to your email, social media accounts or phone.
Respect each other’s individual likes and needs.
Healthy Relationship Boosters
Even healthy relationships can use a boost now and then. You may need a boost if you feel disconnected from your partner or like the relationship has gotten stale. If so, find a fun, simple activity you both enjoy, like going on a walk, and talk about the reasons why you want to be in the relationship. Then, keep using healthy behaviors as you continue dating.

If you’re single (and especially if you’re a single parent), don’t worry if you need a boost too! Being single can be the best and worst feeling, but remember relationships don’t just include your significant other and you. Think about all the great times you’ve had with your parents, siblings, friends, children, other family members, etc..

Try going out with the people you love and care about the most — watch movies together, go out to eat, take a day off from your busy life and just enjoy being you! If it helps, also talk about your feelings about the relationships in your life. If you just want them to listen, start by telling them that. Then ask what makes relationships good and what makes them bad? Along the way, if you need advice, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help 24/7.

And don’t forget, the relationship you can always boost up is the one you have with yourself!

What Isn’t a Healthy Relationship?
Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. In the early stages of an abusive relationship, you may not think the unhealthy behaviors are a big deal. However, possessiveness, insults, jealous accusations, yelling, humiliation, pulling hair, pushing or other abusive behaviors, are — at their root — exertions of power and control. Remember that abuse is always a choice and you deserve to be respected. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind.

If you think your relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to think about your safety now. Consider these points as you move forward:

Understand that a person can only change if they want to. You can’t force your partner to alter their behavior if they don’t believe they’re wrong.
Focus on your own needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Your wellness is always important. Watch your stress levels, take time to be with friends, get enough sleep. If you find that your relationship is draining you, consider ending it.
Connect with your support systems. Often, abusers try to isolate their partners. Talk to your friends, family members, teachers and others to make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need. Remember, our advocates are always ready to talk if you need a listening ear.
Think about breaking up. Remember that you deserve to feel safe and accepted in your relationship.
Even though you cannot change your partner, you can make changes in your own life to stay safe. Consider leaving your partner before the abuse gets worse. Whether you decide to leave or stay, make sure to use our safety planning tips to stay safe. Remember, you have many options — including obtaining a domestic violence restraining order. Laws vary from state to state so chat with a peer advocate to learn more.

If you are still unsure whether you’re in a healthy relationship, our Healthy Relationships Quiz can help you.