Take a pass on Beano for gas

Before you pop another Beano® with a meal containing beans, vegetables or grains, it’s important to know the popular over-the-counter flatulence fighter is simply a digestive enzyme supplement.

And Beano is a low-potency and expensive one at that.

In fact, the main ingredient in Beano is alpha-galactosidase, a digestive enzyme that helps break down complex sugars found in legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.

These sugars are difficult for the body to digest and usually ferment in the colon, producing gas.

The problem with Beano is it contains only 150 GalU of alpha-galactosidase per tablet. These non-vegetarian tablets have a wheat filler, which contains gluten. It can cost $12 to $15 for 100 tablets, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A better solution is a 100 percent vegetarian, gluten-free digestive enzyme supplement that contains alpha-galactosidase and several other enzymes to support thorough digestion.

One capsule of Nutri-Essence™ Gas Ease™ has 600 GalU of alpha-galactosidase plus nine additional digestive enzymes.* These other essential enzymes include amylase, for digesting carbohydrates; lipase, for fats; and protease, for protein.

A 2007 study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences found alpha-galactosidase cut down flatulence after meals containing beans, the Times reports. The digestive enzyme was found to cut average episodes of gas down from 16 on placebo to the following:

  • 10 episodes on 300 GalU
  • Five episodes on 1,200 GalU

Digestive problems such as flatulence, bloating and reflux might be best addressed with a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement that also contains soothing herbs for the digestive tract. An enzyme product, such as Beano, which contains one type of digestive enzyme, might not offer adequate digestive support.

*Note: Nutri-Essence™ Gas Ease™ is made with Malt Diastase, which is grown on barley but does not contain any gluten or gliadin. However, it may contain amino acids chains that can cause a reaction in individuals that are highly sensitive to these amino acids.

Beano® is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline.

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Deep breathing app available for Apple iPhone

A new Long Deep Breathing Application for the Apple iPhone is available from Khalsa Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa, who focuses on treating allergy-related conditions, immune dysfunction, digestive and endocrine disorders, uses enzyme supplements in his practice.

According to Khalsa’s blog, “… people who practice Long Deep Breathing for 5 minutes, three times daily, will experience major health improvements!”

Click here for more information on the iPhone app.

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GERD cause might be immune reaction, not excessive acid production

Researchers have revealed popular acid-lowering treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) possibly do nothing to stop the condition’s true cause.

A team from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found GERD might be caused by immune-system-induced inflammation rather than stomach acid, Reuters reports.

In the study, researchers found stomach acid and bile took weeks to erode the esophagus. This made little sense, as acid usually causes immediate damage to tissue such as the skin.

Upon further examination, the team revealed esophagus cells sent out inflammatory signals in reaction to bile salts, according to Reuters. This seems to negate the belief that GERD is a direct result of acid invading the esophagus.

Antacids and acid-suppressing drugs have been used for years to treat GERD. Unfortunately, these medications come with several dangerous side effects.

Until researchers are able to determine the root cause of GERD, it might make sense to avoid drugs such as Prilosec and Nexium. An alternative that supports the digestive process is a digestive enzyme supplement with soothing herbs such as DGL, marshmallow root and aloe vera.

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Don’t take Plavix with acid reducers

The Food and Drug Administration warns that acid-reflux drugs Prilosec and Nexium should not be taken with blood-thinner Plavix.

Plavix’s label cautions against the use of the heartburn drugs, as Prilosec and Nexium make the blood-thinning medication half as effective, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Other drugs that should not be taken with Plavix include Tagamet, Intelence, Felbatol, Diflucan, Nizoral, Luvox, Ticlid and Prozac.

The Times reports on a study from Mount Sinai Medical Center in which Prilosec and Protonix were found to be dangerous following balloon angioplasty. In a five-year follow-up, patients taking Prilosec and Protonix were 72 percent and 54 percent more likely to die, respectively, than patients not on heartburn drugs.

A possible alternative to antacids and acid-reducing drugs are digestive enzyme supplements combined with herbal ingredients, including aloe, DGL and marshmallow, which might help soothe an irritated digestive tract.

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Herb, probiotic show promise for gastrointestinal health

Two studies have shed light on possible ways to destroy esophageal cancer cells and ease symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The first, from researchers at Cork Cancer Research Center in Ireland, says curcumin started to kill esophageal cancer cells within 24 hours, according to MSNBC. Results of the study, conducted in a laboratory, were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric. According to the story, the natural chemical caused the cancer cells to die.

In another promising study, a probiotic was found effective for symptoms of IBD, according to WebMD. It also was found to contribute to the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, showed how a probiotic strain decreased bleeding, reduced inflammation and increased the weight of mice with colitis. In addition, the probiotic increased blood-vessel growth in the intestines.

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What to look for in a probiotic supplement

To sufficiently repopulate the digestive tract, look for a probiotic supplement with 3 billion or more beneficial organisms.

The best probiotics are enclosed in vegetarian capsules with no added fillers.

There are several strains of probiotics that can contribute to digestive health and wellness.

A synergistic mix of probiotic strains, enclosed in a single supplement, provide specific benefits:

Bifidobacterium bifidum
Found to reduce colon inflammation, strengthen the immune system, improve allergies and inhibit bacterial overgrowth

Bifidobacterium longum
Stimulates the immune system and provides gastrointestinal support during antibiotic use

Lactobacillus acidophilus
Creates a positive environment in which other probiotics thrive and inhibits the growth of invasive bacteria

Lactobacillus casei
Stimulates growth of beneficial organisms, enhances immunity, improves digestion and reduces milk intolerance

Lactobacillus plantarum
Reduces the movement of bacteria from the gut to internal organs and helps with the discomfort associated with malabsorption

Lactobacillus rhamnosis
Colonizes and protects the small intestine, inhibits growth of harmful bacteria and helps with lactose intolerance and diarrhea

Lactobacillus salivarius
Supports bowel health and strengthens the immune system

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Naproxen dangerous, no matter what the dosage

They already knew prescription-only doses of naproxen were associated with gastrointestinal toxicity, but researchers at Stanford University wanted to know more about the potential dangers of lower dosages.

What they found was that doses under the prescription strength of 1,000 mg per day significantly increased the risk of gastric or duodenal ulcers.

According to one researcher quoted in a story from Medpage Today, “naproxen use is not safe even at lower doses.”

In fact, researchers found naproxen caused hospitalization with complications such as hemorrhage, perforation or obstruction.

All doses of naproxen increased the risk for ulcers:

  • More than a 3-fold at 1,000 mg per day
  • Nearly 3-fold at 750 mg per day
  • 2.5-fold at 500 mg per day

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