Research suggests that by shifting our diet we can start to improve our gut health in just 24 hours!
But we need the right foods, the right protein, the correct amino acid profile and both more natural ingredients and less bad stuff in order to support our balance of good bacteria, part of what’s called our “microbiome.”
Over the last several decades, the American diet has become saturated with unhealthy food and toxic ingredients. In fact, well over 60 percent of what we ate just 9 years ago was classified as “highly processed” foods — packaged, canned, boxed and fast foods.
These artificial, processed foods and additives throw off the balance of bacteria in our gut, encourage bad bacteria, increase inflammation (like high-fructose corn syrup does), hurt our immunity and can help us gain unwanted pounds.
On top of that that, we eat way too many ultra-refined carbs, unhealthy fats, processed meats with low-quality protein, artificial sweeteners and pesticide-bathed foods, but there’s a lot of good we can do with some small-to-moderate dietary changes.
The Good News
What kind of changes? We will want to bump up our consumption of veggies, whole grains, fermented foods (like fermented soy and yogurt), fiber and resistant starches (like soybeans), nuts, seeds, omega-3 fats and high-quality protein (from pasture-raised lean meat, cold-water fish and the right soy products.
Soybeans are a good choice because they are, as mentioned, rich in what’s called resistant starch. Resistant starch is a carb that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As the fibers ferment they then act as a prebiotic and feed the good bacteria inside the gut.
Resistant starches help the gut produce beneficial fats, called short-chain fatty acids, which, in turn, nourish the gut and support immunity.
The more colorful our veggies and beans are the better, because that means they are likely rich in natural antioxidants and protective plant colors, called polyphenols, which help keep our digestive tract healthy and balanced.
“Aren’t health foods and dietary supplements, by their very nature, healthy?” They should be. In fact, whether we’re talking about a food or a supplement powder for your new gut-friendly health diet, meeting basic standards should be a given.
And while the majority of healthy products available via reputable retailers will at least meet those very minimum requirements, there are two very big problems with that:
- you want your nutritional products to be better than just a D-, barely passing, quality grade; and
- there are a lot of unhealthy ingredients that are unfortunately perfectly legal and allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
So here are six of the ingredients, and ingredient types, that you can find by looking at the list of “Other ingredients” under the Supplement Facts panel of nutritional supplement products.
1. Fake colors
Stay far away from supplements made with artificial food colors, especially if they look like pretty blue-eyed rabbits.
If you see an “other ingredient” that starts with “FD&C,” switch to a supplement brand that uses safer, less toxic, natural-based colors. Examples of artificial colors include (but are not limited to) Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue #1.
These artificial colors have been linked to a whole range of serious reactions, including thyroid cancer; allergic response; gastrointestinal distress; asthma; migraines; fatigue; anxiety; blurred vision; and even death.
In fact, these fake dyes are often made from petroleum can contain more than trace amounts of other toxic substances, like mercury and arsenic.
Titanium dioxide is a popular whitening compound used to improve “the look” of supplements. But it is considered “possibly carcinogenic” by the European Chemicals Agency and the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
Titanium dioxide has been shown to cause lung inflammation and damage. It has also been linked to immune system problems, with some studies showing DNA damage by titanium dioxide nanoparticles.
Taken internally, it has been shown to cause kidney damage in mice and to bring on small-intestine inflammation.
This is very disturbing, especially considering how many people suffering from Crohn’s and gluten sensitivity are probably taking supplements containing titanium dioxide.
2. Synthetic fillers
While there are a bunch of questionable fillers out there, magnesium silicate is one of the worst.
Magnesium silicate, or talcum powder, is a cheap filler and anti-caking agent similar in composition to asbestos that can cause lung problems when inhaled. It is also often contaminated with asbestos in the mining process and is suspected to cause problems when ingested.
In a recent lawsuit, a group of plaintiffs argued that the talc in the baby powder they regularly used was contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogen considered unsafe at any level of exposure.
A jury agreed with them and awarded them $4.69 billion in damages in July 2018.
3. Artificial preservatives
Along with artificial colors, artificial preservatives — such as benzoates, sorbates, and sulfites — have no place in a nutritional supplement.
In fact, studies suggest that sodium benzoate may increase your risk of inflammation, oxidative stress, ADHD and allergies. It can also convert to benzene, a potential cancer-causing chemical.
Potassium sorbate was shown, in two studies, to cause DNA damage to cells.
And sulphites have been reported to cause a variety of serious problems, including such side effects as dermatitis, hives, flushing, hypotension, abdominal pain, diarrhea and even life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
4. Synthetic sweeteners
Whatever they’re called — saccharin, aspartame, neotame, sucralose, and acesulfame-K — artificial sweeteners confuse the body’s ability to calculate the calorie content of foods. This misperception of calories can lead to overindulgence of other sweet foods and sabotage diet efforts.
In fact, daily consumption of artificially sweetened diet drinks was associated with “a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes,” according to Harvard University.
Not only that, these artificial sweeteners have been linked to reactive hypoglycemia, seizures, memory loss, dizziness, blurry vision and even heart failure.
5. BHA & BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene)
While BHA and BHT are artificial preservatives — and are covered in no. 3 above — they’re especially bad, and so they deserve their own place in this hall of supplement ingredient shame.
Often we see BHA and BHT listed with the descriptor, “Added to preserve freshness,” or something similar. “Freshness” is the least of their effects, unfortunately.
BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program Sixth Report on Carcinogens (1991).
With BHT, it’s even worse. In the petroleum industry, BHT is known as the fuel additive AO-29, and is used in hydraulic fluids, turbine and gear oils, and jet fuels.
And, as noted, researchers have found evidence that implicates both BHA and BHT as likely players in the development of certain cancers and a range of other health problems.
Used as a thickener, this red seaweed derivative — which, by virtue of being “natural,” is even allowed in organic foods — has been implicated by a sizable body of research as a cause of gut inflammation. On top of that, the Environmental Working Group notes that this ingredient can be toxic to organs.
Now You Know You Can Improve Gut Health with Happy-Gut Nutrients!
Don’t be tricked into buying supplements with iffy ingredients.
Almased® has only pure, clean, high-quality ingredients, like fermented soy, fermented yogurt from pasture-raised cows, raw enzyme-rich honey, plus lots of high-quality non-GMO soy protein and essential amino acids.