Archive for September, 2019

The Importance of Potassium for Your Overall Health

Potassium is a mineral that is indispensable for your cells to function normally. It is one of the primary blood minerals that is referred to as an electrolyte, and they conduct electricity when they are mixed with water. What does this mean to your body? They help to control nerve and muscle function, balance blood acidity/pressure, rebuild tissue that has been damaged, and hydrate. Potassium is more easily absorbed than sodium and initiates a brief sodium-potassium exchange across cell membranes. The sodium-potassium flux creates the electrical potential in the nerve cells that help your nerve impulses. The electrical potential gradient assists with the generation of muscle and regulates the heartbeat. This prohibits the cells from swelling because if the sodium is not released, water will accumulate and eventually will cause it to burst. Potassium is also a critical mineral when it comes to cellular biochemical reactions and energy metabolism, as it has a role in the synthesis of protein from amino acids in the cells. Potassium can also participate in carbohydrate metabolism due to its activity in glycogen and glucose metabolism, which is why it is important for building muscle and growth. Red blood cells contain the majority of the potassium levels in your body, which is why red blood cell levels are better indicators of the potassium quantity than common blood serum levels.  This is why your physician may order a blood lab test for a Complete Blood Count and Complete Metabolic Panel to determine how your red blood cells are functioning along with your electrolytes.  Don’t forget you can use a discount online blood lab test service to save you money on all blood lab tests.

 

In the earlier times of humankind, the Paleolithic diet provided about 16 times more potassium than sodium as compared to modern diets. Nowadays, the average American gets about 50 percent of the recommended potassium and consumes twice as much sodium than potassium. This is mainly due to the processed foods that have an excessive amount of salt and low potassium content. The potassium mineral can be found in a wide range of foods.   For instance, most of all fresh produce has high potassium and low sodium content.   However, canned produce may lose some of its potassium content during processing.

Some vegetables that have a substantial amount of potassium include

  • leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and parsley,
  • legumes like lima beans, kidney beans, and lentils,
  • tomatoes, and
  • potato skins.

Some great fruit options to help increase your potassium intake are

  • bananas,
  • apples,
  • oranges,
  • avocado, and
  • raisins.

Whole grains with potassium include

  • oatmeal,
  • brown rice, and
  • barley,
  • nuts, and
  • wheat germs

If you are looking for protein options, you can choose from fish like salmon, sardine, and cod. Lastly, some herbs you can use to season your food to help increase your daily consumption of potassium are sage, horsetail, red clover, and nettle.

Importance of Potassium

Although 90 percent of potassium is absorbed by the small intestine, it is also one of the most soluble minerals, so it can be lost through processing and cooking. Excess potassium is removed from the body through urine and sweat, which is why it is important to replenish your fluids with vegetable or orange juice. The kidneys are responsible for regulating the potassium levels in the body and keep steady blood levels while these levels variate. Magnesium helps maintain potassium in the cells. This means incorporating magnesium into your diet could be beneficial to maintain healthy potassium levels. Some examples of magnesium-rich foods include almonds, avocados, tofu, dark chocolate, spinach, chard, quinoa, bananas, and okra. Potassium loss can be triggered by the intake of caffeinated drinks, sugar, and diuretic drugs. You can also deplete your potassium levels with diarrhea or vomiting.

Most commonly used minerals

In fields like biochemistry and medicine, potassium is one of the most commonly used minerals. Its relationship between hypertension and cardiovascular health, it is often added to supplements. As mentioned previously, the American diet has reversed the high potassium-low sodium balance, so a supplement may help with balancing these out and reducing elevated blood pressure. A potassium supplement can be helpful to treat hypertension that has been specifically caused by large amounts of sodium. Studies have found that adults that take a potassium supplement systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It can be especially beneficial to those over the age of 65 because older adults tend to not respond to blood pressure-lowering drugs, so a potassium supplement may be a great alternative. Additionally, potassium chloride is sometimes used to alleviate headaches, allergies, and infant colic.

 

High or low levels of this mineral can cause health complications that can sometimes even be severe, which is why it is important to maintain a healthy level in the blood and cells.  Remember you can order your own blood lab tests at HealthOneLabs.com if you need to you’re your current levels of potassium.  Excess potassium consumption is often not an issue because the kidneys will flush the excess out. Elevated levels of this mineral are referred to as hyperkalemia, and most commonly occurs when renal function is decreased, gastrointestinal bleeding, major infection, or rapid protein breakdown. Hyperkalemia affects cardiac function and can be seen through electrocardiograms.

Heart Benefits and Side Effects

High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for strokes, so it makes sense that higher levels of potassium are related to lower risk of stroke. Studies have found that those that consume an adequate amount of potassium were associated with lower risks of stroke. Potassium deficiency is much more common, especially in those over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses. Low potassium levels are associated with hypertension, fatigue, depression, cardiac arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is fatigue. Some symptoms include slow reflexes, dry skin, muscle weakness, and may eventually progress to insomnia, irregular heartbeat, nervous disorders, and loss of intestinal tone.

 

The imbalance of potassium and sodium is one of the main contributors to high blood pressure, which affects 1 of 3 American Adults. Physicians often prescribe Diuretics to reduce sodium levels, but they also decrease potassium levels even more, which can worsen underlying issues. The optimal course of action is to increase potassium-rich foods, reducing salt consumption, and following an exercise routine to improve physical stamina and cardiovascular tone. The ideal sodium to potassium consumption is 1:2. This means that when you increase sodium intake, you should also increase potassium intake either through foods of a supplement. Never take a supplement without consulting your physician first. The recommended potassium intake is 4,700 mg and some good sources include bananas, apricots, orange juice, prunes, potatoes, and squash. A natural diet that is composed of main vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is high in potassium and low in sodium, which can help stabilize blood pressure and prevent hypertension.

Take control of your Health and order your own discount blood lab tests online at www.HealthOneLabs.com


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The Truth about the Gut Microbiome

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The Truth about the Gut Microbiome

Recently, gut microbiome health has been a subject with increasing popularity in many health publications. What, if any, is the truth behind this? First, it is important that we define what the gut microbiome really is. Essentially the gut microbiota, or gut flora, are the 100 trillion bacteria, microorganisms, viruses, and fungi that live in the intestines. Research has found that the gut microbiome plays a role in nutrition, metabolism, immune function, and physiology. If there is an imbalance of microbes in the gut, it could lead to gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. There is ongoing research asking whether nonpathogenic strains can be used for recovering immune responses to pathogenic causing diseases.Bacteria reside throughout the entire human body, but the vast majority can be found in the gut.

The gut microbiota is split up into four groups

  • Firmicutes,
  • Bacteroidetes,
  • Proteobacteria, and
  • Actinobacteria

How the Gut microbes Impact Overall Health

The balance of these microbes in the gut can be affected by diet, stress, environment, birthing, and stages of the lifecycle. The imbalance of microbes is referred to as Dysbiosis and causes a lower number/variety of commensal bacteria, which are the microbes in the flora of the mouth. Studies have found a relationship between gut dysbiosis and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cancer. The gut microbiome also plays an integral role in protecting your body against harmful bacteria by competing for nutrients and producing antimicrobial substances. These substances are made with the commensal bacteria and products of bacterial metabolism, thus providing host protection against invading pathogens.

Gut Health

 

The gut is referred to as the “second brain” due to its many critical functions in the body. It is responsible for the immune system, digestive system, absorbing minerals and vitamins, the capacity to remove toxins from your body, and even the well-being of your mental health. Many are surprised to find out gut health can affect mood and mental health overall. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy microbiome. The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is what lines the gastrointestinal tracts, and this is important because the ENS is not only responsible for the immune system, but also for communicating with the brain about your gut. When there is dysbiosis in your gut microbiome, it damages the mucosal layer in your gut. As a result, this leaves you susceptible to the food you consume entering your bloodstream, thus triggering your immune system, and causing food sensitivity, inflammation, and other symptoms. The ENS also sends messages to your Central Nervous System (CNS), which can affect mood, memory and cognitive function. Lastly, most of the body’s serotonin is cultivated by certain bacteria in the gut’s microbiome, which can also affect your mood.

One of the most popular “health trends” has been gut health, and it’s for good reason as more and more information shows gut health is related to overall health. Diet is a lifestyle change you can make to promote a healthy gut. The type of food or diet you follow can alter the bacterial composition in your gut. It has been found that higher consumption of simple sugars/carbohydrates and fats is likely to cause changes in the gut bacteria that contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases. Another aspect of diet that can affect the gut microbiota is dietary fiber. Fiber is easily fermented by the bacteria in your GI tract and is believed to sustain a variety of microbes. People who consume a high fiber diet are thought to produce more short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which provide nutrients to intestinal cells, and in turn, promotes regulatory T-cells that prevent immoderate inflammation. Some examples of foods that are high in fiber and nutrients that you can incorporate into your diet include

  • almonds,
  • cruciferous vegetables,
  • avocado,
  • lentils,
  • popcorn,
  • chia seeds, and
  • dark chocolate.

Food additives are another aspect of your diet that can have detrimental effects on the balance of the gut microbiota. Processed foods add compounds made of synthetic molecules to enhance color, texture, and flavor, or to help it preserve for longer periods of time. Artificial sweeteners have been found to cause an abnormality in blood sugar stability, otherwise known as dysglycemia, and can cause changes to certain microbes in the GI tract. Emulsifiers are another additive that can cause dysbiosis, and they are a compound similar to the detergent that helps stabilize mixtures. This additive is typically found in liquids as it prevents distinct parts from separating and creates the desirable texture. Emulsifiers cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine thus promoting metabolic syndrome and the increasing likelihood of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). Some foods that contain emulsifiers are ice cream, salad dressings, low-fat spreads, and margarine. Additionally, you can positively affect your gut microbiota through increased consumption of fermented foods. Fermented foods are foods that have been through the fermentation process, which is the process of transforming carbs into alcohol or organic acids by using yeast or bacteria. Not only does this process help to preserve the food, but it also creates strains of probiotics, enzymes, B-vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids that promote a healthy microbiome. Due to the high demand for fermented foods, there are many tasty options on the market you can choose from like the plethora of different kombuchas, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. So, overall to promote a healthier and balanced gut you should opt to increase your fiber and fermented food intake and reduce food additives as much as possible.

If you are interested in knowing your B-vitamin levels, Omega-6, and Omega-3 fatty acids, you can order your own discount blood lab tests at www.HealthOneLabs.com

Taking probiotics to nurture your gut is something that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Some of the claims that many health advocates make about probiotics include digestive balance, help one to lose weight, and boost the immune system, however  the Food and Drug Administration, often referred to as the FDA, loosely regulates the companies creating these probiotic supplements so they can imply all the claims mentioned previously without any consequences. The supplement business has found ways around FDA regulations by having claims on their labels that suggest they will treat a condition without actually saying that. For example, they are able to say that their supplement promotes healthy sugar levels as opposed to saying that it will treat diabetes. The wording can be tricky for consumers as they tend to be very persuasive, which is why it is important to be aware of this. A common misconception surrounding probiotics supplements is that they colonize in your gut and become part of your microbiome, however, there is not enough research to prove that this claim is true. Most research indicates that probiotics just pass by your gut, which may or may not have some benefits for your microbiome. Many doctors do prescribe probiotics as different strains have been found to help with different things, such as Clostridium difficile, which is an infection that causes inflammation of the colon and diarrhea. If you believe that taking a probiotic supplement would be beneficial to your overall health. It is important that you consult your primary care physician first so that they can recommend the probiotic strain that would be most favorable for you.

The gut has an effect on many aspects of your health, so it is crucial to have knowledge on its many functions and actions you can take to promote a healthy variety of microbiota in your gastrointestinal tract.

Take control of your health and order your own lab tests at HealthOneLabs.com!


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