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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Burn Fat, Not Your Throat

If your throat is feeling “hot, hot, hot” lately from chronic acid reflux, tell the triple-layer double fudge cake to sit this one out.

While there’s been evidence for years that obesity can cause acid reflux, a new study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that even minor weight gain can increase your chance of acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

The study found that a 5-foot 2-inch woman weighing in at the heavier end of the normal weight range for her height had a 38 percent greater chance of acid reflux than a woman weighing in at the lighter end of the normal weight range.

But there is some good news. The risk of acid reflux is significantly reduced with weight loss—even as much as 40 percent in one instance, the study found.

The lesson: Eat a balanced, probiotic diet that will burn fat—and not your throat.

If you have diabetes and acid reflux, it can be especially hard to find the right kind of foods to eat. My recommendations: Eat smaller, more frequent meals; avoid too much fried food, caffeine, and alcohol; and don’t smoke!

If you experience acid reflux occasionally, such as after a large or spicy meal, no need to worry. But if your acid reflux occurs regularly, it may be a sign of the more serious GERD, and you should see a doctor.

Above all, find a more intimate relationship with nature, keep your weight down, and your body will thank you from the bottom of your … er … derriere.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Who Farts More: Men or Women?

Lately I’ve been appearing as the guest ‘fart doctor’ on talk radio shows around the country. Here’s a gas-a-rific question I got from the fellas over at Waking Up with the Wolf on WPYX-FM: “Why do men fart more than women?”

This question rips loose a load of noxious answers, but the truth is men and women expel the same amount of gas. Human is human. Gas is gas. And by the way, it all stinks.

Contrary to another popular belief (or maybe just what a woman will tell you), women’s farts do not smell like roses, rainbows, kittens, lollipops, butterflies, cotton candy, or Grandma’s home-baked apple pie.

Friday, June 02, 2006

New Genome Research Goes for the Gut

It’s a jungle out there—or rather, in there, according to the scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). Their study, published today in Science, is the first to define the collective genome of the human gut (our colon), which comprises 100 trillion microbes.

That staggering figure makes your gut a ‘microbiome’—essentially, a complete ecosystem that codes for the important enzymes you need to digest most of what you eat, including vitamins, sugars, and fiber (Trafon blog favorites!).

With so many parts working at once, these busy little microbes form a direct link to health and disease. The presence—or more notably, the absence—of beneficial microbes can cause metabolic shifts, and trigger diseases such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, even cancer.

Here’s where I found particular vindication in the study: The researchers eventually plan to study the microbial difference between healthy people and those with GI conditions, including a comparison of their diets.

How would your colon compare in such a study? If you’re eating a nutrient-rich, fiber-packed diet, getting plenty of exercise, reducing dependence on OTC medications, and taking the appropriate supplements, you’d probably do well.