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Digestive Cleansing

I had a great time during the holidays, but I indulged in lots of haupia pie and all kinds of other delicious treats. Now my digestion seems to be a mess, and I'm gassy and bloated all the time. How can I correct this?

There is a lot you can do to get your digestion back on track. First, stop eating sugary foods, or foods that contain hidden sugars like corn syrup. Simple sugars - the kind found in candy and sweet foods - can feed bacteria and yeast in your intestines and create what I call "fireworks," resulting in the gas and bloating that you're experiencing. A great way to rectify your situation, and to start the New Year, is to do an intestinal cleanse for two to three weeks. Below is a do-it-yourself plan for restoring your intestinal health.

Eat a diet high in vegetables, whole grains, and quality protein from skinless chicken breast and wild salmon; substitute tofu and beans if you are vegetarian.

Ingest foods, herbs, and teas to eradicate unfriendly yeast and bacteria in your intestines. Here are examples of each:

Garlic is a food that has been used for centuries, not only for its flavor but for its potent medicinal properties. The journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reported in January 2005 that a fresh garlic extract was effective in eradicating a common intestinal yeast called Candida albicans. Garlic has also been found to be effective in killing off "bad" bacteria. If you are averse to eating a few cloves of fresh garlic a day - or if your family, friends, and or co-workers are averse to you doing so - you may want to purchase a deodorized garlic product containing 5,000 micrograms of allicin, the active compound in garlic. Take one pill twice a day with food.

Berberine, a compound derived from the herbs Goldenseal or Oregon grape, has potent anti-yeast properties with a low toxicity, according to the August 2003 Phytotherapy Research journal. It is also reported to have strong antibacterial properties in the 2005 Journal of Medicinal Food. For your intestinal cleanse, take a standardized extract containing 200 milligrams per pill, and take two pills twice daily.

A tea called pau d'arco has the ability to help eradicate yeast and bacteria, according to the journal Planta Medica in 1994. Drink three cups of this tea each day during your cleanse.

Take acidophilus to restore your friendly intestinal bacteria. You can find a variety of products containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium acidophilus at health food stores. Brands that have live cultures include Natren and Theralac; take at least 20 billion acidophilus organisms each day during your cleanse.


Dr. Laurie Steelsmith is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist in Honolulu, as well as author of the new book Natural Choices for Women's Health, published by Random House. You can reach her and read her past columns at www.DrSteelsmith.com. This column is for information only. Consult your health provider for medical advice.

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