Q: I don't have diabetes, but I'm having trouble getting my glucose levels to go low and stay low. My doctor suggested that I might have leaky gut, and I should make dietary changes to improve the situation. What is leaky gut, and what does it have to do with glucose levels? - Greg T., Salt Lake City
A: Stabilizing your glucose levels takes a multi-pronged approach that combines exercise, quality sleep, smart nutritional choices and perhaps medications. But if you are doing all or some of that and not having much luck, it may help to take steps to ease leaky gut.
Leaky gut is caused when the lining of your intestines is no longer able to prevent certain toxins - from the foods you eat, your natural gut bacteria and environmental pollutants, such as emulsifiers, organic solvents, nanoparticles and microbial transglutaminase - from entering your bloodstream. There, they cause inflammation and can disrupt your immune and cardiovascular system, and more.
Glucose regulation is affected because leaky gut alters intestinal production of the glucose-regulating hormone serotonin and secretion of insulin-stimulating incretin and affects how short-chain fatty acids produced in the gut aid glucose management.
Helping to make sure your intestinal lining is strong and your gut is able to regulate glucose levels effectively starts with making lifestyle changes. We have observational studies that indicate heavy alcohol use, stress and a low-fiber diet with a lot of added sugars is associated with ramping up gastrointestinal inflammation linked to leaky gut syndrome. It may also develop because you carry excess weight and are sedentary or you take certain medications that kill off important gut bacteria.
So aim for two to three servings daily of 100 percent whole grains and other high-fiber foods, avoid inflammation-related added sugars and red meats and adopt a plant-centered diet. Bonus: Ask your doc about trying bovine colostrum in pill form - a number of peer-reviewed studies show that it prevents leaky gut due to NSAID drugs and intense exercise - maybe it'll help here too.
Q: I heard that the BPA that they line food cans with and that's in cash register receipts is really dangerous. Is that true and, if so, how can I eliminate the risk? - Lola R., Boca Raton, Florida
A: We've been telling you for years to avoid thermal receipts and wash your hands pronto if you touch one. That's because bisphenol A and its replacements bisphenol S and bisphenol F have been found to be hormone disruptors, possible triggers for high blood pressure, and harmful to fetuses, leading to childhood health problems. It's also well-known that BPA in plastics can leach into food and take up residence in your body, causing endocrine disruption and affecting the brain, reproductive systems and metabolic processes. And now a new study in JAMA Network Open found that BPA is potentially more than disruptive. Using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2003-2008 and mortality data through 2015, the researchers showed that "higher BPA exposure was significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality."
More than 90 percent of Americans had traces of BPA in their blood according to a 2008 study in Environmental Health Perspectives. So what can you do to slash your and your children's exposure?
- Use glass, not plastic food storage containers and never microwave plastic.
- Don't accept receipts; instead, get them emailed to you if possible.
- Look for foods, like tomato sauces, tuna and peas, in glass, not plastic or cans.
- Opt for fresh, not canned, foods. Learn to make beans from scratch, tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, and soups from yummy leftovers (chicken, veggies, fruits). To get you started, check out the recipes for Tangy Heirloom Beans using kidney, pinto or heirloom beans and When Way Baked Beans, using dried flageolet beans. They're in Dr. Mike's "What to Eat When Cookbook."
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.