A new study suggests that an extract from green tea leaves and pomegranate that is combined with a standard oral rehydration solution can help children with diarrhea improve faster. (1) As Arthur Dover, MD, head of the Dover Travel Clinic in Aptos, California, told Medscape Medical News,
“If this were widely available in village grocery stores, it could save a lot of lives and it could save a lot of trips to clinics,” (1)
And this is absolutely true! According to some reports, (2)
- “In Nigeria, more than 20 million episodes of diarrhea a year contribute to the stunting of growth in 11 million children.
- The Indian Government is deprived of US$38.49 billion a year from the loss of productivity, health care expenses, and premature mortality associated with diarrhea.”
The product evaluated in the study, LiveLeaf-LifeDrops™, contains special polyphenols (micronutrients in our diet) extracted from green tea and pomegranate that are known to prevent intestinal breakdown. As explained by Dr. Dover – who presented the study at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2014 National Conference and Exhibition – these micronutrients stimulate the immune system once in our guts and promote internal healing. (1)
Conducted in a community clinic in Nicaragua that was recently hit by a hurricane, the study was performed on 61 children who had experienced uncontrolled diarrhea within 48 hours prior of administering the oral rehydration solution for just 2 days. In addition to experiencing no adverse effects, the researchers discovered that within the first 24 hours of consuming the pomegranate and green tea mixture, the patients experienced significant improvements in bowel movement function as determined by the Bristol Stool Scale (BSS). (1)
More research is being done as the public health ramifications of this simple, profound discovery can be life transforming for millions.
Diarrhea Health Risks
Diarrhea is defined as 3 or more loose or liquid stools per day or, in some cases, more frequent occurrences for an individual. In addition to the obvious sign of frequent, loose stool, some of the other symptoms of diarrhea can be: (3)
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody stools
- Frequent urge to evacuate the bowels
Dehydration is one of the most dangerous symptoms of diarrhea and, if left untreated, may even lead to death. Some symptoms of dehydration to watch out for are: (3)
- Dry mouth
- Dry mucous membranes
- Increased heart rate
- Increased thirst
- Less urination
Usually a symptom of gastrointestinal (GI) infection, diarrhea is most commonly caused by a variety of bacterial, parasitic and viral organisms. These microorganisms are spread through contaminated food, beverages, and even from people because of improper hygiene habits like not washing hands regularly. Other common causes can be: (3)
- Adverse reactions to medication
- Food intolerance
- Food allergies
- Functional bowel disorders
- Gallbladder or stomach surgery
- Intestinal diseases
For most North Americans, diarrhea is just a nuisance, but for folks in developing countries it is usually much more serious; especially in young children and adults who suffer from malnourishment or impaired immunity.
Public Health Implications
As is common after natural disasters, water supplies regularly become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli, which was suspected to be cause of the rampant diarrhea in this Nicaraguan community. In most countries in the world, disaster relief is a huge issue, let alone the simple water purification – something that we take in Canada and America for granted!
Responsible for taking the lives of 1.5 million annually (more than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined), diarrhea is a major public health concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO),
“Pneumonia and diarrhea together account for 29% of all child deaths globally, resulting in the deaths of more than two million children each year. Children living in poor or remote communities are most at risk and evidence shows children are dying from these preventable diseases because effective interventions are not provided equitably across all communities. Countries most affected can end this staggering and unnecessary death toll.” (4)
Posturing itself as Public Health Enemy #1, establishing clean water for developing countries is a must. It’s no wonder so many organizations exist for the sole purpose of providing potable water for people around the globe!
Other groups, like The Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD), have set their sites on specifically preventing these diseases by taking a strategic integrative approach to providing clean water and the resources for regular hand washing amongst other interventions. With the goal of helping the death toll drop due to pneumonia to fewer than 3 children in 1000 live births, and from less than 1 in 1000 by 2025 caused by diarrhea, GAPPD is urging national governments to support these efforts to do their part in helping mitigate preventable risk factors that are contributing to a mass death toll. (4)
To learn more about GAPPD, click HERE.
Natural Diarrhea Solutions
Being one of the most curable, preventable diseases affecting 3rd world communities, diarrhea is readily treated by natural solutions. According to the WHO, the three primary ways to prevent diarrhea include: (4)
- Exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months
- Hand washing
- Drinking water
To specifically avoid developing diarrhea from food poisoning, keep in mind that bacteria like E. Coli can settle in and quickly; so, you will want to implement:
- Washing your cooking and food prep areas more thoroughly and frequently.
- Making sure your food doesn’t sit in room temp for too long.
- Thawing food in the refrigerator and being sure to never thaw it in warm water.
If you develop diarrhea, try to drink at least 8 oz. of water every hour and be sure to eat:
- Easily digestible foods – Lightly steaming vegetables and eating with some organic brown rice will be key for the first few days. Try to stay away from fruits like apples and figs and prunes as they can stimulate the digestive system. After a couple days, a normal vegetarian diet can be enjoyed until the situation subsides.
- Flaxseed Oil – take 1 tablespoon with your meals twice a day as research has shown flax oil can help with both constipation and diarrhea. (5)
- Homemade soup – Seems like Mother Nature’s remedy for every sickness is soup, doesn’t it? And for good reason! Bone and vegetable broth is a rich source nutrition and hydration.
While your body is healing from diarrhea, stay away from these food items and ingredients:
- Coffee – is a diuretic, can stimulate the digestive tract and can exacerbate diarrhea.
- Common allergens & food sensitivities – sometimes triggered by certain foods, avoid those that usually give you GI discomfort keeping a watch out how you respond to dairy, grains, shellfish and sugar.
- Fats and oils – oil, butter, or margarine can also cause diarrhea because some people with GI issues have a difficulty processing and absorbing fat. Leftover lipids can cause your GI tract to secrete more water, which can make your stool watery.
- Juice – juice is void of fiber and will only aggravate loose stool. Getting your nutrition from whole foods is best.
- Pasteurized Dairy – not only inflammatory, but also mucus causing, conventional dairy products are usually GI Public Enemy #1. Raw fermented dairy like keifer and yogurt, on the other hand, are rich in probiotics and can help support gut healing.
- Sugar – the #1 food for microorganisms, sugar has been shown to lessen your immune function and is never a good idea to eat; especially, for someone battling diarrhea. (1)
Supplements to Prevent Diarrhea
- Aloe Vera Juice – up to 1/2 cup twice a day to heal the GI tract.
- Digestive enzymes – taken before and after each meal.
- Probiotics (50 billion units daily) to help balance your natural gut flora.
- Glutamine powder – up to 5g, twice daily to help repair your gut.
- Green tea extract – 400-500 mg twice daily with meals.
- Pomegranate extract – 450-500 mg twice daily with meals.
- Raw sprouted flax and chia seeds – rich in soluble fiber consume at least 3 tablespoons a day with your meals.
Gut Healing Soup
The key to making a fantastically tasty and healthy soup is to include bones in the broth because of their collagen and gelatin content, which are extremely rich in amino acids proline and glycine. According to the Weston Price Foundation, people can naturally improve their “collagen status by adding gelatin to their diets in the form of gelatin-rich broth used in soups, stews and sauces.” (6) Why? Because the Foundation has found that, (6)
- Gelatin improves digestion because of its ability to normalize cases of both hydrochloric acid deficiencies and excesses, and was said to belong in the class of “peptogenic” substances that favor the flow of gastric juices, thus promoting digestion.
- Gelatin’s traditional reputation as a health restorer has hinged primarily on its ability to soothe the GI tract.
- “Gelatin lines the mucous membrane of the intestinal tract and guards against further injurious action on the part of the ingesta,” wrote Erich Cohn of the Medical Polyclinic of the University of Bonn back in 1905.
- Infants fed gelatin-enriched formulas showed reduced allergic symptoms, vomiting, colic, diarrhea, constipation and respiratory ailments than those on straight cow’s milk.
If you are or a loved-one is suffering from diarrhea, skip the dangerous over-the-counter pills and battle this thing naturally with Bone Broth Vegetable Soup!
When it comes to natural solutions for just about any illness, it is exciting for me to see more and more research supporting the holistic principles we have known all along. Green Tea and Pomegranate extracts are just two, readily available, natural solutions to improve the health of one’s gut, along with a sound nutrition plan and approach to whole health.