Lifes Abundance content relating to 'gut health'

4 Reasons To Pay Attention To Your Gut Health

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We’ve all heard the advice to trust your gut, or listen to your gut instincts. You may have even had a gut feeling deep down inside that you should make one decision, or avoid another. People are always listening to their guts — but are they really paying attention to their gut health? 

The fact of the matter is, your gut can tell you a lot more about your overall health than you may realize. These are just a few of the reasons why your gut health is so important:

  • Your Gut Plays a Key Role in Your Central Nervous System

Often when people think of the nervous system, an image of the human brain comes to mind. However, the gut is actually home to one of the most important elements of the entire nervous system — the Enteric Nervous System, or ENS. The ENS is sometimes called the body's second brain because it contains more than 100 million nerve cells that communicate directly with the brain. The ENS primarily works to aid digestion, and a gut that’s out of balance may not have the ability to maintain a strong ENS.

  • Your Gut Contains Bacteria that Controls Inflammation

Your gut is host to a wide variety of bacteria, and on the surface, that may sound kind of gross. In reality, we need good bacteria in the gut in order to improve digestive health and keep inflammation at bay. Your microbiome, the good bacteria in the gut, protects the walls of the digestive system. When these walls are compromised, we can be at risk for a variety of short-term and long-term complications, including allergies, asthma or Alzheimer's. 

  • A Healthy Gut Results in a Happy Person

You know now that your gut routinely talks directly to your brain, but did you realize that your gut actually produces most of the serotonin that your body needs? When you actively support your gut health, you will find that your body produces more serotonin. 

Serotonin is the hormone that makes you feel happy. In fact, when your gut health is compromised, you may find that you feel more anxious or depressed than usual. Many people who include a probiotic supplement as part of their daily regimen find that they generally feel an improvement to their mood. 

  • Your Gut Controls Your Metabolism

Your gut needs to be in tip-top shape in order to properly digest the food that you eat. When you eat  healthy and exercise, both of which promote gut health, you will be able to have a better handle on your metabolism. You will find that you feel more nourished by the food that you eat, and that you have less cravings. People who support their gut health often feel more energized by their food, and they feel more capable of leading an active lifestyle. Remember, your metabolism is responsible for fluctuations in weight — that means taking control of your metabolism and gut health can help you take control of your weight as well. 

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One way to support positive bacteria in the gut is to take a daily probiotic supplement. Of the five beneficial strains in our probiotic at Life's Abundance, one has even been shown to support overall digestive health, including bowel habits. Further, we’ve included a strain that is native to humans, rather than cows like typical supplements. 

It can be tempting to ignore that little voice inside, but when you pay it some attention, you just may feel like the best possible version of yourself!

Tune Up Your Second Brain

gut-second-brain

Gut health has been building steam as a trending health topic as more and more research points to the importance of the microbiome. Micro - what? Microbiome is a fancy word for the trillions (yes, trillions!) of microbes that live in your gut, on your skin and elsewhere.

Your gut health affects everything from your immune system, to your weight, to your brain function, so it’s really important to focus on what’s going on in your belly. Or shall I say what’s going INTO your belly.

It may sound crazy to think that your digestion controls all of the above mentioned, but actually, scientists have discovered that the microbes in your gut are engaged in a constant conversation with your mind. And that chatter could be affecting your emotions, moods and behavior in major ways.

It turns out that your gut’s got its very own nervous system, called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). It’s so influential on your body that it’s often referred to as “the second brain.” The main job of the ENS is to regulate digestion, but it also sends up regular signals to the brain via the vagus nerve.

Think of the vagus nerve as a busy two-lane highway. Traffic is moving in both directions, but it’s much heavier headed north, to the brain. Who’s directing that flow of traffic? Your microbes, of course.

Studies have shown that changing the makeup of gut microbiota actually changed how mice behaved, affecting anxiety and cognition, for instance*. Mice raised without beneficial microbes also have been shown to be less capable of managing stress**.

Another example: 90% of the mood-balancing neurotransmitter serotonin is made in the gut, and research has shown that microbes play a critical role in its production***. So, if yours are not doing their job well, your body could end up with inadequate serotonin. That’s a problem since serotonin regulates sleep, appetite, mood, and more.

Here are four ways to take steps in the right direction towards regulating a healthy microbiome.

1. Add fermented foods to your diet. These are foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. These foods begin with a live active culture and are fermented, giving them the benefit of probiotics.

2. Eat fiber. Many fibers are considered to be prebiotics. This means that they feed the good bacteria already present in your gut. But different fibers feed different bacterium, so it’s important to get these prebiotics from multiple sources and from a variety of foods.

3. Drink lots of fluids. Our bodies need water for skin health, immunity and energy, but also to push things along through digestion. So while we need the bacteria for gut health, we also need the fluids to keep everything moving as it should.

4. Take a probiotic daily. You can think of adding this supplement as a bit of an ‘insurance policy’ to make sure that you’re balancing the bacteria in your gut every day, no matter what. I wholeheartedly recommend Probiotic Supplement, which has a proprietary 5-strain blend with 25 billion CFUs guaranteed. Plus, it's made in the USA!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN


Resources used for this article:

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866195

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2674977/

*** http://www.caltech.edu/news/microbes-help-produce-serotonin-gut-46495

http://nutritiouslife.com/3-things-didnt-know-microbiome/

http://gut.bmj.com/content/47/suppl_4/iv15.full

http://nutritiouslife.com/stress-fighting-foods/

Pet Food Super Powers

Super girl and dog

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until nearly the 20th Century that pet food was something distinct from scraps derived from human diets. However, only in the past four decades has the emphasis on health-promotion entered the mix. Some of our readers will no doubt recall the “Gravy Train” commercials of the 70’s. Pet food certainly has changed dramatically since those days! More...

A Probing Look at Probiotics

Girl doing yoga

After years of hearing about the benefits of probiotics, you probably think you know everything you need to. Chances are they were your friend to help you through the winter ambush of colds. To most minds, there’s probably no mystery left.

Given the nature of the good news plus more good news, you’re either in favor of probiotics or you’re like me, a totally pro-probiotic fanatic.

But regular doses of probiotics? Hmmmm. 

Even in the media, probiotics are discussed generically, rather than mentioning the individual helpful strains of friendly bacteria. Such overgeneralizations leave us unsure if you should be taking them, which ones to take, how often to take them, and (when you just get down to it) what exactly is it that probiotics do?

Well, I’m gonna break it all down for you, demonstrating, once and for always, just how awesome probiotics can be.

First, let’s see what “the authorities” say. Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, and YOU are the host the WHO is referring to in this instance.

But what exactly are probiotics, you ask? Well, stay with me here.

A complex ecosystem of bacteria, known as the “intestinal microbiota,” develops after birth, taking up residence in the intestinal tract. Yep, we have a whole ecosystem of bacteria shacking up in our gut. The intestinal microbiota contains both “good” and “bad” bacteria. When the “bad” starts to outweigh the “good,” which can be due to lack of sleep, excess stress, or a bunch of other causes, it may affect your digestive system and your overall well-being.

To level off any imbalances, taking a probiotic supplement can help this whole gut situation. Maintaining a consistent level of “good” bacteria in your intestinal tract may actually improve how well it functions. Take that, “bad” bacteria!

Having adequate “good” bacteria has been shown to help support a healthy digestive system, a healthy immune system and help maintain oral health.

But all probiotics are NOT created equally. This is where it gets tricky.

There are many strains of cultures that have probiotic potential. But, each strain does different things, and each has its own little suitcase of benefits. We figure all this out in controlled studies, and we also figure out if you need a little bit or loads of a certain strain to reap its benefits.

You may have seen something on a food label (think yogurt or sauerkraut) about live and active cultures. Live cultures are microbes used to ferment foods, but not all live and active cultures are probiotics (meaning they don’t all have studies supporting specific benefits.) The “Live Active Cultures” seal was established by the National Yogurt Association to help consumers distinguish between yogurts that contain a minimum level of live and active cultures versus those that don’t.

So, bottom line, should you take a probiotic supplement?

I recommend that most people include a serving of fermented food each day (for example, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut) and take a premium probiotic supplement as insurance for good gut health and overall wellness. When you do this and your best to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, including managing stress and getting the proper amount of Zzz’s, you may just become a pro-probiotic fanatic, too!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN