How to Have a Healthy Gut in the Holidays
With the holidays rapidly approaching, we need to have a serious conversation about a sensitive subject…your gut. When attending family gatherings, office parties and holiday feasts, you will have many opportunities to eat healthy or unhealthy foods. To maintain your health this holiday season, you’ll need conscientious planning, willpower, and assistance from the friendly bugs that live in your gut.
Perhaps you’ve heard of probiotics and have wondered about their health benefits. If you aren’t taking probiotics, here are some essential facts you need to know about these powerful microorganisms.
What Are Probiotics?
The word probiotic comes from Latin: pro means “support” and biotic means “life.” The World Health Organization defines a probiotic as any living microorganism that has a health benefit when ingested. Likewise, the USDA defines a probiotic as any “live, nonpathogenic, nontoxic microbial organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
Scientists have discovered that the bacteria living in our gut, collectively called the “microbiome,” offer a broad spectrum of previously unknown wellness benefits including a brighter mood and heightened immunity. Although supplementing with probiotics frequently met with skepticism in the past, research has demonstrated that healthy gut bugs help support many processes in the body, including those typically thought to be connected to your brain, as well as your mood and stress levels.
Protect Your Good Bugs
Did you know that your intestines hold trillions of bacteria that contribute to your daily health? Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which contains about 3-4 pounds of bacteria, houses a diverse population of friendly bacteria that are symbiotic with us – they support our fitness and welfare as we give them food and shelter.
Our bodies are highly sophisticated ecosystems, which are made up of at least 1,000 different species of bacteria that live in our intestinal system. Some are beneficial and some aren’t. The beneficial bacteria help regulate everything in our ecosystem – from supporting our digestion to programming the nervous and immune systems. When you don’t have enough of these friendly bacteria, you can have digestive problems, difficultly managing stress, irritability, and other negative behaviors.
To remain in top form, the relationship of good bugs to bad bugs in your microbiome needs to be positively skewed. This ratio has a direct correlation to your health and overall well-being. You are more likely to be healthy and happy when the beneficial microorganisms in your gut outnumber the harmful ones. When the balance is tipped the other way, all sorts of physical and mental problems can arise.
Beware of Microbiome Imbalance
Imbalance of the gut microbiome – too many bad bacteria in the gut – has been linked to a wide range of mental and physical challenges. Keeping your gut in proper balance is essential to your overall health. Eating high-fiber foods, avoiding sugars and processed starches, having the right balance of omega-3 fatty acids (an Omega-3 Index higher than 8%), staying well-hydrated, and increasing your intake of healthy fermented foods all can help keep your gut bacteria in healthy balance.
Experiencing digestive issues is a sure-fire way to know if you have an unbalanced gut. Many people end up taking antacids, gas medicines, or anti-diarrheal medications, but these don’t get to the root cause of the problem, which is an imbalanced microbiome. If you’re struggling with any of the following on a consistent basis, you may benefit from a well-formulated probiotic supplement:
- Irregular bowel movements
- Excessively soft stools
- Unusual burping or excessive fullness after eating
- Cramping anywhere along your intestinal tract
Probiotics can improve your health in numerous ways. Here are just a few…
5 Ways to Support Your Gut with Probiotics
Improve the Integrity of Your Gut Lining
A healthy intestine has a very tight lining or seal that works to exclude everything but the smallest, fully digested food substances from getting across the intestinal wall and into the blood vessels or other surrounding tissues. When this intestinal seal is not sufficiently tight, allergenic molecules of poorly digested food, bacteria, viruses, and waste products can leak out of the intestinal lining and spread throughout the body.
Healthy bacteria that live in the gut produce many substances that help maintain the intestinal seal. Supplementing with probiotics that directly or indirectly support a healthy microbiome helps ensure the integrity of the intestinal seal and promotes many other positive intestinal functions.
Keep Your Microbiome Healthy
A healthy microbiome can be thrown off balance by numerous factors, including antibiotics, pesticides/herbicides in foods, food additives, artificial sweeteners, or simply by eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) – one that’s high in calories, low in fiber, and lacks sufficient vitamins and other essential nutrients. Stress also kills friendly bacteria in our microbiome.
Support Positive Mood with a Healthy Gut
In our fast-paced world, having a balanced gut microbiome can have tremendous benefits for your body and brain. The gut is filled with nerve networks that provide valuable input to the brain. Maintaining and restoring health in the GI tract is crucial to optimizing your protection against the possible negative consequences of allergenic food substances that can damage your blood vessels, trigger immune dysfunction, and deteriorate your overall health and well-being. Increasingly, clinical studies are finding that well-designed probiotic supplements promote positive mood and help counter stressful life events.
Eat a Probiotic Rich Diet
Even if you’ve tried incorporating probiotics into your diet, it’s likely that you aren’t getting enough of them daily. So where can you get quality probiotics? One way is with the foods you eat. Here are the top 8 probiotic rich foods.
Take a Probiotic Supplement
Another way to help support gut flora is to take a probiotic supplement. BrainMD’s ProBrainBiotics is the first probiotic supplement proven to benefit both intestinal and brain function. This supplement has the identical probiotic strains, at the same daily intake levels, that were put through three clinical trials and found to benefit intestinal function, mood, and coping with stressful experiences.
ProBrainBiotics can help with:
- Digestion – promotes healthy digestion
- Focus – improves concentration and attention
- Mood – supports positive mood and emotional balance
- Immunity – provides antioxidant support and nutritional immune system boosters
How Do I Take ProBrainBiotics?
Take one or two capsules daily with a meal, or as recommended by a physician. From the published trials, one capsule should be sufficient for most people, but two capsules will likely give you additional benefit.
If you take good care of your bacterial guests they will take care of you. Use ProBrainBiotics along with probiotic foods to enrich your daily life!
For more information on ProBrainBiotics or our full catalog of brain healthy supplements, visit the online store at BrainMD.
Keith is grateful to have the opportunity to write about supplements since many of them have made a dramatic difference in his life. He is often heard around the office saying, “We have supplements for that.”