Often referred to as the second brain, your gut is the only organ in your body with its own independent nervous system. It contains 100 million neurons and 100 trillion microbes living inside your GI tract that dictate everything from your mood to your memory to your weight and even your hormones. Cliff notes version- it's very very important.
How do I know if my gut is in check?
If you have any of the following symptoms, chances are your gut needs some attention.
Digestive issues (including bloating and gas)
Specific food allergies or intolerances
Skin issues, like acne or eczema
Irritability & mood swings
Poor memory and concentration
Weak immune system (gets sick a lot)
Depression or anxiety
Where do I begin?
You can start by eliminating processed foods, sugar, soy, gluten and dairy to see if that makes any difference in your symptoms. Also, add in a probiotic first thing in the morning and one before bedtime to incorporate good bacteria into your microbiome and help it to naturally heal itself with good bacteria. If leaky gut is something that is causing your symptoms, these two tips are something to write down. I'll write a more specific post on foods for the gut in the near future!
Leaky Gut? Sounds serious...
The wall of your intestine is considered semi-permeable, meaning that only certain things are allowed to enter the bloodstream and others are blocked. For instance, specific molecules and nutrients are allowed to pass through but toxins and large undigested food particles are not. Leaky gut allows the pores of the intestinal wall to widen and for bacteria and endotoxins to leak through physical holes in the intestinal wall and translate to your bloodstream.
Some causes of leaky gut can include alcohol consumption, chronic smoking, stress, intense exercise, lack of sleep, overuse of medications and antibiotics, eating GMO foods, and the categories listed above (sugar, soy, gluten and dairy).
Your body will begin to recognize certain foods as toxic and will facilitate an immune reaction whenever you eat the foods. If this problem continues, leaky gut can then progress to chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases, such as celiac.
Probiotics...yeah I've heard they're good for you.
Our gut is filled with hundreds of different species of good bacteria, but when we are exposed to things such as pollution (hello NYC), antibiotics, chlorinated water, pesticides, chemicals in our food and stress, bad bacteria and organisms like yeast, fungus, and parasites are more likely to take over our cells. The harmful bacteria breaks down our immune system and allows our bodies to get sick quicker and for recovery to take longer.
Taking a good probiotic can identify and destroy harmful organisms in your gut by restoring the good microbes and providing balance in your flora. The Ultimate Probiotic by Silver Fern does the following for your body:
Produces digestive enzymes to break down your food so you can utilize the nutrition within them
Modulates the immune system
Reduces gas, bloating and stomach acidity
Supports good changes in your metabolism
Helps to stabilize your mood
Repairs intestinal damage
Aids with weight management
The Ultimate Probiotic also contains 8 billion CFU, which stands for "colony forming units". These units are used to quantify how many bacteria in probiotics are capable of dividing and forming colonies. The probiotic bacteria are alive and active if they are able to divide and form these colonies. Basically, the "living" units are what delivers the results needed for a healthy gut.
Not all probiotics are created equal.
Various probiotic brands contain different amounts of cultures and types of bacteria strains. I found this article that breaks down all of the different probiotic species and strains and simplifies what to look for when buying the right kind for you. Most probiotic supplements are dead on the shelf and others may die when encountering an acidic environment within the stomach. This is where you need to be careful when shopping for the right one. Unless a brand identifies that the strains have undergone a DNA analysis, then the brand doesn't need to list every strain that the probiotic contains. This is a topic for another day because I could go on and on about how supplements are not FDA approved and most of the time, we don't know what we're taking!
We are all aware of the promising evidence that a good probiotic is beneficial to our overall health. Their support in reducing toxins that we encounter through pollution and certain foods, modulating our immune system, improving digestion and nutrient absorption, and their ability to decrease harmful symptoms of antibiotic use are a few benefits we don’t want you to miss out on.
Adopting a good probiotic into your daily routine will have lasting affects on your body.
*In partnership with Silver Fern Brand. More of their amazing products can be found here!