Why The "Pro" In Probiotics Is Real
I can’t say it enough – Your gut is the gateway to your external & internal health & well-being. In fact, 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. The digestive system is also the second largest part of the neurological system & has been termed the “second brain“.
With an unhealthy gut, the body struggles to digest food properly, immune system declines, the body feels sluggish & inflamed, energy levels plummet & the signs begin to show in skin, hair, nails, muscles, joints & bones. Many common issues & illnesses, such as thyroid imbalance, chronic fatigue, irregular chronic bloating, gas, digestive health issues, joint brain, psoriasis, eczema, candida, cystic acne, rosacea, depression, start in the gut!
If you deal with any or all of those issues, you’re not alone! In the depths of my eating disorder & throughout my journey towards recovery, my digestive issues rendered me in a situation where my life was unpredictable: one day I felt amazing and the next, I didn’t want to leave my bed or deal with anything other than how to make it all go away.
One thing that I learned (in retrospect) after having dealt with these issues is that the worst thing is to let these issues define or control you. The proper approach (although it’s hard) is to embrace it in the sense that in order to properly heal these issues, you will be more inclined to take care of your body & nourish it with the right foods & lifestyle choices. As tough as it is, try to find the littlest bit of positivity amidst all the negativity & havoc that you feel & deal with daily. Being able to heal your gut will make you feel so much better, give you so much energy & actually permit you to do all the things you so badly want to do but can’t when you don’t feel like yourself!
There are so many things you can do to improve your gut health (& if you’re interested, you can read my full blog post all about gut health & what you can do to heal yours by visiting kellyinthekitch.blog), but sometimes, it can be overwhelming to incorporate a million different things at once. The one thing I always say is crucial to start out with is a daily probiotic supplement.
Probiotics are bacteria that line our digestive tract & support the body’s ability to absorb nutrients & fight infection. We are born with them, BUT, if we don’t have enough healthy good bacteria or if the bad bacteria in the gut outnumber the good, it starts to show in all areas of the body.
Probiotics replenish the gut lining with good, healthy bacteria & get rid of the bad bacteria & in doing so, they help strengthen the & seal the intestinal membrane (otherwise termed as the ‘gut lining”) to prevent leaky gut syndrome (which is basically the condition characterized by a weakened intestinal lining, often accompanied by tears & holes, through which food particles, toxins & bad bacteria is able to penetrate & cause damage to the digestive system & ergo, prevent the vital organs from functioning optimally).
Taking a daily probiotic is one of the best ways to make sure that you’re consistently taking care of your gut & helping replenish & allow the good healthy bacteria that it needs in order to maintain your overall health to thrive.
The amount of processed, packaged & refined foods we eat, the toxins & free radicals in the environment, toxic overload in the body, consumption of inflammatory foods, food intolerances, imbalanced hormones, prescription medication & antibiotics & the amount of stress & lack of sleep we experience in our day to day lives inevitably lead to the growth of bad bacteria in the gut.
Bad bacteria causes inflammation in the body & affects all our organs, from the brain to the skin, immune, digestive, reproductive & respiratory systems & the only way to get rid of it is to play an active role & to take matters into your own hands. The bad bacteria won’t magically disappear & as it accumulates, we become more & more at risk for gut health issues, like Candida & leaky gut syndrome. Now’s the time to be your own health advocate & to do something good for your body & mind. Taking a probiotic requires very minimal effort & leads to maximal results.
I take my Nova Probiotics every morning with breakfast & the rest of my supplements to make sure I never forget & to ensure proper absorption.
Taking charge of your health doesn’t have to be scary, anxiety-provoking or overwhelming so long as you take it one step at a time & gain an understanding as to WHY you’re incorporating certain changes. When you understand, you’re more inclined to be consistent & more aware of your body & able to track results & progress. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t say you’ll do it tomorrow. Be active. Do it TODAY.
Some of the main benefits probiotics provide are:
- A healthier micro-biome overall (BTW, did you guys know that like our gut, our skin also has a microbiome?).
- Balanced immune function & a stronger immune system that’s better able to fight off invading particles, oxidative stress, free radicals & disease-causing bacteria.
- Enhanced nutrient absorption from the food we eat.
- Improved mood & mental stability.
- Healthy weight maintenance (Having a healthy balance of microflora in the gut helps speed up metabolism & may even boost weight loss)
- Reduced inflammation in the body
- Reduced upper respiratory tract infections & reduced allergy symptoms
- Relief of stress, anxiety & symptoms of depression
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Lowered risk of yeast infections.
- Reduced fatigue & boosted energy levels. Fatigue is often a sign of poor digestion, which may occur as a result of an unhealthy gut.
- Balanced blood sugar levels.
- Improved appearance of the skin. Skin is an important reflection of internal health & skin problems can result from nutritional & hormonal imbalances, as well as immune system disruptions, all of which are issues that start in the gut.
Need some ideas for how you can incorporate probiotics into your life other than by way of a daily supplement?
- Eat probiotic & prebiotic rich-foods: tiger nuts, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tofu, miso, kombucha (but watch out for sugar content!) etc.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods: green leafy veggies, tomatoes, sprouted seeds, grains or nuts, fatty fish & omega-3 food sources, fruits, such as berries, oranges & pineapple, spices, such as turmeric, ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, dark chocolate, etc.
- Eat bone broth: Bone broth restores the strength of the gut lining & fights food sensitivities (such as gluten or dairy intolerances), helps with the growth of probiotics in the gut & fights inflammation int he digestive tract.
- Take collagen: Collagen helps break down protein & soothes the gut lining by healing damaged cell walls & infusing them with healing amino acids. It forms connective tissue & seals & heals the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It also pulls acid from the stomach walls & in towards food to speed up digestion, thereby making food easier to digest & decreasing digestive issues. Lastly, it also helps with water absorption in the intestines, which helps “things” move more freely out of the body.
And last but most certainly not least, aside from what you put into your body, it’s important to be conscious of the fact that stress will do worse things for your gut than just about anything! In fact, stress can actually increase or cause yeast overgrowth. I speak from personal experience when I tell you that the mind really does affect the physical body. You can eat the cleanest diet in the world & still suffer from gut health issues or infections, inflammation & yeast overgrowth.
When you are stressed, your body releases MORE of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol activates the sympathetic nervous system. When your body is flooded with cortisol & is feeling stressed out, just imagine what happens when food is consumed. Digestion & absorption are compromised, indigestion develops & the mucus lining becomes irritated & inflamed. Research has actually shown that ulcers are more common in very stressed our people & many with IBS & colitis report improvement in their symptoms when they learn to cope with their stress & relax!
As mentioned above, chronic stress has a much larger effect on our bodies than we think. It weakens your immune system over time, which in turn, cripples your ability to fight off foreign invaders, like bad bacteria & viruses, leading to inflammation and leaky gut. It’s basically a domino effect. And so, this is what I leave you with today: As difficult as it is to just “cope” with your stress levels, it’s important that you find ways that work for you. Find out what’s triggering or causing that stress & then be mindful about how you can avoid your triggers, reduce it & learn to live with it so that it doesn’t put a damper on your life & day-to-day activities.
- If it’s work, deadlines, school or projects, come up with ways to better manage your time & to find a healthy balance between your work, family & social life.
- If it’s internal, emotional stress, anxiety, triggers, or self-worth/self-confidence issues, come to terms with what is causing them, face the issues, learn to cope with & live with them so that they no longer impair your day-to-day life.
- Other simple things such as getting more sleep, scheduling self-care into your week, resting, seeing friends & family, exercising & hanging out with uplifting positive people can also help.