Tagged with 'gut health'

The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health: They Are Connected

Gut Microbiome and Mental Health
The "gut microbiome" has been an increasingly popular buzzword and the importance of gut health has gained momentum. To define it properly, our gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms present in our digestive tract. This involves bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Emerg- ing research in the last decade has identified the microbiome as an essential target for health that impacts our ability to lose weight and the risk of atopic diseases, such as asthma, allergies, eczema, cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders, and more. Mental Health The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the prevalence of mental health concerns. Mental health connects all our human experiences, regardless of age, race, language, time zone, or country; we've all been touched by its positive and negative effects. There is a strong bidirectional relationship between the health of our gut and our mental health. Patients with gastrointestinal concerns also tend to have at least one psychiatric medical condition. These patients can experience chronic stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia—all as a result of their symptoms and poor gut health.2,3 Gastrointestinal conditions can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), celiac disease, and Crohn's disease. The gut-brain axis influences many regular body processes, including our immune, endocrine, and neural pathways. This means that to take care of our mental health, we must also take care of our gut microbiome. Microbiome Disruption Factors that disrupt our gut microbiome include stress, the use of antibiotics and/or pharmaceuticals (including the birth control pill), consuming food additives and preservatives, and overly restrictive diets. These can all alter the balance of good vs. bad bacteria in the gut, and encourage the growth of bad bacteria. Symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas can be a sign that the gut microbiome is disrupted. Another not-so-obvious sign of a damaged gut is skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. These symptoms can occur because our skin is the largest organ of elimination. When our body isn't properly able to eliminate toxins and waste products through our bowels, urine, and sweat, it often turns to release them through the skin. It’s important to address these health conditions early on to avoid further harm to your gut microbiome. “Diversity In Your Gut Microbiome Appears To Improve Resilience Against Infection And Illness.” Supporting The Microbiome The beautiful thing about using food as medicine is that better health can begin as early as your very next bite. The food we eat plays an important part in how our gut microbiome develops. The habits we follow each day determine what our gut microbiome is colonized with (i.e., whether the good or bad microorganisms dominate). While there is never a "one size fits all" approach to nutrition, one finding appears to be true across the gut microbiome literature: diversity in your gut microbiome appears to improve resilience against infection and illness. This is be- cause different microorganisms serve different functions. For example, xyloglucans (commonly found in vegetables such as onions and lettuce) are uniquely digested by a specific species of Bacteroides.4 This means that the greater microbiome diversity there is, the greater the chance you'll always have microorganisms that are "working." Multiple studies have noted a positive relationship between increased fruit and vegetable intake and positive psychological well-being.5,6,7 For instance, a 2018 systemic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies noted a 14 percent lower risk of depression in cohort studies (a type of long-term study that follows participants over an extended period) and a 25 percent lower risk of depression in cross-sectional studies (a type of observational study that compares participants at a certain snapshot in time). A probiotic often comes in the form of  a supplement, and is deemed the "beneficial bacteria." Taking probiotics consistently can help repopulate your gut microbiome with microorganisms that help in digestion, immune function, skin health, and—you guessed it—mental health. There's even some evidence that probiotics can be used both acutely and preventatively for disease. There is so much variation in probiotics that it's important to start a supplement regime under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor. Probiotics vary in: 1)Amount of bacteria 2)Types of bacterial strains 3)Frequency of dosing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most popular bacterial strains. Many factors determine whether probiotics are a good fit for you, and which are your best options. Prebiotic foods are the foods that feed the good microorganisms in the gut.9 Incorporating prebiotic foods daily helps to maintain a healthy mi ...

Xymogen’s ProbioMax DF – 30 & 100 Billion CFU Probiotic Formulations for Gut Health

Xymogen’s ProbioMax
Both Daily DF probiotic supplements contain the following clinically tested strains of probiotics to support a healthy gastrointestinal system: Bifidobacterium lactis Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus plantarum  Bifidobacterium longum  Bifidobacterium longum Strain is well known to be tolerated by humans and safe for consumption. It is extremely resistant to bile salts/stomach acid and can tolerate a low-pH environment. This makes it quite well suited to the intestinal environment, and one of the better options when supplementing with probiotics to replenish healthy gut flora.  Lactobacillus plantarum Strain is isolated from plant material, and is well-known as being a component of lactic acid fermented foods. This includes sauerkraut and kefir. Like Bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus plantarum is resistant to bile salts and well tolerated in a low pH environment. This means a much higher level of efficacy and adhesion.  Lactobacillus acidophilus This is perhaps one of the more popular and commonly supplemented probiotics on the market. It is widely used in probiotic supplements, and found in fermented milk-based products like kefir and yogurt. It is present in the human mouth and intestinal tract. This particular strain in Xymogen is of human origin and completely safe for use.  Bifidobacterium lactis This was first discovered in the late 1890’s and plays a significant role in the human digestive system throughout the lifespan of a person from infancy to adulthood. This particular patented strain (HOWARU HN019) has shown the ability to survive transit through the gastrointestinal system and proliferate. This strain has long been studied and documented, with an excellent safety profile and proven efficacy.  These probiotics by Xymogen do not need to be refrigerated. They are completely shelf stable. After opening, simply store them in a cool, dry place.  ProbioMax DF is a vegetarian, dairy, GMO, and gluten-free probiotic formulation that comes in either 30 billion CFU capsules, or 100 billion CFU capsules.  Each individual capsule is protected by being sealed in a nitrogen-purged aluminum blister pack to prevent degradation from heat, moisture, and oxygen.  These four clinically researched strains provide proven health benefits, and each has a well-established and well-known safety profile. In addition, to help further support the resistance to stomach acid when consumed, Xymogen utilizes gastro-resistant capsules to help ensure the beneficial bacteria make it to the small intestine.  These specially designed “DRcaps” are formulated to help slow the exposure of acids to active bacteria and ensure a more targeted and therapeutic release once ingested. 

Psyllium Husk – A Healthy Soluble Fiber for Constipation and Cholesterol

Psyllium Husk
Perhaps best known as a sort of laxative or fiber supplement under brand names like Metamucil, psyllium husk offers a variety of health benefits like many of the plant-based soluble fibers you can purchase as a supplement.  People will find the most use for psyllium husk in lowering cholesterol levels (bad “LDL”) and reducing constipation (just ensure you’re drinking enough water!).  Big Benefits to Psyllium Husk IBD, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Constipation Relief – additional supplemental fiber intake in the form of psyllium husk is recommended by scientific studies to improve symptoms of digestive distress and relieve constipation by adding bulk to stool. When combined with water (or liquid) in the digestive tract, it can help speed the passage and excretion of stool. It also helps make the stool firmer.    Numerous studies conclude psyllium husk to be beneficial towards cholesterol levels; improving HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. Compared to placebo, and not adjusting dietary habits, those taking psyllium reduced LDL levels by over 20% after 8 weeks of treatment – and the decline continued as the treatment progressed further.   Psyllium was found to help those with type II diabetes control their blood sugar and blood pressure without any negative side effects commonly associated with traditional ‘long-term’ medications. The high fiber content can help to maintain glycemic balance, and appears to be an extremely safe and effective choice for those with type II diabetes to better manage glucose regulation.  Feeling Bloated? Poor Gut Health? Is Psyllium Husk Right for Me? The primary complaint most people new to psyllium husk supplements will launch is bloat – how to beat the bloat? This is likely due to absorption of water from the psyllium husk and the sudden increase in dietary fiber (especially if you don’t eat a lot initially). To accommodate this, try scaling back on the amount of psyllium husk you’re using and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day.  Bloating and gas may be an indication that you’re intaking too much fiber; but it could also just be your body slowly trying to adapt to the change.  If you have esophageal narrowing, or any sort of bowel obstructions, you’ll probably want to avoid taking any sort of psyllium husk supplement.  If you’re new to fiber supplements like psyllium, it is always best to start slowly and increase the dosage as you become accustomed to the increased changes in dietary fiber. You’ll want to take around a TSP to start with, with a large glass of water (~240mL) and a meal. 5 grams divided into three doses per day with water and meal is a safe and therapeutic dosage. You also want to make note to avoid using it at the same time as medications as it may impact their absorption and utility. Much like with apple pectin, we recommend trying to take psyllium an hour prior to medications, or around ~4 hours after any medications.