The Gut-Brain Connection + Probiotic 101

Probiotics are all the rage.

BUT there is more to them than what you have read on your favorite komucha label.

Although I am a huge supporter for “getting the most for our foods” and “feeding the gut“, I know first hand that it can be extremely difficult to get those good bugs from our “food” sources alone. With the staggering amount of ” IBS” diagnosis reaching paramount heights in the U.S, it is clear that for one, we are NOT getting the most from out food and we all could get some help in the form of a high potency probiotic formula.

In my opinion, probiotics are fundamental, what everyone should be taking regardless of health issue. Yet, I understand that for some people, probiotics alone are not enough and I want to be very clear in saying that probiotics are not the one – pill fix, at least not for everyone. Depending on symptoms, health condition, more supplements may be indicated, however getting started on a solid probiotic is always a good idea.

Now that’s out-of-the-way…

My journey to this probiotic obsession is short. Last June, I got a stomach bug and nothing was staying in (if you catch my drift). I ended up at urgent care where the MD brushed it off as gastritis and wanted to prescribe me an antibiotic. Me being … me, I  said  “ok”, took the prescription and left the office but I never got the prescription filled. Instead, the next day I started of a six-strain probiotic formula and after rehydrating like a mother, my three days of suffrage resolved in one day and I have not been sick with a cold/flu/stomach bug since !

Taking a daily probiotic has changed my digestion for the better and boosted my immune system . I used to have bouts of bloating, abdominal discomfort and now I cannot even recall the last time I felt bloated.How is this even possible?

It’s complicated.

The human microbiome has more cells to it than the body itself and they estimate that 70-80% of our immune system lies in our gut. Research is pointing now at mood disorders, depression, brain fog, and neurological dysfunction can be attributed to disturbances in the body’s “gut-brain” connection. With the trillions of bacteria out there in the universe, science has identified specific strains of bacteria that have been shown to target mood health, and certain ones that are particularly helpful for the immune system. But lets not get too crazy here.

The point of this post is to emphasize that listening to your gut is invaluable.

So you want to get started on a probiotic. How do you choose?

When choosing a probiotic you want to look for a multiple strain product, something with about 15-30 CFU (colony forming units). Keep in mind that the amount of CFU does not indicate a better product. However valuable this information is, all it really means is the amount of bacteria colonies the probiotic can give rise to at the time of manufacture. It does not mean that a higher CFU is a better product. In my opinion, it is more important to get one with variety of strains (preferably of the lactobacillus and bifidobacteria family) and rotate the probiotic with another brand so you get a variety of strains in your gut. My first probiotic was a 6 strain 15 CFU and as you have read, it worked wonders.

So what about this Gut – Brain connection ?

Well without writing a novel, I am sure you are familiar with that feeling of butterflies in your stomach or that “gut feeling“. We have all gotten nervous stomach pains at some point in time right? These are relatable ways of explaining how our mood, environment and exposures can affect our digestive system. Stress, sadness and anger all can impact our gut, and this connection is a two-way street via the “gut-brain axis“. Basically, if there are any chronic digestive issues going on causing diarrhea, constipation or “IBS” symptoms, these can lead to mood disturbances; stress, anxiety, depression etc. and vis-versa, with any depression, mood or neurotransmitter imbalances. These imbalances can affect our gut motility or contractions of the GI tract and cause inflammation in the gut leading to all of the aforementioned GI issues or any issues along the GI tract (mouth to anus) for that matter.

If you are someone who is experiencing both mental stress ( unbalanced mood, anxiety, behavior changes) take a closer look at how your stomach GI system is working. A probiotic may help lighten your load (literally) and brighten your day.

Let’s Get It Together. There is so much to discuss on probiotics , we could be here forever. But, basically probiotics help to:

  • Support our immune system
  • Ease inflammation
  • Support healthy mood
  • Help with digestion
  • Maintain overall well-being

Have any fun probiotic stories or want to share some of your favorite probiotics ? Feel free spread the good bug love and drop any questions you have !

Written by: Sarah Allison RDN LD MBA

 

 

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