Tag Archives: Gut Flora

Let’s Talk Brain Health – Part 2

We can’t talk about brain health without looking into our gut and recognizing the relation between the brain and everything gut related.  What happens in your gut/GI tract is essentially what happens in your brain. This has scientists calling the gut the 2nd brain! The gut and the brain are in a big time romance. They are entwined and can effect all of our bodily health, including brain function and how we feel everyday.

You’ve heard the term “having a gut feeling,” and well, it’s definitely something you can pay attention to.  Our brains have hundreds of millions of neurons connected to our nervous system which control our gastrointestinal system.

What’s even more amazing is that within the GI tract, it is estimated this is where 80-90% of the body’s serotonin is made (that happy hormone!) So the brain operates our bodily functions, but the gut can also send messages to the brain.

Not convinced?  Think about how certain foods affect how you feel, like chocolate. Chocolate releases endorphins in our gut and sends that “feeling good” message to our brain.  Of course this can work the opposite way too. High fat processed foods for instance, can make us feel tired and sluggish.  There is so much going on in brain-gut connection that I really encourage everybody to take note of how foods make them feel and maybe even keep a journal for reflection and assessment. This is obviously such a complex system, so if you are keen to research more, you might like this research manuscript I found that really delves into exactly how food controls the brain and cognitive health.  It’s a big read but very interesting!

So to aid our gut health, which would also aid brain health is to not only eat healthy “rainbow foods”  that I spoke of in the first part of this series, but also by adding fermented foods and kombucha into your diet. Both of which are perfect for assisting in balancing the gut flora. We have billions of bacteria living in our body, so we want to be sure that there is enough strong, good bacteria in there to keep viruses and fungi away. Which also helps to prevent disease. Adding 1 or 2 servings of kombucha or fermented foods daily can have a huge impact on your overall well-being, especially, of course on your brain health!

If you are interested in learning more about kombucha and even how to make your own, we have two upcoming workshops with Wolseley Kombucha. You can register here. Or you can always purchase a growler from us and fill it up at our Wolseley Kombucha tap, in-store!

 

 

Natural Living Series – Source of Disease

Focus: The Source of Disease

When looking for ways to begin achieving optimal health, we believe the number one thing you need is a really good probiotic! Let’s explain why…

 

If you have ever been to a naturopathic doctor, they will tell you that almost all disease can be traced back to our gut.  It is absolutely fascinating when you start looking into exactly what is going on in your body, in your digestive system to truly understand and believe this statement.

Adding a probiotic is like sending in the Calvary! Our intestines and colon are filled with so many types of bacteria that it’s impossible to know about them all (there is over 400 different species of bacteria) but we do know about how bad things can become when we don’t keep that army populated!  The goal is to keep more good than bad bacteria living in us (gut flora balance).  Our “good” bacteria can de destroyed by things like antibiotics, stress, alcohol/drugs and poor diet.  Two of the most common types of  bacteria that you can find in a probiotic are Acidophilus & Bifidus.  Acidophilus has the job of keeping things clear for these little hairs called Microvilli that are along the wall of the small intestine, and are assist in moving the food along.  Acidophilus bacteria is our number one defence of disease in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the vagina.  Bifidus has the job of re-populating the friendly bacteria, lowers the PH level (an acidic environment is necessary in this area otherwise it would be a breeding ground for bad bacteria).  Bifidus will also prevent gas & bloating.

Now let’s get into which probiotic to choose.

Most people think they need to look at the total number of bacteria it shows on the bottle (for example: 10 billion active cells), but while that is important and something to consider, really we need to look at what the different strains of bacteria are included in the probiotic.  Now remember I mentioned there are over 400 different species of bacteria, but we are going to want to look for the most important known strains and what we personally are in need of:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – these guys colonize on the walls of the small intestine, support nutrient absorption and help digest dairy if that’s part of your diet.
  • Bifidobacterium longumScavengers of toxins! Mostly found in adults digestive tract and have been said to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum – As we age this one is important for breaking down complex carbs, fat & protein but their most important job is protecting us from germs.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – known as the travellers best friend because they help with the dreaded diarrhea that can otherwise ruin a trip!  Also shown beneficial to women with urinary tract infections.
  • Lactobacillus fermentum – Promotes healthy levels of bacteria in the gut, can help with lowering cholesterol and another good one for women in minting a healthy vaginal flora.

Another important thing to look at when you are selecting a probiotic is the expiry date.  Remember these are live cultures you are ingesting and you want to be sure they stay that way!  Some of those live bacteria won’t make the journey past your stomach acid but you can help by taking the probiotic with a meal.  Food will temporally reduce the acidity level of your stomach giving better odds for survival.  Also making sure you are ingesting a good amount of bacteria (called CFU’s or Colony Forming Unit) starting at 10 million and then you can increase as needed.

We really like the probiotic options available from Natural Factors, but another favourite that is fairly new on the market is Wholy Biosa 10+ Artisan Probiotic Drink from Innotech NutritionThis triple fermented probiotic drink offers up 10 Billion bioactive cultures, and has a ph of 3.5 so it can survive stomach acid.

Another great habit to get into is adding in probiotic type foods like; cultured vegetables (think sauerkraut & kimchi), yogurt, kombucha (easy to make or a great Canadian brand we like is Tonica), kefir drinks and more!

So to sum up, our intestines have the huge job of not only assisting in breaking down the food but also absorbing the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats.  Probiotic’s (our army) work at keeping the spaces clear to allow all those good things to pass through into our blood stream, which then carries off to our organs, tissues, brain, etc. Getting the picture here now?

In my next post, I am going to talk about dirty colon’s and how we can safely clean them out.