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Understanding Hypothyroidism's Impact on Cardiovascular and Digestive Health

Understanding Hypothyroidism's Impact on Cardiovascular and Digestive Health

The thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ nestled in the front of the neck, plays a pivotal role in regulating numerous metabolic processes throughout the body. It secretes hormones that influence metabolism, growth, and body temperature. Among its various impacts, the thyroid's influence on cardiovascular and digestive health is profound yet often underappreciated. This article delves into the realm of hypothyroidism – a condition characterised by the underproduction of thyroid hormones – and its often-overlooked effects on these crucial systems.

Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disorder, affecting a significant portion of the population, with a higher prevalence in women and older adults. It can stem from various causes, ranging from autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, to iodine deficiency or certain medications. The condition is notorious for its subtle onset, with symptoms that are frequently nonspecific and easily attributed to other causes. This can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, allowing the disorder to silently exert its influence on the body.

The purpose of this article is to shed light on the specific impacts of hypothyroidism on cardiovascular and digestive health. While it is widely known that thyroid hormones play a crucial role in energy metabolism and regulation of body temperature, their influence extends far beyond these areas. In particular, we will explore how hypothyroidism can lead to lowered blood pressure and compromised bowel function, conditions that might seem unrelated at first glance but are deeply intertwined with thyroid health.

Understanding the interplay between the thyroid and these systems is not just an academic exercise; it has real-world implications for the management and treatment of hypothyroidism.

Understanding Hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism, often termed as an underactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. These hormones, namely thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are crucial for the body's metabolism, growth, and development. The deficiency of these hormones can lead to a slowdown in bodily functions, affecting various systems.

The causes of hypothyroidism are diverse. The most common cause is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes include certain medications, radiation therapy to the neck area, thyroid surgery, and congenital factors. Additionally, iodine deficiency, although rare in developed countries due to iodized salt, remains a significant cause worldwide.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle and can be mistaken for normal signs of ageing or stress. They include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, hair loss, muscle weakness, depression, and impaired memory. Due to its nonspecific symptoms, hypothyroidism can be overlooked or misdiagnosed, making awareness and proper testing crucial.

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is typically based on symptoms and confirmed through blood tests that measure levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and thyroxine. Elevated TSH and low thyroxine levels usually indicate hypothyroidism. Once diagnosed, treatment primarily involves daily use of synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. This medication restores hormone levels to their normal range, alleviating symptoms and preventing complications. 

Treatment for hypothyroidism is usually lifelong, with regular monitoring to ensure hormone levels remain within the desired range. Adjustments in dosage may be required based on periodic blood tests and symptom evaluation. It's important for patients to understand that while levothyroxine effectively manages the condition, it doesn't cure it. Consistent treatment and monitoring are key to maintaining a healthy, active life despite hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism and Cardiovascular Health

The intricate relationship between the thyroid gland and cardiovascular health is often underestimated. Thyroid hormones play a vital role in maintaining cardiovascular homeostasis. Hypothyroidism, characterised by low levels of thyroid hormones, can have a significant impact on the heart and blood vessels, leading to various cardiovascular issues, including low blood pressure or hypotension.

Thyroid hormones directly influence the heart's rhythm and contractility. They help regulate the rate at which the heart beats and ensure that it pumps blood efficiently throughout the body. In hypothyroidism, the reduced level of thyroid hormones can lead to a slower heart rate (bradycardia). This slowdown in heart activity can result in decreased cardiac output, which may manifest as low blood pressure. While high blood pressure is often highlighted in discussions about cardiovascular health, low blood pressure, though less talked about, can be equally concerning. It can lead to symptoms like dizziness, fainting, and in severe cases, shock.

Moreover, thyroid hormones are crucial in maintaining the elasticity of blood vessels. They help in the relaxation and contraction of vascular smooth muscles, thereby aiding in proper blood flow. In the absence of adequate thyroid hormones, blood vessels can become less responsive, contributing further to the development of hypotension. This reduced vascular responsiveness can also impair the body's ability to adjust blood pressure during different physiological states, such as during exercise or stress.

The long-term cardiovascular risks associated with untreated hypothyroidism are significant. Chronic low blood pressure can lead to inadequate blood flow to vital organs, including the heart and brain, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. Additionally, hypothyroidism can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels, further exacerbating the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

It is crucial for individuals with hypothyroidism to have their cardiovascular health closely monitored. Regular check-ups and cardiovascular assessments are essential parts of managing hypothyroidism. Treatment with levothyroxine, which normalises thyroid hormone levels, can mitigate these cardiovascular risks. However, it's important for the treatment to be carefully tailored to each individual, as overreplacement of thyroid hormones can lead to other cardiovascular issues, such as arrhythmias.

The impact of hypothyroidism on cardiovascular health, particularly its role in causing low blood pressure, is a critical aspect of the disorder that requires attention. Understanding and managing these effects are key to preventing long-term cardiovascular complications and ensuring the overall well-being of individuals with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism and Digestive Health

The influence of thyroid hormones extends to the digestive system, where they play a significant role in regulating gastrointestinal motility – the movements of the digestive tract that facilitate the transit of food. Hypothyroidism can profoundly impact this system, often leading to poor bowel function and constipation.

Thyroid hormones stimulate digestive tract muscles, ensuring the smooth passage of food from the oesophagus to the stomach, through the intestines, and finally to excretion. In hypothyroidism, the deficiency of these hormones slows down this process, resulting in decreased gut motility. This slowdown can cause food to move more sluggishly through the digestive tract, leading to constipation – a common symptom in individuals with hypothyroidism. Constipation in this context is not just a minor inconvenience; it can significantly affect the quality of life and overall health. Chronic constipation can lead to complications like haemorrhoids, anal fissures, and in severe cases, faecal impaction.

Thyroid hormones are involved in the secretion of gastric juices and can influence the absorption of nutrients. Hypothyroidism can lead to alterations in the gut flora and changes in the gut mucosal lining, potentially impacting nutrient absorption. This can have a cascading effect on overall health, exacerbating the fatigue and lethargy already associated with hypothyroidism.

Managing digestive symptoms in hypothyroid patients is a multifaceted approach. The primary treatment is the administration of levothyroxine, which, by normalising thyroid hormone levels, can improve gut motility and alleviate constipation. However, it's important to note that improvement in bowel function may not be immediate, and patients might require adjunct treatments for constipation.

Dietary modifications can also play a crucial role in managing digestive symptoms. A diet rich in fibre can help improve bowel movements. Hydration is equally important, as adequate fluid intake can help soften stools and promote regularity. Probiotics may be beneficial in restoring gut flora balance, although their use should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

The impact of hypothyroidism on digestive health, particularly its role in causing poor bowel function and constipation, is a significant aspect of the disorder. Understanding these effects and implementing a comprehensive treatment plan that includes hormone replacement, dietary adjustments, and possibly other supportive therapies, is essential for the effective management of digestive symptoms in hypothyroid patients. This holistic approach can help mitigate the digestive issues associated with hypothyroidism, improving patients' overall quality of life.

Preventive Measures and Lifestyle Modifications

Preventing the complications of hypothyroidism, particularly its impact on cardiovascular and digestive health, involves regular monitoring and lifestyle adjustments. Early detection through regular thyroid function tests is crucial, especially for individuals at higher risk, such as women, older adults, and those with a family history of thyroid disorders.

Diet plays a significant role in managing hypothyroidism. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health. Foods high in fibre are particularly beneficial for preventing constipation associated with hypothyroidism. Adequate iodine intake is also important, as iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production. However, excessive iodine can be detrimental, so it's advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare provider regarding appropriate iodine levels.

Regular physical activity is another key component. Exercise can help combat the weight gain associated with hypothyroidism and improve cardiovascular health. Activities like walking, swimming, or cycling are beneficial without being overly strenuous.

Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can also be helpful. Stress can exacerbate both cardiovascular and digestive symptoms, so finding effective ways to manage stress is important.

Regular medical check-ups, a balanced diet, physical activity, and stress management are vital in preventing and managing the effects of hypothyroidism on cardiovascular and digestive health. These lifestyle modifications, along with appropriate medical treatment, can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with hypothyroidism.

Conclusion: Understanding Hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism, a common yet often overlooked condition, has significant implications for cardiovascular and digestive health. We have highlighted the importance of understanding the interplay between thyroid function and these vital systems. Early diagnosis and effective management of hypothyroidism are crucial in mitigating its impact on blood pressure and bowel function. The integration of medical treatment with lifestyle modifications can lead to substantial improvements in patient outcomes.

It is essential for individuals to be proactive about their health, seeking regular medical advice and adopting healthy habits to ensure optimal thyroid function and overall well-being. 

For more information on maintaining optimal health, visit our blog for a wealth of resources and wellness products.

Further Reading

  • American Thyroid Association: Explore comprehensive resources on thyroid-related health issues, including hypothyroidism, at American Thyroid Association. This site offers detailed information on symptoms, treatments, and the latest research in thyroid health.
  • British Thyroid Foundation: The British Thyroid Foundation provides resources and support for those affected by thyroid disorders in the UK. It's a valuable source for patient experiences, treatment options, and ongoing thyroid research.
  • Health Central: Check out Health Central for articles on how hypothyroidism affects heart health, providing insights into the cardiovascular implications of this thyroid condition.

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Probiotics and Brain Health: Unveiling the Gut-Brain Connection

Probiotics and Brain Health: Unveiling the Gut-Brain Connection

Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, pose significant challenges to healthcare systems and affect millions of lives worldwide. Traditionally, the focus has been on direct neurological interventions and pharmacological treatments. However, a new and promising area of research is emerging, one that links the health of our gut to the functioning of our brain. This connection, known as the gut-brain axis, is shedding light on how our digestive system could play a crucial role in brain health.


The gut-brain axis refers to the complex communication network that connects your gut and brain, involving multiple biological systems. This axis not only ensures the proper maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis but also influences the emotional and cognitive centres of the brain. Recent studies have begun to uncover how changes in the gut microbiota – the trillions of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract – can impact this communication, potentially affecting our brain's health and susceptibility to disease.

Enter probiotics – live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics are commonly known for their role in digestive health, but their benefits might extend far beyond the gut. Emerging research suggests that probiotics could play a significant role in supporting brain health, potentially offering new ways to treat or even prevent degenerative brain diseases. By influencing the gut microbiome, these beneficial bacteria might help to maintain a healthy gut-brain axis, offering a beacon of hope in the battle against these challenging conditions.

As we delve deeper into this article, we will explore the intricate relationship between the gut and the brain, the role of the microbiome in this dynamic, and how leveraging the power of probiotics could open new doors in treating degenerative brain diseases. The potential of probiotics in this field is not just a scientific curiosity; it represents a paradigm shift in how we approach brain health and disease.

Understanding the Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis represents a remarkable example of how different systems within the human body communicate and influence each other. This bi-directional communication network involves the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system (often referred to as the "second brain" in the gut), and the endocrine (hormonal) systems. It's through this intricate network that the gut can send and receive signals to and from the brain, impacting everything from our mood to our immune response.

At the heart of this communication are the trillions of microbes that reside in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These microorganisms do more than just aid digestion; they produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which play crucial roles in regulating mood and anxiety. In fact, it's estimated that the gut produces about 95% of the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter commonly associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. This production illustrates a direct pathway through which the gut microbiota can influence brain function and emotional health.

Recent research has further illuminated the gut-brain connection by demonstrating how changes in the gut microbiome can affect brain function and, conversely, how the brain can influence gastrointestinal function and composition of the gut microbiota. For instance, stress can lead to alterations in gut motility and secretion, microbiome composition, and intestinal permeability, potentially contributing to various gastrointestinal disorders. This stress-induced change in the gut can then feedback to the brain, affecting mental health and behaviour.

Moreover, studies have shown that individuals with certain neurological disorders often exhibit alterations in their gut microbiome. For example, people with Parkinson's disease often experience gastrointestinal issues before the onset of traditional motor symptoms, suggesting a potential link between gut health and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Understanding the gut-brain axis is crucial in appreciating how probiotics might influence brain health. By positively altering the gut microbiota, probiotics could potentially modulate this complex communication network, offering therapeutic benefits for brain health and a promising avenue for the treatment of degenerative brain diseases.

The Microbiome and Brain Health

The human microbiome, particularly the gut microbiome, is a complex ecosystem within our body, playing a pivotal role in our overall health, including brain health. This vast collection of microbes, primarily bacteria, but also viruses, fungi, and protozoa, has a profound impact on the body's physiology, from metabolism to immune function, and significantly, on brain function and health.

The microbiome influences brain health through several mechanisms. Firstly, it affects the body's immune response. A substantial portion of the immune system is located in the gut, and the microbiome directly interacts with it. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a known risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases. By maintaining a healthy and balanced microbiome, this inflammatory response can be modulated, potentially reducing the risk of brain diseases.

Secondly, the gut microbes produce various metabolites, including short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which have systemic effects, including on the brain. These SCFAs can cross the blood-brain barrier and influence brain function and neuroinflammation. They are also known to affect the expression of genes in the brain that are involved in neural growth and repair.

Furthermore, the gut microbiome can influence the brain's stress response system, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to an overactive HPA axis, resulting in increased stress and anxiety, which are risk factors for various mental and neurological disorders.

Research has also shown that individuals with certain neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, often have altered gut microbiota. While it's not clear if these changes in the microbiome are a cause or effect of these diseases, it suggests a strong link between gut health and brain health. 

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in brain health by modulating immune responses, producing beneficial metabolites, and regulating the body's stress response. Understanding this connection opens up new possibilities for using probiotics to positively influence the microbiome and, by extension, support brain health and potentially mitigate the risks of degenerative brain diseases.

Probiotics: Definition and Mechanisms

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. These beneficial bacteria and yeasts are often referred to as "good" or "friendly" bacteria. They are naturally found in the human body, particularly in the gut, and are also present in certain foods and supplements.

The primary mechanism of action of probiotics is through the restoration and maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota. They contribute to the microbial balance in the gut by competing with potentially harmful bacteria for nutrients and attachment sites on the intestinal walls. This competition helps prevent the overgrowth of harmful microbes that can lead to illness or inflammation.

Probiotics also strengthen the gut barrier function, which is crucial in preventing harmful substances from entering the bloodstream and causing an immune response. They enhance the production of mucin, a component of mucus that acts as a barrier in the gut lining, and stimulate the production of tight junction proteins, which are essential for maintaining the integrity of the gut barrier.

Probiotics can modulate the immune system, enhancing its ability to fight off pathogens while also preventing it from becoming overactive and causing inflammation. This immunomodulatory effect is particularly important in the context of the gut-brain axis, as chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases.

In addition to these benefits, certain strains of probiotics can produce neurotransmitters, such as GABA and serotonin, which can have direct effects on brain function. They also produce other beneficial substances, like SCFAs, which have systemic effects, including on the brain. 

Probiotics work by promoting a healthy balance of gut microbiota, enhancing gut barrier function, modulating the immune system, and producing beneficial substances that can impact brain health. This multifaceted approach underscores the potential of probiotics as a therapeutic tool in maintaining brain health and combating degenerative brain diseases.

Probiotics in the Treatment of Degenerative Brain Diseases

The exploration of probiotics as a potential treatment for degenerative brain diseases is a burgeoning field of research, driven by the growing understanding of the gut-brain axis. Probiotics, by influencing the gut microbiota, hold promise in modulating brain health and offering a novel approach to managing neurodegenerative conditions.

One of the key ways probiotics may benefit brain health is through the reduction of systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a common feature in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. By balancing the gut microbiota and reducing gut permeability, probiotics can help lower the levels of proinflammatory cytokines, substances that can exacerbate neuroinflammation and neuronal damage.

Additionally, probiotics can influence the production of neurotrophic factors, which are essential for the growth, survival, and differentiation of neurons. For instance, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have been shown to increase the levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a key molecule involved in neuroplasticity and cognitive function. This increase in BDNF could potentially slow or even reverse some aspects of cognitive decline in degenerative brain diseases.

Emerging research also suggests that probiotics may play a role in the modulation of neurotransmitters, directly impacting mood and cognitive functions. Certain probiotic strains can produce or stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, which are crucial for regulating mood, anxiety, and cognitive processes. This psychobiotic effect of probiotics opens up possibilities for their use not only in neurodegenerative diseases but also in managing mental health disorders.

Clinical trials have begun to explore the efficacy of probiotics in treating symptoms of degenerative brain diseases. For example, some studies have reported improvements in cognitive function and quality of life in Alzheimer's patients following probiotic supplementation. However, it's important to note that this research is still in its early stages, and more extensive clinical trials are needed to fully understand the potential of probiotics in this context.

The role of probiotics in the treatment of degenerative brain diseases is a promising area of research. By modulating the gut microbiota, reducing inflammation, influencing neurotrophic factors, and affecting neurotransmitter levels, probiotics offer a multifaceted approach to supporting brain health. As our understanding of the gut-brain axis continues to evolve, probiotics could become a key component in the management and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Nutrients Generated in the Gut and Their Impact on Brain Health


The gut microbiome is not only a complex ecosystem of microorganisms but also a biochemical factory that produces a variety of nutrients and metabolites, many of which have significant impacts on brain health. Among these, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate are particularly noteworthy.

SCFAs are produced when gut bacteria ferment dietary fibres. These fatty acids serve as a primary energy source for colon cells and have systemic effects, including on the brain. Butyrate, for instance, has anti-inflammatory properties and can strengthen the blood-brain barrier, thus playing a protective role against neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. It also influences gene expression related to brain health and can promote the growth and repair of neurons.

Propionate and acetate, other SCFAs, also have beneficial effects on brain function. They can modulate the immune response and reduce oxidative stress, which is a key factor in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, these SCFAs can affect the brain directly by influencing neurotransmitter synthesis, thus impacting mood and cognitive functions.

Beyond SCFAs, the gut microbiota also influences the production and availability of essential vitamins and amino acids that are crucial for brain health. For example, certain gut bacteria are involved in the synthesis of B vitamins, which are vital for brain function and the maintenance of neural structures. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to deficiencies in these nutrients, potentially impacting cognitive abilities and mental health.

The gut microbiome's role in metabolising and modulating the availability of these nutrients underscores the importance of a balanced diet rich in fibres, probiotics, and prebiotics. Such a diet supports a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn produces beneficial nutrients that can positively impact brain health.

The nutrients generated in the gut, particularly SCFAs, play a crucial role in maintaining brain health. They help in modulating inflammation, protecting neural structures, and influencing neurotransmitter levels. This highlights the potential of targeting the gut microbiome through diet and probiotics as a strategy for supporting brain health and potentially mitigating the progression of degenerative brain diseases.

Challenges and Considerations

While the potential of probiotics in treating degenerative brain diseases is promising, there are several challenges and considerations to acknowledge. Firstly, the field of gut-brain axis research is relatively new, and many studies are still in preliminary stages. The complexity of the microbiome and its interactions with the brain means that definitive conclusions are yet to be drawn, and more extensive, controlled clinical trials are necessary.

Another consideration is the specificity of probiotic strains. Not all probiotics have the same effects, and the benefits seen in research may be specific to certain strains. This specificity underscores the importance of personalised medicine in choosing the right probiotic supplement.

Additionally, the dosage and duration of probiotic treatment for brain health are not yet well-established. Long-term effects and safety profiles need thorough investigation, especially in vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with severe neurodegenerative diseases.

While probiotics offer an exciting avenue for brain health, careful consideration of these challenges is essential for their effective and safe application in treating degenerative brain diseases.

Future Directions

The future of probiotics in the context of brain health is ripe with possibilities. As research continues to unravel the complexities of the gut-brain axis, we anticipate more targeted probiotic therapies tailored to specific neurological conditions. Advances in microbiome sequencing and bioinformatics will enable a deeper understanding of individual microbiome profiles, paving the way for personalised probiotic treatments. Moreover, the integration of probiotics with other therapeutic strategies, such as diet modification and pharmacological interventions, holds promise for a more holistic approach to managing degenerative brain diseases. Continued research and innovation in this field are essential to fully harness the potential of probiotics for brain health.

Conclusion: Probiotics and Brain Health

The exploration of probiotics in the context of brain health marks a significant shift in our approach to treating degenerative brain diseases. The intricate relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain opens up new avenues for therapeutic interventions. While challenges remain in fully understanding and harnessing this connection, the potential benefits of probiotics in enhancing brain health are clear. Continued research in this field is crucial, offering hope for innovative treatments that could improve the lives of those affected by these conditions. Embracing the gut-brain axis in medical science signifies a promising frontier in neurodegenerative disease management.

Discover more about enhancing your brain health with probiotics and explore a range of water for health products.

Further Reading

For further reading on the topic of probiotics and brain health, here are some recent articles that provide in-depth information and insights:

  • Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis - This article from PMC discusses the significant interest in the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and gut microbiota, known as the gut-brain axis. It explores how dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut are linked to mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, and the potential role of probiotics in treatment and prevention. Read more.
  • Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function - Harvard Health Publishing provides an overview of how probiotics can indirectly enhance brain health through the gut-brain axis. The article discusses the biochemical signalling between the nervous system in the digestive tract and the central nervous system, including the brain. Read more.
  • The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health - This article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) discusses the influence of microbiota on mood and mental health, highlighting the gut-brain axis. It covers the bidirectional communication network that links the enteric and central nervous systems and the impact of gut microbiota on mental state, emotional regulation, and neuromuscular function. Read more.

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Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate has multiple modes of action influencing various bodily systems; hence the reason pomegranate, in particular the standardised extract offers a plethora of health benefits; recognising the potential of this remarkable fruit led to the creation of Skin+Beyond.

The following blog will showcase the therapeutic modes of action and benefits pomegranate extract (PE) has to offer. Backed up by over 3,000 studies on PubMed. PE exhibits many attributes including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic, mitophagy (regeneration of cellular parts), autophagy, skin protection, hormone and gene regulation.

NB Patented, pomegranate extract (PE) is different to the fruit since it contains the key compounds linked to health in standardized amounts, mainly from the inedible peel.

ANTIOXIDANT

PE contains potent antioxidants, namely punicalagins that are not only unique to pomegranate, but possess powerful bioactive free radical scavenging properties, with Pomella® standardised to 30% punicalagins. (1)

PE upregulates Nrf2 activity, an important mediator of antioxidant signalling during inflammation by boosting antioxidant enzymes e.g. superoxide dismutase. (2)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Inflammation is the key driver of all ageing processes and not just skin, mediated at every stage of disease progression by nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB), the master inflammatory pathway.

Punicalagins found in PE not only demonstrate potent anti-oxidant activity, but anti- inflammatory by suppressing the master inflammatory pathway, NF-κB that is implicated in every chronic disease including skin ageing, cancers, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to name a few. (3)

PREBIOTIC

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent prebiotic properties that not only boosts gut health, but all areas of health.

PE polyphenols are converted into Urolithin-A by gut microbes. (4) This novel anti-ageing postbiotic improves mitophagy, the regeneration of the mitochondria or energy plants of the cells. (5) See under “Mitophagy” below.

PE polyphenols, especially punicalagins that are unique to pomegranate have put Urolithin- A in the higher echelons of health compounds with wide ranging benefits including skin, gut, joints, muscle, heart, brain, exercise performance and longevity to name a few.

Further PE via prebiotic action boosts akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic strain that protects the gut barrier from inflammatory damage and exerts weightloss, anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties as well as protecting the digestive tract from inflammatory/immune disorders e.g. IBD, Crohn’s. (6)

MITOPHAGY

Mitochondrial dysfunction is the root to most if not all conditions of ageing. (7)

Due to age and/or poor lifestyle factors, the mitochondria (energy plants of the cells) are not replaced or regenerated via mitophagy, causing a reduced output of cellular energy (ATP) and more free radicals. Combined they lead to ageing of different bodily systems e.g. skin, joints, heart, brain, muscle, immune etc.

Mitophagy represents a new paradigm in anti-ageing, courtesy of Urolithin-A and transcription factor EB, that is metabolized (in the gut) and upregulated respectively via pomegranate polyphenols. By optimising mitophagy, you are essentially giving your engine (mitochondria) a tune up that runs the car (body) better with less exhaust emissions (free radicals in cells).

AUTOPHAGY

Similar to mitophagy, but this clearing and recycling process involves other parts of the cells that have become senescent or aged, including toxic and damaged aggregated proteins that are the hallmarks of neurodegeneration.

Autophagy plays an important role when it comes to ageing and longevity. As a person ages, autophagy decreases, which can lead to a build-up of cellular junk parts that hamper normal cellular functioning, and cause inflammation and mitochondrial damage.

Transcription factor EB (TFEB) regulates autophagy. (8) See directly below.

TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR EB (TFEB)

Pomegranate extract or PE also shows a separate mechanism of improving or rebooting mitophagy by activating the gene regulator, Transcription Factor EB (TFEB) independent of the gut postbiotic, Urolithin-A. Singapore researchers made this remarkable finding in 2019. (9)

TFEB has widespread implications for health including neuroprotection, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory attributes. (10)

In fact improved expression of TFEB via pomegranate balances the immune response so effectively that it has been linked to the prevention of sepsis, a significant finding since sepsis has been implicated in 20% of global deaths. (11)

TFEB has been referred to as the master regulator of mitophagy (12) and autophagy. (13)

COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

PE protects dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) from UV damage similar to MitoQ, a £60 per month super antioxidant. This potent antioxidant and anti- inflammatory activity gives PE the ability to boost collagen and elastin synthesis. (14)

NB Dermal fibroblasts provide the machinery for dermal hyaluronic acid or HA synthesis and should be the key priority in targeting skin hydration. Importantly HA from creams and ingestible formats is cleared quickly and degraded from the dermis. (15)

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

Glycation is a process caused by free radicals from stimuli such as UV light and sugars reacting with proteins and fats to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs); these AGEs damage keratin, collagen and elastin in connective tissues e.g. skin, joints, vascular system (heart, brain), resulting in premature ageing. In fact glycation is a major issue for diabetics. (16)

Pomegranate especially in the patented Pomella® extract form, is a natural AGE product inhibitor and anti-inflammatory agent, showing great potential as an anti-glycative agent, thus slowing the progression this damaging process. (17)

SKIN

Pomegranate offers so many mechanisms of action on skin health that it genuinely offers “All in one skin solution” that is 100% natural including the following:

Antioxidant

PE and specifically Pomella® exerts potent, synergistic effects on protecting keratinocytes from free radical induced oxidative damage. (18)

PE protects the collagen and elastin producing cells, the dermal fibroblasts from DNA damage caused by free radicals, specifically the DNA of mitochondria that generate cellular energy, the lifeforce of all bodily systems including skin.

Skin ageing researchers in the UK, made a remarkable finding when PE compared well to MitoQ, a patented super antioxidant when protecting against UV induced damage. Further PE has many other therapeutic properties other than antioxidant. (19)

NB This was an inferior pomegranate product, and PE has many more attributes than just antioxidant.

Further antioxidant action of PE bioactives prevent glycation that damages keratinocytes and alters ceramide (fats) production in the epidermis, and damages the collagen and elastin structures in the dermis and the extracellular matrix. (20)

Anti-inflammatory

The key polyphenol unique to PE, punicalagins exerts potent anti-inflammatory attributes on via the inhibition of NF-κB, TFEB upregulation and courtesy of its gut metabolite, Urolithin-A Inflammation drives more free radicals and oxidative stress, leading to damage to epidermis and dermis layers of skin. (21)

Prebiotic

PE also boosts skin barrier integrity via the prebiotic action in the gut that influences the skin via the gut-skin axis. It does this by making Urolithin-A that exerts gut barrier protection, which is anti-inflammatory, in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (22)

Further PE boosts the novel probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that also exerts gut barrier protection, that is anti-inflammatory in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (23)

Mitophagy

PE improves mitophagy via the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and upregulation of the gene expressor, transcription factor EB (TFEB). Both keratinocytes (keratin) and dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin) benefit from regenerating their mitochondria or energy plants via the mitophagy process that declines with age and/or poor lifestyle. (24)

Autophagy

If senescent cells and aggregated proteins are not cleared in the ECM due to a breakdown in autophagy, mitochondrial damage will result, thus effecting collagen synthesis and hyaluronic acid synthesis.

Autophagy plays a key role in the health of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts, thus optimising keratin, collagen and elastin production. (25)

Fortunately pomegranate extract or PE via the upregulation of transcription factor EB (TFEB) stimulates autophagy. (26)

Collagen and Elastin Synthesis

Pomegranate extract or PE boosts collagen synthesis by protecting the dermal fibroblasts from oxidative damage and improving mitophagy. This amazing finding has only come to light recently and it represents a paradigm shift in bodily ageing. This study showed in relation to skin urolithin A increased type 1 collagen expression and reduced MMP-1 expression. (27)

NB MMP-1 is largely responsible for collagen and elastin degradation along with glycation.

Anti-Glycative

PE prevents and slows glycation, a process caused by environmental stimuli e.g. UV rays and where sugar in the form of circulating glucose reacts with proteins, in turn forming advanced glycation end products or AGEs that damage the collagen matrix in skin as well as other areas such as joints; PE inhibits glycation significantly. (28)

PE and its polyphenols have been shown to prevent methylglyoxal (MGO) induced DNA damage of keratin producing cells (keratinocytes), and boost collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the extracellular matrix. (29)

NB Damage to keratin via AGE products also affects the structure and production of ceramides. Although PE does not directly boost ceramide production, it indirectly does and the niacinamide in Skin+Beyond boosts ceramide synthesis by 34%. (30)

This in turn helps to retain moisture and skin barrier integrity, thus maintaining firmness and protecting skin from environmental insults that cause inflammation and associated damage.

How do these qualities of PE improve skin health?

Please note there may be references to other extracts, but they have the same amounts of the key bioactive compounds e.g. 30% punicalagins.

  • PE boosts water content by +51% in the stratum corneum, and +40% increase in skin hydration overall since PE boosts the production of hyaluronic acid that has impressive water retention properties (31)
  • Pomegranate boosts hyaluronic acid (HA) in the extracellular matrix by 50%, and prevents cross Cross linkages prevent removal of damaged collagen (32)

NB The extracellular matrix or ECM that makes up over 70% of the skin, is the key player in repairing and regenerating the skin. (33)

  • PE reduces wrinkle volume or depth by -26% and skin roughness by -31% (34)
  • PE boosts blood microcirculation by reducing blood vessel permeability; this increases nutrient, water and oxygen delivery to the skin layers, in turn improving radiance (35)
  • PE reduces the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation and inhibits tyrosinase to decrease melanogenesis, reducing both melanocytes and melanosomes (36)
  • PE can be helpful for severe cases of acne, especially when it’s inflammatory driven evidenced by papules and pustules. By reducing inflammation in the gut via S+B prebiotic action, you will alleviate all inflammatory linked skin conditions (37)
  • PE protects against free radicals and oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors e.g. UV sunlight, pollution and toxins (38)
  • PE improves skin tone and reduces dark spots and blemishes (39)
  • Pomegranate extract also has been proven to boost hair health; the researchers found better hair strength, increased hair density and thickness, and an improved speed of hair growth in the participants (40)

HORMONE

Pomegranate extract or PE promotes hormone health since it contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant kingdom; hence the reason it is a boon for postmenopausal women; further PE boosts healthy estrogen in younger women, and prevents xenoestrogens (toxic metabolites) from chemicals and other products e.g. plastics

Pomegranate extract or PE offers postmenopausal protection from osteoporosis, heart disease, moods and hormone cancers e.g. breast; these benefits extend to all women. (41)

MUSCLE

Longevity is very dependent on the amount of muscle you have! Sarcopenia is a muscle wasting condition that accelerates over 40, and is central to chronic decline and early

mortality. Believe it or not muscle wastage is linked to cognitive decline and even dementia. (42)

Pomegranate extract or PE makes Urolithin-A in the gut, which boosts mitophagy that prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in preventing chronic decline and improving longevity. (43)

Further Urolithin-A actually boosts NAD+ levels and upregulates the sirtuin-1 gene in skeletal muscle. NAD+ is a crucial co-factor in cellular energy production or ATP in the mitochondria.(44)

NB The sirtuin-1 gene is central to longevity, and NAD+ is often referred to as “The biggest discovery in regenerative medicine” or “The secret of life and anti-ageing”. Importantly niacinamide, another ingredient in Skin+Beyond is an effective precursor for making NAD+. No need for expensive NR and NMN precursors.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Pomegranate is often referred to as “The heart fruit” due to its positive effect on multiple factors that lead to heart disease and stroke. effective multiple mechanisms of action, including the reduction of arterial plaque by 36% in one year and that includes the carotid arteries supplying the brain with blood, in turn preventing and reducing the risk of stroke as well as heart attack. (45)

There is no such thing as bad cholesterol; oxidized cholesterol (oxLDL), a key factor in heart disease, is when LDL becomes oxidised or damaged due to inflammation from poor lifestyle. A further study showed a 59% reduction in oxidised cholesterol (oxLDL), a more accurate predictor of arteriosclerosis and associated heart attacks compared to LDL cholesterol. Further the study showed: (46)

  • 130% increase in antioxidant capacity
  • 21% reduction in systolic blood pressure
  • 39% improvement in arterial plaque in one year

BRAIN

Due to various stimuli e.g. toxins, infections, gut inflammation (gut-brain axis), neurons come under assault via oxidative stress, inflammation and free radicals. Resultant neuroinflammation results from overstimulated microglia, the immune cells of the brain and key protectors of neurons. (47)

Pomegranate extract or PE has been demonstrated in a recent study to control (balance) microglia activation and dampen neuroinflammation, in turn protecting brain cells from further damage in an Alzheimer’s model. (48)

Further autophagy helps clear these toxic, aggregated proteins. When autophagy is dysfunctional in microglia, phagocytosis (clearing damaged cells and toxic proteins) breaks down and neuroinflammation ensues, leading to neurodegeneration.

Autophagy is boosted by the upregulation of Transcription Factor EB or TFEB (49), which in turn is upregulated by pomegranate extract or PE polyphenols as identified by researchers from Singapore in 2019. (50)

Another key factor in the initiation and progression of neurodegeneration is mitochondrial dysfunction. Caused by environmental stimuli induced oxidative stress and inflammation, and the breakdown in mitophagy system that removes and regenerates the damaged mitochondria, the energy plants of the cells. (51)

Pomegranate upregulates or boosts mitophagy via the production of the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and the upregulation of the gene expresser, TFEB. Further the pomegranate metabolite, Urolithin-A exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes, and crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect neurons and their mitochondria (energy plants), in turn preventing the chronic microglia response (overreaction) that causes neuroinflammation, protein aggregate formation, and potential neuronal damage and loss. (52,53)

Glycation plays a role in the formation of amyloid protein aggregates, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, and further amyloid proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients show evidence of glycation. This is significant when you consider that pomegranate prevents and retards glycation (see under “Anti-glycative”) and prevents the formation of amyloid plaques or deposits via microglial inhibition and autophagy as discussed here.

Interestingly the researchers in this study concluded that oxidative stress causes both

glycation and amyloid protein formation, and therefore effective treatment strategies could include antioxidants, and in particular polyphenols that are well studied for proven for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes. (54)

The gut-brain connection

It’s often overlooked that the gut and brain are dependent on each other for optimum health via the gut-brain axis making the gut microbiome a key player not only in preventing neurodegenerative and mental health conditions; hence the reason the gut is often referred to as “The second brain”. (55)

When the good to bad microbes in the gut become imbalanced known as gut dysbiosis, the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response that migrates to the brain via the vagus nerve and in the case of gut barrier damage via the bloodstream.

If gut dysbiosis and associated gut inflammation is left unchecked, the intestinal barrier can be breached, often referred to as leaky gut syndrome, in turn allowing microbes, undigested food particles and toxins into the bloodstream. This prompts a chronic immune response and inevitable autoimmunity that causes a plethora of disease states e.g. irritable bowel disease Crohn’s, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, MS, MND, Alzheimer’s.

The prebiotic activity of PE has three mechanisms of action:

  • The gut metabolite, Urolithin-A protects the gut from inflammation and damage, which in turn prevents neurological and psychiatric problems via the gut-brain axis or leaky gut (56)
  • PE boosts the numbers of akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic that protects the gut barrier, in turn preventing damage and resultant inflammation and gut barrier permeability that causes brain inflammation (57)
  • Boosting of probiotic numbers including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria family strains keeps a healthy balance of good to bad microbes (58)

IMMUNITY

Pomegranate improves immunity via multiple mechanisms of action. Mitophagy (via Urolithin-A and TFEB) or the regeneration of mitochondria to prevent uncontrolled immune responses such as chronic inflammatory chemical release and excess immune cell activation. The key is a balanced response to threats. (59)

Gut health equals immune health since 70% of immune cells are made in the gut. The potent prebiotic activity of PE promotes gut health. (60) See above under “Brain”.

Further PE upregulates TFEB that in turn improves immune health, so much so it has been shown to prevent sepsis, a pervasive condition due to imbalanced immune response, that can be deadly. (61)

GUT & DIGESTION

Prebiotic action of pomegranate polyphenols as outlined above under “Brain” protect both the gut and beyond the gut into the digestive tract; worthy of special note is the novel gut microbe akkermansia muciniphila (AKKM) boosted by pomegranate polyphenols. (62)

AKKM consumes mucin in the gut wall, in turn releasing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that protects the digestive tract including the colon from inflammatory disorders (IBD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s) and cancers including colon. (63)

METABOLIC HEALTH

Pomegranate improves metabolic health by exhibiting cardiovascular (See under “Cardiovascular”), anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. It does so via a range of modes of action e.g. anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic. However rising star in metabolic health is the exciting probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that is boosted by pomegranate polyphenols and exerts its metabolic enhancing attributes through its actions in the gut and digestive tract. (64), (65)

JOINTS

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts multiple modes of action on preventing and improving joint and bone disorders.

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) in joints and bone from free radical induced oxidative damage. (66)

PE boosts collagen synthesis and inhibits collagen and elastin degrading enzymes (MMPs), in turn boosting and protecting the health of joints and bone. Further PE exhibits ant- glycative properties, in turn protecting connective tissue from this other degrading process affecting connective tissues. (6768)

PE upregulates the gene encoder, transcription factor EB or TFEB that improves mitophagy (similar to Urolithin-A) and autophagy, in turn protecting joints and bones from degenerative disorders including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. (69)

Further pomegranate contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant World; post- menopausal women are low in oestrogen, which is also linked to joint and bone conditions. (70,71)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

As well as the joint and bone promoting properties of PE (See under “Joints”); PE has potent sports performance and recovery attributes. (72)

LIFESPAN

The pomegranate gut metabolite Urolithin-A promotes NAD+ and Sirt-1 gene expression, both linked to increased muscle mass and increased lifespan. (73)

Further Urolithin-A prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in longevity. Hence the reason Urolithin-A also increased the lifespan of c. elegans worms. (74)

CANCER

Pomegranate extract or PE demonstrates potent anti-cancer activity in many cancers including breast, colon, prostate, skin and lung. (75)

Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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Boosting Brain Health and Mood: The Synergy of Gut Health and Vitamin B's

Boosting Brain Health and Mood: The Synergy of Gut Health and Vitamin B's

In today's fast-paced world, mental well-being and cognitive function have become paramount not just for productivity, but for overall quality of life. While many factors contribute to the health of our minds, emerging research has spotlighted two key players: the health of our gut and the intake of Vitamin B's. This article delves into the intricate connection between these elements and their combined influence on brain health and mood.

The brain, often regarded as the control centre of the body, is influenced by numerous internal and external factors. From the foods we consume to the stress we experience, every aspect of our lives has the potential to impact our cognitive function and emotional state. Among these, the role of our gut, often referred to as the "second brain," and the essential Vitamin B complex, have garnered significant attention from the scientific community.

As we navigate through this article, we'll uncover the profound ways in which our gut health and Vitamin B's work in tandem to support and enhance our brain's performance and emotional well-being. By understanding this synergy, we can take proactive steps to nurture our minds and elevate our mood, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Understanding Brain Health

The brain, a complex and intricate organ, serves as the epicentre of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Its health determines not only our cognitive abilities but also our emotional responses and overall well-being. But what exactly does "brain health" entail, and why is it so crucial?

Definition and Significance of Optimal Brain Health

  • Brain Health Defined: At its core, brain health refers to the ability to remember, learn, plan, concentrate, and maintain a clear and active mind. It's about being able to draw on the strengths of your brain—information management, logic, judgement, perspective, and wisdom.
  • Why It Matters: A healthy brain allows us to function effectively in daily life, make informed decisions, and connect with others on an emotional level. It's the foundation for mental well-being and resilience against external stressors.

Common Factors Affecting Brain Health

  • Age: As we age, certain cognitive functions can naturally decline. However, with proper care and stimulation, the brain can remain sharp and active throughout life.
  • Diet and Nutrition: What we consume plays a pivotal role in brain health. Nutrient-rich foods provide the essential building blocks for brain cells and neurotransmitters.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and enhancing cognitive function.
  • Mental Stimulation: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, puzzles, or learning a new skill, can strengthen neural connections and boost brain health.
  • Stress: Chronic stress releases excessive cortisol, a hormone that, in high amounts, can interfere with memory and learning.
  • Sleep: Quality sleep is vital for memory consolidation and overall cognitive function.
  • Social Connections: Engaging in social activities and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships can ward off feelings of isolation and depression, both of which can impact brain health.

Understanding these factors provides a roadmap to nurturing our brain health, allowing us to take proactive measures to enhance our cognitive abilities and emotional well-being.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut and the brain, though seemingly unrelated, share a profound connection that has been the subject of extensive research in recent years. This connection, known as the gut-brain axis, plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being, influencing everything from our mood to our cognitive abilities.

Overview of the Gut-Brain Axis

  • What is the Gut-Brain Axis? The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the enteric nervous system (the nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract).
  • How Do They Communicate? This communication is facilitated through various pathways, including neural connections, hormones, and immune system interactions. One of the primary messengers in this system is the gut microbiota, the diverse community of microorganisms residing in our intestines.

How Gut Health Impacts Mental Well-being

  • Mood Regulation: Certain strains of gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play a crucial role in mood regulation.
  • Stress Response: An imbalanced gut can lead to an exaggerated stress response, potentially leading to anxiety and depression.
  • Cognitive Function: Gut health can influence brain plasticity, learning, and memory.

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Cognitive Function and Mood Regulation

  • Neurotransmitter Production: A significant portion of the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to happiness and well-being, is produced in the gut.
  • Inflammation Reduction: A healthy gut can reduce systemic inflammation, which has been linked to various neurological conditions, including depression.
  • Protection Against Neurological Diseases: Some research suggests that a balanced gut microbiota can offer protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Understanding the intricate relationship between our gut and brain underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. By nurturing our gut health, we can positively influence our brain function, mood, and overall mental well-being.

The Power of Vitamin B's

Vitamin B's, a group of water-soluble vitamins, play an indispensable role in maintaining optimal brain health. Their impact on cognitive function, energy production, and mood regulation has made them a focal point of nutritional neuroscience.

Introduction to the Vitamin B Complex

  • What are Vitamin B's? The Vitamin B complex comprises eight essential vitamins, each with its unique role in promoting brain health and overall well-being.
  • Importance in Brain Health: These vitamins are crucial for various neural functions, including neurotransmitter synthesis, energy production, and DNA repair.

Specific Roles of Different Vitamin B's in Brain Health:

  • B1 (Thiamine): Essential for glucose metabolism, thiamine ensures that the brain receives adequate energy. A deficiency can lead to memory disturbances and cognitive decline.
  • B3 (Niacin): Supports brain function and can help reduce the risk of age-related brain disorders. It also plays a role in producing several neurotransmitters.
  • B6 (Pyridoxine): Crucial for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood. It also aids in myelin formation, which insulates nerve fibres.
  • B9 (Folate): Supports brain development and function. A deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects in infants. In adults, low folate levels are linked to depression.
  • B12 (Cobalamin): Vital for nerve function, the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and DNA production. A deficiency can lead to memory loss, fatigue, and mood disturbances.

The Link Between Vitamin B Deficiencies and Mood Disorders

  • Depression and B Vitamins: Several B vitamins, especially B6, B9, and B12, are directly linked to neurotransmitter synthesis. A deficiency can disrupt this process, leading to mood imbalances.
  • Cognitive Decline: Chronic deficiency in certain B vitamins can lead to decreased cognitive function, memory loss, and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Energy and Fatigue: B vitamins play a central role in energy metabolism. A deficiency can result in fatigue, lethargy, and reduced cognitive function.

Incorporating a balanced intake of Vitamin B's is paramount for brain health. Whether through diet or supplementation, ensuring adequate levels can significantly enhance cognitive function, mood regulation, and overall mental well-being.

Synergy of Gut Health and Vitamin B's

While the individual roles of gut health and Vitamin B's in brain function are significant, their combined impact is even more profound. Together, they create a synergistic effect that can greatly enhance cognitive abilities and emotional well-being.

How a Healthy Gut Aids in the Absorption of Vitamin B's

  • Digestive Efficiency: A healthy gut ensures efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, including the Vitamin B complex.
  • Microbial Synthesis: Certain gut bacteria are capable of synthesising B vitamins, further contributing to the body's overall levels.
  • Barrier Function: A well-functioning gut barrier prevents the loss of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, ensuring they are effectively absorbed into the bloodstream.

The Combined Effects on Brain Function and Mood

  • Neurotransmitter Production: A healthy gut microbiota supports the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and adequate Vitamin B levels further enhance this process, ensuring optimal mood regulation.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Both a balanced gut and sufficient Vitamin B intake can reduce systemic inflammation, which is linked to various neurological conditions and mood disturbances.
  • Enhanced Cognitive Abilities: The combined effects of optimal gut health and Vitamin B intake can lead to improved memory, attention, and other cognitive functions.

Practical Steps to Harness the Synergy

  • Dietary Choices: Consuming a diet rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and Vitamin B-rich foods can nurture both the gut and brain.
  • Supplementation: For those with specific deficiencies or dietary restrictions, supplements can be a valuable tool to ensure optimal levels of gut-friendly bacteria and Vitamin B's.
  • Lifestyle Habits: Regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep can support both gut health and Vitamin B levels, further enhancing their combined benefits for the brain.

Understanding the interplay between gut health and Vitamin B's offers a holistic approach to brain health. By nurturing both aspects, individuals can unlock enhanced cognitive function, improved mood, and overall better mental well-being.

Simple Steps to Promote Brain Health

Achieving optimal brain health is a holistic endeavour, encompassing both dietary and lifestyle choices. By integrating practices that support gut health and ensuring adequate Vitamin B intake, one can significantly enhance cognitive function and mood stability.

Dietary Recommendations for a Healthy Gut and Adequate Vitamin B Intake

  • Probiotic Foods: Incorporate foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi to boost beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Prebiotic Foods: Consume foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas to feed and nurture the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Vitamin B-Rich Foods: Prioritise foods like whole grains, legumes, lean meats, eggs, and leafy greens to ensure a steady intake of the Vitamin B complex.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Minimise the intake of sugary, processed, and fried foods, which can disrupt gut health and nutrient absorption.

The Importance of Probiotics and Prebiotics 

  • Role of Probiotics: These are live beneficial bacteria that can restore and maintain a healthy gut microbiome, supporting digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Role of Prebiotics: These are non-digestible food components that act as food for probiotics, helping them thrive and maintain a balanced gut environment.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Gut and Brain Health

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and enhance blood flow to the brain.
  • Stress Management: Engage in relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga to reduce cortisol levels and support gut and brain health.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow the brain to repair and regenerate and to support a balanced gut microbiome.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Limit Alcohol and Caffeine: Excessive consumption can disrupt gut balance and interfere with Vitamin B absorption.

By integrating these simple yet effective steps into daily routines, individuals can create a foundation for optimal brain health, ensuring clarity of thought, emotional stability, and a heightened sense of well-being.

Conclusion: Gut Health and Vitamin B's

The intricate dance between our gut health, Vitamin B's, and brain function shows the extent of the interconnectedness of our body's systems. As we've journeyed through this article, it's evident that the path to optimal brain health and mood stability is multifaceted, encompassing both dietary and lifestyle choices.

 The profound influence of our gut, often dubbed the "second brain," coupled with the essential role of the Vitamin B complex, underscores the importance of a holistic approach to well-being. By nurturing our gut microbiota and ensuring adequate Vitamin B intake, we not only enhance our cognitive abilities but also pave the way for emotional resilience and balance.

Ready to embark on a journey towards optimal health? Explore the wide range of products at Water for Health and discover solutions tailored to your unique health needs.

Further Reading

B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review

This comprehensive review delves into the intricate roles of B vitamins in brain function, emphasising their collective effects on various aspects of brain function, including energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis/repair, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signalling molecules. Read the full article here

The role of vitamin B12 in viral infections: a comprehensive review

This article explores the potential benefits of vitamin B12 in balancing immune responses, especially in the context of viral infections. Read the full article here

Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis

This article provides an in-depth understanding of the gut-brain axis and its implications for mental health. It discusses the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain and how disturbances in the gut microbiota can influence mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Read the full article here

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Glyphosate Exposed: Unraveling the Research on its Hazards to Human Well-being

Glyphosate Exposed: Unraveling the Research on its Hazards to Human Well-being

What exactly is Glyphosate?

You’ve most likely heard of this very popular broad-spectrum herbicide many times and not actually realised what it was.

Remember the stuff your mother held in such high esteem for killing those nasty garden weeds? Yeap, that’s Glyphosate, or ‘Roundup’ as it’s more commonly known.

First introduced in the 1970s, this popular herbicide used globally, works by inhibiting an enzyme pathway essential for plant growth, ultimately leading to the death of the targeted plants.

Glyphosate is primarily used in agriculture, forestry, and landscaping, as well as for weed control in gardens and residential areas. It is also employed in non-agricultural settings such as railways, roadsides, and industrial areas.

Sounds pretty useful, right? At the end of the day, it kills those unwanted weeds, so what's not to like?

Well maybe, but before you go rushing out to dose your driveway or backyard patio you may want to consider the potential drawbacks associated with this controversial weed killer.

In this article, we will delve into the research surrounding glyphosate and explore the potential risks it poses to our well-being.

Main uses of Glyphosate and how it works

Herbicide

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide used to kill most broadleaf plants within a certain area.

It gets absorbed into the plants primarily through their leaves, with small amounts being absorbed into the roots. Consequently, glyphosate is actually only effective at killing growing weeds and grass. It cannot stop seeds from germinating in the first place.

Once it is absorbed into the plant structure, glyphosate spreads all around the plant—to its roots and leaves—and prevents it from making proteins that are necessary for its growth. This is what ends up killing the plants

Crop Desiccant

Glyphosate is often used by farmers as an effective desiccant to dry out crops like wheat and oats before they are harvested. 

However, even though glyphosate is not a true desiccant it does still function in the same way killing the plants enabling their food portions to dry out faster than they usually would.

This ensures a speedy harvest process and increases the overall harvest yield.

The Glyphosate controversy

In today's world, where concerns about the safety of the products we use and the impact they have on our health are on the rise, glyphosate has emerged as a hot topic of debate.

The use of glyphosate has been surrounded by controversy, particularly regarding its potential impact on human health. 

Research and regulatory agencies have conducted studies to evaluate its safety and have arrived at different conclusions regarding its potential risks.

Some concerns have been raised about possible associations between glyphosate exposure and certain health issues, including cancer, reproductive problems, and disruption of the endocrine system.

Regulatory bodies worldwide continue to assess and monitor the safety of glyphosate and set limits on its usage to mitigate potential risks.

Potential health risks of Glyphosate

Cancer Concerns

One of the most significant concerns associated with glyphosate is its potential link to cancer.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015, sparking controversy and raising alarm bells around the world.

While some studies have supported this classification, others have found no definitive evidence of a causal relationship between glyphosate and cancer.

Nonetheless, the debate continues, urging researchers and regulatory agencies to explore this critical issue further. (1)

Endocrine Disruption and Reproductive Health

Apart from cancer concerns, glyphosate is also believed to be involved in the disruption of the endocrine system, which regulates crucial hormonal functions in the body.

Studies on animals have suggested that glyphosate exposure may lead to hormonal imbalances, however, more research is needed to establish the extent of these effects on human health and whether they occur at typical exposure levels. (2)

Reproductive Effects

Research has indicated that glyphosate may have adverse effects on reproductive health. 

Animal studies have shown that glyphosate exposure can lead to reproductive problems, such as reduced fertility, abnormal sperm, and reproductive organ abnormalities.

However, further studies are needed to determine the extent of these effects on human reproductive health. (3)

Developmental Effects

Glyphosate exposure has also raised concerns about its potential impact on fetal and child development.

Some studies have suggested associations between glyphosate exposure during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.

Additionally, there is evidence indicating that glyphosate may have neurotoxic effects, which could potentially affect children's cognitive development. (4,5,6,7,8)

Disruption of Gut Microbiome

Emerging research suggests that glyphosate could affect gut microbiome, the complex ecosystem of microorganisms living in our digestive system.

The disruption of gut microbiome has been associated with various health conditions, including:

  • metabolic disorders
  • immune system dysfunction
  • mental health issues

Disrupting our delicate microbiome balance isn’t the only way that glyphosate can potentially impact the health of our gut.

Researchers have now linked glyphosate as one of the key contributors to leaky gut (an increase in intestinal permeability) often thought to be caused by gluten consumption. 

It’s speculated that residual glyphosate left on wheat when harvested is the more likely culprit for bringing on leaky gut conditions rather than the wheat itself.

Maintaining a healthy gut is one of the key components of health and therefore the claims of implications caused by glyphosate should not be taken lightly.

But it’s important to note that research is ongoing to find out the full extent of these effects. (9,10)

Dr. Zach Bush “Every time you touch human cells with glyphosate it dissolves the communication between them.”


Food Safety

In recent years Glyphosate's impact on food safety has raised many concerns and generated significant debate.

Glyphosate residues are often found on various crops, including staple foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, due to its widespread use in agriculture.

But it’s most concerning when these residues are present in harvested crops that may potentially lead to health implications for consumers.

As glyphosate is applied to fields, it can be absorbed by plants and remain on their surfaces. This has led to instances of glyphosate detection in food products, sparking worries about its potential adverse effects on human health.

Regulatory agencies have set maximum residue limits (MRLs) for glyphosate in food products to mitigate health concerns, but there is ongoing debate about whether these limits are adequate to ensure long-term food safety. (11)

Secondly there is increasing concern of glyphosate in the environment and it leaching into water courses and then into water supplies. It is consequently advisable that people ensure their water filters remove glyphosate.

Furthermore, glyphosate's impact on soil health and microbial communities can indirectly affect food safety.

Healthy soils support the growth of nutritious crops, and disturbances to soil ecosystems due to glyphosate use could influence the nutritional content and quality of food produced.

Glyphosate’s impact on food safety is a multifaceted issue encompassing both the direct residues present on crops and potential health effects resulting from consumption.

While regulatory measures aim to mitigate risks, ongoing research and monitoring are necessary to fully understand the long-term implications of glyphosate use on the safety and quality of the food supply.

To summarise

Glyphosate's hazards to human well-being have become a subject of intense scientific scrutiny and public concern.

While research on the topic is complex and occasionally conflicting, it is essential to acknowledge the existing evidence and remain vigilant about the potential risks.

As we continue to navigate the world of herbicides and agricultural practices, the responsible use of glyphosate and the development of alternative solutions can contribute to a safer and more sustainable future.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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The Importance of Good Gut Health for Overall Wellbeing

The Importance of Good Gut Health for Overall Wellbeing

Good gut health is very important for our overall wellbeing, but an increasing number of people are struggling with digestive problems.

Many names and labels are given to bowel dysfunction. Whatever the name or label you have been given for your gut problem, the secret to reclaiming your health is to restore the balance of your microbiome. Read on to learn more, including three things that are vitally important if we are to restore bowel health.

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3 Things That are Vitally Important for Probiotics to be Effective

3 Things That are Vitally Important for Probiotics to be Effective

Over the last couple of decades there have been huge advances in understanding the key role that the microbiome plays in our physical and mental health. As a result, there has been a myriad of probiotic products developed, ranging from probiotic enriched foods to food supplements. Many of them have brought results, yet in many ways they are only part of the answer.

Probiotics have a key role to play in digestive health. They give relief from many digestive problems such as IBS, constipation, SIBO, leaky gut, colitis, acid reflux and numerous other labels for digestive system disfunction. However their role in the body is much more wide ranging.

They have a key role to play in our immune function and our brain health. There is a very strong gut brain connection and poor microbiome health is known to be a contributory factor to degenerative brain problems such as MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers and Autism.

It is also very much involved in emotional health where it impacts mood, particularly depression and anxiety.

Good health really does begin in the gut. We cannot really enjoy optimum health without optimising gut health. That, to a very large extent, means improving the microbiome.

Over the last number of decades the microbiome has been under considerable attack from chemicals in our environment and the extensive use of antibiotics and steroids.

Another contributor to the problem is births by caesarean section leading to the newborn child missing out on the beneficial microbes they would normally be seeded with when passing through the birth canal. This loss of immune protection given through normal child birth often leads to the early use of antibiotics. This compounds the problem and can often lead to a sequence of future problems.

If used correctly, probiotics can make a hugely important contribution to a healthy microbiome and the benefits that can be achieved cannot be underestimated. However in our view there are 3 aspects that need to be considered for optimum results to be achieved. These are seldom considered and as a consequence you will find many people disappointed with the results of probiotic supplementation.

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Natural Ways to treat dry, itchy, red eyes

Omega-7 Sea Buckthorn Benefits for Dry Eyes and Gut Health

Omega-7 Sea Buckthorn Benefits for Dry Eyes and Gut Health

The berries of sea buckthorn, a medicinal plant, are especially high in Omega-7. This wonder plant is quite the marvel with an incredibly rich nutrient profile that can maintain healthy mucous membranes, benefitting your overall health and protecting you from illness. It has the potential to ease dry eyes, protect your gastrointestinal tract and alleviate vaginal dryness. Read on to find out more…

  • Mucous Membranes Protect Us and are Essential for Health

    Mucous membranes cover your inner organs, lining cavities and canals that lead to the outside (our digestive, respiratory and urogenital tracts). They line many tracts and structures including your eyes, mouth, nose, windpipe, stomach, lungs, intestines, urethra, ureters and urinary bladder.

    Mucous membranes secrete lubricating mucus, which shields you from harmful things in your environment.

    As they line the openings where pathogens, toxins and allergens can enter your body, the mucus they secrete protects you by trapping unhealthy particles, preventing them from getting deeper inside.  

    The mucus helps to moisten surfaces like those in your mouth and eyes. It also helps to keep inner tissues moist and soft. 

    Certain medications can damage mucous membranes. For example, NSAIDs can impair the stomach mucosa.

    Illnesses including allergies, bronchitis, sinusitis, leaky gut, IBD, cystitis, ureteritis, and urethritis cause inflammation of the mucous membranes, impairing their function.

    Stress and anxiety can also affect your mucous membranes, and oral mucosa may become thinner with age.

    Omega-7 and Sea Buckthorn Keep Your Mucous Membranes Healthy

    Omega-7 fatty acids, the most common being palmitoleic acid, are less publicised than omega fats 3, 6 and 9. However, this doesn't mean that omega-7 doesn't have some outstanding health benefits in its own right.Sea buckthorn berries are extremely rich in precious omega-7. This deciduous shrub also boasts a rich nutrient profile that's packed full of vitamins and minerals.

    Sea buckthorn is unique because it contains all four omegas (3,6,9 and 7). It also has potent antioxidant properties.Sea buckthorn is what you'll find in most omega-7 supplements .

    Free radical damage brought on by exposure to pollutants and environmental toxins, illness, stress, poor diet, medications, and inadequate sleep can cause inflammation throughout your body, including your mucous membranes.

    Omega-7 is an essential part of the mucous membranes' cells and helps them retain moisture. While research is limited, several studies and trials have used sea buckthorn when researching the effectiveness of omega-7.The powerful combination of omega-7 and antioxidants in sea buckthorn enable it to maintain your mucous membrane integrity. It can keep them hydrated, promote healthy tissue regeneration and reduce inflammation.

    Omega 7 and Sea Buckthorn Protects Against Dry Eyes

    Dry eye syndrome is a common condition resulting from the eyes not producing enough tears, the tears not covering the eye's surface enough or evaporating too quickly. Symptoms include:

    • Dryness and discomfort of the eyes
    • Temporarily blurred vision
    • Grittiness
    • Soreness
    • Redness
    • Burning sensation

    Conventional treatments such as artificial tears only give temporary relief and don't address any underlying causes of the condition.Inflammation is now considered a contributing factor to dry eyes, and due to their anti-inflammatory effects, certain fatty acids are of interest for treating this condition.Added to the essential fatty acids omega-3 and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), omega-7 is being examined for its healing potential in this area.

    Due to its ability to maintain healthy mucous membranes, omega-7 has the potential to improve tear lubrication. It can help to retain moisture in the eyes and reduce inflammation, redness and irritation.Sea buckthorn berries are one of the most abundant sources of omega-7, added to which they are rich in bioactive compounds that help reduce inflammation and oxidation. Some studies suggest sea buckthorn oil can be a beneficial treatment for dry eyes.

    For example, a randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled trial recruited a total of 100 volunteers. Over three months, one group were given 2g of sea buckthorn oil and the other a placebo. The results showed an increase in tear secretion in the sea buckthorn group and a significant improvement in the burning and redness of the eyes.

    Omega-7 and Sea Buckthorn Can Improve Gut Health

    A mucous membrane lines your digestive tract, and it secretes mucus, digestive enzymes and hormones. It houses gut flora, helps to protect against abrasion and aids absorption of nutrients.It also shields you from pathogens, dietary allergens and toxins and protects immunity.

    Several things can affect the integrity of the mucous membranes lining your gastrointestinal tract, including poor diet, inflammation, stress, anxiety, environmental factors, toxicity, and ageing.Damage to the gut mucosa can cause intestinal permeability (leaky gut), allowing undigested food particles and toxins to pass through the intestinal wall and into your bloodstream.This can lead to chronic inflammation, reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to illness and disease.Omega-7 can contribute to the soothing, maintenance and renewal of healthy gut mucosa, nourishing and hydrating it and calming inflammation. It helps to maintain the structure and integrity of your GI tract.

    The nutrients contained in sea buckthorn and its antioxidant profile may also help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the gut.Some small studies suggest that sea buckthorn has anti stomach ulcer properties. Its healing action could be due to its ability to accelerate mucosal repair.In a clinical experiment, 30 peptic ulcer patients took 12 sea buckthorn oil capsules daily for one month. A curing rate of 76.6% and a total effective rate of 96.7% was reported. 

    Omega-7 and Vaginal Dryness

    Several studies show the beneficial results of omega-7 for vaginal inflammatory atrophy, which is thinning, dryness and inflammation of the vaginal walls. Symptoms include:

    • Vaginal dryness
    • Discharge
    • Burning
    • Itching
    • Burning and urgency of urination
    • Frequent urination
    • Recurring UTIs
    • Urinary incontinence
    • Light bleeding after sex
    • Lack of lubrication and discomfort during sex
    • Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal

    Vaginal atrophy affects one in three women, often during or after menopause when the body produces less oestrogen. Postmenopausal women have experienced positive results from supplementing with sea buckthorn. This could primarily be due to omega-7's ability to strengthen, moisten and improve mucous membrane integrity.Several conventional treatments for vaginal dryness and inflammation include vaginal lubricants and moisturisers, oestrogen creams, HRT, anti-inflammatory ointments and medication, but they're not always sufficient.

    One study gave five patients three omega-7 sea buckthorn capsules twice daily for 12 weeks. Three women showed significant improvement in their symptoms though the other two with the mildest symptoms had less apparent results.Another study suggests daily supplementation with 3g of sea buckthorn oil, where the primary fatty acid is palmitoleic oil (omega-7), can improve symptoms.

    Omega-7 and Sea Buckthorn for Healthy Skin and Epithelial Tissue

    Researchers have found that omega-7 can improve skin disorders. It encourages cell regeneration, plays a significant role in wound healing, and may help to reduce hyperpigmentation and scarring.

    Researchers have found that omega-7 can improve skin disorders. It encourages cell regeneration, plays a significant role in wound healing, and may help to reduce hyperpigmentation and scarring.

    In 2002, an in-vitro study found that omega-7 can prevent the attachment of pathogenic yeast cells to the skin. Researchers Wille & Kydonieus demonstrated its potential as a preventative treatment for wound infections and catheter coatings. For example, a urinary catheter is often fitted through the urethral passage and makes contact with the mucous membrane.hey also highlight that omega-7 could be a natural antimicrobial for gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus.

    Good Sources of Omega-7

    As mentioned, sea buckthorn is one of the most potent omega-7 sources you can find and is generally taken in supplement form though you can eat the berries. However, it is possible to derive omega-7 from other sources. Additional omega-7 foods include macadamia nuts (one of the highest sources after sea buckthorn), tuna, anchovies, sardines, cheese, eggs, avocado, butter, olives, and olive and avocado oil.

    Conclusion

    Free radical damage brought on by exposure to pollutants and environmental toxins, illness, stress, poor diet, medications, and inadequate sleep can cause inflammation throughout your body, including your mucous membranes.

    Mucous membranes are fundamental for your health and wellbeing. They line the tracts and organs in your body, including your eyes, mouth, nose, windpipe, stomach, lungs, intestines, urethra, ureters and urinary bladder. They line the openings where pathogens, toxins and allergens can enter your body. The mucus they secrete protects you by trapping these unhealthy particles, preventing them from getting deeper inside. The mucus lubricates surfaces like those of your eyes. They also hydrate underlying tissues keeping them healthy, moist and soft. Omega-7 is an essential component of the cells making up your mucous membranes. By eating foods that contain omega-7 and supplementing with it, you can help maintain their integrity, protect your immunity and help to prevent disease.

    If you suffer from dry eyes, digestive issues or vaginal dryness, you may benefit from supplementing with sea buckthorn, one of the most potent sources of omega-7. It can also help to protect your skin.O'Hisa contains organic sea buckthorn oil obtained via supercritical extraction, ensuring its nutrient profile remains intact. It also contains zinc and vitamins B6 and B16 to promote a healthy immune system.

    Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

    Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Why Are Digestive Enzymes Essential for Digestion?

Why Are Digestive Enzymes Essential for Digestion?

Why Are Digestive Enzymes Essential for Digestion?

How do enzymes help with digestion?

Enzymes are protein molecules that we simply can't live without; we need them to function. They are essential for digestive, cellular, muscle, organ, nerve, brain, tissue and circulatory health.

There are many different types of enzymes, both metabolic and digestive, which we create ourselves. We also derive some enzymes from food.

Digestive enzymes are vital for a healthy balanced gut, nutrient absorption and smooth running digestion. The knock-on effect? An overall healthier you, functioning at your best.

Enzymes and digestion

Digestive enzymes are catalysts that speed up digestive chemical reactions in your body, which would otherwise take too long.

They are secreted throughout the digestive system, breaking down large food molecules in proteins, fats and carbohydrates, enabling nutrients to be better absorbed and used for fuel. 

Different digestive enzymes have specific jobs and are strategically located in particular parts of the digestive tract for maximum effectiveness.

They work together with bile and other digestive juices released in anticipation of eating and during digestion.

The action of enzymes in the digestive system work as follows:

  • When you start chewing, your salivary glands produce enzymes that begin to break down starches in your food.
  • Digestive enzymes in your stomach work on proteins.
  • During digestion, pancreatic enzymes empty into your duodenum (the small upper part of your digestive system) to break down fats, carbohydrates (starches) and proteins.
  • Once food fragments reach your small intestine, they are processed further by digestive enzymes embedded in the intestinal wall and broken down into nutrients easily absorbed into your bloodstream.

    3 enzymes involved in digestion


    Three of the most well known digestive enzymes are:

    • Lipase - breaks down fats
    • Amylase - breaks down starches 
    • Protease - breaks down proteins

    There are many other essential digestive enzymes, including cellulase, which helps break down high-fibre plant foods.

    Deficiencies in digestive enzymes can lead to a host of health issues. These can range from digestive conditions including bloating, cramping, wind and diarrhoea to nutrient deficiencies, inflammation and chronic illness.

    Depending on the issue, it's possible to address this through food, eliminating ones that aggravate symptoms and increasing foods that naturally contain digestive enzymes. You can also take enzymes in supplement form.

    Of course, to be safe, always check with your doctor or chosen health professional before taking digestive enzymes, especially if you have a severe illness, are taking medication or any other supplements.

    Causes and signs of digestive enzyme deficiency


    There can be several causes , including:

    • Medication
    • Poor diet
    • Low stomach acid
    • Ageing
    • Digestive conditions and food intolerances
    • Illness and chronic disease including liver disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, other pancreatic conditions and diabetes.
    • Fever

    Signs you're low in digestive enzymes can include:

    • Digestive disorders including acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, wind, abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhoea
    • Poor sleep
    • Thinning hair
    • Dry, dull skin
    • Brain fog
    • Joint and muscle aches and pains
    • Fatigue
    • Mood swings, anxiety, irritability and depression
    • Hormone imbalance, including PMS and thyroid issues.
    • Headaches

    Who would benefit from taking digestive enzymes?

    • Anyone suffering from enzyme-related illness including pancreatic insufficiency, liver disease, Crohn's disease, and nutrient deficiencies including iron, B12, vitamin D or vitamin A.
    • As we age, our stomach acid becomes more alkaline. So if you are ageing, particularly if you're suffering from digestive symptoms or other deficiency signs, digestive enzymes could help. 
    • If you suffer from hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid).
    • If you have a digestive disorder including IBD, IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, bloating, wind, pain, diarrhoea or constipation.
    • If you're taking medication.

    What improvements may you notice by taking digestive enzymes?

    If you suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder, you may notice an improvement in your symptoms as the digestive enzymes improve your digestive process.

    Some research shows that digestive enzyme supplements can reduce diarrhoea, cramping and bloating in IBS patients and they may also improve bloating, wind and abdominal pain.

    If you suffer from a leaky gut, you may benefit from taking digestive enzymes as they help to break down more robust, harder to digest food molecules, taking pressure off your digestive system, helping to support and repair your gastrointestinal tract.

    They may also help with lactose intolerance.

    If you have intestinal parasites, supplementing with digestive enzymes as part of a thorough treatment plan can help to strengthen your GI tract and make it an unwelcoming environment for them.

    In some instances, for example, if you suffer from cystic fibrosis or pancreatic dysfunction, your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength enzymes.

    If you wish to supplement, it's essential to know how to choose the best digestive enzymes . For example, it's best to ensure that the supplement you choose covers all major enzyme groups (amylase, protease and lipase).

    If you are sensitive to dairy, find one containing lactase. Also, if you're vegan or vegetarian, you need to check the ingredients, as many supplements include animal enzymes like pancreatin and pepsin.

    What foods contain digestive enzymes?

    Adding any foods containing digestive enzymes to your diet can improve digestion and gut health.

    Foods that naturally contain them include avocados, papayas, pineapples, bananas, mangos, sprouts, kiwis, kefir, yoghurt, fermented soy products, raw fermented sauerkraut and kimchi, ginger, bee pollen and raw honey.

    Put one tablespoon in a small amount of water and drink it on an empty stomach half an hour before eating.

    Conclusion


    Signs you're low in digestive enzymes can include digestive disorders, poor sleep, thinning hair and brain fog.

    Digestion simply can't happen without digestive enzymes. They are catalysts that radically speed up chemical reactions, helping to break down large food molecules from fats, carbohydrates and proteins, making them easier to digest and nutrients easier to absorb. 

    If you have or develop a deficiency of digestive enzymes, it can cause food intolerances and digestive dysfunction. Your overall health may also suffer as a result. 

    In many cases, taking digestive enzymes or obtaining them from food can improve digestion and gut health and ease symptoms.

    It's always best to check with your doctor or chosen health professional before taking digestive enzymes, especially if you have a serious illness, are taking medication or any other supplements.

    Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback


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image of person clutching stomach

What Are Enzymes, And What Do They Do For Us?

What are Enzymes, and What Do They Do For Us?

Enzymes are proteins that play a vital role, helping to speed up both cellular and extracellular chemical reactions in the body.

They are crucial for digestion, maintaining organ, muscle and nerve function, reducing inflammation, detoxification, immunity, blood circulation, energy production, DNA replication and more.

But what are these biochemical reactions, and how do they help us?


  • Enzymes are biological catalysts

    Enzymes are special proteins made up of chains of amino acids. There are different types of enzymes, and specific ones have very distinct roles for particular chemical reactions. 

    Their function depends on the sequence and types of amino acids they're made up of, and the complicated 3D shape of their chain.

    Their job as catalysts means they cause or speed up fundamental metabolic and digestive chemical reactions that keep us alive. During this process, enzymes remain stable and unchanged.

    If an enzyme is defective somehow, through a genetic defect, deficiency or some other reason, it can cause an abnormal reaction which can lead to metabolic dysfunction and disease.

    How do enzymes work?


    Enzymes are produced in the cells. They are very specific and designed for a particular substance (substrate).

    The substrate interacts and reacts with the enzyme, forming an enzyme-substrate complex or new and usable 'product'. 

    Once the reaction occurs, the new substrate changes shape and can no longer bind to the enzyme, and this new product can go off and do its job.

    The enzyme remains unchanged and can continue latching onto more substrates, forming new products. 

    Enzymes are often named after the substrate they work with, having 'ase' at the end of their name to differentiate them as enzymes.

    For example, the enzyme called amylase works with amylose, a resistant starch found in a large variety of foods.

    Amylase is produced in the salivary glands and helps to break amylose down into maltose. Maltose is then broken down into glucose by the enzyme maltase in the small intestine.

    This enzymatic action radically reduces the time it would otherwise take to break these starches and sugars apart.

    The lock and key hypothesis


    The lock and key model is one of the explanations as to how the enzyme mechanism works.

    The theory is that an active site on an enzyme has a specific shape that complements and fits with its coordinating substrate. The substrate slots into and binds with the active site, and the chemical reaction occurs.

    Things that can affect an enzyme's action


    Body temperature and pH levels can both affect enzymes. It turns out that the optimal body temperature for humans (at around 98.6 Fahrenheit) is also ideal for enzymes to work efficiently.

    pH is the measure of alkalinity and acidity. The optimum pH differs between enzymes and where they're located in the body. For example, pepsin is found in the stomach, which has a natural pH of around 2. The enzyme trypsin breaks down proteins in the small intestine. It functions best at a more alkaline pH of 7.5 to 8.

    If the temperature gets too high or the pH is too acidic or alkaline, the enzyme changes shape, becomes denatured, and can no longer attach to substrates.

    Some enzymes are inactive without a cofactor, a non-protein chemical or 'helper molecule' which they need to function. For example, chloride ions act as a cofactor for amylase.

    Types of enzymes


    Generally speaking, there are three main types of enzymes: metabolic, digestive and food. The first two are produced in the body, and the others come from food.

    Digestive enzymes line the digestive tract and are essential for breaking down our food so our body can use it for fuel.

    Metabolic enzymes are mainly produced in the pancreas and liver. They aid blood circulation, detoxification, organ function, and energy production.

    Food enzymes aid the digestion process. The best sources are raw, unprocessed foods. For example, bromelain – found in pineapples – helps to break proteins down into amino acids.

    Conclusion


    If an enzyme is defective, through a genetic defect, deficiency or some other reason, it can cause an abnormal reaction.

    This is just a shallow dive into enzymes, their mechanisms and their functions. 

    Enzymes are responsible for a vast range of chemical reactions, they are incredibly vital, and we can't survive without them.

    By binding with and altering substrates, enzymes catalyse biological processes, speeding them up. They are integral to an enormous range of functions, including DNA replication, digestion, respiration, organ function, circulation, immunity, nerve and muscle function and beyond. 

    Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.


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Evaluating New Research on Cesarean C-section & Microbiome

Evaluating New Research on Cesarean C-section & Microbiome

Evaluating New Research on Cesarean C-section & Microbiome

Having a c-section is often a matter of emergency. And so, once mother and baby are out of the operating room, the last thing you want to hear is that a c-section permanently impacts your baby's wellbeing.

For some time now, the health community has been discussing the lack of diversity in the microbiome of infants born by cesarean section.

If a baby is delivered naturally, its intestinal microbiota is already colonised by bacteria and microorganisms. Whereas if a baby is born via c-section, they are said to have gut dysbiosis, which might permanently harm microbiome development.

Interestingly, new research has been published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe that helps us understand more about this process.

Previously, it was believed that babies born via c-section would have an impaired immune system later in life. But the latest research paints a different picture.

One of a more steady developmental trajectory for gut ecosystem development. Rather than the microbiota being permanently impacted by a c-section, there’s a gradual maturation of the gut ecosystem.

The good news is that once the baby reaches five years of age, their gut microbiota has largely normalised.

Bacteria and microbes in the gut are continually evolving, growing and changing. The new research sheds light on a more understandable unfolding of the internal terrain.

How Does a C-section Affect The Microbiome?

As we learn more about the microbiome, we’re dispelling myths. Such as the suggestion that c-section babies are always more likely to develop allergies or obesity.

We now know that a c-section alters the internal microbiome of the baby because they don’t gather the microbes from their mother the same way that they would during a natural birth.

In a UK study of 596 babies born in hospital, researchers compared fecal samples from c-section and vaginal birth.

Finding that initially 80 percent of c-section babies had hospital acquired bacteria, compared with 50 percent of vaginally born babies. 

Similarly to the study I mentioned above, the differences largely disappeared by 9 months. The researchers warn that “We don’t know the long-term consequences of these findings.”

What we do know is that it’s not simply the vaginal birth process that populates the gut microbiota.

By taking samples from both mothers and babies, the researchers were surprised to find that the microbes seemed to be coming from the mother’s gut rather than from the vagina during delivery. 

RelatedThe Most Beneficial Bacteria

Vaginal Seeding & Microbiome Swab

Since we’ve all become fascinated by the microbiome, many bizarre practices have become popular, such as fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) and vaginal seeding. 

The idea is that you can take a microbiome from another person and implant it in the anus or the mouth. FMT has been found to cure people suffering with bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff)

Vaginal seeding has gained popularity because of the information that has been released regarding the stunted microbiome of a c-section baby. 

The idea is that the baby should have received its first dose of microbes as it passed through the birth canal. Vaginal seeding is when a swab is taken from the mother’s vagina before a c-section.

The swab is then wiped over the baby’s mouth or face. This practice is intended to help populate the baby’s gut with healthy microbes.

New research has discovered the faecal samples of both mothers and babies were similar, even in c-sections; rendering the bizarre practice of vaginal seeding more or less pointless. 

Related: Microbiome Health: The Right Environment, The Right Microbial Strains

Do C-section Babies Have Weaker Immune Systems?

Some studies have concluded that birth by cesarean section could impair a baby’s immune system.

The microbes in your gut impact how well your immune system functions, therefore gut dysbiosis due to c-section makes sense – kind of.

Although the gut microbiome of a baby born via c-section differs from a baby born naturally, this difference doesn’t last for long

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause and effect of a weakened immune system, but some studies have suggested that babies born via c-section have weaker immune systems.

“It could be that the immune system of these children is set on a different path early on,” suggests Paul Wilmes, Associate Professor of Systems Ecology at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg.

“We now want to further investigate this link mechanistically and find ways by which we might replace the lacking maternal bacterial strains in caesarean-born babies, e.g. by administering probiotics.”

RelatedShining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Restoring the Normal Microbiota of Cesarean-section Infants

Although the microbiome of a c-section baby differs from those who had a natural birth, it has been found to balance out naturally by the age of 5.

Additionally, breastfeeding helps propagate the beneficial gut bacteria populations.

The question remains – do C-section babies need probiotics? As with most things in life, it’s an individual choice.

The gut microbiome is unique for everyone, and the rate that the microbes populate can vary depending on environment, genome, gender and multiple other factors. 

It’s thought that babies are born with a sterile gut, only to be populated by breast milk, food and their surrounding environment.

If you feel that your baby needs probiotics, the good news is that research has shown that even premature babies can tolerate probiotics.

Alongside breastfeeding, probiotics can populate the gut with health-promoting bacteria.

There are four main strains of probiotics; Lactobacillus, Bifdobacterium, Streptococcus, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

However, research is limited in the effects of each specific strain on children and infants. 

RelatedProbiotics for Women Benefits: Hormone Balance, Menopause, UTIs

In Conclusion

As with many scientific findings, we’re continually learning more about the microbiome and how it’s impacted during childbirth.

What we know for sure is that the microbiome of babies born via c-section is not as well developed as those born naturally. We also know that many strains of bacteria are transmitted via the gut of the mother, suggesting that we might not be born so sterile after all.

The good news is that even if a baby is born via c-section, the latest scientific evidence is showing that their microbiome will develop overtime, aligning with their peers who were born naturally. 

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Why Multi-Strain Probiotics Always Trump Single-Strain

Why Multi-Strain Probiotics Always Trump Single-Strain

Why Multi-Strain Probiotics Always Trump Single-Strain

Gut health is a topic we have explored quite relentlessly in our blog.

From 10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut to the links between gut health and B12 status, via 6 Signs of Poor Gut Health and 3 Key Factors You Must Consider to Improve Diversity, we have produced thousands of words, referenced countless studies and communicated the myriad benefits of a rich microbiome to anyone who’ll listen for the last decade.

During the same time period, we’ve witnessed the probiotic industry explode like a hydrogen bomb, with more manufacturers releasing patented probiotic formulas that they claim will solve everything from hay fever to psoriasis.

There have also been many books published on the topic, and it’s fair to say that the importance of gut health is now well and truly established in the field of preventive medicine and clinical nutrition.

But a question that continues to rear its head is this: are multi-strain probiotics preferable to single-strain? And if so, why? It’s a query we intend to answer, once and for all, in today’s blog.

Bacteria: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The human microbiome is home to thousands of species of bacteria which have evolved with us over the course of thousands of years. 

Actually, that number could be an understatement. The SILVA sequence database contains “hundreds of thousands of bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs).” 

Whatever the true figure, the human microbial gene catalogue is nothing if not extensive.

Everyone’s microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint, and dependent on a complex matrix of factors including genetic, dietary and environmental.

Interestingly, the latest research indicates that the microbiomes of people living around the world tend to alter depending not only on host lifestyle (exercise levels, dietary customs, vitamin D status, etc) but also on the level of industrialisation.

Depending on the species, bacteria may acquire anywhere between 10 and 100 new genes on an annual basis.

While there are thousands of individual bacterial species, the actual number of microbes living in the human gut is anywhere between 30 and 40 trillion.

This fact alone proves the folly of taking a probiotic supplement containing a mere 10 or 20 billion Colony-Forming Units. It’s a drop in the ocean.

Bacteria are often bracketed into two categories: beneficial (so-called “good bacteria”) or harmful.

While beneficial bacteria have a host of functions, including helping our bodies digest food, absorb nutrients and manufacture vitamins, harmful organisms are linked with everything from food poisoning (e.g. Salmonella) and pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae).

Of course, it’s not as simple as eliminating all harmful bacteria and making our guts a factory of net-positive microbes, such as lactobacillus acidophilus.

The truth is, so-called harmful bacteria can circulate in the body at low levels and not cause us any problems.

It’s more about cultivating a diverse and balanced microbiome, and feeding the good gut bugs that can counteract the ill effects of their relatives.

Why Multi-Strain Probiotics Are Superior

According to a 2015 paper published in the journal Bioengineered, “to survive the stomach and arrive to the intestine in optimal numbers, probiotic strains must be able to adhere to intestinal epithelium and/or mucus, persist and multiply in the gut to maintain its metabolic activity, and confer their probiotic properties in the human body.”

That plural is instructive: strains.

While some probiotics contain one or two (Yakult, for example), the majority contain multiple in acknowledgement that diversity is the objective.

In the main, these belong to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which have a lengthy history of safe application.

Of course, it’s also worth considering whether you have introduced the correct combination of strains.

The best protocol is to research strains accordingly and introduce them in sufficient number.

For some species, a comparatively low quantity is needed while for others, you need to go with a higher dosage.

Interestingly, a 2012 study by the University of Reading determined that “in many cases a probiotic mixture is more effective at inhibiting pathogens than its component species when tested at approximately equal concentrations of biomass.”

In other words, strains work better in combination!

Best Sources of Multi-Strain Probiotics

Dietary probiotic sources are plentiful, encompassing foods positively brimming with “live” cultures.

The best examples are yogurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, traditional buttermilk, kombucha, miso, natto, aged cheese, brine-cured olives, and dill pickles.

OK, so for the most part, these foods are somewhat obscure. Shopping for gut health is a little more challenging than, say, shopping to lose weight.

But adhering to a gut-healthy diet is incredibly rewarding, with noted benefits for immune health, digestion, and even body composition.

As well as eating a range of probiotic-rich foods, it’s a good idea to eat prebiotic foods. Prebiotics are indigestible fibres that function as “good” for the good bacteria growing in our gut.

Thankfully, prebiotic food sources are easier to come by. They include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, barley, apples, burdock root, flaxseeds and seaweed.

Of course, if you’re keen to shake up your system with some impactful, high-strength probiotic supplements, a multi-strain formulation is the way to go. We recommend the Progurt brand.

Progurt Probiotics offer by far the highest dose on the market, at a cool 1 trillion beneficial bacteria in each sachet. What’s more, the bacteria is human-derived – meaning it’s intuitive to the human gut. Simply disperse a sachet in a glass of water and drink.

RelatedBest Form of Probiotics – Food, Drink, Tablets or Powder?

Conclusion

Maintaining a diverse microbiome is absolutely critical to ensuring proper gut health. But it’s about more than eating probiotic and prebiotic foods.

To quote from one of our previous blogs, “The gut is a garden – and it’s our role to provide the water, soil, sunlight and nutrients needed to make sure it blossoms.”

Sunlight (vitamin D), water (mineral-rich, contaminant-free), nutrients (probiotics, prebiotics, omega-3, polyphenols, fibre) and soil (avoiding antibiotic overuse, getting plenty of rest).

On top of which, you should strive to maintain a sound level of fitness. Not least because there are distinct, health-promoting bacteria associated with physical fitness. 

Because the microbial benefits of exercise are thought to be transient, it’s important to maintain good physical fitness to keep the microbiome primed.

Well, there you have it. With a little application, you can ensure peak gut health for years to come. And remember, multi-strain is the way to go.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

It’s often said that a healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen, but while cooking fresh foods from scratch can make it much easier to achieve a healthy diet, you could also be jeopardising your gut health if you aren't storing, prepping and cooking food in the right way.

Rates of foodborne illnesses have risen over the last few years, with cases hitting 2.4 million last year according to the Food Standards Agency, so it's important not to get complacent.

Here, we’ve shared ten common mistakes that could be putting you at risk of getting a foodborne illness or digestive trouble.

1. Eating raw ingredients 

When baking, it’s often tempting to steal a bite of uncooked cookie dough or brownie batter, or to lick the spoon before doing the washing up.

But as tasty as this might be, it can also be quite risky, because uncooked dough and batter contains raw eggs and flour that may carry harmful bacteria, like salmonella or E. coli.

So, to keep your gut healthy, wait until those baked treats have been cooked before tucking in. 

2. Using metal utensils on non-stick cookware

Non-stick cookware can be a fantastic addition to your kitchen equipment collection — they stop food from getting burnt onto pots and pans, and are easy to clean.

However, it’s important to make sure that you’re using them correctly: if you don’t, the surface can become scratched during cooking, and the non-stick coating may flake off and get into your food.

The coating that gives these pans their non-stick properties is perfectly safe to cook with, but it can be harmful if accidentally ingested, and may lead to gut health issues. 

To prevent this from happening, you should avoid using metal utensils on your non-stick pots and pans, and instead use silicone tools or wooden spoons.

You should also avoid using scourers or other abrasive cleaning equipment too. If you notice that the surface of the pan is starting to get scratched or flaky, replace it as soon as possible. 

3. Using the same chopping board for all foods 

While it might be convenient to chop all your ingredients on one chopping board, doing so can be incredibly dangerous for your gut health.

This is because raw ingredients like meat and seafood — while high in protein and full of nutrition — can carry food-borne diseases and harmful bacteria until they have been thoroughly cooked.

As such, they should never come into contact with other raw ingredients, like vegetables and dairy, when you are prepping your meals. 

In professional kitchens, chefs use colour-coded chopping boards for meat, vegetables, fish, and dairy, and take care to clean and store them all separately to avoid any risk of cross contamination. So, it may help to invest in a set of coloured boards that you can use for different cutting tasks.

You should also be careful to wash your chopping boards between each use: using hot, soapy water and an antibacterial cleaner, or putting them in the dishwasher, should get rid of any harmful bacteria. 

4. Using old, scratched chopping boards

While we’re on the subject of chopping boards, it’s also important to note that you should avoid using very scratched or damaged boards.

This is because particles of food can easily get stuck in the tiny gaps on the surface of the board, and it can be very difficult to remove them, even with thorough cleaning, which in turn increases the risk of your foods becoming contaminated by bad bacteria.

So, if your plastic chopping boards have lots of nicks or scratches in them, it’s time for a replacement. 

For wooden chopping boards, you can also try sanding the surface down to remove any light scratches. 

5. Defrosting food at room temperature 

Defrosting foods in the fridge can take hours or even days, and as a result, it’s often tempting to just leave it out on the countertop for a few hours to help speed things up. However convenient this might be, it’s also very hazardous, as harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly in warmer temperatures.

To be on the safe side, you should always take the safest option and defrost food in the fridge. Once it’s fully thawed, the Food Standards Agency recommends eating defrosted food within 24 hours.

If you forget to take something out of the freezer ahead of time, you can also use the defrost function on your microwave to quickly and safely thaw it out before cooking. 

6. Eating too many high FODMAP foods

Certain foods can be very high in FODMAPs — or fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, to give them their full names.

These are short-chain carbohydrates that our bodies can struggle to digest, and it’s thought that they may interfere with gut health and worsen conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

If you often struggle with digestive problems, it may help to cut down the amount of FODMAP-high foods in your diet. 

Meat, poultry, and fish are all naturally FODMAP free, and so are perfect for those who are sensitive to FODMAPs. However, certain processed meats — like deli meat, or ready meals — may contain added ingredients that are high in FODMAPs, such as garlic or onion. Instead of these, it’s best to buy raw meat without any marinades or other ingredients and cook them from scratch. 

7. Not refrigerating your leftovers 

We should all be trying to save and re-use our leftovers wherever we can in order to reduce food waste. But, leaving cooked food out on the counter for too long provides the perfect conditions for bad bacteria to multiply.

Always put leftovers in the fridge as soon as they have cooled down, and throw away any cooked food that has been sitting at room temperature for over two hours. 

8. Not following proper fridge hygiene 

Stacking your fridge properly is about much more than just staying organised — it’s vital for preventing cross contamination.

Cooked and raw food should always be kept on separate shelves, and it’s best to keep meat and dairy on the bottom shelf, so any leaks can’t drip down onto other foods.

Fruit and veg is best stored in a drawer or crisper, which will protect it from cross contamination and keep it in good condition. 

It’s also important that your fridge is chilled properly, because if it isn’t cold enough, harmful bacteria is more likely to grow in your food.

According to the Food Standards Agency, you should aim to keep your fridge chilled to 5°C or below. Using a fridge thermometer is the easiest and most accurate way to check this. 

The shelves inside the fridge door are usually the warmest part of the fridge. So, although it might be convenient, you should avoid storing milk and dairy here.

Instead, you can use the door to store jars of sauce or preserves, as these don’t need to be kept as cold as dairy.

9. Not rotating foods

It can be all too easy to forget what food you’ve got at the back of the fridge until it’s gone off. This is why restaurants and caterers use the first in, first out (FIFO) system to help stay on top of fresh produce and raw meats.

This system involves stacking older, less fresh foods towards the front of your fridge, and newer items towards the back.

This way, it’s easier to stay on top of what needs eating and when, and it also helps to stop food from going bad and potentially contaminating other items in the fridge. 

10. Overusing cleaning tools

Your kitchen equipment is only as clean as the tools you use to wash it, so if you’re using an old, dirty sponge or dishcloth, you could be putting yourself at risk.

To stop your dish sponges and cloths from becoming breeding grounds for germs, always take care to rinse them with hot water after washing up, and then squeeze out any excess liquid before leaving them to dry on a small dish overnight.

You should also be replacing dish sponges every week or so to keep them fresh and clean. 

Cloths and tea towels should be swapped out for clean versions and laundered every two days or so. Washing them on a hot cycle in the washing machine with an antibacterial detergent will help to kill off any lingering harmful bacteria. 

The Bottom Line

Healthy habits start in the kitchen, but if you’re not careful, you could accidentally be doing more harm than good.

Watch out for the common mistakes we’ve shared here, and you should be able to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and improve the overall health of your gut.

Guest blog by Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at catering and hospitality supplier Alliance Online

Further reading

• Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity

• 6 Signs of Poor Gut Health & 11 Ways to Improve Them

• How to Dramatically Improve Nutrient Absorption

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Shining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Shining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Shining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Every day we’re finding out more about how the body works. A lot of old myths and faulty science has been overturned. Such as your DNA being fixed and solely responsible for the onset of disease.

We now know that our body is made up of trillions of microbes, that outweigh your DNA by a factor of 10 to one.

This information has been vigorously explored, thanks to the hugely funded NIH Human Microbiome Project (HMP). A ten-year multi-phase research project exploring the interactions between humans and the bacteria that reside in your gut (your microbiome).

In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between your immune system and your gut. Revealing the connections, how your gut microbes fight infection, and ten steps you can take to clean out your gut to boost immune health today.

Gut Bacteria (Microbes) and the Immune System Connection


A whopping 70% of your immune system resides in the gut. So it’s no surprise that the gut plays a major role in the immune system.

Other than your lungs, your gut is perpetually filled with dangerous pathogens like bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses, and toxins. Alongside nutritious food.

Both the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and the mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) are paramount to the immune systems functioning smoothly. Cleansing out bad bacteria, and viruses so that the good bacteria can proliferate. 

There is a complex dual-action relationship between gut microbes and our immune system. That I’ll get into later in this article.

The two forms of immune activity are adaptive and innate. Innate immunity is essential as a front line response, while the secondary immune system, the adaptive immune system, takes up to 10 days to come online, so to speak.

The type of food you eat directly affects your microbiota. Plant-based foods act as prebiotics (nutrition) for your good bacteria, while processed foods can cause inflammation and wipe out the beneficial bacteria. Due to lack of nourishment. 

RelatedHow to Use the Best of Nature to Balance Your Microbiome and Improve Immunity

Do All Diseases Start in the Gut?


The interaction between microbiota and immunity in health and disease is essential for wellbeing. While not all diseases start in the gut, the main illnesses plaguing our modern world – diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease – all start in the gut.

Leaky gut (gut permeability) and gut inflammation hinder the work of your mighty microbes. Opening the door to a wide range of metabolic disorders

Learn moreWhy Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprehensive Guide

A Few “Special” Gut Microbes


Although we’re yet to pinpoint the exact cause for inflammatory bowel disease, research done in the 2000s revealed an interesting fact.

Harry Sokol, a gastroenterologist at Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris, examined the DNA of the diseased intestines of a few people suffering from IBD. Instead of finding a pathogen or exact microbe that was causing the disease, he found the complete opposite. A specific bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was suspiciously absent.

Prompting the question: could one good microbe heal the gut?

Sokol then carried out an experiment on mice. He placed the bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, into mice with intestinal inflammation and found that the microbe protected the mice from IBD.

He then mixed F. prausnitzii with human immune cells in a test tube. The result was a strong anti-inflammatory response.

Sokol isn’t the only one to identify specific microbes that are important for balancing the immune system and gut health. Other microbes that have been isolated as beneficial to the immune system include enterococcus faecium, lactobacillus plantarum, and lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Learn more3 Key Factors for Improved Gut  Health

Keystone Species in Modern Disease

A question that haunts the modern scientist is, why is the modern population so prone to inflammatory diseases and allergies, even though they are free of infectious agents?

One conclusion is that microbiome diversity is the key. This theory came about due to studies of indigenous people and how their microbiome differs from those in the industrialised world. The conclusion was that a loss of diversity leads to disease. 

This loss of diversity is thought to come about due to antibiotic use, hyper sanitisation, and the standard Western diet. When compared to the ecosystem, there are what’s known as “keystone species,” that carry out a pivotal role in the functioning of that ecosystem. An example of this is: elephants who knock down trees in the African savannah. Thus providing grazing for many other species.

Perhaps important microbes or microbial communities are keystone species for our gut? Meaning that a loss of diversity could quite possibly trigger a cascade of other problems. 

RelatedAnxiety and Gut Problems: A Closer Look at the Gut-Brain Axis

Dual Action, How the Gut Microbiome Prevents Infection


The gut microbial community plays a vital role in your immune system. Why doesn’t your body attack gut bacteria? Simply put, the immune system has a symbiotic relationship with the microbes in your gut.

When your gut is populated with the right kinds of bacteria, this relationship with the immune system flourishes. However, many people in the west have a lack of diversity and good bacteria in the gut. Leading to inflammation and infection.  

The way it works is that the microbes can either directly prevent a pathogen and/or regulate your immune system.

Interestingly, some microbes actually secrete antibacterial substances called “bacteriocins”. Recent studies have identified 170 species of bacteria that can secrete bacteriocins.

RelatedTop 5 Vitamins to Boost the Immune System

10 Ways to Clean Out Your Gut


Science is now proving that our myriad of lifestyle illnesses can be reversed with a simple change in daily habits. Especially your eating habits.

Ditching the Western diet is the first step. Interestingly, if you like to drink alcohol, one glass of red wine has been shown to support good bacteria. While other types of alcohol will harm your gut.

Here are some easy ways to help your gut clean out:

  • Water flush
  • Colon cleanse
  • Take a high-quality probiotic supplement
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise for 30 mins a day
  • Get a good nights sleep
  • Drink kombucha
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners 
  • Avoid antibacterial toothpaste, cleaners and mouthwash

The Bottom Line

The microbes in your gut play a major role in immunity. Your gut microbiome is continually adapting in accordance with your lifestyle. For this reason, you can significantly boost your immune system by simply taking care of your gut. Why not start with a few of the steps to clean out your gut outlined above?

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Doctor supports a digitized intenstine

Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprehensive Guide

Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprhensive Guide

Your gut lining, from head to tail, contributes to a whopping 70-80% of your immune system. So, one of the most important things you can do to power your immunity and maintain a healthy body and mind is to look after your digestive health.

You have a collection of gut microbiota as unique to you as your fingerprints. It includes at least 1,000 different species of bacteria, good and bad, with more than 3 million genes, weighing up to 2kg. And some experts now consider this colony of microbiota to be an organ in its own right.

As well as safeguarding immunity, these fantastic microorganisms perform many functions that are crucial to your health like aiding digestion, absorbing nutrients, vitamin production, protection from harmful microbes and maintaining gut integrity.

Healthy microbiota isn't just about balanced gut bacteria; our digestive tract houses fungi and viruses too. When balanced correctly, they all help to protect you from acute illness and chronic disease. It doesn't take much to upset the balance either, so it's essential to be aware of how you are feeding and fertilising your gut bacteria.

A wholesome, fresh food diet and other healthy lifestyle activities cultivate fertile soil for your gut bacteria to thrive. Poor food and lifestyle choices have the opposite effect leading to digestive issues, toxicity, inflammation and illness. Without gut homeostasis, more harmful microbial strains increase, creating a two-fold problem.

Firstly, your gut health suffers, impeding digestion, increasing toxins, causing intestinal inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients – not good for your immunity and wellbeing.

Secondly, this causes weakening of the mucosal lining and tight junctions of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), allowing toxic compounds to leak into your bloodstream and body where they are not supposed to be. The result is systemic inflammation.

All this leaves you more susceptible to bacterial and viral infection, and at an increased risk of allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's and chronic fatigue, mood disorders, dementia and Alzheimer's. It can also lead to obesity and other chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Never underestimate the importance of your gut health. Look after it, and it will look after you!

Communication between your gut and immune cells


70–80% of your immunity stems from your gut which houses immune cells. Your intestinal microbiota assimilates anything that comes into your digestive tract, working mutually with your immune system to modify your metabolism, immunity and infection response. 

From the moment you are born, your innate immune system and microbiota work synergistically and develop together, promoting a finely tuned immune response that builds your resilience to pathogens, protecting you from infection and disease

Metabolites are small molecules that drive significant biological activities like energy conversion, cell signalling and oxygenation. Gut microbiota generates a considerable amount of these.

Your immune system monitors these metabolites and adjusts physiological processes accordingly. 

Things start to unravel when the delicate microbial balance is disrupted, for example via poor diet or medication, causing an overgrowth of harmful microbes (known as dysbiosis).

This disturbs metabolite production, and significantly impacts immune cell signalling and messaging to tissues and organs. 

Furthermore, dysbiosis can lead to a weakening of the gut wall, allowing harmful endotoxins and foreign compounds to leak into your bloodstream, causing disease.

As time goes on, you might experience weak immunity, increased susceptibility to infection, systemic inflammation, obesity, chronic illness and disease and organ dysfunction.

Leaky gut and inflammation


Persistent low-level systemic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression. 

As mentioned above, disruption to the intricate balance of healthy microbiota can lead to impaired immune signalling and cause a weakening of the tight junctions in the gut lining (known as leaky gut).

These junctions are essential for controlling what is allowed into your bloodstream (nutrients) and what is not (toxins). If these junctions loosen up, it opens the flood gates for harmful compounds to leak out of your gut and into your body.

Once toxins start circulating, it triggers an immune response causing inflammation. Acute inflammation is a natural immune response designed to control infection.

But if nothing is done to fix the problem, the immune system keeps the inflammation going and it becomes chronic. Consequently, serious health issues develop over time.

Autoimmunity is when your immune system becomes confused and mistakenly attacks your body. Leaky gut can also be a precursor to autoimmune diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Hashimoto’s.

Poor gut health and malnutrition

A healthy gut ensures you get maximum nutrient absorption from your diet, keeping your body functioning optimally and your immunity strong. Research shows that poor nourishment and deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E as well as zinc, selenium iron, copper and folate can impair the immune response.

Without the antioxidants and nutritional value they provide, you’re more susceptible to infection of all kinds.

Malabsorption leads to malnutrition, and it’s not uncommon for someone suffering from obesity to be malnourished. Without the right balance of gut microbes, you can feel fatigued as you are unable to get enough energy from your food.

Immune activities require a lot of energy; without enough, your immunity suffers.

The gut-brain connection


Prolonged stress and depression can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to acute illness like colds and coughs and also chronic disease. 

Unlike any other organs in your body, both your brain and gut have their own nervous system, and the gut is often referred to as the second brain or gut-brain axis.

Your microbiota produces neurotransmitters and hormones associated with mood and stress, much more than your brain. For example, around 90% of your serotonin production, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter and chemical messenger associated with depression, occurs in your gut. 

Your brain and gut use the vagus nerve to communicate with each other and send signals. Dysbiosis, leaky gut, IBS, IBD and other digestive disturbance can reduce vagus nerve function

It can turn into a vicious cycle as gut inflammation leads to stress, anxiety and depression, and these conditions cause an overgrowth of more harmful bacteria (dysbiosis). 

So, as well as managing stress levels and looking after your mental health directly, your gut must be balanced for a happy brain.

Gut health and Covid-19


Although less is known about it, there is also talk of a gut-lung axis (GLA) and how the crosstalk between your gut and lungs can maintain and shape your immune response, changing the course of respiratory diseases. 

Like the gut-brain axis, one affects the other, with viral respiratory infections disturbing the gut microbiota and vice versa.

Researchers acknowledge that balanced bacteria are essential to maintain the intense dialogue between the gut and lungs, improving resilience to acute lung infections (Covid), COPD, asthma and cystic fibrosis. 

Researchers also recognise that gut microbiota diversity and the role it plays in immunity can diminish in old age and that the elderly are more susceptible to Covid-19 fatality.

Eating to improve this is essential as part of a Covid-19 prevention plan, certainly in older and immune-compromised people.

However, considering how prevalent impaired gut function is (ask a nutritional therapist), it seems like this is a good action plan for anyone wishing to protect themselves against coronavirus.

7 ways to protect and strengthen your gut

 

1) Diet

A poor diet, low in nutrients and high in processed foods causes inflammation as junk foods contain trans fats, sugar, unhealthy oils, excessive salt, refined carbohydrates and other harmful ingredients. Eating like this is damaging to your gut microbiota. 

So, there’s no getting around it – if you want to be well and encourage good gut health, you have to nourish yourself with proper nutrition.

Sure, we all like to enjoy life and do a little bit of what’s not good for us now and then – but the trick is to strike a balance and eat real, nutritious, non processed, non-junk, non-pre-prepared, non-takeaway food most of the time. 

Think of it in terms of percentage – for at least 80% of the time, eat wholesome, nutritious foods. Your brain, body, mind and gut eat up all the good stuff and love it.

The best diet for you and your gut health is a fibre-rich and diverse array of brightly coloured and green vegetables and fruit. The more varied, the more you encourage a thriving assortment of gut microbiota.

Added to this, eat whole grains (brown bread, pasta, rice as opposed to white – non-gluten if you prefer), healthy protein (beans, legumes, fish, lean meat), healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil), and plenty of fresh herbs and spices.

Avoid sugar as much as possible, and stay hydrated. This will provide a solid foundation for all your gut microbiota to thrive.

It’s also essential to include pre and probiotic foods daily which encourages new gut bacteria and fortifies the good stuff that’s already there.

It’s fair to say that once you start eating in this way for the majority of the time, you’ll begin to crave more of what’s right for you and less of what’s bad. It may be hard to imagine, but you’d be surprised at how your taste buds and needs will naturally change over time.

2) Take supplements to nurture a healthy gut environment

It’s not always appropriate to take probiotics, as depending on the gut issues you have, they may need to be addressed first and to rest and repair before the probiotics can have any real impact.

Probiotics can also exacerbate some gut conditions, so if you have a significant problem, it’s best to seek the advice of a nutritional therapist, naturopath or functional medicine practitioner to find out what’s really going on and take the best course of action. 

That said, for the rest of us, taking probiotics can be very beneficial for improving gut health. But it’s not just about taking probiotics; there are other aspects to maintaining the right environment for a healthy balance of microbiota.

Progurt is a supplement range that covers many of these, from cultivating a healthy PH and electrolyte balance to improving nutrient flow. 

To find out more about creating the right gut environment and other useful supplements, read this

3) Taking care of your mental wellbeing

Poor mental health takes its toll on your gut health and immunity. As previously mentioned, you must have a healthy balance of gut microbiota for your gut-brain axis to work effectively. Added to which, stress, anxiety and depression can negatively affect this, so it’s a double-edged sword. 

Taking the time to focus on your mental and emotional wellbeing is essential for the health of both your body and brain.

Research supports the use of stress-reducing interventions for improving gastrointestinal symptoms, including IBS. These include the practice of mindfulness, meditation and yoga as well as hypnosis, cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques like deep breathing

If you regularly struggle with stress or anxiety, find ways to alleviate the strain. This could be any of the above or simple things like being in nature, spending quality time with friends and loved ones, journaling or writing a daily gratitude diary, finding a hobby, getting involved in your community, and exercising. 

The list goes on, but find the most effective forms of stress relief for you. This article might help

4) Sleep 

There is also a sleep-gut connection, and one affects the other. When your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted through poor sleep, it can disturb your gut microbiota.

Aim for seven to eight hours of undisturbed sleep per night and if you suffer from sleep issues.

5) Drink plenty of water

We literally can’t survive without water, and our bodies need it for every single thing from cell, organ and brain function, to joint lubrication and oxygen transportation. 

Your gut also needs adequate hydration to move food through your intestines easily. Without it, you can become constipated, food and toxins build-up in your GI tract, and your delicate microbial balance suffers.

Water helps food breakdown, creates saliva which aids digestion, hydrates the mucosal lining of your gut and softens stools making them easier to pass. 

Make sure you stay hydrated, preferably with water but herbal teas also count. Read here for some helpful hydration tips. 

6) Don’t take unnecessary medication

If you want your gut microbiota to thrive, it’s vital to swerve non-prescription medication as much as possible and seek natural alternatives. Any drugs can significantly affect your gut health.

For example, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Nurofen and ibuprofen, are known to impact the diversity of gut microbiome severely. They can cause leaky gut and are responsible for over 50% of bleeding stomach ulcers. 

Antibiotics are also well known for destroying healthy gut bacteria, inhibiting our immunity and ability to fight infection. Even for a healthy person, it can also take up to a year for gut microbiome to recover post-antibiotic use.

Researchers fear that some of these harmful changes could be permanent.

7) Exercise

Too much vigorous exercise can be harmful to your gut microbes, but regular moderate exercise and movement can help to shift undigested food through your GI tract.

Make sure you get up and move at frequent intervals throughout your day.

Conclusion

As you can see, your gut health impacts your immunity in several ways. If you want to stay as healthy as possible, reducing your risk of acute infections and chronic disease, you have to nurture and cultivate a diverse and robust range of gut microbiota.

It isn’t just about gut bacteria – a finely-tuned balance of bacteria, viruses and fungi are what’s needed, and they all need to be protected. 

Have you been living with digestive issues for some time, or are you concerned that you have serious gut health issues? An accredited nutritional therapist, naturopath or functional medicine practitioner can give you the best advice and create an achievable, tailor-made plan to suit your needs.

If necessary, they can also provide the most up to date and accurate testing to help decipher what is really going on with you. 

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

 

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Doctor writing word Vitamin B with marker, Medical concept

Why Gut Health is Key to Having Healthy Vitamin B12 Levels

Why Gut Health is Key to Having Healthy Vitamin B12 Levels

Not getting enough vitamin B12?

Look after your gut. If you’re feeling fatigued, have weak muscles, aching joints, numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, insomnia, depression, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness or inflammatory gut disorders, you could be lacking in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a precious B vitamin, essential for healthy red blood cell production and a host of functions from supporting immunity and promoting healthy digestion to maintaining normal energy levels.

Sadly, vitamin B12 insufficiency or deficiency is not uncommon. As it is found in animal foods, if you are vegetarian and particularly vegan, you are more at risk of B12 deficiency. Poor gut health can also radically impair your vitamin B12 absorption, so regardless

of whether you’re vegan or not, if you have digestive issues of any kind, this could also increase your chances of having subpar vitamin B12 levels.

10 health benefits of vitamin B12

1) Digestive health

Cobalamin contributes to the shaping, structure and function of human gut microbial communities, helping to maintain your gut mucosa and encouraging a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

It promotes healthy digestion and reduced inflammation in the gut, helping to prevent conditions like leaky gut and other inflammatory digestive disorders.

2) Child development

It is vital for the healthy growth of the peripheral and central nervous systems, bone marrow, skin, mucous membranes, bones and vessels in children.

3) Maintenance of healthy cells

Vitamin B12 is needed to regulate the growth and repair of cells. These processes ensure your cells work efficiently, keeping you less vulnerable to illness and disease.

4) Supporting brain function

Adequate B12 levels help to maintain mental alertness, concentration and cognitive function. It protects against neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Studies also suggest an association between low vitamin B12 and cognitive decline, and some researchers think that vitamin B12 deficiency might even be responsible for a reversible form of dementia. Moreover, there could also be a link between vitamin B12 deficiency and brain shrinkage. 

5) Numbness, tingling and back pain

Because it promotes healthy neurological activity, vitamin B12 deficiency has the potential to cause nerve conduction issues or damage. One of the symptoms is numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

Researchers in Palermo, Sicily ran a trial on 60 patients with lower back pain and sciatica where they injected vitamin B12 intramuscularly. The results were favourable, with a sharp decrease in pain and disability more significant than those in the placebo group. No side effects were experienced, and even patients who didn’t have low vitamin B12 levels benefitted from the treatment.

According to the research team, various studies on the clinical effects of vitamin B12 on painful vertebral syndromes have indicated that it can contribute to shortening the treatment time and reducing daily NSAID dosage (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Related: How Eggshell Membrane Benefits Arthritis and Joint Pain

6) Depression and anxiety

Along with folate, B12 aids in the functioning of your nervous system. Low B12 is linked to mood disorders, including depression. One longitudinal study lasting three years showed that depressed men with a higher intake of vitamin B12 from food had a reduced risk of depression.

Research shows that depressed patients can commonly have decreased blood serum levels of B6 and B12. It may also help to ease stress.

7) Sleep

A healthy balance of vitamin B12 can help to regulate your circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycle, improving sleep quality.

8) Heart health

B12 helps regulate homocysteine levels, improving cardiac function.

9) Energy levels

A healthy balance of all minerals and vitamins helps to maintain energy levels. B12 is essential for cellular energy production and also plays a significant part in the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose, your body’s go-to energy source. It also helps to convert fatty acids into energy. 

10) Encourages healthy skin, hair and nails

Cobalamin has an affinity for the skin. If there are insufficient levels (or excessive ones), it can lead to dermatological changes. If you have a deficiency of B12, you might experience changes to your nails and hair, skin hyperpigmentation, and oral symptoms and conditions such as glossitis, recurring mouth ulcers and canker sores.

Other skin conditions associated with vitamin B12 irregularity include vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and acne rosacea.

Causes of vitamin B12 insufficiency and deficiency

• Poor gut health and conditions such as celiac, Crohn’s disease or IBS. Conditions that slow the movement of food through the digestive tract (e.g. diabetes, scleroderma or diverticulitis) can cause an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria to overgrow in the upper part of the small intestine. Vitamin B12 is very valuable to these bacteria which keep it for themselves, while you become depleted. Other conditions with malabsorption such as MS or HIV can also be a cause.

• If you are vegetarian or vegan, you are at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency because only animal-based foods naturally contain it. You can get B12 into your diet by taking a supplement. You can also eat nutritional yeast and other foods fortified with vitamin B12. If you are vegetarian, eggs and dairy products also contain it.

• If you have had bariatric surgery, this interferes with your absorption of B12.

• If you are elderly, you have a higher risk as your stomach acid depletes with age, which affects digestion and absorption of nutrients, including vitamin B12.

• The use of drugs for heartburn and stomach ulcers as well as metformin, antibiotics and anti-seizure medications.

• If you are a smoker, suffer from pernicious anaemia or excessively drink alcohol, it will affect B12 absorption.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency 


These can be hard to spot as some of them are very common and can be associated with other ailments. They can include:


  • Fatigue 
  • Poor sleep or insomnia
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands, legs or feet.
  • Memory loss or difficulty thinking and concentrating.
  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Weakness, muscle aches, joint and back pain.
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Moodiness, depression, anxiety.
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor oral health, including a swollen inflamed tongue, recurring ulcers, and bleeding gums.
  • Palpitations
  • Poor appetite

Gut health is essential for adequate B12 levels


According to current research, particular microbial strains in the gut produce cobalamin along with other B vitamins. You can find a list of the predicted specific gut bacteria here.

Some animals, e.g. cows and fish, are capable of producing and absorbing enough B12 via gut bacteria production that they need little or none added to their diet. But, while more studies are required in order to determine this fully, some researchers currently feel that homegrown human cobalamin is produced in such small amounts and is so valuable to the gut microbes that it is unlikely to impact our vitamin B12 levels significantly.

Added to which, most of the cobalamin is produced in the colon where no receptors absorb it (these are found in the small intestine).

As previously mentioned, vitamin B12 helps to maintain your gut mucosa and nourishes gut microbiota, aiding digestion. It looks like any produced in the gut is used to enhance microbial activity. 

By getting enough vitamin B12, either through food or supplementing, a healthy person can maintain adequate levels which improve gut bacteria and overall digestive function. In response, good gut health will increase your ability to absorb B12, allowing you to reap all the other health benefits. 

Without a healthy digestive system, malabsorption of vitamin B12 occurs, which negatively affects your gut, further impeding your B12 absorption – a vicious cycle. Even minor gut inflammation can cause problems, so you can see why you must get your gut health in order

By enhancing gut health, vitamin B12 aids overall immunity. It also helps to improve inflammation not just in your gut but also your body, helping to ward off chronic illness and disease. 

Aside from eating a diverse, natural, whole-food diet rich in nutrients and regularly including pre and probiotic foods in your diet, you might want to consider taking some probiotics.

Progurt supply an entire range of supplements aimed at providing the right environment for optimal gut health.

Supplementation of vitamin B12


If you suspect your vitamin B12 levels are low, speak to your GP or therapist of choice about getting them tested. 

If you are vegan/vegetarian, an older adult or are vulnerable to B12 insufficiency or deficiency for any other reason, you can take a supplement. If you have a chronic condition that requires medication, speak to your doctor before taking any supplements.

The natural form of vitamin B12, known as methylcobalamin, is the best one to choose as research shows that it stays in your system for longer. When taking a supplement as opposed to injections (customarily administered to treat deficiency), sublingual (under the tongue) drops, sprays or tablets are the most effective as they are absorbed rapidly and directly into the bloodstream. 

B12 food sources

Good sources include seafood and fish, especially clams, oysters, muscles, crab, crayfish, shrimps, lobster, tuna, herring, mackerel and sardines.

Animal liver, kidneys and meat – particularly beef and chicken breast – are also adequate sources, and so too are eggs, dairy products, and fortified foods, including plant milks and nutritional yeast.

Pulling it all together

Cobalamin or vitamin B12 is essential for a multitude of physiological functions, including the formation of red blood cells. It helps to produce the myelin sheath, which forms around the nerves of the brain and spinal cord, allowing electrical impulses to transmit quickly and effectively along the nerve cells. Vitamin B12 also helps with hormonal, DNA and RNA synthesis. 

We have listed ten significant health benefits in this article, but there are many more. 

Gut health plays a principal role when it comes to your ability to absorb B12, added to which, vitamin B12 helps to maintain your gut mucosa and nourishes gut microbiota, aiding digestion. Inadequate levels of the vitamin can lead to gut inflammation and conditions like leaky gut or irritable bowel disease.

Even minor inflammation can cause malabsorption of not just vitamin B12 but other vital nutrients as well. So, it’s crucial to keep your digestive system healthy.

If you want to enhance your B12 absorption, focus on maintaining a healthy gut! Eating a varied, natural, whole-food diet encourages a diverse range of gut bacteria. Consume plenty of vegetables and fruits, beans, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats to provide gut feeding nutrients and plenty of fibre.

Include pre and probiotic foods in your diet daily. If you want to take probiotics or any other gut supplements, Progurt has an entire range aimed at providing the right environment for optimal gut health, including prebiotics.

Aside from eating a balanced diet, you can include foods rich in vitamin B12, or even take a supplement – particularly if you are vegan, vegetarian, an older or elderly adult or anyone with an increased risk of deficiency.

If you are displaying any deficiency symptoms or are worried your levels are low, ask your doctor to test your blood levels of vitamin B12. If you have a chronic condition requiring medication, speak to your GP before taking any supplements.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Could Probiotics Help to Provide Relief for Infantile Colic?

Could Probiotics Help to Provide Relief for Infantile Colic?

If you're worried about your baby's colic, you're not alone.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 20-25% of babies meet the definition of 'colic' as defined by Wessel's criteria (sudden and extreme outbursts of fussing and crying for three hours or more per day, three days a week). It's also the cause of 10-20% of early paediatrician visits.

Colic can be a common cause for early cessation of breastfeeding and a considerable contributor to postnatal depression. Caring for a baby who constantly cries and cannot be soothed is stressful, tiring and can be downright depressing. It's incredibly upsetting when you're not sure what's going on, or how to help your baby.

Read on to learn about natural solutions that may help.

Colic Symptoms


The new Rome IV criteria define colic as ‘recurrent and prolonged periods of infant crying, fussing or irritability reported by caregivers that occur without obvious cause and cannot be prevented or resolved’.

Symptoms are as follows:

  • Colic can start from a few weeks old and is often over by six months.
  • The APA state that colic ends for 50% of cases around three months, and in 90% of cases by nine months of age.
  • Restless, irritated and hard to comfort and soothe.
  • Going red in the face, looking paler around the mouth or clenching fists while crying.
  • Excessive fussiness, even when not crying.
  • Tension in the body, a tense abdomen, arching of the back, extending of legs or bringing the knees towards the tummy.
  • Loud tummy rumbles and wind.
  • Baby cries more often in the afternoon or evening.
  • It seems like your baby is in pain.

Potential causes and triggers of colic

We are all unique, and often it’s difficult to know what the exact cause is. It may be better to describe colic as ‘colic like symptoms’ as there may be causes with very similar symptoms such as reflux. 

1) Temperament

Sometimes, it can be down to your baby’s personality or sensitivity. La Leche League state that “Some babies are more sensitive than others and need more comforting. It’s not unusual for a baby to cluster feed in the evening both for comfort and to increase milk production, and crying which is labelled as “colic” may simply mean that the baby needs to nurse again.” Sometimes, a baby may still be experiencing discomfort from the birth process. They could also be more sensitive to stimulation.

2) Digestion

Your baby may be struggling to digest food. They could be suffering from wind, find it hard to burp, have acid reflux, or an oversupply of milk. 

3) Gut bacteria

Your baby may have unbalanced gut bacteria. Babies delivered by C-section can be deficient in crucial gut microbes as they have not passed through the birth canal. They can also harbour harmful microbes that are common in hospitals.

A small study supports ‘swabbing’ your baby immediately after C-section with bodily fluids from your birth canal to expose them to all the beneficial microbes. This is still controversial in the medical profession, and further studies are underway.

4) Allergies

Your baby might have food allergies. Milk allergies and lactose intolerance can have similar symptoms to colic. It could also be something that you are eating that your baby is sensitive to. Bottle-fed babies may be intolerant to proteins in their cow’s milk formula. 

5) Nervous system

While their nervous system is still forming, some babies may find it harder to soothe and calm themselves. This should improve once they get a bit older.

6) Underfeeding

Your baby could simply be hungry.

7) Early migraines

Frequent, unexplained crying may be a sign of migraines. One study showed that women with a history of migraines were 2.6 times more likely to have babies with ‘colic’. It could be that a genetic predisposition to migraines may present as colic in infants.

8) Smoking

Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy and post-delivery are at a higher risk of colic.

Coping strategies and tips on how to calm your baby 

Firstly, let’s look at some coping strategies and tips for parents:

Get support

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your parents, family or friends. You can also speak to your health visitor, call NHS 111 or seek advice from your GP.

Share the load

Share the burden and take turns holding the baby with your partner or a family member.

Meal plan and batch cook

It’s essential to eat well, especially during this time. You need to keep your energy and strength up and immunity strong. Planning your meals and batch-cooking stews, soups and casseroles, portioning them up and freezing them for a later date, can be invaluable when time is short and things are tough.

If you’re not preparing meals during the evening when your baby is more likely to be struggling, you can spend more time with them. If you’re too busy to prepare meals yourself, get help from family members and friends.

Parents’ support groups

 La Leche League is a great option. If you like to do things as naturally as possible, Arnica UK Parents’ Support Network is also a group you could try.

Take a break and breathe 

It’s stressful and hard to keep your cool when you’re at the end of your tether. Take a break whenever you can. If the crying is too overwhelming, pop your baby down somewhere safe, take a beat, walk away for a minute or two and breathe.

Getting outside in the fresh air for a moment is always good. When you can, ask others to look after your baby and take some time for yourself – have a snooze, take a walk, go shopping. Your mental health, and not feeling too overloaded, is crucial during this time.

If you’re worried that you’re going to harm yourself or your baby, immediately ask for help.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation is the worst, and you need to get as much rest as possible. Try sleeping when your baby sleeps, so you are more able to cope when your baby is awake and struggling.

And here are some tips pertaining to the baby.

Cuddles and love

Stay close to your baby and nurse them whenever they need. Offering the breast will often calm them, especially if there have been prolonged intervals between feeds for whatever reason. Hold them, even in quieter phases. You could try carrying them in a sling while you go about your everyday activities.

Don’t worry about cuddling them too much, it won’t make them more clingy – and they need you to comfort them while they’re going through this. For more detailed information on tried and tested calming techniques visit La Leche League GB.

Feeding and digestion

Your baby could be gulping and taking in too much air while feeding. A shallow latch or tongue-tie could be the reason why. They may also be guzzling at the breast and eating too fast if they are hungry. Sit or hold your baby upright to help stop them from swallowing air or change bottles and bottle teats. Feed them more frequently if they are hungry.

You can find helpful information on La Leche League about positioning and attachment and tongue-tie. Be sure to wind them properly. You could also try gently rubbing their tummy and moving their legs to encourage digestive flow.

Allergies

If you’re worried that your baby might be intolerant to the proteins in their formula, talk to your GP and seek out an alternative. A breastfeeding mother should be able to eat what she wants, but some have noticed a positive change when they cut suspected allergens out of their diet.

If you have a history of allergies in your family, this may be more likely. If so, you may notice that when you eat a particular food, your baby’s colic-like symptoms are worse. Perhaps they are also suffering from hives, eczema, a rash, sore bottom, dry skin, wheezing, coughing, congestion, cold-like symptoms, irritated, itchy eyes, ear infections or diarrhoea.

Common allergens include wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, eggs and peanuts. If you are concerned and would like to try eliminating certain foods from your diet, seek the advice of your GP, a health professional or nutritional therapist first. You want to ensure that you are still eating a balanced diet for both you and your baby. 

Dietary stimulants

Some mothers have also had success cutting stimulants like caffeine, chocolate and spices out of their diet.

Other forms of comfort

Take your baby for a walk in the pram or a drive, play some quiet, soothing music, sing to them, rock them over your shoulder. Gently sway them in the pram or their basket, try bathing them in a warm bath.

Some gentle white noise in the background might also help (if you don’t have a white noise machine, try leaving the hoover or clothes dryer on, you could also try the radio or TV on low). Some parents find that using a pacifier helps. Try laying them on their tummy and gently rub their back.

Progurt Probiotics have had success with colicky babies

Colic is generally harmless with no long-term health problems. But some researchers have found that, for some children, colic might be an early expression of common childhood disorders including ‘recurrent abdominal pain, allergic and psychological disorders’.

There may also be a link between crying beyond the usual colic period, and later sleep and behavioural problems and allergies.  

This is interesting, as compromised microbiome and poor gut health have strong links with inflammation and allergies, digestive disorders, sleep disruption, and mood

According to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, founder of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), improving gut health can also help to alleviate symptoms of autism, ADHD, ADD and Dyslexia. Although there are many sceptics out there, her book has helped countless parents to help relieve their children’s symptoms.

In terms of colic, creating the right gut environment could be the key to relieving your baby’s symptoms. Probiotics may be a way to achieve this, and Progurt has had some success with colicky babies. 

What’s special about Progurt is that they have a unique, cutting-edge range of effective gut care supplements designed to restore and maintain a healthy and balanced gut environment. For an optimally functioning gut, it’s not just about probiotics but also the right pH and electrolyte balance, temperature, oxygenation and circulation.

Most probiotics on the market come from bovine strains which are not indigenous to humans. Progurt probiotics are more specific to us than those derived from an animal source, as they use Human Probiotic Isolates, identical to those found in a healthy human gut from birth. Perfect for your little one should they lack any essential gut bacteria.

These are among the most advanced probiotics you’ll find. They are clinically tested and have an exceptionally high strength of one-trillion colony-forming units to populate your gut. Most off-the-shelf probiotics contain a mere fraction of that figure.

The beauty of taking these human strains is that once your baby’s gut has populated effectively, they should remain established, and you don’t have to keep supplementing. However, should their healthy gut environment be disrupted due to ill health or the need for medication, for example, they may require a maintenance dose to re-colonise.

**Progurt Probiotic Sachets are suitable for use by children 12 months and over. For those under 12 months, Progurt recommends that the mother takes them, and the baby receives the benefits through natural breastfeeding. If your baby is on formula, put a little bit of the probiotic powder on your finger and let your baby suck it. They are also safe to take during pregnancy

You can find out more about the rest of the Progurt range here

Conclusion

Generally speaking, colic starts when a baby is a few weeks old and stops around six months of age. The cause is not well understood, and other conditions like reflux can manifest with similar symptoms and be mistaken for colic. Depending on your baby, there could be various reasons why they are experiencing colic-like symptoms. 

There are different caring techniques you can use to console and calm your baby; it’s a case of trying things out to see what the most effective ones are. Websites like La Leche League have lots of helpful information. You can also consider and address potential causes too. Remember to seek advice from a health professional, and if you are at all worried about your baby’s symptoms, contact your GP or call NHS 111.

It can be beyond stressful to care for your baby when they are in such distress, so it’s just as important to look after your health and wellbeing during this time. Don’t underestimate what you’re going through. For a mother, tending to a colicky baby can lead to postnatal depression, so don’t try to be supermum or be afraid to ask for help. Be sure to gather up support, get your partner, family or friends to pitch in whenever possible and try to eat and sleep well. Take regular breaks and remember to breathe.

Probiotics may help to relieve your little one’s colicky symptoms, and Progurt probiotics have had some success in this area, so it may be worth giving them a try.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Microbiome Health: The Right Environment, The Right Microbial Strains

Microbiome Health: The Right Environment, The Right Microbial Strains

With over 70% of your immune system living in your gut, you can see how a healthy digestive system is core when it comes to good health. An unhealthy gut is strongly linked to inflammation, illness and chronic disease, and many of us suffer from some kind of gut imbalance. It's far more common than you might think.

Anyone aware of the importance of gut health knows the advantages of taking probiotic supplements to promote healthy gut microbiota. But it's not necessarily that straightforward.

Creating the right environment is essential if you want to maintain a healthy gut and encourage the right microbial strains to thrive. And while they are a valuable asset, this involves so much more than just taking probiotics.

A unique collection of gut bacteria for a very unique you


Your gut microbiota is as unique to you as your fingerprint. You have a mixture of good and bad gut bacteria, including over 1,000 different species with more than three million genes. Being at such an epic level, many experts regard this exceptional colony an organ in its own right.

It appears that healthy people do have particular species and combinations of them in common. If you wish to protect your immunity, prevent disease and maintain healthy digestion, your one-of-a-kind collection of gut microbiota must be a healthy one.

What's a healthy gut environment?


To create and maintain a diverse range of microbiota, you must eat well. Consume a wide range of fruits and vegetables, making sure you eat several different colours every day.

Add pre and probiotic foods to your diet on a regular basis and ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of healthy omega-3 fats, nuts and seeds, pulses and legumes. Fibre is also essential for encouraging healthy gut bacteria.

Other pillars of good gut health and ways to encourage the right gut environment are electrolyte balance, a healthy gut pH, circulation, oxygenation and nutrient flow, and the right body temperature.

When choosing a probiotic, you need to get a premium quality supplement with the right microbial strains that cultivate within your gut and take root.

Here are six ways to create the right environment for a healthy gut.

1) Look after your electrolytes


Electrolytes are essential for maintaining normal body function and are critical to your overall health and wellbeing. They are minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium and chloride, that carry a slight electrical charge and power your cells.

If your electrolytes are low, you may experience symptoms like muscle weakness and cramping, anxiety, swelling, joint aches and pains, fatigue, dehydration, sleep problems, headaches, tingling and numbness

If you have an electrolyte imbalance, you may also develop digestive issues.

Poor electrolyte levels can lead to reduced stomach acid (otherwise known as hydrochloric acid or HCL). Without sufficient levels, you’re more susceptible to any harmful bacteria you might ingest, and you’re also less able to break down, digest and absorb nutrients from your food.

Added to which, if your digestion is out of whack, your gut environment suffers and healthy bacteria is stifled while unhealthy microorganisms get to dominate. 

Symptoms of low stomach acid or Hypochlorhydria include indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, wind, belching, nausea, tiredness, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), other gastrointestinal disorders and infections, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

If you are worried your electrolyte levels are low, consider taking an electrolyte supplement to re-mineralise.

Progurt Chloride is an advanced, highly absorbable multi-mineral concentrate, that’s ideal if you have poor mineral status. If you’re concerned about your digestion, you can take it in tandem with other supplements from the Progurt range which is focused on maintaining optimum gut health. 

Other ways to look after your electrolytes include avoiding unnecessary medications of any kind and bypassing processed foods that are high in sodium but low in other electrolytes.

You can also eat electrolyte-rich foods including coconut water, pink Himalayan salt, bananas, kiwi, watermelon, leafy greens, broccoli, cucumber, carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados and bone broth. Don’t forget to replenish your electrolytes if you’ve been unwell or do high-intensity training.

2) Protect the delicate pH balance in your GI tract


While it’s essential to maintain a balanced blood pH to avoid illness and disease, the pH throughout your gastrointestinal tract is of equal importance. Without the correct acid/alkaline balance, you can’t maintain the complex equilibrium of digestive enzymes and microorganisms needed to support your gut integrity.

This causes your GI tract becomes weak, inflamed and impaired. You may start to experience digestive problems and the risk of intestinal permeability where harmful particles can leak from your gut into your bloodstream. 

Any kind of digestive impairment means that you are less able to absorb the nutrients from your food. The more chronic and deep-rooted it becomes, the weaker your immunity and the greater your susceptibility to illness and disease. 

It’s interesting to note that electrolyte and pH balance are closely linked. If you have low electrolytes, they can negatively affect your digestion and gut pH. If your body pH is unbalanced, it will leach electrolyte stores from your bones, tissues and organs.

This impacts your digestive system, gut pH and puts further stress on your immunity. 

To maintain the acid/alkaline balance needed to keep your GI tract functioning optimally, you need to look at lifestyle and diet.

Eat a balanced whole food diet, regularly eat alkaline foods and steer clear of acidic, inflammatory, high sugar, pre-packaged and processed foods.

Learn to manage your stress effectively, exercise regularly and keep moving. Avoid exposure to environmental toxins and unnecessary medication.

You can also take a supplement specifically designed to optimise gut acid/alkaline levels.

3) Maintain healthy circulatory and respiratory systems

Your body is a finely tuned machine. It’s the master of masking things, compensating and functioning well under duress. But time takes its toll, and if underlying issues are not noted or addressed, the cracks start to show.

To break down and digest food, and do all the other jobs it needs to do, your GI tract needs oxygen. To do this effectively, you need efficient circulation and respiration

Oxygen is transported to your GI tract in your blood (circulation) from your lungs (respiration). The oxygen enables the muscles in your digestive tract to contract and obtain all the nutrients from your food, which among other things, feeds your respiratory system so it can function efficiently. A healthy circulatory system carries these vital nutrients via the blood. 

So, you can see how your digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems all work together, helping each other. Each one needs to operate optimally, so this constant cycle can keep your gut functioning the best it can. 

Poor circulation means you’re not getting adequate oxygenation of gastrointestinal tissue leading to impaired gut function and slow digestion.

Consequently, the respiratory system doesn’t receive all the nutrients it needs to function correctly and send oxygen back down to your intestinal tissues.  This puts continued pressure on your digestive system, your microbiota cannot thrive, and your body starts to suffer. 

If you’d like to boost your circulation and enhance blood flow, Progurt Enzymes may help. These are active natural plant protein isolated from probiotic bacteria. The supplement is specifically designed to optimise nightly circulation while also aiding your digestive system.

A proper diet is necessary when it comes to cultivating robust respiratory and circulatory systems. If you eat varied, wholesome foods, you should get the nutrients you need to keep them in check.

Vitamins B12 and folate are essential in this instance, so ensure you’re eating foods that provide these. If you are vegetarian or vegan, be especially aware of your vitamin B12 intake, which often comes from animal sources. It may be beneficial for you to supplement with it. 

You also need to ensure you are getting enough iron. If you eat a plant-based diet, make sure you always team vegetarian iron-rich foods with vitamin C foods which will help to increase your iron absorption. 

Stress hormones can negatively impact your oxygen resources and inhibit circulation, so remember to breathe, be kind to yourself and find ways to feel calm throughout your day. Exercise is also essential to get your circulation moving and improve oxygenation, as is avoiding toxins as much as possible.

4) Speed up sluggish digestion


You need to encourage an optimal nutrient flow for a healthy digestive system. Slow transit times lead to unprocessed food that sits in your intestines, quickly stagnating and becoming toxic. 

If you struggle to digest your food and suffer from constipation, your gut will be a breeding ground for toxicity, and it will be hard for healthy microbiota to populate.

Meanwhile, you are in danger of increasing less healthy bacteria and other microorganisms and obtaining adequate nutrients from your food will become more challenging.

To encourage more efficient digestion, eat plenty of fibre, especially insoluble fibre (found in whole grains and nuts) which bulks up your stool and speeds up the passage of foods through your digestive tract.

Eating pre and probiotic foods daily will also help. Progurt also has a Prebiotic syrup which is vegan-friendly and made of non-digestible fibre to stimulate probiotics in your gut and help them to thrive. 

A clean, well balanced and varied wholefood diet is essential and proper hydration is crucial.

Without adequate water intake, your stools become hard, dry and difficult to pass and food and toxins start to back up. Drinking ample amounts of water will soften your stools, and things will flow a lot easier. 

Exercise will increase metabolism and encourage peristalsis (intestinal muscle contractions). Relieving anxiety and stress will release tension and promote better digestion too.

5) Be aware of your body temperature


Your gut microbes need a normal body temperature, between 97? to 99?, to maintain a healthy balance. Although it could be argued that warmer is better (healthy gut bacteria flourish in incubation), a balanced temperature is vital.

Research is ongoing, but some studies have found that increased temperature from regular exercise may be linked to leaky gut.

Body temperature increased by as little as 2? could encourage weakened gut tissue and jeopardise gut integrity. Some bacteria may also thrive more than others depending on external temperature, and it might be that if you are sensitive to the cold, your gut microbes may find it harder to adapt to colder temperatures and become deficient. 

If you feel that your body doesn’t effectively regulate your body temperature, seek the advice of a health practitioner as there may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

Practical steps would be to strip off and take measures to cool down if you’re feeling hot and adding layers if you’re feeling cold. 

Address any digestive issues, and eat a diverse mixture of plant-based foods to encourage a wide variety of healthy microbiota. Also, consume plenty of pre and probiotic foods to promote healthy gut bacteria.

Eat raw fermented foods daily such as sauerkraut, raw fermented gherkins, kimchi, kefir or kombucha. Eat lots of garlic and leeks (including raw), onions (raw and cooked), cabbage, asparagus, sweet potatoes and yams, beans and pulses, oats, Jerusalem artichokes, apples and bananas (slightly under-ripe).

You can also try taking a high strength probiotic supplement.

6) Take a probiotic supplement made from Human Probiotic Isolates

 

Probiotic supplements can complement a healthy diet and lifestyle and help to ease problematic digestive issues.

However, if you have a chronic digestive complaint, you need to find the underlying cause to determine the best diet and supplement plan.

So, in this instance, it would be best to seek the advice of a health professional such as a nutritional therapist, naturopath or functional medicine practitioner. 

Probiotics are live bacteria designed to populate your gut with healthy microbial strains, helping to restore balance, allowing optimal function. Depending on the strengths and strains of the supplements and your overall health, they may be useful in various circumstances.

These include re-balancing gut microbiota, easing the severity of acute attacks of diarrhoea, re-populating healthy gut bacteria after taking antibiotics, reducing allergy and eczema symptoms, boosting immunity, alleviating specific digestive issues, and relieving anxiety or depression.

Many experts believe that the stronger a probiotic supplement, the better. Evidence shows that human bacterial strains colonise in the gut, take up residence and become established. This differs from probiotics made using bovine probiotic strains which tend to be more transient. 

Currently, the majority of probiotic supplements you’ll find on the market are bovine based. But Progurt Probiotics derive from Human Probiotic Isolates which are identical to those found in a healthy human gut from birth.

These are among the most advanced probiotics you’ll find. They are clinically tested and have an exceptionally high strength of one-trillion colony-forming units to populate your gut.

Each sachet contains a unique combination specially chosen to colonise in your GI tract and replicate. They include missing, colonising, upper and lower gut, fragile, synergistic, replicating, migrating, and birth strains.

As long as you remain healthy, without a bout of illness or trauma to upset the balance (in which case you’d need to take another course to re-populate), these human probiotic strains will stay put.

Conclusion

Establishing and maintaining the right environment is essential for your gut health. Eating a natural, balanced and diverse diet, exercising and looking after your mental health are all part and parcel of ensuring this. 

Additionally, you might find it advantageous to take supplements to ensure your gut environment is tip-top, particularly if you feel that you’re struggling with any of the factors mentioned here. 

The Progurt range is specifically designed to restore and maintain a healthy and balanced gut environment. For example, if you decide to try Progurt Probiotics and don’t notice any real difference after taking a few sachets, it may suggest that you need to tackle another issue. Progurt’s additional supplements cover the environmental factors raised in this article, and any one of these may help.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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