Tainted Ground Beef Sickens More

The number of those sickened from tainted ground beef continues to grow. The meat was sold at a variety of stores, including Walmart and Sam’s Club and under a variety of brand names. Click and read for full list and then check your fridges and freezers!

De- Stress With a ‘Good’ Gut

Some days, weeks, months…  are just tougher than others.  Stress is high, anxiety is part in parcel and your stomach is a mess.  

Keeping yourself healthy, rested and focused is often difficult during stressful times.. but soooo important.  Your ability to make sound decisions in the face of hardship depends on your calm focus.  As you do your best to manage the day to day stressors, don’t forget the importance of the gut – brain connection.

Straight from the Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School:

“The gut-brain connection is no joke; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.”

Likewise,  research shows that stress can negatively affect the trillions of healthy bacteria in your gut, and sub-par gut health can have a depressing effect on your entire system. Understanding how to support your good gut microbes can help you with healthier and happier days.  Occasional stress is inevitable, but fortunately, we can choose to slow down, stop, and prioritize our health. Getting through tough stressful times is much easier when you are rested, your stomach isn’t tied in knots, and you stay calm. 

Tips to Improve Your Gut Health and Improve Your Stress Response:

  1. Diet – Focus on whole and plant based foods.
  2. Rest – Get your sleep.  Not only will you feel emotionally and physically better, your gut microbes are happier for it.
  3. Move Around – Don’t just sit there… Literally. Studies show more active people have healthier gut flora.
  4. Avoid Antibiotics When Possible – These drugs kill off the good flora along with the bad.  This includes antibiotics in the foods you select and prescriptions from your health care provider (discuss the necessity).
  5. Take aProbiotic or Prebiotic/Probiotic Supplement – This will help replenish the good flora.  Look for one with a variety of strains.
  6. Find ways to make your health a priority –  Ways to slow down, appreciate the moment and de-stress can literally save your life.  Be proactive… waiting for an ‘Ah-Ha’ moment or catastrophic event… maybe waiting too long!

Why Gut Health is Crucial to Overall Health

We’ve come a long way in terms of understanding the importance of our gut (intestinal tract) and its importance to overall health.

Years ago (1980’s) a handful of scientists and doctors were researching the influence of intestinal health and its likely connection to overall health and disease.  The mere mention that the ‘bugs’ in your intestine had an effect on your ability to fight infection and disease was met with harsh criticism from conventional medical researchers and negative attention from the FDA.   Most of these pioneer ‘gut bug’ researchers took their work to countries outside of the US, where they were free to pursue this ‘radical’ idea.

Fast forward (2018) –  my how things have changed.  Research regarding intestinal microbes (‘good’ and ‘bad’ bugs – bacteria-  that  live and flourish in the intestines) is considered one of the most critically important. In general there are billions and between 300-500 different kinds of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bugs that live in the intestines.  The balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is now known to be a key factor.

Coming up with perfect intestinal bug combination is a work in progress.  Everyone’s intestinal microbe make up is unique – much like a fingerprint.  We now know that gut microbes are determined partly by the mother’s microbe mix — the environment that a person is exposed to at birth — and partly from diet and lifestyle. Research has also proven that these intestinal microbes affect everything from metabolism, to mood, to the immune system.

Further, research suggests the gut bacteria in healthy people are different from those with certain diseases. It’s thought some types of microbes may protect against illness, while others increase the risk.  Additionally, there are issues that can positively or  negatively influence a person’s intestinal microbe count and mix.

With the established general link between gut microbes and disease, scientists began to focus on specifics.  Continued research has shown a clear connection between certain illnesses and the bacteria in your gut.  These illnesses include: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), obesity, colon cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, depression and anxiety.

We’ve also learned that eating a diet high in fiber rich foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), regular exercise, and supplementing with probiotics can help encourage a healthy and balanced gut microbe mix.  Likewise, a diet high in fat and sugar and low in fiber can kill certain types of gut bacteria (upsetting the balance). The use of antibiotics, which not only wipes out the intended ‘bad’ illness causing bacteria, also kills ‘good’ protective bacteria. (When antibiotics are needed, a discussion regarding supplementing ‘good’ intestinal flora with a probiotic should be addressed with the health care professional prescribing the antibiotic treatment).

What’s next?  We know that microbes (‘good’ and ‘bad’ bugs) also live on our skin and in our lungs.  These too have a connection to disease or lack thereof.  Experts say that future research needs focus on those areas as well as the intestines in order to pinpoint the exact types of bacteria that lead to certain ailments.  Then, you may be able to just take a probiotic pill and stave off diabetes or treat arthritis… that’s the future.  Considering how far we’ve come in 25 years…  that future may not be too far off.