stress

a leaky pipe being fixed with several wrenches

Could Marital Problems Lead to Leaky Gut?

Strong emotions can have a negative effect on your body. Add a diet full of high-fat foods to the mix and your gut becomes vulnerable too.

Emotional fights between married couples have been linked to symptoms of leaky gut, according to a report from Ohio State University that appeared in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Leaky gut is a condition created by breakdowns in the intestinal wall that allow undigested food, toxic waste products and other nasties to seep through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream to create a number of different health problems.

“We think every day marital distress, at least for some people, is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness,” says lead author Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the OSU’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Forty-three married and healthy couples ranging in age from 24-61 participated in the study that involved talking to researchers about their relationships, then alone with each other for 20 minutes to resolve conflicts that were likely to provoke disagreements.

To give necessary context to this study, blood samples were taken from couples before and after their conversations without a researcher and those talks were filmed for later review.

Not surprisingly, patients who displayed more hostility during their one-on-one talks with their marital partners had greater levels of LPS-binding protein, a biomarker for leaky gut.

Signs of leaky gut was even more pronounced among spouses with histories of emotional problems and depression whose interactions were hostile.

What’s more, researchers identified specific biomarkers in blood samples (LBP and CD14) linked to signs of inflammation. Patients whose blood contained the highest levels of LBP had dramatically higher amounts of the primary inflammatory biomarker, C-reactive protein.

These biomarkers were far more prevalent among those whose medical histories included depression too.

In fact, scientists believe the presence of these inflammatory biomarkers that drive leaky gut may also be responsible for mental health problems, creating a “troubling loop.”

“With leaky gut, the structures that are usually really good at keeping the gunk in our gut — the partially digested food, bacteria and other products — degrade and that barrier becomes less effective,” says study co-author Dr. Michael Bailey.

To reduce the amount of inflammation from leaky gut, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser suggests eating a more gut-friendly Mediterranean diet along with taking a probiotic.

Fortunately, protecting the health of your gut is so much easier when you take a probiotic that contains multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Mind your gut for a beautiful mind

There is a strong connection between the brain and the gut. Researchers claim there lies a brain in the gut with its own neural network.

The Enteric Nervous System ( ENS ) has a robust system that manages the hormones, emotions, and neurotransmitters, which communicate with the brain. Serotonin, dopamine and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) are all neurotransmitters that play a role in the intestines and the central nervous system. They can be transmitted to the brain through the blood or the vagus nerve.

There are trillions of gut microbiota residing in the gut that can directly impact our mental state. Sometimes when we are anxious or depressed it can in part be due to an unhealthy balance of the intestinal bacteria (dysbiosis).  Among women who suffer from depression, anxiety and GI difficulties, study results suggest a link to the gut rather than the brain.

5 Ways to Manage a Better Gut for a Better Mind

Managing the gut can result in benefits for the mind, including a better harmony between the gut and mind. Here are five ways that can create that powerful force within your body.

1. Diet

Diet is the core of every change in the body. The proverbial you are what you eat stands true in this case. The fuel you use to energize your body provides the essential nutrients and has a strong effect on every activity in the body.

Certain diets elicit a healthier bacterial balance. A diet rich in whole, unprocessed, unadulterated, and non-genetically modified foods helps to maintain a proper balance of the gut bacteria. Eliminating foods that are processed and choosing fresh and real foods is the key to providing the gut with healthy bacteria.

2. Lower Your Sugar Intake

Sugar brings about a lull in the body. It slows down the body. Sugar and carbohydrates affect the system by nurturing the pathogenic bacteria.

In a recent study, researchers fed a group of mice a diet high in sugar and then tested their mental and physical function. The sugar diet negatively impacted the mice’s gut microbiota, impaired their cognitive flexibility, and ability to efficiently adapt to changing situations. The change in gut bacteria also adversely affected the mice’s long-term and short-term memory.

Sugar affects adaptability. The sugar spike in blood levels makes the body work harder. It also leads to gut inflammation. Consuming less sugar can be beneficial for the gut and the brain.

3. Add a Probiotic

Healthy foods such as lacto fermented kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and other traditional vegetables have microbes that have a positive effect on our gut. A common ancestral practice to consume fermented foods rich in probiotics is quite interesting. Healthy fermented foods are filled with probiotics that allow all the healthy fauna to settle in the gut and flourish.

In a 2013 study in Gastroenterology, 12 out of the 25 healthy women ate a cup of yogurt twice a day for four weeks. The rest of the women ingested no yogurt. All women had pre and post brain scans while being asked to respond to a series of images depicting different facial expressions. Results indicated that the women who ate yogurt were calmer when shown various emotions than the control group. The results revealed that the yogurt changed the subjects’ gut microbiota, which also modified their brain chemistry.

Consuming good probiotics are one great way to keep the gut healthy. Alive organisms when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.”  A review by Dinan et al encompasses the clinical basis for the use of probiotics in mental health with reference to animal studies in which behavioral changes resulted from exposure to bacterial strains such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. In placebo-controlled trials in humans, measures of anxiety, chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety are associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is felt to be due to an imbalance or dysbiosis of the gut microbiota.

Besides foods, a good probiotic supplement with a number of strains can be very helpful for the gut.

4. Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases the good hormones in our bodies. These hormones help to stimulate growth and make us feel happy. All the chemicals and hormones released during exercise benefit the body, and eventually the gut. Regular exercise stimulates better bowel movements and leads to more water consumption. All these affect the gut, keeping it healthy and strong.

Exercise can be the best therapy for a weak gut. So whenever you feel low, experience anxiety or have a stressful meeting coming up, go for a run, hit the gym and take a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced.

5.  Relax and De-stress

A stressful mind releases harmful hormones like cortisol. A rise in cortisol affects the gut making the cholesterol level higher, and even triggers depression.

A relaxed mind can induce hormones that promote relaxation, which also affect the gut. Studies have shown stress puts us at risk for dysbiosis, a shift away from healthy gut diversity.

In a 2015 study from Harvard University affiliates, forty-eight patients with either IBS or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) took a 9-week session that included meditation training. The results showed reduced pain, improved symptoms, stress reduction, and a decrease in inflammatory processes.

Practicing mindful techniques of relaxing the mind, and breathing more deeply to oxygenate the body lead to a less distressed mind and gut. The best way to develop a beautiful mind is to cultivate a healthy and happy gut.

To learn more about your gut/brain connection, talk to your health care provider and ask if adding a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Capsules to your daily regimen will help issues likes anxiety and depression.

Moms: Stressing out may affect your new baby’s brain, gut health

A number of variables affect the health of newborn babies, from preeclampsia to caesarean (C-section) births, which have a direct connection to a mother’s gut health.

The vaginal microbiota of an expectant mom experiencing stress may be affected during her first trimester. Some emotions could trigger changes in the way her baby’s gut health and brain develop, according to a recent study appearing in the medical journal Endocrinology.

“As the [newborn’s] gut is initially populated by the maternal vaginal microbiota, changes produced by maternal stress can alter this initial microbial population as well as determine many aspects of the host’s immune system that are also established during this early period,” says Dr. Tracy Bale, senior author of the study and a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and its School of Veterinary Medicine, via a press release.

Researchers tested their theory by exposing pregnant mice to various stressors, including unique noises, odors of established predators and restraints, during the animal’s equivalent of their first trimester.

Shortly after giving birth, scientists examined the vaginal microbiota of the mothers along with the gut microbiota from their offspring. Additionally, they examined how amino acids travel in the brains of pups to measure development and metabolism.

Exposure to stressors had lasting effects on the vaginal microbiota of pregnant mice that were observed, not only in the gut microbiota, but in the metabolism and neurodevelopment of their babies too.

Neurodevelopment issues were most pronounced among males, a finding Dr. Bale and her colleagues discovered in a prior study. These alterations could be a sign of serious neurological disorders to come like schizophrenia and autism, conditions that affect males far more often.

Scientists also conducted a supplemental experiment that showed how important it is for moms to deliver their babies vaginally. Baby mice born via C-section had their gut microbiomes restored to those of vaginally-delivered offspring only after receiving transplants from the vaginal microbiomes of female mice.

Despite the challenges new moms face by delivering their babies via C-section, there’s growing evidence that giving newborns a probiotic could enhance their developing gut health and lessen problems with colic.

When shopping for the right probiotic for your young child, consider EndoMune Junior, which contains important building blocks such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Poor gut health may be responsible for the terrible toddler twos

Your toddler’s unique gut microbiome may contribute to those mood swings associated with the “terrible twos.”

There may be more going on besides fussy behavior, according to researchers at Ohio State University’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Those mood swings may provide indicators for early stages of chronic diseases, like allergies, asthma, bowel disease and even obesity, according to a recent study appearing in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Evidence has shown that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones, the very same ones linked to chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma, says Dr. Lisa Christian, a researcher with Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

“A toddler’s temperament gives us a good idea of how they react to stress. This information combined with an analysis of their gut microbiome could ultimately help us identify opportunities to prevent chronic health issues earlier,” Dr. Christian explained.

Based on an analysis of 77 stool samples taken from young boys and girls ages 18-27 months old, there were signs of activity in the gut-brain axis, says Dr. Michael Bailey, study co-author, microbiologist and member of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

“There is definitely communication between the bacteria in the gut and the brain, but we don’t know which one starts the conversation.”

No matter which side “started the conversation,” evidence appears to link young temperaments to the amount and diversity of gut bacteria, even after taking into account their diets, the mother’s birthing method and whether or not they were breast fed.

Matching gut bacteria to behaviors

Mothers were asked to assess their child’s behaviors using questionnaires that gauged 18 specific traits that fed into specific scales of emotional reactivity.

Based on those reports, researchers analyzed the different genetic types and quantities of gut bacteria in those stool samples (along with diets).

With improvements in DNA testing, which enable scientists to spot individual bacteria and concentrations in stool samples, “All of the predominant bacteria we found in our study have been previously linked to either changes in behavior or immune responses,” says Dr. Bailey, according to a press release.

Girls vs. boys

Generally, children who had the most genetically diverse gut bacteria more often displayed the behaviors connected with positive mood, impulsivity, sociability and curiosity.

Scientists have also been able to link extroverted personality traits in boys to an abundance of gut microbes from specific families (Ruminococcaceae and Rikenellaceae) and genera (Parabacteroides and Dialister).

“It’s possible that more outgoing kids could experience less trouble due to fewer stress hormones in their guts than those who are shy. Healthy guts regulate the production of stress hormones better or it could be a bit of both,” Dr. Bailey says.

The links between gut bacteria and temperament were less consistent in girls according to the study. Still, scientists linked some traits in girls — focused attention, self-restraint and cuddliness — to a less diverse microbiome.

Also, girls who had more of one particular family of gut bacteria (Rikenellaceae) experienced more fear than others with better balance in their gut health.

What makes a real difference?

Although researchers concluded diets didn’t make a difference in the behaviors and gut health of the toddlers they examined, they left room for the possibility that they could.

“It is certainly possible that the types or quantities of food that children with different temperaments choose to eat affect their microbiome,” says Dr. Christian.

Despite the findings in this study, evidence points to the method of birth — vaginal delivery versus caesarean — being a huge factor. Babies born via C-section had less gut diversity than those who were born naturally.

What’s more, the growing immune systems of small children aren’t nearly as prepared for challenges to come if they don’t have the right balance of gut bacteria. That’s where probiotics can help your child, whether he or she is a newborn, toddler or school age child.

That’s why EndoMune Junior now comes into two varieties: a powdered formula, ideal for mixing into food or drinks and a delicious chewable berry-flavored tablet that will leave them wanting more.

Each dose of EndoMune Junior contains 10 billion CFUs, including four species of proven health-promoting bacteria, and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria already in your child’s gut.

What is IBS?

What is IBS? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be an uncomfortable condition, but it is nowhere near as serious a health problem as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

However, IBS is still far more common, affecting up to 20 percent of the Western world. Symptoms include gas, constipation, diarrhea, cramping and abdominal pain.

Understanding the combination of conditions that trigger this unpredictable health problem can be a mystery due to multiple contributing factors. Among the causes, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House (NDDIC):

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Food sensitivities
  • Hypersensitivity to pain
  • Motor problems that cause irregular movement in the bowels
  • Altered levels of gastrointestinal hormones and body chemicals that transmit nerve signals

The genetic effect

Near the bottom of the list of causes, the NDDIC cites genetics as a common source among family members with a shared history of IBS problems, but is noncommittal about its overall effect. A recent Mayo Clinic study may shed some new light on the genetics of IBS.

Researchers have identified a genetic defect, a mutation of the SCN5A gene that affects the absorption of water and electrolytes. Disruption of this sodium ion channel can lead to constipation or diarrhea.

After comparing the tissues of 584 IBS patients to nearly 1,400 healthy patients, scientists discovered the genetic defect in 2.2 percent of IBS patients.

Is a drug always the best, safest treatment?

Mayo Clinic researchers treated patients with genetic-based IBS successfully by using mexiletine, a drug that improved the sodium ion transport and eased the symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation for this small group of patients.

Mexiletine is part of the antiarrhythmic class of drugs that works by blocking some electrical signals in the heart to stabilize heart rhythms. (It has also been prescribed to treat nerve damage caused by diabetes.)

Unfortunately, medications may come with adverse effects. Antiarrhythmic drugs like mexiletine have been linked to reports of increased risk of heart attack and death, according to MedlinePlus. Those risks are especially elevated among patients who have suffered a heart attack over the past two years.

Taking mexiletine may also increase the chance of experiencing an irregular heartbeat and hasn’t helped people who don’t experience life-threatening arrhythmias to live longer. MedlinePlus warns against using mexiletine unless a patient has suffered life-harming arrhythmias.

Probiotics: The safer, better treatment option

The real problem with taking prescription medications like mexiletine: Too many of them only treat superficial symptoms but neglect to correct the real health problem. However, there is a safer IBS Treatment option that treats the “whole” patient holistically.

Taking a probiotic made from multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic every day not only alleviates symptoms for many IBS sufferers, but corrects the underlying disorder and does it without the risk of any adverse side effects.

Protecting your gut-brain axis with probiotics

Do you realize how strong the connection between your brain and intestines, which is better known as the gut-brain axis, really is?

For example, you may feel that connection painfully or positively when you’re feeling anxious about an event out of your control, experiencing a fender-bender, taking a pop test, going on a first date or making an important presentation at your job.

The physical feelings you’re experiencing in your gut are the direct result of your brain releasing chemicals traveling through the bloodstream or the major nerve pathways. Those messages could be painful (no second date) or positive (you aced the presentation) depending on how your individual gut-brain axis reacts to the outcome.

Some health experts believe the dysfunction of the gut-brain axis may explain several health problems, ranging from fatigue and brain fog to something as simple as toenail fungus.

One of the best and simplest ways to maintain a healthy, balanced gut-brain axis—taking a multi-species probiotic—is at the heart of a recent University of Michigan study about the connection between stress and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on mice.

Researchers discovered mice produced chemicals called inflammasomes to maintain good gut health. However, when stressed, a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) produced by mice blocked the benefits of those inflammasomes, while changing the composition of their guts, leading to intestinal inflammation. The good news: Mice pretreated with probiotics experienced reduced intestinal inflammation, by reversing the inhibition of inflammasomes.

So, how do these positive results affect folks dealing with IBS? Although researchers say that stress doesn’t cause IBS, it alters gut-brain interactions that lead to diarrhea, problems with appetite and chronic or severe gut pain.

“The effect of stress could be protected with probiotics which reverse the inflammation of the inflammasomes,” says John Kao, senior study author and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. “This study reveals an important mechanism for explaining why treating IBS patients with probiotics makes sense.”

The important takeaway from this study regarding probiotics: Your body is under constant attack externally (bad bacteria is lurking everywhere) and internally (too many things to do and not enough time to do them). Taking a probiotic is the safest, most effective way to maintain the balance that protects and preserves a healthy gut-brain axis.

9 back-to-school health tips for parents

You can look at back to school time one of two ways. On one hand, this is a great time of the year. Your kids are moving upward on the educational ladder and heading off to new experiences, filling you with pride and joy.

With all the changes you and your kids are experiencing, unfortunately, stressors are sure to follow. Adjusting to new schedules and new schools are the most common stressors, followed close behind by exposure to viruses and assorted cold and flu bugs from classmates.

That’s why these back to school health tips for kids are so essential to protect your kids.

Taking a multi-species probiotic once a day can treat many of these emotional and bug-related problems very simply and safely, without the need for a drug, especially an antibiotic that can seemingly worsen health problems as often as they treat them successfully.

In fact, studies have shown as many of 50 percent of the kids treated with antibiotics for something as simple as an ear infection will develop antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD).

However, a recent assessment of 16 studies by the Cochrane Database System Review  (including kids as young as two weeks old and as old as 17 years) found those who had been given a probiotic along with antibiotics lessened incidents of AAD by 50 percent.

Even better, kids who were given probiotics with higher colony counts of beneficial bacteria lowered their odds of suffering from antibiotic-related diarrhea by an amazing 63 percent.

Other tips parents can take to ensure the health of their children—no matter how old they are—is protected in addition to taking a probiotic:

  • Train them to wash their hands as often as possible.
  • Help kids better handle the events that boost their stress levels to harmful levels by setting good examples for them.
  • Get your kids off to a good start by ensuring they eat nutritious meals, starting with a good breakfast.
  • Make sure your kids are getting the exercise their bodies need every day.
  • Pack those backpacks children use to carry lunches and books lightly, while ensuring they’re equipped with wide, padded straps.
  • Keep your kids, no matter how old they are, on a consistent sleep schedule of at least 9 hours every day if not longer.
  • Are your kids up-to-date with all their immunizations before heading back to school? Protect them and their classmates by keeping your kids current on all their shots.
  • When was the last time your child had an eye exam? Protect their vision and improve their grades by making an appointment.

EndoMune hopes your back-to-school week goes well!

Probiotics May Battle IBS-Induced Stress

You may recall a recent study I posted about the possibilities of an anxiety-free future by taking probiotics. Those possibilities are looking a little more like probabilities, based on the results of a University of Michigan study on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Although stressful emotions aren’t the primary cause of IBS, they can alter brain-gut interactions that trigger the intestinal inflammation that spurs diarrhea, belly pains (severe or chronic) or a loss of appetite.

In tests on mice, University of Michigan scientists discovered that stress may suppress an important element called an inflammasome, which is needed to maintain healthy gut microbes. The good news: Probiotics reversed the suppressive effect in these animals.

“This study reveals an important mechanism for explaining why IBS patients with probiotics makes sense,” said senior study author, gastroenterologist and associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan John Y. Kao, M.D.

During the course of the study, researchers found inhibiting inflammosomes changed gut composition, resulting in intestinal inflammation. However, pretreating some rats with probiotics reduced inflammation in animals with stress-induced, small bowel inflammation.

A Possible Anxiety-Free Future With Probiotics

For many, new stresses may arise as the result of the New Year. From New Year’s resolutions to the upcoming tax season, stress and anxiety can take a toll on the body. Recently, researchers looked at how stress and anxiety directly affect the gut-brain axis.

A new study on mice conducted by an international team of researchers found a connection between probiotics, stress and anxiety. Researchers divided the mice into two groups, one being fed a Lactobacillus rhamnosus-filled broth, a bacterium found in EndoMune Advanced, and the other a bacteria-free broth. Conclusions drawn from the study suggest that those that drank the Lactobacillus rhamnosus-filled broth were less stressed and produced less corticosterone, a stress hormone, when reacting to a nerve-racking event.

Although it is not conclusive that probiotics can replace medications for anxiety or stress, the study initiates the idea that alternative treatments, like probiotics, for anxiety or stress disorders may exist in the future. Read the full study and its implications here.

Probiotics – Helping You Think Happy Thoughts?

A recent study analyzing the effect of gut bacteria and probiotics on brain activity may have positive implications for individuals.  Although still in the most preliminary stages of analysis and evaluation, scientists have discerned a link between the presence of probiotics in the diet and muted mental reactions to outside negative stress or stimuli.

Read the full article for details on how the study was conducted and when these hypotheses may gain enough support to become proven facts.

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