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How 2020 Might Have Affected Your Gut Health & How To Start 2021 Stronger

December 11, 2020

Poor gut-health has been plaguing Americans for decades, but the stress, poor diet choices, lack of exercise, and illness in one year may have doubled the damage on our microbiomes in comparison to years past. Not to completely hate on 2020 and spread more negative news - there have been many beautiful things that came out of this year for people and for our society. How can we finish 2020 on a positive note? One way could be making a conscious effort to improve our gut health! 

Your microbiome refers to the bacteria - both good and harmful, viruses, and other living organisms inside your digestional tract. Did you know that we have about 2 lbs of microbes living in our gut? They control a lot more of our functions than we imagined in this symbiotic relationship. In the effort to take what we’ve all been through and learned, here are a few tips to finish the year stronger!

 

2020 SYMPTOM: Anxiety / Stress

Here are some astonishing facts about our year. People have been turning to drugs and alcohol more than ever before. In Oregon, the number of drug overdoses were up 70% in the first few months of the year. There has also been an enormous increase in opioid overdose. One out of four young people have considered suicide in the past few months!  Anxiety and stress are not just affecting adults during this time, minors and children have also mentally and emotionally suffered. 

The stress you’ve been under for many different reasons shows up on your entire body. From your skin, to your thoughts, to your muscles, to your gut, managing the stress and the symptoms can feel like an overwhelming task. One way we can lighten the load is by taking care of our good bacteria. Exciting studies are revealing more about the connection between our mood and our microbiome, now that we know about the vagus nerve, or “gut-brain axis”. Not only do our brain and gut communicate through the vagus nerve, there are also neurotransmitters, immune chemicals, and products of our gut bacteria that transmit messages back and forth. 

HOW TO IMPROVE IT : 

  • Reduce inflammation - inflammation in the body, blood stream, and then in the brain is strongly correlated with symptoms of depression. Even acute inflammation causes symptoms of depression and loneliness. 
  • Your gut health can change your mood if there is a disruption in the vagus nerve, your immune system is functioning poorly, or when short-chain-fatty acids are created. Inflammation and leaky gut are two known causes of a “bad mood”
  • Supplementing probiotics with a trusted product like Just Add Water®
  • Managing your stress with these practices 
  • Eating more gut-friendly, anti-inflammatory foods 

 

2020 SYMPTOM: Poor Dietary Choices

Women today are binge drinking 40% more than they ever had to cope with things. We have skyrocketing rates of heartburn & indigestion. What started out as jokes - “the quarantini”, “zoom happy hour” that kicked off at 3 pm, liquor stores being the only thing open and considered “essential” - many of us developed unhealthy drinking habits. The term “Quarantine 15” was also trending due to weight gain for a massive amount of people. It was a comfort food extravaganza. From making an effort to spend less money by purchasing cheaper, but less nutritious food, to opting for processed foods over cooking something healthy, our diet ambitions abandoned ship. On the other end of the spectrum, the UN reported that there has been a doubling of hunger around the world, specifically in countries where the citizens rely on tourism for income. 

When you eat high-sugar foods, lots of carbs, and other food that lacks nutrition - you trigger your bad bacteria. Bad bacteria escalate your blood sugar levels, decrease your metabolism, cause you to gain weight, and have higher levels of body fat. Having a higher diversity of gut bacteria, no matter how many calories you eat, plays a major role in your body-fat percentage. Regardless of the food we eat or the diet that we’re on - if our microbiomes aren’t healthy, we are not healthy. Your gut doesn’t just digest food, it communicates with your brain, immune system, and hormones. It can cause cravings, alter your mood, cause breakouts, disrupt your cycle, and weaken your ability to fight viruses. 

HOW TO IMPROVE IT : 

  • Try reducing intake of these FODMAP Foods - nightshades (eggplants, peppers, potatoes tomatoes), potential allergens (sheep/goat dairy, pasteurized eggs, grass fed butter), High FODMAP veggies (asparagus, cauliflower, leeks, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peas) High FODMAP fruits (peaches, mangoes, apples, blackberries, watermelon, plums) Also avoid - beans, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, rice
  • Avoid processed foods 
  • Limit alcohol consumption  
  • Eat whole foods high in prebiotic fiber - onions, raw asparagus, chicory root, yams, artichokes
  • Eat & drink foods high in polyphenols - coffee, tea, chocolate
  • Add in a probiotic / prebiotic supplement - Just Add Water® 

2020 SYMPTOM: Poor Sleep

There are over 115 million Americans who are regularly sleep deprived. Add in the new 2020 zombies who suffer from stress-related insomnia! In a sleep deprived brain, there is a dramatic decrease in the prefrontal cortex  - this part of our brain is responsible for decision-making and healthy responses, for distinguishing between right and wrong, and social control. This year has been characterized by our difficulty managing our emotions, responses, and connection. Another interesting fact is that when you are sleep deprived (average 5 ½ hours per night) your body’s metabolism is seriously injured. Your body will even start burning muscle no matter what diet you’re on, because your body will want to preserve fat as muscle is metabolically expensive to carry. 

A lack of sleep negatively affects your gut health - which in turn will affect the rest of your body! Our brains are protected by the “blood brain barrier” and the supportive glial cells - essentially the brain’s immune system. When glial cells sense inflammation, one of the first things they do is “open the gates” of the blood brain barrier. New studies suggest that this occurrence, this leaky brain is associated with leaky-gut. When your gut is re-sealed, the brain fog, tiredness, aggravation, inability to focus, anxiety, and other markers of leaky brain disappear. Taking care of your gut health daily with a gut supportive product like Just Add Water® can help seal the blood brain barrier and make you feel like you have the energy you earned with your sleep. 

HOW TO IMPROVE IT:

2020 SYMPTOM: Weakened Immune System

We have a growing susceptibility to viruses. Why? Because of the damage that most people do to their bodies (accelerated this year) - lack of nutrition, obesity and unhealthy weight, poor sleep, stress, lack of movement. We have been seeing such varied responses to this OPPORTUNISTIC infection - some of us suffer, some of us recover quickly, and there are many victims that succumbed to the virus. Cognitive decline, depression, heart disease, weight issues, and diabetes are all linked to immune dysfunction. 

Not only does not getting good sleep make you more susceptible to viruses, it also makes it more difficult for your body to recover. Getting restful, restorative sleep helps support our immune system’s incredible functions. Stress weakens the immune system through a lack of sleep, inflammation, and high levels of cortisol in the body. Stress also slows down the digestive process, which can be confusing to your body as it releases digestive juices. Your immune system is highly affected by the foods you eat. A diet high in processed foods has been shown to directly relate to a weaker immune system. Getting the right whole food nutrients that support your immune system, strengthens its functionality and ability to help your body recover. 

Your immune system is not only important for fighting viruses, it’s also important to your metabolism and heart health! 

HOW TO IMPROVE IT: 

  • How Serena recovered from Covid - 
  • Learn More About Supporting & Strengthening Your Immune System : Dr. Will Cole IG LIVE REPLAY
  • Whole food diet. Experiment with a plant based diet
  • Drink more water - Water is the key ingredient to a healthy metabolism & immune system. Staying hydrated is vital for all the tissues that need water to function. Having fluids in your body allows everything to regulate and balance. 





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