This article was sponsored by Align. All opinions are my own.
Horrrayyyy for Spring! I just got back from a lovely trip out West to LA, California (see my pics on instagram) and I’m excited to be back in Manhattan for Spring to start blossoming. This is the best time of the year in Manhattan (even thought every season is fabulous in NYC- Spring is just so lovely, isn’t it?). So, since I just got back from my trip, I want to share some healthy gut tips with you and walk you through a bit about your gut microbiome because it’s time for a little Spring cleaning with your health and it all starts with your gut. Why? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, 70% of your immune system is located in your gut so if you want a healthy body, you’ve gotta have a healthy gut. Now, trust me…healing your gut can be tricky. It took me over a decade of trying a ton of different protocols but the one thing that stayed consistent was PROBIOTICS. That’s right. The beneficial bacteria that pumps our gut with the good bacteria we need to stay healthy. Our guts have a lovely balance of good and bad bacteria and when that bacteria gets out of balance through stress, toxins, processed foods, our emotions, tap water, alcohol, drugs and other toxins, our health suffers. Acne, rosacea, GERD and heartburn, hormone imbalances, eczema, arthritis, autoimmune disease, IBS, joint pain, weight gain, weight loss and many other health conditions ALL start from poor gut health. That’s right. There’s a trigger (such as the toxins above) that comes in and throws your ecosystem off balance and you end up with gut in need of more good bacteria. The interesting thing is that you may never have indigestion or heart burn or bloating to have gut issues, or Leaky Gut. You may feel great and have a great relationship with your gut but your gut is still wreaking havoc on your beautiful body, which is why it’s so important to eat clean, whole organic foods, take a daily probiotic and to work with a Functional M.D. so they can make sure your gut is in tip-top shape. These Functional/Integrative M.D.’s have other tests beyond traditional medicine that allow them to see the health of the lining of your gut as well as how much good and bad bacteria you have.
So, this Spring, as you’re rethinking your healthy lifestyle and transitioning from warm, roasted, cozy foods from the winter to more fresh veggie-based cooler dishes, think about adding in a daily probiotic. Your gut will thank you. Trust me. I want to talk to you a bit about my experience with probiotics and how they’ve helped me get my health back on the right foot–or both right feet!
Align Probiotic is a daily probiotic. My best advice is to not look at a probiotic as a quick fix for your digestive issues but rather to help fortify your gut all day/night with continued daily use*. Probiotics can help maintain digestive balance. You’ve got to be consistent with taking these. I know that might sound daunting, but trust me. If I can take 70 supplements a day for 4 years- you can surely do 1 probiotic a day. Thank goodness those days are long gone for me, whew! Now, I only take a probiotic and some digestive enzymes with my meals, if needed. I am much more balanced now and I get my nutrients from my food (as I mention in this Year of Healing post as I made a big switch in how and what I was eating after 10 years of eating mostly raw veggies and chicken). Check out this Prebiotics post to learn about Prebiotics and how you can eat certain foods to actually feed your good gut bacteria. If you’re intimidated by taking 1 probiotic a day, just set an alarm on your phone or on your google calendar so that you get the alert each day. Or put it on your pillow so you know to take it before bed. My best advice is to take probiotics on an empty stomach so that your food doesn’t ferment with it. That’s key! Check out this COUPON from Align Probiotic to try it out for yourself.
Balance is not just about the food we eat–something I had to learn the hard way because I thought all the kale in the world would heal me. Au contraire, my friends. There’s a HUGE mind-body connection that I honestly NEVER believed because I was too stubborn to look at my emotions, past traumas and underlying feelings, plus I didn’t believe that they could be connected to my health. The stress-gut connection is huge so it’s important to find things to allow your body to get into it’s rest/relaxation mode, which is our parasympathetic nervous system. Sadly, most of us are in the stress mode all day from traffic, emails, school, technology, our in-laws, deadlines and more. Real, true health starts when you balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. That’s where the true healing starts. Disease and health issues start when these systems are out of balance.
It’s key to not do strenuous exercise, which can stress out your body. It’s also key to lower your stress level (I do meditation, deep breathing, yoga and other mind body practices). I love taking Epsom Salt baths to relax my body and to go for walks in nature- instead of doing cardio in a gym (which I did for years and burned out my adrenals).
Your Immune System
I know you’ve heard me talk about this before in this Gut Health post: 70% of our immune system is located in our gut! That’s a lot of immune system in one place, isn’t it? If I were you, I’d focus more on your gut for overall lasting healthy results with your body.
Did you know that your gut protects you from diseases and infections when it has a lot of good bacteria? To keep out the bad, harmful bacteria and to keep it from overgrowing out of control (which I had for many, many years), your healthy/good bacteria needs to thrive and cover the radius of your gut wall, which is the only thing that lies in between your blood and everything inside your gut. You want good bacteria to cover the lining of your gut so the bad bacteria can’t get in there and take over!
The Gut-Brain Connection
This may shock you but we have TWO brains. Yes, TWO. Not one. The brain and spinal cord, aka the central nervous system, controls almost all of your involuntary and voluntary actions such as breathing or washing your dishes.
But there’s another brain and guess where it is? In your GUT! Yes, your gut has a mind of it’s own. This is known as the enteric nervous system and it has over 100 million neurons inside of your intestinal wall, which handle digestion, send messages to our brain about what’s going on in our gut and sends out info to your body.
These two nervous systems that we all have talk to each other. The brain receives chemical messages from our gut, which can affect our emotions and mood (as I mentioned above). And what’s shocking to understand is that we have MORE serotonin, the lovely neurotransmitter that regulates our sleep, anxiety, depression and mood), in our GUT than in our actual brain in our head. And serotonin is made in our gut, as well. So, it’s all connected, folks. Something I learned the hard way through many years of trying to figure out what was going on inside of me. It’s key to work with a Functional M.D., as I mentioned above, so you can get the proper testing through stool to see what’s going on in your gut and how you can increase the amount of good bacteria.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.