Category Archives: Blog

Probiotics And Your Immune System

Smiling baby, cute faceA strong immune system equals a strong body.

There are many components that make up our immune system, the intestine being on the front lines of defence against pathogens, infection and disease.

Part of the intestinal wall is the mucosal membrane, vital for a number of reasons.

As it lines the intestine, it creates an incredibly tough, resilient barrier. This not only assists with the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, but protects the intestinal wall from tiny tears as food moves through it. These tiny tears can allow larger particles of food, fats and proteins that should be part of your waste, to be released into the intestine creating a toxic mess. This is called leaky gut syndrome and can lead to many autoimmune disorders including Crohn’s Disease, Asthma, rheuaetoid arthritis and others. Symptoms of leaky gut include bloating, gas, fatigue, joint pain and abdominal pain, to name a few.

The body’s immune system uses both learned responses and built-in responses to protect your body from viruses, pathogens and other invaders. Both learned and innate responses come very early on in our lives. From the moment we begin moving through the birth canal we are exposed to bacteria that is essential to our health throughout our lives. If this bacteria that we first encounter is not optimally balanced, our health and immune responses are compromised. As infants, we may already have an imbalance of friendly to unfriendly bacteria. But this can be corrected with the use of probiotics for the mother before birth and a children’s probiotic supplement given to the child after birth. Consulting with your health care professional can help you make the best decision for both you and your baby.

It must be said that several things contribute to the GI tract imbalances that we are all facing. Our modern lifestyle, even with all our modern conveniences, is stressful. Anxiety and worry follow many of us around like a black cloud. It is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing to get a handle on our stress levels. This can be done through meditation, making time to nurture ourselves, establishing boundaries and priorities.

Physical activity is also effective at decreasing stress levels while increasing those ‘feel good’ hormones that are important for our bodies. Taking up yoga, tai chi, hiking, martial arts, dancing, aerobics and any other physically active pursuits will also help, not only the stress level but that physical movement that keeps your body happy and healthy.

It may be strange to say, but our obsession with cleanliness and eradicating all bacteria from our homes and lives, comes with a price. You see, our immune system is like an army, very well trained, ready to fight off invaders that may damage our health. But, as with any army, they need to stay in shape. As we become more ‘skilled’ at cleaning away bacteria and germs, we are actually removing the opportunity for our immune system to learn what an real invader looks like. When this ‘learned response’ is removed, our ‘army’, which has forgotten who they are fighting, will actually start to over react and attack things that normally occur in our day to day lives, which can cause allergies or our own bodies, resulting in autoimmune disorders.

We all recognize the importance of having a strong immune system. It protects us against, not only the common colds and flu that plagues us, but against many other health issues, as well. Approximately 75% of our immune function lies within our gut. It is the first line of defense. Probiotics are a common sense first step in restoring our immune system to optimal health and allowing our digestive tract to begin to function normally, once again.

Get Your Ohm On.

Meditation

You have heard it over and over again but the truth is, meditation is one of the most wonderful things you can do for your body, your mind and your spirit.  And making it a daily practice is easy.

No, you don’t need to spend an hour secluded in a special sanctuary.  Nor do you require incense, crystals, special music or a picture of the latest guru hanging on your wall.

All you need is a space you feel comfortable in, music you find calming and relaxing, comfy clothes and the intention to just give yourself these few minutes to be in a relaxed, receptive, calm and peaceful state.  See?  Easy Peasy.

There is no right way or wrong way to mediate. The key is breathe.  Breathe in through the nose and deep into the belly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2-4, then breathe out for a count of 4.  Follow the breathe.

A runner or cyclist can be in a meditative, altered state.  A mother rocking her sleeping baby can, too.  You actually slip into a meditative, altered state many times throughout your day as your breathe falls into a rhythm.  Now, you simply take that state and use it in a conscious way.

You may like to take a few moments in the morning to set your intention for the day, prepare for that big meeting or simply allow yourself to feel how incredible you are.  Or you may choose to meditate in the evening and let the days worries and stresses fall away, leading you to a good nights sleep.

If a thought pops into your head, simply notice it and let it go.  If you have an itch, scratch it.  If you need to stretch out your legs, do that.  Then go back to following your breathe.

This is, of course, a very simply way to take the first steps into your meditation practice.  There are as many techniques in meditation as there are teachers.  Many times, when you are first starting out, a guided meditation is very helpful because there is someone telling you what to do, how to breathe and gives you something you can follow.

Below I have given you a guided meditation you can use now to get started.  Enjoy your journey.

Get Moving

2006_0813Image0102Here are three great ways to get yourself moving while you are getting your kids in the habit of being more active.  There are so many ways to have fun that you will forget it’s exercise.

1.  Take a hike.  Yep, get out and enjoy Mother Nature with the kids.  Take a book with you to help identify plants, birds, trees, mushrooms or whatever interests you.  You will discover a whole new world out there and your kids, who might complain the first few times out, will learn to love it.

2. Take the kids and a ball down to the school yard, soccer field or beach and just have fun kicking the ball around.  Kids of any age love this, from the littles tykes to your all-star soccer kid.  It gets you moving and it’s great fun for the kids to see if they can outrun, out-kick and out-smart you on the field.

3. Remember Hopscotch or Red Rover, Red Rover or Kick the Can?  Games you played as a kid…..before video games had you sitting on the couch all day. Wouldn’t it be fun to pass these games down to your kids?  Or maybe you are learning them for the first time, yourself.  You might want to start working out a little before you bring your kids in on the games.  Just so they don’t beat you too badly.

So now you see how easy and fun it is to get yourself and your kids moving again.  Get out the door and enjoy life.

 

 

Probiotics and Digestive Ailments

Digestive AilmentsThere are many conditions that can plague the digestive system of not only humans but most animals, too.  Can a probiotic help?  Many studies have shown that there is a possible benefit in taking a multi-strain probiotic either in food or as a supplement.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and other digestive issues are not only painful but have a tremendous adverse effect on how those who suffer are able to go about their daily lives.

If you suffer from any of these conditions you know you must be constantly aware of what you eat and how it may affect your body.  You may have to run to the nearest bathroom, be hit by bouts of gas and bloating, have constant, noisy stomach rumbling or simply have to head straight home because of the pain and discomfort.

These conditions affect millions of people around the world, wreaking havoc on their social life, home life, emotional, mental and physical well-being.

Probiotics have always been present in fermented foods and many cultures around the world have their own special fermented delights.  In Korea, delicious, spicy Kim Chi is eaten every day.  In Asian countries Kombucha Tea is used, as well as miso. The Germans have sauerkraut, of course and people the world over have had certain cheeses and yogurt to help keep that good, healthy bacteria growing and propagating our gut and digestive system.
But how many of us are eating our fermented foods on a daily basis?  Whether it is the taste of the foods, the availability or just not being consistent, the vast majority of the population does not get enough of these foods in our diet.  Yogurt is the most common form of ferme.
As we mentioned earlier, many studies now point to the positive effects of a probiotic supplement on the devastating effects of digestive disorders.  Restoring your body’s good bacterial balance can result in a reduction in pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohne’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease and other painful conditions.

A study at London’s King’s College Hospital discovered a reduction in IBS symptoms in 57 percent of participants.

In recent years, studies all over the world have been showing positive results in the use of certain probiotic strains that help decrease or even eliminate the many symptoms of IBS.