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6 Ways Probiotics Heal More Than Your Gut

6 Ways Probiotics Heal More Than Your Gut

You’ve probably heard the term “probiotics” somewhere and have a loose definition in mind. You know it’s something for your stomach, right? Yep, but scientists found its benefits don’t stop at your tummy. It can alleviate autism and allergies — and even trim your waistline!

1. Helps You Lose Weight

Researchers found that regularly taking probiotics boosts your fat burning. They found that when you increase certain good strains of bacteria in your gut, your body seems to lose more excess weight.

One possible explanation is that the increase in good gut bacteria lowers your peripheral serotonin production. Wait, isn’t serotonin that wonderful chemical that lowers your appetite? Yes – but only the serotonin made by your brain. Some bad strains of bacteria in your gut are responsible for making serotonin too, but this “peripheral” serotonin has been found to hinder your body’s ability to burn fat!

If you have more good bacteria in your gut, they’ll keep your bad bacteria in check. This means there won’t be as many producing peripheral serotonin.

2. Alleviate Allergies

Believe it or not, scientists found that children with allergies have different proportions of gut bacteria than children without allergies. The key difference is that allergic children have lower levels of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

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Researchers found that taking probiotics daily lowers your genetic tendency to develop allergies! Eczema patients showed clinical improvement with probiotic supplementation. Lactobacilli are a main component of probiotics, and researchers theorize the increase in these species in your gut is how probiotics alleviate allergies.

This means you can help relieve your allergies if you take probiotic supplements every day. It also means that if you’re always eating junk food and you upset the balance of your gut bacteria, you could end up with allergies or worsen your existing rashes and hives!

3. Helps Prevent Dry and Irritated Eyes When Taking Antibiotics

If your doctor prescribes you antibiotics, she’ll probably warn you about side effects. These side effects can include dry or irritated eyes, which can also result from a mild allergic reaction to the antibiotic.

Researchers found that probiotics help lower general side effects of antibiotics, including dry or irritated eyes. In fact, patients given probiotics while on antibiotics experienced 12 percent fewer side effects than the placebo group.

Sadly, a little eye discomfort is the minimum of adverse possibilities that antibiotics can cause to your eyes. It’s well-documented that antibiotics have caused permanent eye damage, including damage to your corneas. These aren’t rare, strong antibiotics either – your run-of-the-mill ciprofloxacin that your doctor prescribes when you have a bacteria-caused cold and cough can cause retinal detachment. These are serious conditions that can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

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If you’re taking antibiotics and experiencing vision-related changes, don’t hesitate to see an ophthalmologist. If you usually see an optometrist (where you get your eyes checked for a new glasses or contacts prescription), he’s not able to diagnose any serious medical conditions caused by antibiotics. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors specializing in eye care and can make the right call if you come in with vision-related symptoms.

4. Makes Antibiotics More Effective

Taking probiotics while on antibiotics not only protects you from side effects, it also boosts the effectiveness of your antibiotics. Studies show that doing so can protect your gut from antibiotic-induced superinfections. Antibiotics can cause an imbalance in your gut bacteria, but probiotics help assure your good bacteria levels stay competitive. They also found that the good bacteria in probiotics help enhance the effectiveness of the antibiotics because they secrete molecules into your mucous linings that attack bad germs.

Researchers also found that because of these actions, probiotics lessen antibiotic-caused diarrhea.

5. Alleviates IBS

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), probiotics can help with that too! IBS is actually a blanket diagnosis, ranging anywhere from constant constipation to severe abdominal pain.

Researchers are starting to find more evidence that a major cause of IBS is an imbalance in your gut bacteria. Too much bad bacteria can cause stomach pain, which is a symptom of IBS. They discovered that IBS patients who supplemented with probiotics daily experienced a decrease in bloating symptoms. They studied how probiotics interact with IBS and found that the good bacteria in probiotics keep bad bacteria from sticking to your intestines and control their growth. They also found that these good bacteria can boost your protection from salmonella.

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Studies also show that probiotics lower inflammation in your body, and researchers have linked inflammation with IBS. Inflammation also increases your risk for cancer, and inflammation in your digestive tract can increase your chances of developing serious conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Take probiotics every day and you’ll lessen your IBS symptoms and protect yourself from IBD and cancer.

6. Alleviates Autism

If you have children who’ve been diagnosed with a form of autism, probiotics can help manage their condition. Researchers found that autistic children suffer from constipation and diarrhea more frequently than normal children. These discomforts can worsen their behavior problems. Since taking probiotics daily can normalize the digestive system and alleviate constipation and diarrhea, they can help lessen any intestinal discomfort your children may be routinely experiencing. This should hopefully help them be more content.

Researchers also found that autistic children have lower amounts of a few key bacterial species in their gut, and in general, less gut bacteria diversity. They found that these lower levels of gut bacteria can worsen or even cause their autism since they discovered that gut microbes make substances that directly affect the nervous system’s processes. In fact, they found that these chemicals can cause hyperactivity, which is a hallmark symptom of autism. They theorize this abnormal gut microbiota may result in abnormal levels of these neural process-influencing chemicals, which throws their neural processes off balance and lead to autism symptoms.

Giving your children probiotic supplements every day can lessen any constipation or diarrhea they’re experiencing, while also making sure balanced levels of hyperactivity-causing chemicals are being made by their gut bacteria.

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Natural Probiotic Foods

Can’t wait to rush to the store to grab a bottle of probiotic supplements? Wait – you don’t need to take a pill to enrich your gut with good bacteria. Plenty of natural, healthy foods are teeming with the same bacteria that scientists found help alleviate autism, allergies, and gastrointestinal problems.

Here are a few:

  • Buttermilk is cow’s milk fermented with lactobacilli. It’s usually in liquid form.
  • Yogurt is cow’s milk fermented with lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. It has a pudding-like consistency.
  • Kefir is cow’s milk fermented with good bacteria. Kefir’s consistency is between yogurt’s and buttermilk’s.
  • Natto is soybeans fermented with good bacteria. Originating in Japan, it has a sticky nut-like consistency.
  • Tempeh is fermented soybeans originating in Indonesia. It has a cake-like consistency.
  • Miso is soybeans fermented with salt, rice, barley, and fungus. It has a paste-like consistency, and once upon a time, was critical for nutrition in feudal Japan.
  • Kimchi is fermented vegetables originating in Korea. It’s teeming with probiotics!
  • Kombucha is fermented tea originating in Russia. Studies show its probiotic properties can boost your immunity.

Taking probiotics does more than cure your upset stomach. It can help treat autism, calm your allergies, help you lose weight, and boost your immunity. If you don’t like taking pills or capsules, try some yummy natural probiotic foods instead.

Featured photo credit: GreatDaneInc via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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