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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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Published on October 22, 2020

What Is Analysis Paralysis (And How to Overcome It)

What Is Analysis Paralysis (And How to Overcome It)

Have you ever taken so long trying to solve a problem that you just ended up going around in circles? How about trying to make a major decision and just freezing up when the time to decide came?

You might have found yourself gathering too much information, hoping it will help you make the best decision—even if it takes you too long to do so. This probably led to many missed opportunities, especially in situations where you needed to act on time.

Nobody wants to make the wrong decision. However, delayed decision making can have a hugely negative impact on all aspects of your life—from your personal relationships to your career. Delaying important decisions can be the worst decision of all.

At one point or another, people get stuck at a decision impasse they can’t seem to overcome. This is due to a mental blindspot called information bias, informally known as analysis paralysis.

Analysis Paralysis and Stalled Decisions

Information bias, or analysis paralysis, is our tendency to seek more information than is needed to make decisions and take action.[1] It is one of many cognitive biases that cause us to make mistakes during the decision-making process.

A related cognitive bias is the status quo bias, which is our tendency to prefer that things stay the same and fear any changes.[2] Together with analysis paralysis, these two dangerous judgment errors pose a threat to our successful navigation through our rapidly-shifting world.

Consider what happened to Lily, a consulting client of mine who’s a mid-level manager in the UX department of a large tech company. Lily had been there for 5 years and was thinking about switching to a startup after a couple tried to recruit her.

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However, she had been taking a lot of time making a decision. In fact, before she contacted me, she had already gathered information and talked to a lot of people for 7 months. Realistically, more information won’t sway her decision, but she kept trying to gather more information.

And then, there was the technology company that came to me after their growth started to decline. The company had initially experienced rapid growth with a couple of innovative products. However, its growth started to decrease—unfortunate, but not unexpected.

Essentially, the company’s growth followed the typical S-curve growth model, which starts as a slow and effortful start-up stage. This is followed by a rapid growth stage, then a slowdown in growth, often following market saturation or competitive pressure or other factors. This is the point where the company’s existing products reach maturity.

However, even before a slowdown hits, forward-thinking companies would innovate and change things up proactively. This is so they could have new products ready to go that would maintain rapid growth.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with this particular tech company. Not only did they not address the potential decline but once the company’s growth stalled, the leaders dug their heels in and stayed the course. They kept on analyzing the market to find the cause of the problem.

Worse, a couple of executives in the company proposed launching new products, but most of the leadership was cautious. They kept on asking for guarantees that the products would be a success, demanding more information even when additional information wasn’t relevant.

Both Lily and the tech company remained paralyzed by too much information when they should already have taken action. While this situation isn’t unexpected, it is totally avoidable.

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As I told both parties when they consulted me, all they needed to do was to face analysis paralysis head-on and make a decision. But they had to follow the best decision-making process available first, didn’t they?

8-Step Decision-Making Process to Avoid Analysis Paralysis

I told Lily and the leaders at the tech company that we should never go with our gut if we want to avoid disasters in our personal and professional lives.[3] Instead, I advised them, as I advise you now, to follow data-driven, research-based approaches, such as the one I’ll outline below.

From hiring a new employee, launching a new product, selecting a Zoom guest speaker for your annual video conference to deciding whether to apply for a higher-level position within your company, the following steps will help you fight analysis paralysis and make the best decisions possible.

1. Identify the Need to Launch a Decision-Making Process

This is particularly important when there’s no explicit crisis that cries out for a change or decision to be made. Such recognition is also applicable when your natural intuitions are keeping you from acknowledging the need for a tough decision.

Remember that the best decision-makers take the initiative to recognize the need for decisions before they become an emergency. They also don’t let gut reactions cloud their decision-making capacity.

2. Gather Relevant Information From a Wide Variety of Informed Perspectives

Listen especially to opinions you disagree with. Contradicting perspectives empower you to distance yourself from the comfortable reliance on your gut instincts, which can sometimes be harmful to decision-making. Opposing ideas also help you recognize any potential bias blind spots, and this allows you to come up with solutions that you may not have otherwise.

3. Paint a Clear Vision of Your Desired Outcome

Using the data gleaned from step 2, decide which goals you want to reach. Paint a clear vision of the desired outcome of your decision-making process. You should also recognize that what seems to be a one-time decision may turn out to be a symptom of an underlying issue with current processes and practices. Make addressing these root problems part of the outcome you want to achieve.

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4. Make a Decision-Making Process Criteria

Make a decision-making process criteria to weigh the various options of how you’d like to get to your desired outcome. As much as possible, develop these criteria before you start to consider choices. Our intuitions bias our decision-making criteria to encourage certain outcomes that fit our instincts. As a result, you get overall worse decisions if you don’t develop criteria before starting to look at options.

5. Generate Several Viable Options

We tend to fall into the trap of generating insufficient options to make the best decisions, and this can lead to analysis paralysis. To prevent this, you should generate many more options than you usually would. Generate several viable options that can help you achieve your decision-making process goals. Go for 5 attractive options as the minimum.

Keep in mind that this is a brainstorming step, so don’t judge options no matter how far fetched they might seem. In my consulting and coaching experience, the optimal choice often involves elements drawn from out-of-the-box options.

6. Weigh These Options and Pick the Best One

When weighing your options, beware of going with your initial preferences. Try to see your preferred choice in a harsh light. Also, do your best to separate each option from the person who proposed it. This minimizes the impact of personalities, relationships, and internal politics on the decision itself.

7. Implement the Option You Chose

For implementing the decision, you need to minimize risks and maximize rewards, since your goal is to get a decision outcome that’s as good as possible.

First, imagine that the decision completely failed. Then, brainstorm about all the problems that led to this failure. Next, consider how you might solve these problems, and integrate the solutions into your implementation plan.

Next, imagine that the decision absolutely succeeded. Brainstorm all the reasons for success and consider how you can bring these reasons into life. Then, integrate what you learned into implementing the decisions.

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Finally, develop clear metrics of success that you can measure throughout the implementation process. This will enable you to check if you’re meeting the goals you identified in step 3. It will also help guide your goal-setting process—something to keep in mind when you use this decision-making technique again in the future.

8. Set a Reminder to Use the Process for Future Decisions

Regularly check if it’s time to employ the decision-making process once again. As discussed in the first step, there may be times when there’s no explicit crisis that cries out for a change, even though underlying issues might already be signaling that it’s time for a tough decision.

Setting a reminder—perhaps a visual one such as a note on your desk, or even just a scheduled alert on your phone—will ensure that you can catch decision-making cues before they’re due.

While Lily and the tech company initially had to fight off a lot of discomforts when using the process, they were ultimately rewarded with sound decisions they were immensely satisfied with.

This battle-tested method will do the same for you. It will certainly propel your decision-making and, at the same time, help you thwart analysis paralysis and avoid decision disasters.

Conclusion

Nobody wants to make the wrong decision, but you also don’t want to take too long and miss opportunities. By using a data-driven and research-based approach to decision making, you can nip analysis paralysis in the bud and make the best decisions.

More Tips to Overcome Analysis Paralysis

Featured photo credit: Muhmed El-Bank via unsplash.com

Reference

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