June 2019 - Wakunaga of America

Can Probiotics Help to Reduce Stress?

Scientists have coined a new term, called the “brain-gut axis.” It has been suggested that changes in intestinal bacteria may play a role in neuropsychiatric conditions like stress. The intestine actually has its own nervous system as it turns out, and it generates many of the same chemicals (neurotransmitters) that the brain generates, like serotonin. These neurotransmitters are very important to the gut; too many or too few may result in constipation or diarrhea. But before we dive deeper into this connection, first let’s take a closer look at this brain-gut connection.

Have you ever felt the feeling of “butterflies” in your stomach? You know, that fluttery feeling we sometimes get before a big test, a speech, a first date? Well, this sensation suggests that your brain and gut are connected in some way. Your gut may affect your brain health, and brain may affect your gut health, which is known as the brain-gut axis.

Brain Gut Connection

So how are they connected? Your gut contains 500 million neurons, which are connected to your brain through nerves in your nervous system. The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain. It sends signals in both directions. For example, in animal studies, stress inhibits the signals sent through the vagus nerve and also causes gastrointestinal problems1 (Robertson, 2018). This shows that the vagus nerve is likely very important in the brain-gut axis and its role in stress.

Your gut and brain are also connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters, as mentioned above. The neurotransmitter serotonin, for example, contributes feelings of happiness, and also helps control the body’s internal clock2 (Pasricha, 2017). Many of these neurotransmitters are actually produced in your gut by the trillions of microbes living there. A lot of serotonin is produced in the gut as well. Your gut also produces another neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which helps control feelings of fear and stress.

Did you know that your brain-gut axis is also connected through your immune system? Your gut and gut microbes control what is passed into the body and what is excreted, which plays a role in your body’s inflammation. There are a few foods and nutrients that are especially beneficial for the brain-gut axis, one of which is omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are found in high quantities in the human brain and have been shown to increase the good bacteria in the gut, and reduce the risk of brain disorders. Best sources of omega -3 fatty acids include oily fish, fortified eggs and chia seeds. Fermented foods are also helpful for the brain-gut axis, including yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, since they each contain healthy microbes like lactic acid, which can impact healthy brain activity.

How Probiotics Can Help

Some probiotics have been shown to improve symptoms of stress. One study of people with irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety showed that taking a probiotic containing Bifidobacterium longum for six weeks significantly improved symptoms3 (Bousvaros, 2017). Prebiotics can also play a role too. As a refresher, a prebiotic is a type of dietary fiber that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut. This helps the gut bacteria produce nutrients for your colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system. One study found that taking a prebiotic called galactooligosaccharides (GOS) for three weeks significantly reduced the amount of the stress hormone called cortisol.

All of the probiotics in the Kyo-Dophilus line, as a base, contain what we refer to as The Friendly Trio®, which are three biocompatible human bacterial strains (one of which is Bifidobacterium longum, discussed above) which have been the subject of many clinical studies that have documented the efficacy of these strains to support a healthy gut microbiome.*

Strengthen your brain-gut connection by incorporating a probiotic in your routine, and support healthy digestion, immune health, and even aid in stress relief!

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-brain-connection#section4
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-probiotics-help-treat-depression-anxiety-2017072612085

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Pack Your Supplements This Summer!

You’ve likely been planning your vacation for months, possibly years, in advance, and you do not want anyone or anything to derail your plans. We get it. No matter where your travels take you, remember, germs and bacteria do not care if you are going on vacation, and the reality is that sickness can strike at any time! So it is best to be prepared.

Can one week of vacation be enough to throw us completely off balance and send us back to square one, health-wise? Even after we’ve been eating healthy and exercising leading up to this vacation? Well, yes it can, if we aren’t careful. Jet lag, early mornings, late nights, fatty foods and sugary drinks are most often expected parts of travel. While we are away from our homes and our routines, gone are the nights of clocking in a full 8 hours of sleep, the days of dutifully eating salads, fruits and vegetables, and our daily hour of exercise. Our routines get disrupted, our body experiences a “new norm,” leaving it more susceptible to sickness. What’s more, even after we return from vacation, it often takes us a while to get back into the swing of things…what was a week of poor decision making turns into a month, and so on.

Health Benefits of Vacation

There are also many wonderful health benefits from going on vacation. Oftentimes, we go on tours in our new destination, leading us to clock in an impressive amount of steps daily, and we’re talking big numbers here! An average “mile per day” for tourists is anywhere from 6-10 miles walked1 (Steves, 2016). That is a lot of exercise, and most likely more steps than would be clocked in at home. Also, vacations give us a chance to relax, unwind and forget about work for a while, which is great for our mental and physical health. We get to focus on what is really important, fun times with friends and family in a new and exciting place. Many studies have also highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of going on vacation. In one particular study, men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least a week off each year2 (Paskal, 2016).

One thing you can do on vacation to help keep your health in check is to pack a probiotic. Ideally, you should be taking your probiotic every day before your vacation, and just continue it through your trip and beyond. You never know what bacteria you will be exposed to while traveling, and what you will be eating/drinking, so having a probiotic in your system can help improve your digestion and keep your immune system strong.

It is also important to choose a probiotic that does not require refrigeration, since you may not have access to a fridge. Kyo-Dophilus Daily Probiotic is shelf-stable, which means that is requires no refrigeration, you can simply throw it in your bag and take off! This probiotic boosts immune health, supports healthy digestion*, and contains three biocompatible human strains of bacteria, known as The Friendly Trio®, which have been the subject of clinical studies that have documented the efficacy of these strains to support a healthy gut microbiome and even reduce seasonal discomforts.* 3

Another supplement that may be worth adding to your bag is Kyolic Formula 103 Immune. This formula contains Aged Garlic Extract, Vitamin C, Premium Mushroom Complex, Astragalus Extract, Oregano Extract and Olive Leaf Extract, and is designed to support immune health.* Take it before your holiday gets ruined.

Before you leave for the airport or start that road trip, remember to pack your supplements and probiotics and keep your health on track while on vacation. Happy travels!

References

  1. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/best-travel-shoes/what-s-an-average-mile-per-day-for-tourists
  2. https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/4-scientific-reasons-why-vacation-is-awesome-for-you.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28228426

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

 

Why Probiotics Are Important As You Age

Well it turns out, probiotics are even more important for this age group. Older adults have a much lower number of friendly bacteria and may also have more harmful bacteria in their intestines than younger adults. Some studies show that friendly bacteria levels in the gut of a typical over-60 year old senior is one thousandth of that of a younger adults. The elderly are much more likely to get gastrointestinal infections and bowel conditions.

Here’s What Happens As You Age

What’s more, as you age, your cellular immunity also declines. These are the white cells that are necessary for your ability to maintain healthy immune system. A study in New Zealand of seniors between the ages of 63-84 found that consumption of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis resulted in an increase in both the number and potency of white blood cells. In fact, the greatest improvement was seen in seniors with the worst immune system responses prior to the study1 (Mercola, 2012). The bottom line, while it may be “the golden years”, with aging comes an increased susceptibility to decreased gastrointestinal function, which could lead to diarrhea and other intestinal problems.

The microflora (thousands of microbes) in your gut plays an active role in a wide variety of conditions, and affects your health status throughout your life. These microbes in the lower intestinal tract help us digest food, fight harmful bacteria, and regulate the immune system. But sometimes an imbalance of microbes occurs, leading to diarrhea and other health problems. When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of specific bacteria, probiotics are vital to help restore this balance.

Probiotic Bacterial Strains That Can Help

But not all probiotics are the same, and different strains have different effects. Let’s take a look at the strain Lactobacillus gasseri. This strain is believed to offer specific health benefits either on its own, or in combination with other probiotic bacteria. In fact, a 2011 clinical study published in the journal Ulcers revealed that this bacterial strain exerted anti-inflammatory effects in the colon, which were beneficial to the reduction of IBS and other conditions.2 (Wong, 2019) Bifidodobacterium bifidum, on the other hand, is great for restoring intestinal bacteria, relieving constipation and certain types of diarrhea. Bifidobacterium longum has been shown to treat constipation, reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel conditions, maintain healthy cholesterol levels already within normal ranges, and even reduce development of certain seasonal discomforts.3 (Livestrong, 2014)

If you’re looking for a probiotic supplement that contains all three of these strains of beneficial bacteria, consider the Kyo-Dophilus Fifty+ Probiotic, which can help boost your immune health and support not only healthy digestion but also your gut microbiome.*

References

  1. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/01/probiotics-for-optimal-gut-flora.aspx
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-lactobacillus-gasseri-88697
  3. https://www.livestrong.com/article/13716149-cfus-vs-strains-the-ultimate-probiotic-explainer/

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

 

Testosterone and Cardiovascular Health…Are They Related?

Research shows that for many men, testosterone levels may have a significant connection to heart health. Coincidence? Not according to studies conducted at the University of Sheffield, UK, that linked low testosterone to an uptick in heart issues. 1 If you are concerned about heart health, ask your doctor to check your testosterone levels.

Before we further dissect the relationship between testosterone and cardiovascular health, let’s take a couple steps back, and understand exactly what testosterone is and what it does. Testosterone is a hormone made in the testicles, and it helps in the formation of male sexual characteristics, and also plays a large role in maintaining muscle mass and healthy bone density. Healthy testosterone levels also fuel a man’s sex drive and a positive mental outlook.

All About Testosterone

Testosterone production starts to decline around age 30. 2 A blood test can pinpoint your exact testosterone levels, and can tell you if your testosterone falls within normal range, or is above or below average. If your testosterone levels are too low, there are some things you can do to help, such as testosterone therapy. Testosterone is actually available as an injection, a patch, a gel, or a dissolvable tablet.

Conditions such as disorders of the testicles or problems with the pituitary gland may cause low testosterone levels in men. Lowered testosterone also occurs as a normal result of aging and doesn’t always mean that something is wrong with you. In years past, doctors frequently prescribed testosterone for men without medical conditions who had low testosterone as a result of normal aging. But these days, the FDA recommends that added testosterone therapy shouldn’t be used for low levels as a result of normal aging.

A recent study published in the journal “The Aging Male” found an association between low serum testosterone and heart problems.3  Additionally, a study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Utah showed that testosterone therapy helped elderly men with low testosterone levels and pre-existing poor coronary artery conditions by reducing their risk of major cardiovascular events. The study showed that patients who had participated in testosterone therapy fared much better in heart-related events than non-testosterone therapy patients. Their research team studied just under 800 male patients between the ages of 58 and 78.4

Holistic Ways to Boost Testosterone

If testosterone medical therapy makes you uneasy, there are some alternative and holistic things to try. First and foremost, get enough sleep. Men produce most of their daily testosterone when they sleep. Set a regular bedtime and wake time, and watch the amount of caffeine you consume. If sleep apnea is a problem, seek professional help. Another tactic is to drink in moderation. Alcohol has been shown to lower testosterone levels and inhibit the release of nitric oxide. Limit yourself to two drinks per day. Lastly, get some exercise! Exercise naturally increases testosterone levels. Aim at getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Doing what you enjoy, whether it’s going for a run, playing some basketball, or riding a bike, can help you stick with your fitness goals. Also, try and get some weight training in too. Studies have shown that compound weightlifting workouts increase your testosterone levels most of all. As a bonus, exercise effectively lovers stress levels and improves mood.

Now that fitness is covered, let’s talk healthy eating. Try adding some cooked veggies like spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, or peppers to your morning eggs for an antioxidant-rich, high-protein breakfast. Avoid processed foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates if possible – even if they say they are “whole grain.” Try to eat at least one fresh salad each day that includes a variety of leafy greens and raw vegetables to make sure that you are getting enough circulatory-supporting nutrients.

If you would like to try the supplement route to enhance your testosterone levels, look for ones that contain a synergistic blend of clinically studied herbs and nutrients such as Maca, LongJack, and Codonopsis Lanceolata, that can work with your body to enhance testosterone levels safely and naturally.*

Practicing these healthy habits and adding a natural supplement may help you regain some of your youthful vitality, improve your cardiovascular health and enhance your overall wellbeing.*

References

  1. Kyolic Men’s Healthy Living Guide
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/testosterone-and-heart-health
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13685538.2018.1479387
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160403195920.htm

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.