The gastrointestinal (GI) tract or “gut” has a lining that separates its contents from the body’s other tissues and organs. The gut houses a diverse resident population of bacteria, along with some viruses and fungi.
These are usually good for us. We give them food and shelter and they help us run our life processes. In ecology, this is called symbiosis – both sides helping each other.
The microorganisms in the gut are the most populous symbiotic communities in the human body. These communities are associated with various “microecologic” zones. Of these, the gut bacterial community or “gut microbiome” is the best understood.
Good Bugs/Bad Bugs
The gut microbiome contributes substantially to the synthesis of neurotransmitters that are active on the brain, such as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin. Growing research indicates that by making such neurotransmitters, the gut microbiome helps maintain mood, mental acuity, healthy immunity, and overall wellness.
A healthy GI tract is home to at least a half-pound of friendly bacteria, which is an estimated 30 trillion bacteria – about the same number of bacterial cells as the total number of human cells in the body. These can belong to the thousand different bacterial species that comprise the body’s highly complicated ecosystems.
Of the trillions of bacterial cells in the gut (each person houses around 300 different species), some are beneficial to our health and others are harmful. And, in a classic “good guys vs. bad guys” scenario, they’re all trying to establish dominance in our microbiome.
The friendly bacteria in the gut are constantly jockeying for space against unfriendly, potentially troublesome bacteria. When the bad bugs succeed in crowding out the good bugs, they can damage the gut lining so much that it loses its capacity to seal off the gut contents from the surrounding tissues, and leaky gut can develop.
What’s Leaky Gut?
Intestinal permeability, also called “leaky gut,” can allow partially undigested food molecules, bacteria, viruses, and other foreign agents to escape the restrictions of the gut contents and access the bloodstream to be transported around the body.
As these foreign agents pop up in unexpected locations, they can trigger inappropriate responses in the immune cells that routinely patrol our tissues. These “sentinel” cells in turn will mobilize aggressive immune actions that can result in physical and even mental difficulties.
You can take certain natural steps to fortify your gut lining, such as increasing the levels of good bacteria in your gut. To ensure well-balanced immune function, implement these strategies to help protect your microbiome and prevent leaky gut…
3 Natural Ways to Protect Your Good Bugs and Prevent Leaky Gut
1. Healthy Diet
A healthy microbiome can be thrown off balance by numerous factors, especially the standard American diet (SAD), which is low in fiber and lacks vitamins and other nutrients essential for human gut lining cells. Junk food can shift the microbial balance in a negative direction. Also, high sugar intake can encourage excessive growth of yeasts that contribute to leaky gut.
By contrast, early human societies discovered they could benefit more from specific foods if they fermented them first. Certain of the bacteria traditionally used in food fermentation are closely related to the good bacteria that reside in the gut. By eating well-defined fermented foods, you obtain supplies of these friendly bacteria.
Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, including:
- Fresh sauerkraut
- Raw dandelion greens
- Kombucha tea
2. Reduce Stress
Gut bacteria are vulnerable to assault, most notoriously by antibiotics. But emotional stress, being overweight or obese, environmental pollutants, and negative lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking, or other bad habits, also can deplete friendly gut bacteria.
Studies show that stress can decrease healthy gut flora. Persistent, unmanaged stress raises cortisol (the stress hormone) levels which can damage your gut flora and stop the gut from working properly. Research has established that taking a probiotic supplement can help reduce the stress response.
3. Probiotic Supplements
In 2001, the World Health Organization defined probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” In the intervening years, clinical research on probiotics has exploded.
Sadly, many of the strains being used in commercially available probiotic supplements haven’t been tested in clinical trials to document their health benefits. Without such controlled research, we can’t be sure that using these strains will be of any help to our gut, brain or body.
To establish health benefits, a probiotic strain must be put through a controlled clinical trial, performed on the very same strain in the very same ratio as present in the supplement, because even good bacteria can compete or interfere with each other.
Certain strain combinations have been found to improve immune, intestinal, liver, lung, and skin health, as well as healthy glucose metabolism and healthy inflammatory balance. Science-based probiotic supplements have been found to benefit practically every organ system, including the brain.
BrainMD’s ProBrainBiotics provides two breakthrough bacterial strains found to improve brain function, to positively influence the microorganism balance in the gut, and to help cope with stress.
ProBrainBiotics is the first commercially available probiotic supplement shown to benefit both intestinal and brain function. It has the identical probiotic strains, at the same daily intake levels, that were put through two double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials and found to benefit intestinal function, mood, and coping with stressful experiences. These strains are Lactobacillus helveticus Strain R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum Strain R0175.
These powerful strains:
- Help repel harmful bacteria
- Maintain the tight seal of the gut lining to help prevent leaky gut
- Can survive exposure to the stomach acids, to reach the intestines
- Support healthy gut immune functions
In the two clinical trials, these probiotic strains were shown to improve intestinal discomfort related to stress. They were also found to measurably promote healthy mood and assist in coping with occasional anxiety.
“When your gut isn’t healthy, your brain will not be healthy. Intestinal problems increase inflammation, a low-level fire that destroys your organs, and increases your risk for moodiness, nervousness, pain, and memory issues. When we take antibiotics or eat pesticide-laden foods, it upsets this delicate balance and we are much more likely to get sick. Eat right and take probiotics. I designed ProBrainBiotics to give people an easy way to get the beneficial gut bacteria they need in one easy-to-use supplement.” – Daniel G. Amen, MD
If you aren’t taking a high-quality, brain-directed probiotic supplement, consider adding ProBrainBiotics to your daily vitamin regimen to help boost your immunity. Remember, if you take good care of your gut, it will take good care of you!
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about ProBrainBiotics and our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
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