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From moods to metabolism, the 100 trillion or so intestinal flora you have are behind the scenes orchestrating a wide variety of your body’s crucial functions. Over time, you’ve collected an assortment of microorganisms from your environment that live primarily in your gut. These “gut bugs” have created their own ecosystem inside you called your microbiome, and the balance between the over 10,000 different beneficial and disease-causing bacteria is so sensitive that if it changes by even one strain, it can change your brain chemistry and lead to anxiety. And if Candida yeast is added into the mix, it can upset the microbiome enough to cause weight gain, bloating, and fatigue – at a minimum.
Your microbiome health is essential to your overall health; it’s a key player in your immune response, digestion and absorption of nutrients, blood sugar regulation, hormone balance, ability to get a good night’s sleep, stress-handling capacity, moods, how quickly you lose weight, when you’re hungry, and the production of enzymes, vitamins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Because of it’s role in the removal of toxins and waste, some experts have called it the “second liver.” Understanding what your microbiome does for you is key in everything from losing weight to fighting the flu.
Let’s face it – we’re outnumbered. Our bodies are made up of billions of cells, while we house trillions of single-celled organisms, mostly bacteria. The microbiome makes up roughly 90 percent of the total number of cells in our bodies! It’s so important to create an environment inside your digestive system that encourages the growth of the good probiotic bacteria while discouraging foreign invaders like harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
The microbiome is such a hot topic that new research emerges almost daily on a different aspect of health that it impacts. Did you know the mitochondria of your cells – the “power plants” that make energy – are actually ancient bacteria that have adapted to become so beneficial that they are now an essential component in your cellular health and energy production? Their bacterial ancestry is why you inherit your mitochondria only from your mother and not your father. Your microbiome has a symbiotic relationship with your mitochondria and feeds them the fuel they need to give you (and every single one of your cells) the energy needed to stay alive. This partnership is so powerful that your microbiome is able to communicate back and forth with the mitochondria of every cell in your body; each cell can tell the microbiome what it needs for fuel and the microbiome responds back with how much energy it needs for your body to function optimally.
This relationship is key to your metabolism. Probiotics like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria produce the exact fuel (butyrate) your mitochondria need to make ATP, the energy molecule. This means when you eat something, the probiotics go to work helping your digestive system break the food down to extract the nutrients, then through their own digestive processes they make additional nutrients for your body to use.
Digestive issues like bloating, fluid retention, cramping, gas, and IBS-type symptoms are a thing of the past when you have enough probiotics in your system. These healthy intestinal flora even break down foods you normally have difficulty digesting, like dairy, and turn them into superfuel that fires up your muscles and metabolism the same way exercise does. And if that isn’t enough, these “skinny bacteria” help you lose weight and keep the belly fat off.
Probiotic strains like Lactobacillus plantarum also help your muscles perform better during exercise by increasing the oxygen delivered to them, while decreasing your body’s overall inflammation and cleansing your lungs during the process. This specific variety also stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, boosts your fat metabolism, and fights off unwanted Candida yeast and other fungi.
If you’ve ever felt butterflies in your stomach just thinking of a new love, then you understand the power of the gut-brain connection. Your intestinal flora produce and respond to the hundreds of neurochemicals that your brain uses to regulate your moods, mental processes and physiology. Brain chemicals like GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin are names familiar to many people who struggle with anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic fatigue, and all are made by your microbiome. In fact, 95% of the body’s serotonin, the most famous “feel good” hormone, is produced by your probiotic intestinal flora, and is primarily used for digestion.
Probiotics have a direct effect on your moods, memory, emotions, ability to learn, how you respond to stress, and your pain tolerance. And this communication goes both ways. Even mild stress can change your brain chemistry and subsequently the balance of the microbiome, affecting the immune system and leading to infectious disease.
The health of your immune system depends on healthy intestinal flora. Roughly 80 percent of your immune system tissue is located in your digestive tract, and for good reason. The air you breathe and what you put in your mouth are the main routes for tiny hitchhikers to try to get inside your body and wreak havoc.
Because your intestines are doing an inside job, it’s easy to forget that they are the barrier between your bloodstream and the outside world. The immune system inside your intestines is in charge of fighting the harmful bacteria and foreign invaders, and your intestinal flora are the soldiers in this battle. These probiotics not only come to your defense by attacking pathogens like the flu directly, but also make “antibiotic” chemicals that guard against dangerous microbes, while building and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal walls and their mucosal lining. This ecological balance is also essential for protecting the colon from cancer and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Whether you are looking to beat belly bloat, fight fatigue, lose weight, boost your immune system, lift your moods, or prevent disease, minding your microbiome and building up your population of “good guys” is an essential first step. Overuse of antibiotics, sugar, stress, medications, and “bad bugs” can all kill off the healthy bacteria and upset the delicate balance of your microbiome.
While fermented foods are gaining popularity as a good source of probiotics, it’s easy to overheat them and kill off the beneficial bacteria or under-eat them and simply not get enough good gut bugs to repopulate. A good probiotic supplement, either on its own or in addition to eating fermented foods, is really the best option when you are looking to increase your numbers.
What makes a probiotic supplement good is the amount and types of strains it contains, the form it comes in, and whether it contains the right prebiotics to help the population grow. The three probiotics that have been in use the longest and have the most research behind them are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum. These are beneficial bacteria that should colonize us from birth and are the go-to strains to repopulate after antibiotic use. Lactobacillus plantarum has impressive research behind it, increasing oxygenation of muscles and stimulating growth of new mitochondria to fight fatigue, while at the same time fighting fungi like Candida. And Lactobacillus reuteri shows promise with intestinal discomforts and diseases, from infant colic to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and IBD.
Our Flora-Key contains these “fighting five” strains along with inulin, the prebiotic food they need to grow and thrive. It comes as a powder and tastes so good many people use it as a sweetener. Flora-Key is well-absorbed and gets into your digestive system quickly. The loading dose is 3 scoops per day for adults. We recommend this dose because your microbiome numbers in the trillions, while even the most potent probiotics available number in the billions. It takes consistent supplementation throughout the day in high enough amounts to make a difference in such a large and diverse population of intestinal flora.
As your microbiome changes and the probiotics begin to increase in numbers, sometimes this reorganization can cause your symptoms to feel worse before they feel better as the good guys “clean house.” This is called a Herxheimer or “die-off” reaction and should only last a day or two at the most. If you have had repeated courses of antibiotics without taking probiotics, or know you have a Candida yeast overgrowth, then Y-C Cleanse can be taken in combination with Flora-Key for the best fungus-fighting results.