Probiotic Benefits: More than Just a Gut Feeling

probiotic culture time lapse

Uhhhh…what’s that yellow glob floating on the surface of my milk? 

Now, before you get all grossed out—it’s just probiotics growing overnight, so you can enjoy digestive regularity for breakfast the next morning!

These bacteria cultures promote gastrointestinal health, immune support, allergy or inflammatory relief, weight management and cholesterol reduction, among other wellness benefits. And they’re safe to consume on a daily basis—add one scoopful in powdered form to non-dairy milk then leave in room temperature for several hours until the liquid becomes a yogurt consistency. Probiotics at work, people!

Inside your body live trillions of bacterial inhabitants who play a vital role in organ function. Therefore, recent evidence suggests hacking this microbiome through probiotic supplements can take your overall health from mediocre to all-systems-go!

Not all probiotics are created equal though. So, the kicker is determining which supplements back up their marketing claims with long-term results. Here are some factors to consider before joining the probiotic party:

  • Opt for multi-strain. These little guys prefer the “buddy system,” so choose a supplement that combines two or more probiotic types for maximum efficacy.
  • Keep it live & active. If the cultures die before you even ingest them, consider their benefits null and void, so choose a supplement that guarantees shelf-life.
  • Steer clear of artificial. Refined sweeteners or processed ingredients don’t have your best interests in mind, so choose a supplement that’s both natural and plant-based.
  • Avoid the “pre” suffix. Prebiotics are sugary carb clusters which your GI tract cannot regulate, so choose a supplement that doesn’t hype the “prebiotic ploy.” 

Wanna learn more about which probiotic brands deliver optimal wellness? Check out the complete bacterial breakdown here.

Now, go forth…and keep that gut of yours gleeful!

Embed from Getty Images

 


Thanks to reviews.com for supplying the research featured in this post.

On Turning Your Body Image from Naughty to Nice

The holidays are a challenging time of year for me.

I won’t even bother pretending otherwise.

So, with Christmas just 2 days around the corner, that telltale anxiety has begun creeping up on me.

In T-48 hours, the festivities will commence. I’ll be plied with cut-out cookies, green bean casserole (whose appearance at the buffet table always makes me wonder: why is this even a thing???), and every sugary beverage imaginable. I’ll spend Christmas dinner inwardly squirming because there’s no socially acceptable reason to escape “family time” for a stress-relieving workout.

And — most cringe-worthy of all — I’ll nod and *fake* smile as the table conversation invariably shifts to, “I reeeeeeally shouldn’t eat this, but…”

Don’t give me wrong though, I still love the holidays.

No, seriously. I do.

I’m a sucker for seasonal traditions. I can flawlessly quote Elf, and I know the lyrics to every musical sequence in White Christmas (that’s right…not just the title song!). I’m always convinced reindeer can fly upon watching the “Santa Tracker” with my younger cousins. In fact, I’m even listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while typing this post.

Yep. There’s no denying it. Christmas is magical.

Too bad the magic often takes a backseat to my “holiday weight”-centric neurosis.

Negative body image seems grossly intensified during this time of year, and I sure wish Santa would fill my stocking with manuals on getting through the season, unscathed by those pesky insecurities. All gift-wrapped and foolproof because I am on the Nice List, don’tcha know.

Right. If only.

Instead, I’m left to my own devices when faced with excessive eating, thoughtless comments, and degrading voices inside my head. And — if you’re anything like me — you’ve likely experienced the exact same struggle.

But, since we’ve established the Big Guy won’t be bringing any “Body Image Survival Guides” on his sleigh anytime soon, I’ll leave you with this:

3 strategies, which have empowered me to sidestep feelings of inadequacy, so I can actually enjoy the festivities. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, as well. Just sayin’…

  1. If you want a cookie, have a cookie! Depriving yourself  is counterproductive and will frequently lead to a binge. Instead of suppressing a sweet tooth or restricting your regular intake to compensate for said sweet tooth, only to lose control and devour the whole damn cookie jar when nobody’s looking, allow yourself some wiggle room. Don’t overindulge, but listen to those internal hunger cues. If your body is craving chocolate chip goodness, for instance, feed the urge.  Eat 1 cookie. Taste it. Savor it. Then, walk away from the remaining dozen. Sweet tooth satisfied. Anxiety alleviated.
  2. Enough already with “good” vs. “bad” foods! There are no bad foods (unless they’re loaded with artificial preservatives…then, they can’t really be considered food). Only bad eating habits. Example: I might avoid green bean casserole, but my sister loves that shit. Therefore, green bean casserole is neither “good” nor “bad.” Regardless of our individual taste buds, it’s still just food. How food is consumed, though, can be detrimental. Whether you’re obsessively counting calories or mindlessly munching until nausea ensues, you fall into the disordered eating category.  So, eliminate those labels. If you like something, just eat it.
  3. You can be social while staying in shape! Rather than sneaking away from the crowd to sweat off Christmas dinner, turn exercise into a family bonding activity. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood together, while enjoying holiday lights. Organize a backyard touch football scrimmage. Even play Wii Sports with your cousins (that’s what I do!). By all means, get moving! Just don’t let fitness take precedence over relationships. Strike a healthy balance. Instead of turning your desire for physical exertion into a covert mission, invite others to join in the action.

Oh, and (because…randomness) here’s a picture of some cookies.

Christmas cookies Yes, I baked them. I also — gasp! — ate them.

Guiltlessly.

If I can, anyone can.

You’re welcome (and Merry Christmas!).