Thank you to MegaFood for sponsoring this blog post. As always, opinions are all my own.
Have you ever heard the gut being referred to as our second brain? It may seem a bit silly but the two actually have some striking similarities – including there being as many nerves in our gut as there are in our spinal cord. Crazy right? There is even a field of study called enteric neuroscience which is neuroscience of the intestines.
The size and complexity of our gut is astonishing. Our intestines are roughly 30 feet long which is almost the length of a school bus. I remember learning this fun fact in grade school. It’s also home to trillions of good bacteria which happens to be the densest concentration of microbes found anywhere on Earth! These good bacteria are called probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms present in our intestine as well as some fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and quality supplements.
There has been decent hype around probiotics in recent years. However, probiotic’s lesser known BFF, prebiotics, is still in the shadows a bit – even though they play a huge role in the health of our gut too. Prebiotics are the indigestable plant fibers that feed and enhance the growth of the healthy, good bacteria. These gut nourishing fibers are found exclusively in plants and are extra rich in foods like banana, apple, oatmeal, leeks, onions, garlic, oranges and asparagus. Fiber is essential and protective for our gut microbiome and a healthy gut in general.* Yet another reason to eat a fiber-full, plant rich diet!
Diet and lifestyle obviously play an important role in our health. We already know a whole food plant-based diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds is associated with many health benefits. But, can diet impact our mental and emotional wellbeing too? Can the foods we eat really have an impact on our mood?
A growing number of studies have demonstrated that a plant-based diet may help make us feel happier. For example, this cross sectional study found vegetarian diets are associated with a healthy mood.* Higher levels of antioxidants in the blood from plant sources have also been associated with a lower risk of feeling chronically blue.* A randomized control trial even found that when removing all meat, fish, poultry, and eggs from people’s diets they could significantly improve mood after only two weeks.
Okay, but what about if you experience these feelings or low mood while eating a plant-based diet rich in nutrients? This is where I found myself after tragically losing my dog, my first baby, in a sudden accident in the fall of 2017.
Obviously, a plant-based diet by no means makes us invincible to life’s stresses. We are only human after all. However, I did learn that emotional state may negatively impact our gut flora and vice versa – so mental health may be influenced by what is happening in our intestines as well. Interesting. If the state of our mind can impact our microbiome, can boosting the microbiome improve our state of mind? One double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized parallel group study showed that one month of probiotics was found to significantly increase mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety, anger and hostility.*
While I do believe we can get most of what we need through a well-balanced diet and lifestyle but I also believe in bio individuality. We are all shaped by our experiences, our genetics to some degree, and our lifestyle. Sometimes we just need a little support to get us back on track after something shifts us off course. I think probiotics and supplements in general can be a beautiful compliment to a healthy diet when we need a little extra boost for whatever reason.* Thus, probiotics are something I introduced to my routine to support my mood as well as reduce stress and fatigue.*
There are so many probiotics to choose from though! I feel I’m an educated consumer but still felt a little overwhelmed by all the options. In looking for any supplements, some of the top things I like to consider are transparency, sustainability, ethics and responsibility.
I want to know the full list of ingredients and where they are sourced. I want to know those involved in the process of creating these items are treated well, fairly, kindly. I want to know if they are lessening their environmental impact and working in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner. I want to see the story behind the brand, the mission. For all these reasons, MegaFood® has become a company I adore because I am so proud of their commitment to the people, planet and animals.
MegaFood creates my go-to probiotic right now. Recently, I have been using their MegaFood Mood* Shelf-Stable Probiotics. Not only do these supplements help support gut health, they also have a dose of SOD B Extramel® Melon Juice Concentrate to help support the reduction of stress and fatigue.* Just like all MegaFood supplements, this product is certified glyphosate residue free, and is non-GMO, certified vegan, gluten free, kosher and more. With 15 acid-resistant probiotic strains and 10 billion CFU of live bacteria it provides abroad spectrum of health-supporting probiotics to support you and your mood.* MegaFood’s new line of Shelf-Stable Probiotics is incredibly unique, not only because you can take them wherever you go, but there are also several options available to align with various wellness needs – in addition to Mood*, Women’s Health* , Energy*, and Immune Defense* Shelf-Stable Probiotics are just a few more you can choose from.
Fun tip: probiotic bacterial survival may be highest when taken 30 minutes before, or with a meal or beverage that contains some fat.
I hope this post has been helpful! Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or what your experience with probiotics has been like.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.