Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are naturally found in our bodies and have been shown to help support multiple areas of our overall health including digestion, nutrient absorption, fat metabolism, mood and energy balance, and immunity.*These beneficial bugs are alive and, like your emotional state after The Bachelor in Paradise finale, very fragile. They can be killed easily by exposure to light, heat, stomach acid, as well as other aspects of modern life.
Here are five common threats to your healthy gut bacteria – and what to do about them!
When you consider work, personal life, diet, exercise, and environment, many adults are unaware of just how much stress they experience on a daily basis.What to do about it: You don’t need to quit your job and take up residence at an ashram, at least not immediately. Start by simply evaluating your overall stress load. What is it like at work? At home? Are you hitting the gym too hard, too often? How many chemicals and pollutants are you exposed to in your environment and through your diet? Once you have an idea of where your stress is coming from, you can make small changes that add up to a big difference. Perhaps you swap your CrossFit or boot camp class for restorative yoga once a week. Try eating fewer processed foods, or switch your cleaning products to a more natural brand (you can check out the Environmental Working Group’s top picks here). If nothing else, we recommend you make a concerted effort each week to carve out some You Time. It can be as little as one hour, but during this planned time let yourself indulge in something purely for your own enjoyment. Take a bubble bath while reading The National Enquirer, marathon videos of red pandas playing in the snow, get an adult coloring book – it doesn’t have to be productive or even make logical sense, just as long as it makes you smile.
- ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
Consuming calorie-free sugar substitutes may actually result in weight gain.To make matters worse, artificial sweeteners became so popular that they are now included in millions of different food products from ice cream and chewing gum to English muffins! What to do about it: Try and stick to a diet of foods that don’t come in boxes or bags. If you’re eating a packaged food, steer clear of the word “light,” and read the ingredient label. Some other names for artificial sweeteners include acesulfame K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose. If you’re ordering a prepared food or beverage that is sweetened, ask that they use real sugar or honey. For more info about sugar and why we choose to use organic Fair Trade cane sugar in SmartyPants read here.
- LACK OF SLEEP
Sleep affects our gut bugs and our gut bugs affect our sleep.What to do about it: When something is important you make time for it, like getting to the gym, or your in-laws for brunch, or your kid’s performance in the Nutcracker for the 5th year in a row. Research proves that sleep is vitally important, so it’s time to start making time for shuteye. We recommend that you begin by winding down at least an hour before bed. The easiest way to do this is by ditching your devices. Electronics with screens – this includes smart phones, computers, Kindles, and TV screens – emit blue light, or, light with blue wavelengths that can be disruptive at night. According to research, exposure to blue light causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that gives your body the "time to sleep" cue. Of course, we realize that a nightly digital detox, while ideal, may not be realistic for everyone. So, in the off chance that you should come in contact with a screen once or twice after sundown (wink, wink), try downloading f.lux to your computers and activating the Night Shift mode on iPhones. These two apps automatically adjust your displays so that they give off warmer, less blue light.
Know anyone who's gut bugs are in danger? Share this with them! Any questions? Thoughts? We'd love to hear in the comments!