Our gut flora, or microbiome, is made up of trillions of microorganisms that keep our bodies balanced and in good health. The health of our gut affects both our physical and mental health, causing many problems when it becomes unbalanced (NIH). We can help our microbiome by increasing the levels of these healthy bacteria by adding probiotic supplements to our daily routine (Harvard Health).
Bacteria in the gut via NIH/flickr
What is the Gut Microbiome?
The bacteria and microorganisms in our gut are vital to our bodies’ daily functions. They help us by digesting food, destroying cells that can cause disease, and even producing vitamins (NIH). We are learning more every day about the remarkable effects good bacteria have on our bodies and how vital they are in maintaining good physical and mental health.
Probiotics Can Influence Our Gut Microbiome
We can introduce probiotic supplements to keep a good balance of probiotics in our gut. Probiotics can help maintain our microbiome in peak condition and are especially helpful after periods of taking antibiotics or other bacteria-destroying medications (Mayo Clinic).
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
Although for many years we simply associated probiotics with helping digestive issues, the many benefits of boosting our microbiome are becoming clear, with new studies suggesting they can affect many parts of the body for the better, including our mental health, and for women, gynecological health (Frontiers in Psychiatry).
Ways to take probiotics
After many innovations in the creation of probiotics, it has never been easier to supplement our microbiome. Different forms allow people to find a probiotic that suits their lifestyle, preferences, and dietary needs. Probiotics are available as supplements in the form of pills or capsules, powders to mix into food and drinks, liquids and drinks, and gummy supplements.
When our microbiome becomes unbalanced, one of the first problems we can begin to suffer from is digestive disorders. Studies show that introducing probiotic supplements can help to alleviate symptoms of digestive problems such as IBS, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and stomach cramps (NCBI).
Immune System Boost
One of the many vital functions of our microbiome is to protect us from disease and work with our immune systems to clear bad bacteria from our bodies (NCBI). When our levels of good bacteria are low, we are more susceptible to illness, and pathogens we encounter cannot be dealt with as efficiently by our bodies as they need to be.
Mental Health and the Gut-Brain Connection
Recent studies show just how connected our gut flora is to our mental health. Our gut and brain have bidirectional communications and affect the health of one another (NCBI). The microbiome in our gut produces some of the same microtransmitters as the brain, responsible for producing dopamine and serotonin, which regulate areas of our mental and emotional well-being.
Probiotic supplements have been shown to have positive effects on anxious feelings and stress during studies looking at the special relationship between the microbiome and mental health.
Shilajit: An Ancient Super Nutrient for Gut Health
Although research is continually emerging to show how linked our gut flora is with our overall health and well-being, some cultures have used traditional methods for supporting the microbiome for thousands of years. In the Ayurvedic healing tradition, many people use a mineral-rich supplement called Shilajit to support their overall health and help their microbiome (NCBI).
What is Shilajit?
A mineral-rich resin and a mainstay of Ayurvedic healing for thousands of years, Shilajit is found in layers of rock from the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai Mountain ranges. A product of the build-up of minerals from rock, soil, and ancient plant material, people have extracted this rich substance for a variety of benefits for generations (NCBI).
How Shilajit is gathered and processed
Known in Western countries as mineral pitch, only some of the earth’s mountain ranges contain a special blend of rock formations that can capture Shilajit. After a careful heat-based extraction process, Shilajit undergoes a purification process to remove impurities from the material. This is an extremely important step for creating the purest Shilajit.
Pur Black has created a patented purifying process to ensure their traditional Shilajit is as pure and beneficial as possible, even providing serial numbers to jars for validating authenticity.
Benefits of Shilajit for Gut Health and Overall Wellbeing
Traditionally, people practicing Ayurvedic healing take Shilajit both proactively to avoid health problems, and to aid with many current ailments, including boosting energy and hormone levels, blood health, digestive discomforts, cognitive function, and immune system boosting.
People have supplemented their diets with Shilajit for its digestive and gut benefits for generations. The minerals trapped within the pitch work with the microbiome in the body to promote gut health, aiding the job of probiotics to enhance the benefits of our supplements.
Studies are finding evidence that Shilajit may be beneficial for several issues that people have been using this ancient mineral pitch for, over the years. A recent study suggests that Shilajit may have the potential for helping to slow the decline in those with cognitive diseases.
Choosing the Right Probiotics and Supplements
There are many options available to introduce probiotics into your daily routine. Finding the right probiotics for your needs can be easier when you understand some of the differences between the available products.
- Strain Specificity: The information about the importance of bacterial strains in probiotics is accurate.
- CFU Count: The explanation of CFU (Colony Forming Units) is accurate and relevant for understanding the potency of probiotic supplements.
- Shelf Life and Storage: The information about the shelf life and proper storage of probiotics is accurate.
The Role of Diet and Lifestyle
As evidence emerges that a healthy gut microbiome affects our well-being in so many areas of the body, we must try our best to keep it healthy. The foods we eat and the lifestyle we lead can affect the quality of our microbiome and help us to potentially avoid health issues and disorders.
Foods that naturally contain probiotics
We can help to keep our gut microbiome healthy with beneficial levels of gut flora by eating foods naturally rich in probiotics. Some foods rely on fermentation or changing properties of live good bacteria to create their unique flavors and textures. Some of these bacteria act as probiotics and can benefit our microbiome when we eat them. (Harvard Health).
Foods that naturally contain probiotics that are healthy for our gut include:
- Natural yogurt
Lifestyle factors that influence gut health
In addition to introducing helpful foods into our diet and supplementing with probiotics, other lifestyle factors can help to keep our gut healthy. Engaging with regular exercise is also shown to increase our metabolism and help to maintain a healthy microbiome.
Eating a diet rich in fiber, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep can help keep our colon clean and our digestive system regular. Gut flora is affected by many of our lifestyle choices, and establishing healthy habits helps to maintain its balance.
As our microbiome is a crucial part of our physical and mental health, we must actively support it as much as possible with diet, exercise, and introducing beneficial supplements when necessary.
By prioritizing our gut health and supplementing our diet with probiotics and natural supplements like Shilajit, we can enjoy the benefits of a healthy microbiome and improve our overall physical and mental health.
Scientific Evidence: The field of gut health is continuously evolving. While this article cites scientific studies, consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Supplement Use: Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or lifestyle change.
Informational Purposes: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice.
- NIH Human Microbiome Project The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a leading research institution.
- Harvard Health on Probiotics Harvard Health is a trusted source for medical and health information.
- Mayo Clinic on Probiotics Mayo Clinic is renowned for its medical research and patient care.
- Frontiers in Psychiatry Article Frontiers is a peer-reviewed platform that often covers the mental health benefits of probiotics.
- NCBI on Gut Health The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is a reputable source for scientific articles and studies.