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SUPPLEMENTATION Although there are many pills, supplements, and cleanses available to those who want to incorporate more probiotics and prebiotics in their diet, supplementation is often unnecessary. Probiotics and prebiotics are natural ingredients in everyday foods, and if you eat a healthy, balanced diet, there’s no reason for you to take supplements, unless you suffer from certain food allergies. Meals that contain both probiotics and prebiotics are called “synbiotics.” So eating bananas with yogurt or stir-frying asparagus with tempeh will cover all your bases. While research is still relatively new, health experts can confidently say that a balanced gut as a result of a diet enriched with probiotics and prebiotics is beneficial to your overall health. While probiotics seem to currently soak up the spotlight, make sure you are also eating enough prebiotics for optimal intestinal health. Remember, a balanced gut is a happy and healthy gut.
foods, they produce short-chain fatty acids that improve the health of the intestinal lining. When your intestinal lining is healthy, your body can better regulate electrolyte levels, digest food properly, and prevent diarrhea. A healthy intestinal lining is also essential to immunity. Prebiotics and probiotics improve your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients and trace minerals from food. They also lower the pH in the gut, which is vital for preventing urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, digestive disorders, colds, and even colon cancer. Finally, research suggests that mood-related disorders like anxiety and depression can be tied to gut health. Your mood and hormone balance are affected by many internal and external factors, one of which is the state of the bacteria living in your gut. Your gut helps absorb and metabolize nutrients from the foods you eat, and these nutrients are used to support neurotransmitter functions that create the hormones that control your mood. Without a balanced gut, your body can’t absorb and use these nutrients correctly.
The best way to naturally include more prebiotics in your diet is to eat fructooligosaccharides and
galactooligosaccharides. In other words, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as acacia gum, raw dandelion greens, raw jicama, underripe bananas, raw or cooked onions, raw garlic, raw leeks, raw asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes. THE DYNAMIC DUO Prebiotics and probiotics work together in your gut as part of a tiny ecosystem. Probiotics feed on prebiotics to maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria. If there aren’t enough prebiotics to feed the probiotics, the bacteria can become unbalanced, which can result in a number of conditions, from indigestion to heart disease. Together, prebiotics and probiotics battle inflammation and lower overall disease risk. HEALTH BENEFITS Gut health is closely tied to many other bodily functions, which is why it is essential to maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. When probiotics metabolize fibrous
Meditation has often been touted by New Age gurus as a way to find inner peace and stillness. But what if meditating could reduce the effects of aging on your brain? According to research, taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate may improve cognitive function. As meditation’s popularity has spread, so have studies of the practice. The results of 100 studies examining the cognitive effects of meditation all show evidence of improvements in psychological and cognitive functions. Some of the results are intuitive, such as how meditation helps us deal with stress. But other results are incontrovertible, such as scans showing that meditation causes structural changes in the brain. For people facing age-related changes like memory loss, the results of these tests are especially relevant. The studies point to evidence that meditation can strengthen certain areas of the brain — the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala — that weaken as we age. THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX Your prefrontal cortex thins with age, which is associated with decreased cognitive function in your later years. However, meditation may reduce this age-related thinning. Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist specializing in the effects of yoga and meditation on cognitive and behavioral function, reports that long-time meditators don’t show a decline in the thickness of the prefrontal cortex. Improve Cognitive Function in Minutes How Meditation Helps You Maintain Brain Health
THE HIPPOCAMPUS Your hippocampus helps you process and form new memories, and it’s very sensitive to stress. In fact, research shows that your hippocampus will shrink in response to stressful situations and chronic stress. The remedy? Meditation. Dr. Lazar’s study showed a positive correlation between meditation and a higher concentration of gray matter in the left hippocampus. THE AMYGDALA Often called the fear center of the brain, the amygdala is triggered by stressful situations. But unlike the hippocampus, which shrinks in response to stress, the amygdala has been shown to become denser. In one study, people who attended mindfulness meditation classes showed a smaller stress response in brain scans compared to those who did not attend the classes. Meditation may help to decrease the density of the amygdala and therefore increase your ability to handle stress. Of course, in addition to these benefits, there’s a good chance that five minutes of meditation each day will simply make you feel better. People who meditate report an increase in overall well-being. Why not give it a try?
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