Health & Fitness
Health Your Guide to Gut Health

Health Your Guide to Gut Health

Health Your Guide to Gut Health

It’s been called the second brain. That’s how powerful it is. The gut, your microbiome, is at the center of your health and how you feel. Now, this special edition is your ultimate guide to understanding and nurturing your wellness. Start with a user's guide to the gut-brain connection. Then, learn the importance of probiotics and what foods are packed with them. Reconsider the disruptive disorders like Crohn's Disease and IBS, the powerful effects of coffee and alcohol, and the role of stress in an upset stomach. Get clear advice from gut-health experts, recipes to improve your mood, and even insight about how man's best friend could improve your microbiome. Let this special edition help you restore and maintain digestive health at the center of it all.

United States
Meredith Corporation
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in this issue

6 min.
the power of a healthy gut

INSIDE YOUR GUT RIGHT NOW there are literally trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms doing their thing. It may sound gross, but this brew of bugs—officially known as the microbiome—plays a surprisingly important role in your overall health. By simply treating your gut right, you are helping your body in a whole slew of ways. “A healthy gut is really the key to a healthy body and mind,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutrition expert with a virtual counseling practice based in New York City. “An unhealthy gut may influence your risk of excess body weight, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders, and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.” While everyone’s microbiome is unique (“like fingerprints,” says Cassetty), healthy microbiomes have a few basics in common. They have diverse…

10 min.
a user’s guide to the gut-brain connection

IF YOU’VE EVER HAD A “gut-wrenching” experience or felt butterflies in your stomach before a big event, you know your GI tract is sensitive to your emotions. It turns out there’s a real scientific reason for that. “Research is increasingly showing not only that your brain affects your gut health and vice versa, but that your gut may impact your overall health in general,” says Ali Keshavarzian, MD, the chair of gastroenterology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Here’s a look at what the latest science reveals. The Gut-Brain Connection Your gut is often referred to as your “second brain,” and for good reason: There’s a clear connection between your brain and the gastrointestinal tract, known as the gut-brain axis. “The primary part of this axis is the vagus nerve, which…

5 min.
10 probiotic-packed foods

THE GOOD NEWS keeps stacking up for probiotics, the good-for-you bacteria that keep your GI system functioning in tip-top shape. “Research is finding that a healthy microbiome may play a role in reducing inflammation, a risk factor involved in illnesses ranging from colds to cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and cognitive decline,” says Katherine Tallmadge, RD, the author of Diet Simple. Here are 10 truly yummy probiotic foods. Fortified Chocolate Certain brands, like Attune, have pumped up the dessert by adding probiotics. (Attune boasts 6.1 billion CFUs, or “colony forming units,” a measure of live, active microorganisms per serving. As a comparison, some probiotic supplements may contain 1 billion to 50+ billion CFUs.) One study in the International Journal of Food Microbiology found that probiotics added to chocolate were able to reach the…

12 min.
what makes a probiotic?

PROBIOTIC MEANS “FOR LIFE” and was officially defined by the World Health Organization as “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” This definition, however, leaves a gray area for collections of microbes that offer potential health benefits (like those found in fermented foods) but fail to qualify under the formal definition simply because they haven’t been studied. For this reason, and for the purposes of this excerpt, we will use the term “probiotic” to refer to consumable bacteria that may provide a health benefit or are marketed as providing a health benefit. Probiotic bacteria, unlike the long-term bacterial residents that make up our microbiota, are transient visitors to the gut. But their fleeting transit through the gut does not mean that their impact…

5 min.
improving the path to digestive wellness

NUTRITIONAL HEALTH is about embracing an eating philosophy that promotes gut health and overall well-being. For the past few decades, the conversation around healthy eating and nutrition focused mostly on finding magical foods and miraculous supplements that will help us lose weight, burn fat, and build buns of steel. While there is no shame in wanting to feel and look our best, I am excited for our collective consciousness around nutrition to evolve beyond our society’s fixation on restriction and to focus instead on promoting gut health. I was inspired to become a registered dietitian nutritionist because I struggled with debilitating gut-health issues. After Hurricane Katrina devastated my beloved hometown of New Orleans, I silently struggled with chronic gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for years, which disrupted my enjoyment of…

11 min.
the intolerances

YOU KNOW THE FEELING: that sinking sensation in your gut—literally—that sends you running to the bathroom, doubles you over in pain, or leaves you squirming uncomfortably for hours. It happens to all of us occasionally, but for some, it happens more often than it should. And when those occasions can be traced to specific eating patterns, doctors say a food intolerance may be to blame. A food intolerance, also called a food sensitivity, is not the same as an allergy. The former has to do with the body’s inability to digest a specific food or ingredient, which results in gastrointestinal distress, while the latter is an immune reaction. Allergies can trigger digestive issues, too, but they can also cause hives, itching, trouble breathing, and even changes in heart rate and blood…