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Back to School with Better Digestive Health

Back to School with Better Digestive Health

Here we go, another round of trying to regain some sort of back to school/work normalcy. A healthy diet, adequate sleep, exercise and stress-relieving activities are a great way to support your family’s health, but even the best-laid plans can go awry when children and adults are faced with the stress of going back to school and work.

Stress & Immunity

Stress happens when life events exceed your ability to cope. Stress is a part of life for most of us and can be either short or long term.

  • Short term — a final exam
  • Long term — taking care of an ailing loved one, pandemic

Stress causes your body to produce greater levels of the primary long-term stress hormone cortisol. In short spurts, it can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation, but over time, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood which opens the door for more inflammation.[1]

According to Dr Rajita Sinha, PhD, professor and director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center in New Haven, Connecticut, “We want cortisol to go up for a little bit during stress and then come down again because that helps encode bits of information in the brain. The idea is that the hormone helps us record and recall aspects of stressful events. That way, you can adapt your reaction if you encounter the same situation again.”[2] For example, imagine that you’re in a total panic before a public-speaking event. If it goes well, cortisol helps you remember the resulting sense of relief, so you don’t have to go through that kind of angst again. On the other hand, if it doesn’t go well, you know to be better prepared the next time.

Stress can decrease the body’s lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte levels, the more at risk you are for viruses, including the common cold and cold sores. High stress can also cause depression and anxiety, again leading to higher levels of inflammation. In the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect you.[3] 

Bacteria and Your Body’s Chemical Messengers

Bacteria have been shown to produce and/or consume a wide range of neurotransmitters, which are your body’s chemical messengers. These include dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and GABA.

  • Dopamine is known as the reward neurotransmitter, regulating pleasure, addiction, decision making, motivation, motor control, and learning.[4]
  • Norepinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it stimulates activity in the brain, boosting the function of different cells to keep your brain and body running efficiently.[5]
  • Serotonin has an important role in the limbic system and is an important contributor to a sense of well-being. An estimated 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, and nearly 95% of the body’s serotonin resides within the gastrointestinal tract.,[6]
  • GABA is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and since it has a fundamental role in balancing brain cell activity, alterations in pathways can cause anxiety.[7]

The Best Defense is a Good Offence!

The bacteria that live naturally in our intestinal tract aid in the nourishment and defense not only of the digestive system but of the entire body.[8] Renew Life’s comprehensive line of probiotic supplements for children and adults, continues to be one of Canada’s leading choices to empower people to elevate their quality of life through better digestive health.

Renew Life® Kids Daily Boost Probiotic is formulated with 10 billion active cultures and 2 clinically-studied probiotic strains to support kids’ digestive and respiratory systems. Taken daily, this innovative probiotic supplement helps support respiratory-tract and intestinal and gastrointestinal health. Offered in a convenient fruit punch flavoured fast-melting powder, it’s a format that’s fun for kids to take. It is shelf stable, non-GMO and sweetened with xylitol.

Calm From Within

Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® Probiotic Plus Mood & Stress is formulated to not only support good digestive health but it also contains the clinically studied probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 to help moderate feelings of anxiety and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort related to mild to moderate stress.[9] 

Defend From Within

Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® Probiotic Plus Immune Support is formulated to not only support good digestive health, but it contains the clinically studied probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 which showed a reduction in the incidence of cold-like symptoms in stressed adults. It also includes 4 other beneficial strains to provide 30 billion active cultures in a convenient one a day dose.

Relax to Support Your Nervous System

According to Dr. Andrew Goliszek, Ph.D. “Mind over matter is not simply a catchphrase. It is a truth based on what we know to be fact: that the brain, given the right set of directions, the right environment, and the proper stimuli, will always choose healing over disease.”[10] So do yourself a favour and turn off the TV and social media that are full of fear and negativity. Try calming activities for yourself and your family such as: meditation, yoga, deep breathing, knitting or crocheting, going for a walk, hugging a tree, watching a funny movie, reading a good book and other activities to help ease stress, your body will thank you for it.

By Caroline Farquhar, RHN, EMP, BA, National Training Manager at Renew Life®
References:
[1] Cleveland Clinic staff. (2017). What Happens When Your Immune System Gets Stressed Out?. Available: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/. Last accessed 23 Feb 21.
[2] Puniewska M. (2019). What is Cortisol? Here’s How it Impacts Your Body When You’re Stressed. Available: https://www.health.com/condition/stress/what-is-cortisol. Last accessed 22 Jun 21.
[3] Cleveland Clinic staff. (2017). What Happens When Your Immune System Gets Stressed Out?. Available: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/. Last accessed 23 Feb 21.
[4] Del Rio, J. et al. (2018). Steroid Hormones and Their Action in Women’s Brains: The Importance of Hormonal Balance. Available: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00141/full. Last accessed 22 Jun 21.
[5] Dellwo, A. (2020). What Is Norepinephrine?. Available: https://www.verywellhealth.com/norepinephrine-what-does-or-doesnt-it-do-for-you-3967568. Last accessed 22 Jun 21.
[6] Stoller-Conrad, J. (2015). Microbes Help Produce Serotonin in Gut. Available: https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/microbes-help-produce-serotonin-gut-46495. Last accessed 21 Jun 21.
[7] Del Rio, J. et al. (2018). Steroid Hormones and Their Action in Women’s Brains: The Importance of Hormonal Balance. Available: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00141/full. Last accessed 22 Jun 21.
[8] Loyola University Health System Authors. (2010). How Bacteria Boost the Immune System. Available: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614171907.htm. Last accessed 23 Jul 20.
[9] Michaël, M. et al (2011) Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers, Gut Microbes, 2:4, 256-261, DOI: 10.4161/gmic.2.4.16108
[10] Goliszek, A. (2014). How Stress Affects the Immune System. Available: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201411/how-stress-affects-the-immune-system. Last accessed 26 Nov 20.
Renew Life Probiotics for Kids and Adults

About the Author: Caroline Farquhar R.H.N., E.M.P., B.A.

Caroline Farquhar

Specializing in digestive care and cleansing, Caroline has been educating audiences through seminars, TV and radio appearances across the country on the topic of how to achieve better health naturally. Caroline has written and published articles for magazines and websites, has created educational programs and taught at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.