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Feed your gut with probiotics to safeguard your mental health!

Posted on November 17th, 2022

In this day and age, our overall well-being extends beyond physical health. It is also about mental health. In fact, our mental and physical health are inextricably linked. A mind clogged with anxiety, stress, or fatigue will struggle to maintain a healthy body. Physical health issues, particularly digestive issues, have the potential to increase the risk of developing mental health disorders.

Role of probiotics in mental health

Our bodies, the digestive system specifically, produce probiotics. A healthy gut contains a high concentration of probiotics, which aids the body’s digestive function along with boosting immunity. Check out 7 probiotics for gut health!

An imbalance in the same often referred to as gut dysbiosis, can cause a variety of health problems, including mental health. Several studies have linked the potential benefits of probiotics to mental health as well.

The use of probiotics for mental health is known as psychobiotics. It aims to help treat a variety of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. When a body is stressed, it has a tendency to affect other parts of the body as well, putting a lot of pressure on muscles and the brain.

Understanding the connection with gut and brain

According to experts, there is a connection between the gut and the brain, also known as the gut-brain axis (GBA). It is the link that connects our brain, spinal cord and nervous system to the gastrointestinal tract in our body. It is believed that our gut influences brain activity, thus our mood.

The Vagus nerve, the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system, is connected with the brain and is responsible for heart rate, digestion, immune function, and mood swings. Probiotics and other microorganisms present in our digestive system or the gut act by producing and expressing neurotransmitters, chemical messengers our body cannot function without. These neurotransmitters are critical to mental health and influence our sleep patterns, moods, and appetite. They also help reduce inflammation in our body, minimizing symptoms of depression while also influencing cognitive function and stress response.

Probiotics to include in your diet

There are two most common types of probiotics, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. They are present in different parts of the body, with multiple strains or types under them. Therefore, they function differently. Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 promotes regularity and relieves constipation, whereas Lactobacillus rhamnosus regulates neurotransmitters in the brain, which can reduce stress-related symptoms.

It is advisable to choose a probiotic that can target the condition one is attempting to treat. Probiotic supplements and fermented foods rich in probiotics, such as yoghurt, cheese, tempeh, kimchi, pickled vegetables, miso, sauerkraut, among others are excellent ways to include probiotics in one’s diet

Without a doubt, including probiotics in our diet has several health benefits that extend beyond physical health. The studies so far have been encouraging, and it is expected that psychobiotics will play a larger role in our overall health, not just mental health, in the coming years.

Original article: Feed your gut with probiotics to safeguard your mental health

Is collagen good for skin?

Posted on November 16th, 2022

An effective anti-aging ingredient is the holy grail of skincare, and some experts say collagen could be the key to unlocking a more youthful appearance. But is collagen good for skin, or is it just another trend in beauty and wellness with little evidence to back it up?

One of the essential proteins naturally present in the body, collagen helps to give skin a glowing, youthful and plump appearance. But, sadly, it depletes as we age, causing wrinkles and sagging skin.

As a supplement or a cream, collagen is becoming big business, with experts predicting a $16.7 billion(opens in new tab) boom in the global collagen market over the next five years. The promise that collagen supplements can be an effective tool in the fight against aging is a significant driver. So what if taking a collagen supplement or applying a topical collagen cream could turn back time for your epidermis?

We take a deeper dive into the research and consult a board-certified dermatologist to better understand how collagen can improve the skin, how the research supports collagen supplements, and whether there are other ways of increasing collagen in our diet.

How Can Collagen Improve Your Skin?

Collagen is essential for giving the skin elasticity. It makes the skin look fuller, plumper and smoother. Unfortunately, according to the journal Plastic and Aesthetic Research(opens in new tab), our collagen levels deplete by an average of 1% to 1.5% from early adulthood. Upping our collagen levels may delay this natural depletion, giving us fuller, plumper skin.

However, how topical creams or supplements do this is still up for debate. According to the National Eczema Association(opens in new tab), there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that collagen supplements improve the skin’s appearance, despite their increasing popularity with celebrities and influencers.

More research is emerging, however. Live Science spoke to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Alison Ehrlich(opens in new tab) to find out more. She pointed us to a 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis(opens in new tab), in which researchers found hydrolyzed collagen supplements increased skin hydration and elasticity in over a thousand participants, with improvements lasting around four weeks after supplementation

Anti-oxidant effect

“Collagen peptides exert an anti-oxidant effect on the skin,” says Ehrlich. Research backs this up with a 2020 study into collagen and gelatin(opens in new tab) extracted from tuna skin waste. Researchers found that the collagen and gelatin extracted were an “excellent source of antioxidant peptides.” These can help to protect the skin from free radicals, which are responsible for breaking down collagen in the skin.

Wound healing

Collagen also has a powerful effect on wound healing, and as a result, collagen powder is an important treatment in advanced wound healing therapies(opens in new tab). “Collagen seems to exert an effect on the wound by increasing dermal fibroblast activity, leading to increased collagen synthesis,” says Ehrlich. In simpler terms, it becomes an essential building block in the healing process.

However, Ehrlich points out that there are some drawbacks to certain collagen studies that should raise some questions:

Some studies use collagen paired with several other ingredients, each of which has the potential to improve the skin.

Many collagen supplement studies use small sample sizes, or animal subjects, which can affect the strength and reliability of the data.

Improvements are sometimes self-reported, meaning that participants judge how their skin appears rather than accurate measurements being taken.

Small improvements in a study may not reflect visible changes in the skin.

Original article: Is collagen good for skin?