Written by Julia Mellios
Your gut is one of the hardest working systems in your body. Meal after meal, it hustles to digest your food and extract the nutrients required to sustain you. Despite it’s solid work ethic, your gut can experience occasional performance hiccups, leading to digestive symptoms. While many of these are normal, others may indicate something more serious. Read on to discover what your symptoms say about your gut and ways to improve them.
Normal, Everyday Symptoms
Transient Belly Bloating
What is it? Short-lived abdominal swelling due to trapped gas.
During and after meals, your gut produces enzymes and acids that break down your food, creating gas during this process. While bloating isn’t considered normal, it commonly occurs if you deviate from your standard diet, such as eating larger portions, rich and fatty meals or foods that are more laborious to breakdown, including excess carbohydrates and fibre. These place more burden on your digestive processes, subsequently increasing gas production and bloating.
Symptoms That Require Attention
If you regularly experience one or more problematic symptoms, consult with a Natural Health Practitioner for further investigation, particularly if it is new or getting worse. Additionally, healthcare Practitioners have a suite of testing available to investigate the driver behind your symptoms. For instance, a stool test enables Practitioners to identify all of the bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit your gut and how they contribute to your gut function and digestive symptoms.
Ditch the Gut Glitches
Don’t let your gut feelings bum you out! Instead, switch up your diet and lifestyle habits and rid yourself of symptoms such as bloating, gurgles and gas. If your gut symptoms are troubling you, speak with a natural healthcare Practitioner for a comprehensive plan to get you gut comfort, today.
References1 Manichanh C, Eck A, Varela E, Roca J, Clemente JC, González A, et al. Anal gas evacuation and colonic microbiota in patients with flatulence: effect of diet. Gut. 2014 Mar;63(3):401-8. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-303013.
2 Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel. Flatulence [Internet]. Melbourne VIC: Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel; 2014 [updated 2014 Aug; cited 2020 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/flatulence.
3 Colledge NR, Walker BR, Ralston SH. Davidson’s principles and practice of medicine. 21st ed. Edinburgh (UK): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2010. p. 763-844.
4 Zhao Y, Yu YB. Intestinal microbiota and chronic constipation. Springerplus. 2016 Jul 19;5(1):1130. doi: 10.1186/s40064-016-2821-1.
5 Colledge NR, Walker BR, Ralston SH. Davidson’s principles and practice of medicine. 21st ed. Edinburgh (UK): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2010. p. 763-844.
6 NPS Medicinewise. What are the side effects of antibiotics? [Internet]. Sydney NSW: NPS Medicinewise; 2012 [updated 2017 Mar; cited 2020 Feb 18]. Available from: http://www.nps.org.au/medicines/infections-and-infestations/antibiotics/for-individuals/side-effects-of-antibiotics.
Written by Rachel Baudistel
Fermented foods and beverages, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha, were a regular part of our ancestors’ diets for thousands of years. Originally a method of preserving produce from harvest time through the cold days of winter;1 fermentation involves adding a bacterial or yeast starter to a food. These organisms convert starches and sugars to alcohol or acids, lengthening the food’s shelf life and producing the unique and tangy flavours we associate with fermented foods. Recently, these foods have seen a resurgence in popularity, not for their shelf lives but for their claimed digestive health benefits. As probiotics have also risen in popularity for similar reasons, let us explore how fermented foods stack up against a high quality probiotic.
It All Begins In The Gut
Our interest in strategies to improve digestive health has been fuelled by an expanding body of research indicating that poor gut health negatively affects many other body systems.2 Specifically, imbalances in the microbiome, the ecosystem of approximately 38 trillion bacteria and other organisms living in your digestive tract, have been connected not only to gut disorders but to mood, immune, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer and even cardiovascular disease.3,4
Research shows that taking live beneficial bacteria, such as probiotics, can improve microbiome health, reducing the symptoms of many health conditions,5,6 improving general health and lowering the risk of diseases such as those mentioned above.7 In light of this, probiotic supplements and fermented foods, both sources of potentially beneficial bacteria, have been put forward as effective options for improving microbiome health. Consequently, there is a misconception that they are interchangeable; however, there are fundamental differences between them.
The Pros of Probiotics
Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.8 Research has shown that specific types (strains) of probiotics, at defined doses, can help manage particular health conditions or symptoms, such as hayfever9 or bloating.
To understand this further, let us use irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a painful digestive disorder, as an example. (To read more about IBS, click here). Research indicates that the specific probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, can relieve the bloating, intestinal pain and inflammation of medically diagnosed IBS.10,11 This benefit occurs when the probiotic is taken at a dose of 20 billion colony-forming units (CFU), which is a way of expressing the amount of live bacteria contained per probiotic capsule or dose of powder.
Scientists give probiotic bacteria three names we can use to identify them and connect them to their health benefits: genus (e.g. Lactobacillus), species (e.g. plantarum), and strain (e.g. 299v). To get the health benefits associated with that strain, all three names must match the probiotic used in the scientific research, as well as the dose. Luckily, you can find information on strains and doses in a probiotic supplement just by reading the label.
By choosing a probiotic from a reputable brand committed to quality, you can feel confident that you will receive:
So, if you are looking to improve a particular health condition, choose a strain-specific probiotic for best results. What’s the easiest way to find the right probiotic for your condition? See a Natural Healthcare Practitioner.
Fermented Foods Vs Probiotics
Although fermented foods contain live bacteria, the microbes responsible for fermentation do not confer the same health benefits as a probiotic supplement. In fact, an expert panel of scientists concluded that fermented foods have unidentified microbial content, meaning there is no guarantee of what bacterial strains or doses will be present in them. For this reason, they are fundamentally different from probiotics.12
That being said, many people experience non-specific digestive health benefits from including fermented foods in their diet, which could be related to the bacteria present, however, more research is needed to confirm this. Since fermentation breaks ingredients down into simpler parts, these foods are generally easier to digest, and fermentation also increases the nutritional value of the food.13 If you are healthy and do not require specific health benefits, fermented foods may be appropriate for you.
Be aware that, while fermenting at home can be fun, it is not a risk-free process. Exposure to oxygen, for example, can allow mould, yeast and less beneficial bacteria to grow. High-quality probiotics, on the other hand, are produced under strict hygienic conditions that minimise the risk of introducing ‘bad’ microorganisms into your gut. If your digestive system is sensitive, you may be better off taking a probiotic.
Choose What’s Right For You
Fermented foods are a tasty addition to the diet and do appear to provide some non-specific digestive benefits to relatively healthy people, on the proviso that they are prepared correctly. However, for support with specific health conditions, it is important to choose a specific probiotic strain, at the right dose, for your condition. To access high-quality probiotics for your particular health needs, contact a Natural Healthcare Practitioner.
References1 Chambers PJ, Pretorius IS. Fermenting knowledge: the history of winemaking, science and yeast research. EMBO Rep. 2010 Dec;11(12):914-20. doi: 10.1038/embor.2010.179.
2 Alam R, Abdolmaleky HM, Zhou JR. Microbiome, inflammation, epigenetic alterations, and mental diseases. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2017 Sep;174(6):651-660. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32567.
3 Alam R, Abdolmaleky HM, Zhou JR. Microbiome, inflammation, epigenetic alterations, and mental diseases. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2017 Sep;174(6):651-660. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32567.
4 Maranduba CM, De Castro SB, de Souza GT, Rossato C, da Guia FC, Valente MA et al. Intestinal microbiota as modulators of the immune system and neuroimmune system: impact on the host health and homeostasis. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:931574. doi: 10.1155/2015/931574.
5 Niedzielin K, Kordecki H, Birkenfeld B. A controlled, double-blind, randomised study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastro Hepat 2001;13:1-5. PMID: 11711768.
6 Costa DJ, Marteau P, Amouyal M, Poulsen LK, Hamelmann E, Czaaubiel M, et al. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33 in allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial (GA2LEN) study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;1-6. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.13.
7 Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E. Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2001 Apr 7;357(9262):1076-9. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04259-8.
8 Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, Gibson GR, Merenstein DJ, Pot B et al. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug;11(8):506-14. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66.
9 Costa DJ, Marteau P, Amouyal M, Poulsen LK, Hamelmann E, Czaaubiel M, et al. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33 in allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial (GA2LEN) study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;1-6. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.13.
10 Niedzielin K, Kordecki H, Birkenfeld B. A controlled, double-blind, randomised study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastro Hepat 2001;13:1-5. PMID: 11711768.
11 Ducrotté P, Sawant P, Jayanthi V. Clinical trial: Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (DSM 9843) improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Aug 14;18(30):4012-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i30.4012.
12 Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, Gibson GR, Merenstein DJ, Pot B et al. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat RevGastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug;11(8):506-14.doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66.
13 Coyle D. What Is Fermentation? The Lowdown on Fermented Foods. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fermentation#what-it-is. Healthline. Accessed July 8, 2019.
Written by Jo Herbert-Doyle
Did you know that your gut and your brain are in regular conversation? They have a pretty close relationship, with your mental state influencing gut function and vice versa. Perhaps you’ve experienced ‘butterflies in your stomach’, or felt nauseous before an event? Or felt your mouth water upon seeing or smelling a delicious meal? These are all very real phenomena and due to your mind-gut connection.
Less ideal is how feeling under pressure or stressed decreases digestive function – this is because when your body-mind perceives ‘danger’ (which is what stress is from a physiological sense), then it’s not a priority to be eating, therefore digestion suffers and you may experience bloating or heartburn or some other uncomfortable symptom.
Knowing this mind-gut link exists can help explain how feeling anxious may impact how your gut is functioning, but perhaps more significant (though not as well known) is that what’s going on in your gut could also be impacting your mental health.
Lighting a Fire in the Brain
Though the causes may be multifactorial, a key player in this situation is gut-derived inflammation. This can result from dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in your gut microbiota (the microbial life that resides within your intestines), and/or some degree of insult to the digestive tract lining – your gut ‘barrier’. Both your gut barrier and your microbiota work synergistically to support effective digestion, immune health, and overall wellbeing. However, if they become disrupted then biochemical signals or ‘cytokines’ are released that travel throughout your body causing what’s referred to as oxidative stress in any number of tissues in your body including your brain.
Though many of these cytokines cannot cross what’s called the blood-brain-barrier, their presence triggers similar ‘alarm’ signals in the brain so it too is impacted by its own inflammatory processes. This sequence of events can be why symptoms such as poor mood, brain fog and anxiety occur; but for those who want a more specific example – inflammation can promote the neurotransmitter precursor tryptophan to produce quinolinic acid1 instead of serotonin and melatonin – the former situation leading to what can most simply be described as nerve cell ‘agitation’ that can present as anxiety.2
Soothe Your Gut to Settle Your MindAs gut health is fundamental to all aspects of wellbeing then any symptoms really need to be attended to – and to do that with the least guesswork then my recommendation is to see a natural healthcare Practitioner who can help you navigate what may be the contributing causes for you, e.g. do you need to tweak your diet? Get some help with digesting certain foods? Heal your gut barrier? Equally, if you are struggling with stress, sleep, or experiencing regular mood problems then speak to your Practitioner about this too – there are many natural medicine solutions available, but to find the best ones for you will require assessing your personal situation first.
Is it too Early to Rely on Psychobiotics?
If you are already a fan of natural medicine you may be wondering what the role of probiotics are in this, particularly as there is emerging talk of ‘psychobiotics’ or probiotics that can impact mood. This is clearly of interest to those who may be experiencing stress or anxiety, so I’d say to you that the human evidence for what may be the ‘best’ probiotic strain and at what dose to help is still in its infancy; but watch this space for future research developments.
What we do know currently is that supporting whole gut health by decreasing gut-derived inflammation and increasing the diversity of the gut microbiota is a proven clinical approach to whole-body wellbeing – and this includes improving mental health.
So if you experience symptoms impacting either your mind or your gut, please don’t put up with them any longer, or try to figure it all out on your own. Contact your Clinical Naturopath or Integrative Doctor and let them know what’s going on, so they can personalise a solution for your situation.
References1 Lugo-Huitrón R, Muñiz PU, Pineda B, Pedreaza-Chaverri J, Rios C, Pérez-de la Cruz V. Quinolinic acid: an edogenous neurotoxin with multiple targets. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2013;Article ID 104024, 14 pages. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2013/104024/
2 Bryleva EY, Brundin L. Kynurenine pathway metabolites and suicidality. Neuropharmacology. 2017 Jan;112(Pt B):324-330. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.01.034. Epub 2016 Jan 26. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390816300338
Written by Gauri Yardi
What do a cold, depression, and hayfever have in common? If you said “they’re all health conditions”, or even “they’re all inflammatory health conditions”, you would be right. However, there is something more unusual that connects the three.
All three are influenced by your gut microbiome, the microorganisms that call your digestive tract ‘home’. You may be wondering how these tiny gut inhabitants could have any bearing on your throat, joints, and/or brain. In this article, we will find out how your gut influences these seemingly unrelated areas, as well as how to prevent your gut from making you sick, sad or inflamed.
Cold-Busting Colleagues: Your Gut and Immune System Work Hand-in-Hand
Your immune system’s main job is to defend you from pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms). Since pathogens are typically inhaled or swallowed, it makes sense for the immune system to concentrate on your respiratory and digestive tracts. In fact, 70% of the immune system is housed in your gut.1 It lies beneath the lining of your intestines, ready to spring into action if a pathogen enters your gut, to try to prevent you getting sick.
By contrast, some bacteria have a positive influence on your immune system. A healthy gut microbiome interacts with the intestinal immune system in ways that increase your body’s immune defences.
However, a microbiome out of balance, which does not contain high levels of beneficial bacteria, is less likely to help you resist infection, including colds and flu (click here to read more about what might upset your gut microbiome).
Fortunately, certain strains (types) of probiotic bacteria improve the bacterial balance in your gut, with beneficial flow-on effects for your immune system. Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®),2 Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2) and Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL 9)3 all stimulate the immune system and improve resistance to infection. In fact, the combination of 8700:2 and HEAL 9 has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms.4 If you struggle with frequent colds and flu, working with a natural healthcare Practitioner to strengthen your gut microbiome may help.
A healthy gut microbiome interacts with the intestinal immune system in ways that increase your body’s immune defences. However, a microbiome out of balance, which does not contain high levels of beneficial bacteria, is less likely to help you resist infection, including colds and flu (click here to read more about what might upset your gut microbiome).
Jumping at Shadows: The Overactive Immune System
Another possible consequence of poor gut bacterial balance is inflammation, a key feature of autoimmune (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) and allergic disease (e.g. hayfever). In these conditions, the immune system misidentifies harmless substances as threats, and launches an immune response against them. The resulting inflammation creates the symptoms you associate with allergy and autoimmunity, e.g. a blocked nose and watering eyes in hayfever, or joint pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis.
Fortunately, certain probiotic strains, namely LGG® and Lactobacillus paracasei (LP-33®), can stimulate your immune system to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, reducing inflammation and symptoms. For example, research in hundreds of people has shown that LP-33® significantly improves hayfever symptoms.5,6 Interestingly, LGG®, when taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding, can reduce the incidence of eczema (an inflammatory skin disease) in children, by supporting the healthy development of the gut microbiome and the immune system.7 If your immune system is in overdrive, make an appointment with a natural healthcare Practitioner to help bring it back into line.
Gut Feelings: How Bacteria Make or Break Your MoodMore and more research is supporting an unexpected cause of depression: inflammation. Specifically, inflammation throughout the body (known as systemic inflammation), and even inflammation of the brain, may contribute to depression.
As you have already learned, the interaction between bad gut bacteria and the immune system can cause inflammation. However, did you know that the inflammatory chemicals released within your gut can also cause an inflammatory response in your brain?
If gut inflammation can influence mood, you may be wondering if specific probiotics can improve mood or reduce the symptoms of depression. While this is a hot topic in scientific research, we do not currently know which specific probiotic strains can influence mood. However, a good start in supporting healthy mood is taking steps to reduce inflammation in the body.
What we do know is maximising your gut health, e.g. by eating plenty of fibre-rich wholefoods (to provide your gut bacteria with their preferred food), can also increase the numbers of good bacteria, which is the best way to influence your mood via your gut. If your bacterial balance has become disrupted due to a stomach bug, antibiotics, or other causes, strains which support beneficial bacteria, such as LGG®, Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. boulardii, and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp lactis (BB-12®) may help improve the composition of your gut microbiome.
Great Health is All in the Gut
By interacting with your immune system, your gut bacteria influences your ability to resist infection, reduce inflammation, and maintain a healthy mood. If you are wondering whether your gut may be making you sick, sad or inflamed, make an appointment with a natural healthcare Practitioner today. Together, you can assess your bacterial balance, and make a plan to improve your specific symptoms.
References1 Gill HS. Probiotics to enhance anti-infective defences in the gastrointestinal tract. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2003;17(5):755-773. doi: 10.1016/s1521-6918(03)00074-x.
2 Feleszko W, Jaworska J, Rha RD, Steinhausen S, Avagyan A, Jaudszus A, et al. Probiotic-induced suppression of allergic sensitization and airway inflammation is associated with an increase of Tregulatory-dependent mechanisms in a murine model of asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2007;37(4):498-505. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2006.02629.x.
3 Lavasani S, Dzhambazov B, Nouri M, Fåk F, Buske S, Molin G, et al. A novel probiotic mixture exerts a therapeutic effect on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mediated by IL-10 producing regulatory T cells. PLoS One. 2010; 5(2): e9009. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009009.
4 Berggren A, Lazou Ahrén I, Larsson N, Önning G.. Randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections. Eur J Nutr 2011; 50(3):203-210. doi: 10.1007/s00394-010-0127-6.
5 Costa DJ, Marteau P, Amouyal M, Poulsen LK, Hamelmann E, Czaaubiel M, et al. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33 in allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial (GA2LEN) study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 May;68(5):602-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.13.
6 Peng G-C, Hsu C-H. The efficacy and safety of heat-killed Lactobacillus paracasei for treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis induced by house-dust mite. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2005 Aug;16(5):433-438. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2005.00284.x.
7 Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E. Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2001;357(9262):1076-9.
By Melissa Blake, ND
Our bodies have an amazing natural ability of keeping to a daily schedule via an internal 24-hour master clock.1 This clock contributes to the patterns, also known as circadian rhythms, of many biological activities including sleep-wake cycles, eating patterns, and hormone function.1
Finding ways to support and balance this clock, along with the many systems it regulates, may offer a novel way to optimize health. One way to optimize is through diet timing.
The circadian diet as a way of eating takes into account not only what we eat, but when.2 It is an approach to eating that synchronizes food intake around our biological clocks, emphasizing eating in sync with the body’s natural tendencies and instincts. This means eating during daylight hours or hours when we are naturally more active. Eating in this way can help support circadian rhythms and contribute to overall health and wellness.2
As diets and terms including intermittent fasting, circadian diet, and time-restricted eating gain popularity, the question may arise as to whether the principle on which this “circadian approach” applies to other aspects of nutrition, including supplementation.
5 common supplements
Although there’s still much to learn about optimal timing for both food and supplements, current evidence suggests it may play a role.3 Here are a few general guidelines for five common supplements to help you add the extra layer of timing and optimize your plan:
B vitamins are often recommended to support healthy energy and mood.4 There is some evidence that taking B vitamins before bed can have a negative effect on sleep quality.5 Consider taking any B vitamins, including a B complex, earlier in the day with food.
The most common complaints I hear about fish oil are burping or nausea. Taking fish oil supplements with food, divided into two doses, may help reduce these harmless yet annoying side effects.
Magnesium is an essential micronutrient that plays a role in hundreds of reactions in the body.6
Due to the overall benefits of magnesium supplementation, consistency is more important than any timing in this case. Known for muscle relaxation and improved sleep, taking magnesium before bed may enhance those benefits in some people.7 Others may notice digestive issues and may choose to take with food.
Any recommendation related to probiotic supplementation should be based on the specific strain; however, much of this detailed evidence does not yet exist. Meal timing has more or less of an impact on probiotics depending on the strain, the dose, delivery method, etc.8 The consensus, however, is to take probiotics 30 minutes before or during a meal versus after eating.9 Another guideline is to space probiotics away from antibiotic medications by two hours to reduce interaction.
Along with vitamins A, E, and K, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is better absorbed when taken with a fat-containing meal (ex. fatty fish, avocado, olive oil, cheese, eggs).10 Although we do not have substantial evidence to support specific timing, it may make sense to take vitamin D supplements in the morning with breakfast to mimic the timing of exposure to natural sunlight.
As we continue to learn about specific supplements and optimal timing, consider that the best timing is the one you can stick with. You cannot benefit from a supplement you do not take. The most important thing is to take your supplements at a time that is convenient for you so you can be consistent.
Work with a knowledgeable healthcare provider to determine the optimal plan for you that includes quality, quantity, and timing.
By Cassie Story, RDN
We are social creatures. Hardwired in our being is the desire to belong, fit in, and play with our fellow humans. In fact, survival depends on our ability to bond.
So what happens to your mental state when you remove yourself from others over the course of a year and a half? While long-term data on the mental health implications of isolation are currently being studied, we do have short-term studies emerging, which evaluated mental health concerns over the past year.
A new phenomenon has occurred for workers who have been utilizing online video platforms for a majority of their day-to-day work. “Zoom fatigue” may have inadvertently activated the fight or flight system within the brain.1 This is according to a recent report from Stanford that offers four potential aspects of Zoom fatigue and the unintended psychological consequences that follow.1
With this knowledge, it is important to recognize the spectrum of emotions that you might be feeling as you prepare to “get back” into the real world—to step out from behind the screen and live life again.
This article identifies common emotions that you may be experiencing, effective mantras for change, and supportive nutrients that can play a role in taking you from feeling blah to rah!
Emotional state: fear & anxietyIt is understandable to have some lingering fear and anxiety about social reentry. Due to our constant connection to news and information, many people have likely experienced some level of fear and anxiety that is atypical for themselves over the past year. It wouldn’t be realistic to expect yourself to go from living in that state of mind, to complete joy and jubilation.
Mantra: I am safe
Supportive nutrients: palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) and hemp
PEA is a bioactive lipid molecule that the body produces naturally and is found in the lipid extracts of foods.2 PEA has been researched for over 70 years and has a wide range of clinical applications from mild bodily discomfort and immune system support to mood and neurological health.2-6
Full-spectrum hemp is sourced from aerial plant parts including the stalk, stems, seed, and flower of the hemp plant and contains beneficial phytocannabinoids and terpenes.
They work together to produce a synergistic effect on the endocannabinoid system, which has been found to support a healthy stress response and has positive neurological benefits.7
Emotional state: stressLoneliness and isolation have been found to increase stress levels in the body.8 Couple that with uncertainty about the future and worry for your own health and wellbeing, as well as that of your friends and family, and this creates a perfect brew for stress to thrive. Are you ready to reclaim your balance?
Mantra: I am at peace
Supportive nutrient: phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine is an important phospholipid in the brain and a key building block of nerve cell membranes.9 Research suggests that it may support mental focus and help support a healthy endocrine response to acute mental stress.10
Emotional state: low self-confidence or decline in body imageFor most people, due in part, to our society’s environmental factors of convenience foods and little built-in day-to-day movement, maintaining health and wellbeing requires routine and planning. Removing ourselves from typical day-to-day activities, and increasing a sedentary lifestyle, may lead to undesired weight gain.
If you have experienced an increase in body weight, first remind yourself, you are not alone. Second, find something about your body to be grateful for right now. Third, speak kindly to yourself.
If you have now found that a majority of your “real life” clothes no longer fit, maybe it is time to implement a supportive weight-loss routine.
Mantra: I am strong (or flexible, sexy, healthy)
Supportive nutrient: meal replacements
Meal replacements are reduced-calorie portion-controlled products often fortified with micronutrients. Studies show that replacing just one or two meals per day with a meal-replacement product produces greater total weight loss, and a greater proportion of participants meet their total weight-loss goals both in the short- and long-term, compared to a low-calorie diet without the use of meal replacements.11
Emotional state: lack of motivationSpending the majority of your time in a seated position, whether the couch or an office chair, can wreak havoc on motivation levels. Going from staring at one screen to the next, between your computer, TV, and phone, can cause a numbness of sorts and lead to lack of desire or motivation to try new things. We are hardwired to want to try new things. Being limited from participating in your favorite activities may have decreased your motivation without your realizing it.
Mantra: I enjoy new experiences
Supportive nutrients: holy basil, ashwagandha, amla fruit
These are a classic blend of Ayurvedic herbs. Holy basil (Ociumum sanctum) leaves and stems contain a variety of compounds including triterpenes (oleanolic and ursolic acid), saponins, flavonoids, and phenols.12 Roots of ashwagandha (Withania somniferum), an herb grown in India, contain withanolides.13 Amla fruit, or Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), is rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant.14
Research suggests these adaptogens may support the body in adjusting to various stressful environmental challenges.15 These herbs may help reduce some of the challenges associated with stress.16
Emotional state: excitementPerhaps you are experiencing a different type of emotion than those listed above. Maybe you are excited and “champing at the bit” to get back out into your typical social life. If you feel that you need some calming support because you just cannot wait to get back out there, here are some things to consider:
Mantra: I am calm
Supportive nutrients: folate, magnesium, vitamins B12 and B6
Folate & vitamin B12 are cofactors in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, including serotonin.17-18 Serotonin is associated with mood, sleep, and relaxation.19
Vitamin B6 is a factor in the body’s conversion of glutamate, which is a stimulatory neurotransmitter, into gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), which is associated with calming and relaxation.20
Magnesium is an essential mineral and acts as a cofactor in numerous metabolic processes. There is evidence that specific nutrients, such as magnesium, may help to promote muscle relaxation and restfulness—possibly playing a role in reducing daily stress levels.21
However you are feeling in any given moment is okay. As humans, we experience a multitude of emotions that change throughout the day. If you’ve noticed you haven’t felt yourself lately, remind yourself that every day is a new day—filled with opportunities for growth and change. Be kind to yourself, use the mantras within this article or create your own that speak to you and consider adding the supportive nutrients listed above to your routine if you are seeking nutritional support for your emotional state.
1. Bailenson J. Technology, Mind, and Behavior. 2021;2:1.
2. Beggiato S et al. Front Pharmacol. 2019;10:821.
3. PubChem, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/4671. Accessed September 20, 2019.
4. Passavanti MB et al. Syst Rev. 2019;8(9).
5. Hesselink JM et al. Int J Inflamm. 2019;2013(9).
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