Do you have a healthy gut? Your guide to prebiotics and probiotics!

I’m sure you’ve heard of the terms “prebiotics” and “probiotics.” But do you really know what they are, and the role they play in your body? 

Probiotics are known as “good” bacteria that are similar to the naturally occurring bacteria found in your GI tract. We can think of them as a supplement since they work withour resident bacteria to keep our digestive system healthy and functioning properly. Probiotics are living organisms. And, as we all know, living organisms need food to survive. For that reason, prebiotics exist and serve as the food source for probiotics. 

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Here’s how... 

Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible food (fiber) that probiotics use as energy, or fuel. 

Since our bodies cannot digest fiber, it remains in the GI tract for most of the digestive cycle, until it reaches the large intestine, where most of our gut bacteria is rooted. Then, bacteria ferments and breaks down the prebiotics to help in the digestion of food, the production of certain vitamins, and in keeping the immune system healthy. 

So, why are probiotics and prebiotics significant? 

Our gut plays an important role in our health, especially the health of our immune system. It is filled with trillions of different bacteria, but not all of them are beneficial. The goal of consuming probiotics and prebiotics is to increase the ratio of “good” bacteria to “bad” bacteria. 

Everyone’s gut microbiota is unique, and it can be impacted by the foods we consume. Most of the time, our microbiota can adapt to change. However, there are some instances where a rift in the balance can arise. Research states that such imbalance may be linked to inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, allergies, and diabetes ( 1) . Moreover, ongoing research have attributed prebiotic and probiotic consumption with reducing antibiotic associated diarrhea, improving mild to moderate IBS and other digestive symptoms, and maintaining overall digestive and immune system health( 2) . 

Where can I find prebiotics and probiotics? 

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Prebiotics are naturally found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, artichokes, garlic, onion, leeks, and tomatoes; in grains such as bran; and in nuts such as almonds. Hence, including a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet is one way to make sure you are getting natural sources of prebiotics in your diet. 

Probiotics supplements are available, but you can also find them naturally in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, kimchi, pickles, and in some cheeses such as gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar. 

Maintaining a healthy environment for gut bacteria to thrive is key to optimal health. Supplements are readily available, but make sure to include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet so you can reap the benefits of these little living organisms! 

References 

1.European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. (2017). Gut Microbiota for Health. Retrieved from http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/

2.Sanders, M. (2016). Probiotics. International Scientific Association of Prebiotics and Probiotics. Retrieved from https://isappscience.org/probiotics/ 

Psychosis: What can parents do?

Having a child diagnosed with psychosis is often devastating. For some, it may even feel like the end of the world. 

For the first few hours after the diagnosis, no reassuring words seem to help. However, once you’re through the initial shock, Psychosis is more like one chapter of your child's life is over and a new is beginning.

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It is easy for parents to instantly blame themselves for the unforeseen things that happen in their children’s lives. The instinctual reaction is to jump in and try to solve the problem for them. Then, when we realize that we cannot solve it for them, we blame ourselves. Unfortunately, we cannot and should not do that either. 

So, what can parents do?

Most importantly, being there for your child, no matter how angry they get or irrational they appear. Being physically with them, even if you're just sitting there while they go on and on about something you want to correct, just sit with them. They are aware that you are there. Your job is to be supportive while our job, as professionals, is to challenge them and determine the best course of treatment and medications. Let us be the tough guys in their eyes. We will take the blame and are trained to handle it. 

When you are not with your child, learn as much as you can about their condition by reading. Go to support groups available in your community to network with other parents in a similar situation. Become involved in their care, work with the treatment team and provide input. Most importantly, ask a lot of questions and let the team know what your limitations are. 

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Make sure your child takes his or her medication. There is no amount of therapy that I or any therapist can do that will help rid them of the psychosis. Therapy is useless without the client being on medication. My job is to help them once their symptoms start to go away. 

Wait before you stop reading, it is important to emphasize the following points: 

  • You child has not changed forever from the one you've raised.
  • Your child is not going to instantly become homeless, walking the streets and mumbling to himself. 
  • You are not responsible for your child’s illness. 

 

About Tom: Tom Earnshaw, LCSW is a therapist at Curis Functional Health who specializes in Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Psychosis. To schedule an appointment with Tom Click here.

Curis Functional Healthis a multidisciplinary functional health center that integrates mental health, chiropractic, and dietetics.  Click here to learn more about Curis.

 

The 3 C's of Addiction

“I didn't cause it.” 
“I can’t cure it.” 
“I can’t control it.” 

If you have ever been to an Alanon meeting, you’ve probably heard these before. Though there’s a lot of wisdom in these thoughts, they can be truly hard to understand, especially when you’re family is caught up in the addiction cycle. 

A lot of times, family members try to do things to control the addiction behaviors of their loved one. To do so, often feels like self-preservation. We’re just trying to survive it with as little damage as possible. There’s a theory in psychology called change theory, which basically states that we don’t really make any changes unless we’re uncomfortable. So, avoiding discomfort may actually be perpetuating the disease process in our loved one. Our interference with them being uncomfortable can actually allow their suffering to continue longer than it would have. Wrap your mind around that one! 

We are not meant to control their behaviors, or rescue them from their consequences. We are allowed to let it go. In fact, most times, our desire to control them backfires on us. 

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Family members and mostly parents can feel like they have somehow caused the addiction. The reality is, there are many factors that contribute to the creation of the disease and it’s very rarely one person or one event. Genetics can be a factor in someone developing the disease of addiction. On the other hand, there are many people who are genetically loaded for it and never manifest the disease. In addition, people experience many painful things in their lives. We just are not capable of rescuing our loved ones from all of them and allowing them to go through these pains, often make people better.

How are we supposed to know the difference? We can’t bubble wrap our loved ones to protect them from every life event. Our addicted person may try to blame us, which is common. But once we choose to let go of that blame, it can allow them to take responsibility for their own lives and grow from it. 

I wish we had a quick fix or a pill that could cure addiction. I’d have to find a new line of work and I’d be okay with that. But, in reality, those do not exist. There is no quick cure. There is only continued progress toward health and peace. If you think about it, most diseases are like that. Our body tells us there is something wrong and we may be able to change our lifestyle (this can mean taking medication, or not) but if we go back to an unhealthy-for-us lifestyle, the disease comes back. 

Addiction Problems

Addiction acts the same way. We, as the army of family members, do not have a way to cure the addiction for our loved one, but we can support their recovery, and our own.  As we learn what addiction really is, we can help with the recovery process for our addicted family member. Learning how to have boundaries with them and to create a sense of safety in the family is key.

Most of us begin this journey with no idea how to do this. It’s part of the process of moving our family into recovery. Having a group of supportive and knowledgeable people in your life is important and will help you and your loved one enter into, and stay in, recovery.

About Julia: Julia Wesley, LMFT-S is a therapist at Curis Functional Health who specializes in addiction, codependency, couples, and family therapy.  Click here to schedule with Julia today. 

Curis Functional Health is a multidisciplinary functional health center that integrates mental health, chiropractic, and dietetics.  Click here to learn more about Curis.

 

 

Are you experiencing pains in your pregnancy? Chiropractic can help!

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For nine months, life revolves around one question, "how can I bring my baby into the world healthy and safely?"  This generally includes numerous visits to the OB/GYN, vitamins, supplements, cravings and nutrition changes, difficulty standing or getting out of your bed or car, sleep discomfort, and even pain.

The reality is that most women will experience discomfort during pregnancy. Common medical solution like painkillers and muscle relaxers can’t be had, stretching can worsen the problem, and even sleep aids are not recommended. Chiropractic care can be of great help to alleviate the pain and discomfort, which makes the expecting mother (and father), much happier and the pregnancy much more enjoyable. 

Approximately 50% of women experiences back pain during pregnancy and that ratio spikes to 75% during labor. This can mainly be attributed to the altered physical and hormonal changes a woman goes through. As the baby grows, it pulls your weight forward causing posture imbalances and increased curvature of your lower back, which diminishes the ability of your pelvis and spine to adequately support your weight. This, typically, results in compression of the spinal and pelvic joints, pinching of the sciatic nerve, and contraction of muscles to try and retain stability. 

All of this contributes to pain, and is made worse by the hormones relaxin and progesterone, particularly in the third trimester. These hormones allow the pelvic cavity to expand to accommodate the growth of the baby, but also allow muscles and ligaments to over stretch.

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In a series of studies, it was found that an outstanding 84% of women who underwent Chiropractic care experienced relief of back pain. It also significantly decreases the risk of, "back labor.” Typically, women who experience back pain through pregnancy are three times more likely to experience back labor. The study also noted that women utilizing Chiropractic care during pregnancy experience 25% shorter labor for a first time mother, and 31% shorter for subsequent births.

So, is Chiropractic safe? Another study showed that women experienced relief in symptoms in an average of 1.8 visits, with no negative reported effects. 

Not only can this help reduce pain and shorten labor times, but also decreases the likelihood of a cesarean section by 24% and forcep usage during delivery by 14%. This is accomplished through Chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic massage, and moderate exercise focused on core/pelvic strengthening. 

Chiropractic is a safe, affordable, and dependable means of relieving pain during pregnancy and assisting expecting mothers in bringing their baby into this world happy and healthy. 

 

What Does A Dream Mean To You?

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What comes to mind when you think of the word DREAM?  For some, it may bring up thoughts of the future and potential achievements, while for others it may be reoccurring nightmares or nightly dreams that they just can’t shake.  And of course, there are the daydreamers…  There are so many meanings to this single word that we delve into, so today I would like to focus on the meaning of dreams that occur at night.

Reoccurring dreams or nightmares can be haunting and confusing - Why do I keep having the same dream? What does it really mean? What does this say about me and about my life?  

Many different theorists in the world of psychology have come up with different ways to view and interpret our dreams.  The first person that comes to mind when thinking of dream theories is Freud.  He wrote the book ‘Interpretation of Dreams’, which stated that our dreams were a way of fulfilling our desires that we kept repressed in our subconscious.  He believed that our dreams, both good and bad, held hidden meanings within them.  Seems intriguing, right?  Well not to everyone, apparently.  McClarley and Hobson had a different theory when it came to dreams, and it was the opposite of Freud’s.  Their theory is known as the Activation-Synthesis Theory and it states that our brain circuits being activated during REM sleep cause our dreams.  Though this theory looks at dreams as mainly random firings within the brain, they do believe that some dreams could be useful.

These are just two of the many theories out there that discuss dreams, their origin, and whether or not they hold meaning.  However, sometimes when our dreams are distressing we need a little bit more than a theory to help us understand and process their distressing nature. That’s where we can help! As counselors, we can help you walk through those dreams and build the tools necessary to process them.  One of the best tools to start your work is to keep a dream journal.  We can also help you through creating your own journal.