Bowel movements. Pooping. Constipation. Digestive health. Not the most sexy of all wellness topics, am I right??

And there’s SUCH a taboo about it! It can be really embarrassing to admit that you have problems in the bathroom.

But hey, I’ll admit it.

If I’m not careful, it can be easy for me to be constipated or bloated — especially when I am traveling. Things can feel out-of-whack, and when those signs hit me, I know it’s time to pay more attention. Anyone else feeling me on this?

So I thought it would be a good time to dive into some basics of digestive health and how probiotics can play a good part in keeping things moving!

Gut Health 101

“All disease starts in the gut”. ~ Hippocrates.

Most people think about their guts as a relatively straightforward one-way machine. Food goes in, nutrition is absorbed, waste is excreted. Most people also understand that certain inputs, such as fiber and liquids, can dramatically impact the machine. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not so black and white. Your gut microbiome is incredibly complex and is connected to our immune system, mood, weight, digestion, and overall wellbeing.

Here are some more facts to blow your mind:

  • Your gut has been recently termed as your second brain, with over 95% of serotonin receptors located here. Check out Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being for some FASCINATING gems and insights.

  • According to the NIH, “Within the human gastrointestinal microbiota exists a complex ecosystem of approximately 300 to 500 bacterial species, comprising nearly 2 million genes (the microbiome).1 Indeed, the number of bacteria within the gut is approximately 10 times that of all of the cells in the human body, and the collective bacterial genome is vastly greater than the human genome.”

  • Health benefits of microflora include, but are not limited to: modulating our immune system, production of vitamins B and K, improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, weight management, protection from pathogens, and other long-term health consequences. We are JUST starting to learn about how interconnected and impactful our microflora are.

Warning Signs of Poor Gut Health:

  • Gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, constipation or abdominal pain

  • Food sensitivities or allergies

  • Shifts in mood or anxiety

  • Eczema or acne

  • Frequent infections

  • Autoimmune Disease (example: Crohn’s disease)

  • Extreme tiredness

Simple Ways to Improve Gut Health:

  • Drink plenty of water (recommended daily intake is 2.7 liters or 11 cups for the average adult female)

  • Reduce stress levels

  • Aim for 8-9 hours of sleep a night

  • Take a probiotic supplement — my favorite is Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotics)

  • Eat foods low in processed sugars and high in fibers (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains)

  • Exercise regularly

  • Eat fermented foods that promote gut health like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, sourdough, yogurt, kefir


My Personal Experience Traveling

In October of 2018, I traveled to Europe for 5 weeks. I * KNEW * that constipation and gut health would be a big concern since I wouldn’t be cooking my own food and the majority of foods I would be eating would be heavy, salty, cheesy restaurant food (not the ideal for gut health).

So for the 3 months leading up to it, I asked around for probiotic supplements that folks liked and I tested many out. The ones that worked for me (think: regular pooping like clockwork, travel-safe and no refrigeration needed) were from Renew Life! Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • Many strains — Renew Life has a BUNCH of different strains to reflect your gut’s natural diversity. They also have a bunch of different types depending on what your needs are (take a probiotic quiz to find out yours!)

  • Travel friendly — No refrigeration needed, so great for being on the go

  • Budget friendly — As far as probiotics go, these were definitely more affordable than other brands I bought

  • Once daily — Just have to take it once a day! (which I do every morning with my coffee)

  • Regulates the BMs — My bowel movements have been SO much more regular since I started taking these (seriously, v noticeable)

Cons:

  • Some packaging is a little wasteful as each pill is individually wrapped in a foil container. But I just switched to a probiotic with a normal pill bottle, so that’s good!

  • They are clear capsules with white powder in them… so I was worried bringing them traveling through airport security.. but that’s just me being paranoid! Haha.

Seriously… I don’t really have any real complaints when it comes to the probiotics I’ve tried with Renew Life. The more I’ve taken them, the better I’ve felt (AND the more I’ve learned about gut health — double bonus!).

So what are you waiting for? Get yo gut health on! #WhatTheGut