I'd like to consider myself somewhat well-versed in the realm of health. Like most children growing up, I had parents who understood the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. My mom worked hard to ensure that we ate at the dinner table as a family, which meant the majority of the meals I consumed growing up were home-cooked and wholesome. Further, I adopted exercise at an early age seeing my parents interested in things like running and weight lifting. Thus, the foundation of what it meant to be healthy was pretty straight forward, and instilled in me at a young age: eat healthy, whole food and exercise. The end.
After college, around 2009, however, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive stage of prostate cancer. During his journey to recovery, he became a near expert on the world of holistic health. At that point, our view of what it meant to be "healthy" was somewhat redefined, or magnified, if you will. Our family began to incorporate new, alternative practices. This included things like a vegan diet and eating raw foods. We also became well-versed in the world of supplements. Magnesium was used for calming. B vitamins and fish oil became essential. You could say that I knew more about holistic, or preventative health, than the average person.
One of the things I learned about during this time was the importance of gut health. I know it's not true, but I'd like to think that I was at the forefront of learning about gut health before it became trendy and highly studied, as it is today. Unless you live under a rock, gut health has become all the rage nowadays, despite the fact that Hippocrates coined the phrase: “All disease begins in the gut,” nearly 2500 years ago! Today, gut health has become a top priority and area of study in the health industry. The most prestigious medical schools have created courses on the topic of gut health and its importance to overall wellness. Health practitioners have started prescribing probiotics in efforts to address major health concerns. And the NIH has estimated that roughly 3.9 million adults in the U.S. use some form of probiotic or prebiotic to boost health. As Hippocrates said, our gut is the place where chronic disease and illness is born.
As it relates, the gut is responsible for performing a variety of bodily functions. Our gut is known for breaking down the foods we eat, absorption of nutrients and providing energy. The gut also provides support for our immune system, hormone balance, skin and mental health and even toxin and waste elimination. Since our digestive system plays such a vital role in our body’s day to day function, it is imperative that it’s in tip-top shape!
Since 70% of our immune system is located within the boundary of the gut, feeding it the proper nutrients is essential for its health and longevity. We have trillions of bacteria living in our intestines, with a variety of different species all performing different functions. Within our digestive tract, we carry good and bad bacteria which makeup our gut microflora. Having the right amount of good and bad bacteria is important for overall gut health because an imbalance could lead to inflammation, illness, or disease. This is why it is crucial that we have more good bacteria than bad within our digestive tract. In order to get more good bacteria, consuming products or taking a supplemental probiotic (good bacteria) regularly can help with this imbalance and provide beneficial bacteria for optimal gut health and function.
On the other hand, if you tend to eat sugary, processed, refined or inflammatory foods, these foods can have the opposite effect on gut health. Instead of feeding the good bacteria, they will feed the bad bacteria. The bad bugs love sugar and feed off anything that starts as or turns into sugar. Too much of these foods can result in leaky gut, – meaning less nutrient absorption, more inflammation, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, weight gain, etc. – which is the root cause of many illnesses and autoimmune diseases. Needless to say, gut health is imperative to optimal health.
Antibiotics + My Story
One of the things that I have felt very conflicted about when it comes to the health of my children was the over-prescription and use of antibiotics. This was especially important in the early years of my kid's lives in which I felt that it was imperative to protect my baby's microbiome, or gut. I hadn't read studies or even done much research on the human microbiome, but with my limited knowledge of antibiotics it only made intuitive sense that when antibiotics was used to kill off bad bacteria that it would inevitably kill off good bacteria, as well. At the same time, I understood the stance of medical professionals. That in many cases, the use of antibiotics is often necessary. Antibiotics save lives and have been revolutionary for healthcare. But when your back is again a wall and it's necessary to take antibiotics, is there anything you can do to get back that good bacteria?
I'll give an example. Before my son Vance was born, he was diagnosed with inflamed kidneys. What does this mean? I really don't know except that I had to see a specialist, a urologist, and it was concerning as a parent. When it came time to deliver Vance, the specialist AND my pediatrician recommended that he go on antibiotics as soon as he was born to prevent any sort of UTI or infection that may arise because of his dilated kidneys. As you can imagine, I wasn't thrilled about the idea that my son would need to be on antibiotics from birth. Again, I knew how precious the microbiome was, especially in protecting it during the first six months of life, and wanted to preserve all of his good bacteria. The use of antibiotics so young scared me. So I did what all good moms do... I pushed back. I told the doctors I was concerned about the use of antibiotics. Responding to my concern, both doctors told me the bigger concern would be if Vance were to get an infection from the dilated kidneys at such a young age. Ultimately, it could be very dangerous. They said the dosage was extremely small, and that I shouldn't be concerned. I listened, reluctantly.
Following doctor's orders, I gave Vance his antibiotics from birth every single day. Every time I did, I felt guilty. I knew it was necessary, but I also knew what it was doing to his little microbiome and couldn't help but feel bad about it. Simultaneously, really since Vance was born, I had noticed that he had the world's worst chronic diaper rash that no amount of Aquaphor could cure. I tried everything under the sun! My pediatrician even prescribed me an anti fungal cream. I had no idea what it could be from, until I considered the overuse of the antibiotics. BINGO. Because he had been prescribed those antibiotics, while they were stripping his system of the potentially bad bacteria, they were simultaneously stripping his system of the good bacteria. With the absence of this good bacteria, Vance now had chronic diaper rash. It all made perfect sense.
As I said, I tried everything to get Vance to recover from this terrible diaper rash, but after nothing worked, I went back to my holistic roots and considered the use of probiotics. I knew that using probiotics would help some of that good bacteria to grow back and proliferate, and his private area needed that good bacteria if I ever wanted to see the diaper rash go away. So, I headed to Whole Foods and sought out the most potent, expensive probiotic that money could buy. I used the probiotic as directed and what I discovered is that Vance's diaper rash slowly began to fade over time. True story.
I share this story about probiotics because today I am working with a company called Evivo. Evivo is a pediatrician recommended probiotic that has over a decade's worth of research and clinical trials behind it. Now, I am not a doctor. I have not thoroughly studied probiotics, however, after speaking with highly educated, experienced and credentialed physicians, I believe that the study of probiotics and its positive impact on the micobiome are making significant headway within the medical community. In fact, MIT now has an entire center dedicated to the study of the human microbiome. It is called the MIT Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics. Similarly, I recently had a conversation with my sister-in-law, an infectious disease doctor, who is at the epicenter of where research on the human microbiome is currently taking place, and she confirmed that she would, in fact, give her son probiotics if/when he were to be put on antibiotics. Further, she concluded that her pediatrician, whom she respects and trusts, supports the use of probiotics in babies and children.
Who is an ideal candidate for probiotics?
This is big news guys! This also got me thinking about my current son, Beauden. And I went through a checklist of things to consider whether or not he would be a good candidate for probiotics. The checklist is this...
If the answer is "yes" to any of the above, I concluded that Beauden is an ideal candidate for probiotics. No, I didn't have a c-section. This means that Beauden was exposed to my vaginal flora that helps build up his microbiome. No, I wasn't given antibiotics during pregnancy. No, he hasn't taken antibiotics since he was born. No, I haven't taken antibiotics while breastfeeding. But, YES, I was diagnosed as Group B Strep during pregnancy, which means that during labor, my doctor required me to have a steady dose of antibiotics in hopes that it would go straight to my baby to prevent him from contracting the strain of bacteria, which could be harmful and even deadly. These antibiotics are often deemed necessary, and yes, they were given to me during labor. Thus, Beauden was likely exposed to antibiotics in utero, which makes him an ideal candidate to recieve probiotics.
When antibiotics wipe out the bad bacteria, they simultaneously wipe out the good bacteria. And as was mentioned beforehand, in order to have a healthy gut, our children need good bacteria! What is being uncovered is the fact that the first month's of a baby's life are crucial to immune and metabolic development. And because of the high rate of C-sections and antibiotics given, 9 out of 10 babies lack B. infantis, the key good bacteria that digest special nutrients in breast milk and protects baby's gut. What's the solution? Probiotics! Probiotics are living organisms and their purpose, whether in food or in supplement form, is to help improve the amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
When Vance was going through his diaper rash issue, I wish I had a trusted brand like Evivo for use as a probiotic. And here's why. Evivo is the only baby probiotic clinically proven to restore the good bacteria, B.infantis, reducing bad bacteria in baby's gut by 80%. Evivo is the result of over a decade of research and clinical trials at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Further, Evivo's breakthrough findings about the baby gut microbiome and infant probiotics have been covered in well-respected publications around the world.
If you are curious about your baby's gut health and to see if you are a candidate for Evivo, I encourage you to first and foremost talk with your pediatrician! Doctors have a wealth of information when it comes to the use of probiotics. After doing so, I then encourage you to take the baby gut check quiz on Evivo's website - only three questions, that's it!
If you're all in on baby's gut health, pleas visit Evivo's website and use my codes below for a discount today!
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