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Does Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Start with Your Gut Bacteria?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting 4-10% of menstruating women (1, 2, 3).

At the heart of the syndrome is the abnormally high production of androgens (male sex hormones) by the ovaries.

High androgen production creates a characteristic clustering of symptoms that define PCOS, which include (4):

  • Excess facial and body hair growth
  • New or worsening acne
  • Irregular menstruation or lack of menstruation
  • Anovulation
  • Infertility
  • Development of multiple small fluid-filled cysts on both ovaries

In addition to serious reproductive symptoms, the syndrome is associated with a high risk of developing life-threatening chronic metabolic conditions, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (3, 4).

Despite nearly a century of research (5), scientists have struggled to understand the mechanisms that lead to PCOS (3, 4).

What causes the ovaries to start making too many androgens?

How are changes in reproductive function linked to chronic diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease?

We simply didn’t know.

But the latest research indicates that we might finally be on the brink of identifying at least one of the root causes of PCOS.

Does Gut Bacteria Impact Your Pregnancy?

Thinking about starting a family?

If so, now is a very important time to consider your own digestive health — it has a much bigger impact on your baby’s health than you might think!

Gut Bacteria is Passed to Your Baby

For decades, conventional wisdom told us that the womb is a sterile environment, devoid of any microbes to protect your baby and its growing immune system. It was thought that your baby doesn’t get exposed to any bacteria until during birth when it passes through the vaginal canal. (1)

But recently, researchers have been able to detect some bacteria in the placenta and even in the intestines of a fetus. (2,3) They posit that this bacteria is derived from your (mom’s) gut microbiome, meaning your gut bacteria can travel via the placenta to reach your baby and affect its development.

So, your baby’s microbiome begins developing and acquiring bacteria from you far earlier than we previously thought.

That makes it even more important that you have the healthiest gut you can prior to getting pregnant — If you have a healthy gut, chances are that your baby will have a healthy gut and a healthy start to life too.

Lessons Learned Through 1 Year of Marriage and Powerlifting (Plus, Our Anniversary Celebration!)

This past weekend, I celebrated both 1 year of marriage and 1 year of powerlifting. Aidan and I celebrated our first anniversary with a trip to D.C. and a fancy hotel stay, and while away for the weekend, I started reflecting on the lessons learned through a year of marriage and a year of consistently working out.

I wanted to share the things I’ve learned and the things I’ve found to be important in both of these areas because the more I thought about it, the more many things overlapped (surprisingly!).

Be Supportive:

I spent the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 deep in the development, marketing, and finally, actual running of my online course, Build Your Biome. And, man, it was a lot of work. It was something I really wanted to get out into the world, and I needed support to be able to do that.

Through my long days (and nights, if I’m being honest) working on this program, my husband was there to support me. He cooked meals, did the household chores, and gave me pep talks when technology was about to make my brain explode.

Does Gut Health Impact Mental Health?

When we think about our mental health, I’m sure most of us don’t think about our gut.

But did you know that your mental well-being may be influenced by the microscopic creatures living in your gut microbiome? The connection between gut health and mental health is one that has recently been gaining more attention, as scientists believe that the gut microbiome has enormous potential to yield new “psychobiotics.”

Psychobiotics are beneficial bacteria (probiotics) or support for such bacteria (prebiotics) that act on your bacteria-brain relationships. (1)

When I say “bacteria-brain relationships”, I’m referring to the “gut-brain axis,” an important concept that I’ve talked about before, but I’ll briefly outline it again below.

The gut-brain axis is comprised of two kinds of nervous systems: the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS).

  • The CNS consists of the spinal cord and brain, and contains a crucial feature called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve you have, running from near the hypothalamus all the way to your intestines where it reaches the other big player in the gut-brain axis, the enteric nervous system.

Can Taking Prebiotics Heal Lactose Intolerance?

75% of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance, and if you’re one of that 75% you know how *ahem* uncomfortable the symptoms can be.

However, new research released in January of this year might have a solution for those dealing with this annoying condition: prebiotics.

If you don’t know already, I’m a huge fan of prebiotics (probiotics are great, too, but I think they get all the glory!).

Never heard of a prebiotic? Prebiotics feed probiotics. They are specific types of carbohydrates that selectively feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are the bacteria living in your gut, and prebiotics feed them to keep them alive and healthy.

The Study

In this study, researchers gave lactose intolerant individuals increasing dosages of GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides, a specific type of prebiotic) over the course of about a month as they avoided dairy in their diet. They began participants at 1.5g of GOS and worked their way up to 15g. Each dose was given once per day.

After a month of being on GOS, participants stopped taking it and started including dairy products in their diet for the next 30 days.

Can Your Gut Bacteria Help You Lose Weight?

Are you struggling to lose weight?

Perhaps you’ve tried restrictive diet after restrictive diet, exercise programs, and more – only to find that your weight doesn’t budge.

What if the answer to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has been inside of you all along?

The Microbiome

Your digestive system is home to a vast ecosystem of trillions of bacteria that are diverse and complex. (1)

The different bacterial species all work together, much like a community, to ensure your digestive system and body functions appropriately. (2) The correct balance of microbiota can help your metabolism, increase your immunity, and can even enhance your brain functioning. (3)

Gut bacteria is acquired from birth, passed from mother to child (4), and there are many factors that could affect and alter your gut microbiota throughout your life, including:

  • The environment you live in. A large study investigated the differences in gut bacteria in rural and urban dwellers and found that urban people living in America had vastly different bacteria in their stool than those living in rural Malawi and Venezuela. They found that urban American fecal matter was the least diverse out of the groups,

2016: My Year in Review

Wow, I still can’t believe 2016 is almost over!

In a lot of ways, 2016 wasn’t a great year. Dealt with some health issues, had to move, politics were absolutely insane, felt like a I didn’t make a ton of progress in my business…

But in many ways it was amazing.

I’d like to share an exercise with you to review my (and your!) 2016. I hope you’ll think about these questions, too!

1. What are you most grateful for in 2016?

2016 brought me a new family 🙂 I married the love of my life in June, and I couldn’t be happier about it! Not only did I get an awesome husband, but I married into an amazing family as well. Here’s all of us (being silly, of course!) below:

I am most grateful for my husband, who is the most supportive, amazing person I have ever met. He pushes me to be better, comforts me when I’m feeling down, and is the best adventure-partner I could ever ask for.

We lost our cat this year, sadly, but we also brought home a new kitten!

I’m Married!

I’m Married!

Yay! After 10 years of being together, my fiance (now husband!) and I were married on June 4th in New York City, the place we’ve called home for the last 5 years.

We had a private ceremony with immediate family only, ate arepas from our favorite restaurant, and drank far too much alcohol with our loved ones. We’ll celebrate with our extended family and friends in October!

Just wanted you all to know why my name changed around here 😉

I’m working on an awesome new website with my new name and a new url to match…coming soon!

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PODCAST: HOW TO OVERCOME A NEGATIVE HEALTH MINDSET

Thanks for joining us for episode 32 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!

We’re doing something a little different in today’s episode. Instead of answering questions, we’re going to chat about something that’s been on both of our minds recently: MINDSET.

Did you know your mindset can significantly affect not only your happiness but your physical health as well? Are negative thoughts keeping you from living your healthiest life? Listen to this episode for some tips about how to improve your mindset and start living more positively today.

Thanks to our podcast sponsor Prep Dish for offering our listeners $10 off their first month of the online meal planning service. CLICK HERE to get your discount!

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  1. How mindset and positivity can drastically improve your experience of life AND your health
  2. Practical ways to start improving your mindset immediately

Links Discussed:

  • Get your Prep Dish Discount
  • The Achieving Health Goals Worksheet
  • Vertical Life Church (Raleigh NC)
  • Adrenal Fatigue and Fat Loss: The Gluten Free School Webinar
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Got Anxiety? Here’s How Your Gut Microbiome Plays a Part

Got Anxiety Here's How Your Gut Microbiome Plays a Part

Learn about the connection between gut health and anxiety and how you can improve your anxiety by improving your gut health.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness affecting those living in the United States with about 40 million sufferers. (1) If you deal with this condition, you know that anxiety can be debilitating and affect your quality of life. But did you also know that the trillions of microbes living in your gut can play a part in your condition and potentially help you heal? That’s right, there is a connection between your gut health and anxiety.

The Gut-Brain Connection: How Gut Health and Anxiety Connect

These microbes living in us are often referred to as the “forgotten organ” because they play such a large role in our well-being, but it is only recently that we’ve started to realize the impact this organ has on the body. (2) Unfortunately, the Western lifestyle takes a significant toll on the health of our microbiome with constant stress, unhealthy diets, lack of sleep, and more leading to a condition called dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis, the imbalance of gut bacteria, has been associated with a variety of mental disorders including anxiety.