Amber Lynn Vitale
CN Certified Nutritionist in Integrative Nutrition, Ayurvedic Clinical Consultant
To help achieve better health: adopt good lifestyle behaviours, eat an array of fruit and vegetables, and support your gut with probiotics.
It wasn’t long ago when gut health was an unfamiliar concept to many Canadians. But over the last decade or so, a growing body of research has found that it is intrinsically linked to overall health. Scientists call the enteric nervous system, located within the walls of the digestive system, “the second brain” because of its links to emotional health and immunity.
“People have always been concerned with bloating and digestive distress,” says Amber Lynn Vitale, a certified nutritionist and national educator, Garden of Life. “Now, we are learning more about how these early signs of poor gut health can lead to more pervasive problems, if not properly addressed.”
Caring about gut health means more people experience better energy, more endurance, improved mental function, clearer skin, and less inflammation, she notes. It underscores the need to look after our bodies and prioritize gut health. “It is the origin of all health and disease,” explains Vitale. “To maintain a healthy gut and a functional gut lining, we must properly nourish the trillions of microorganisms that make up our gut microbiota. Without them, we cannot achieve health and balance.”
Scientists understand now that microbiota influence the health and balance of the immune system. “They determine the strength of our immune defences against invading pathogens, and the delicate balance of the inflammatory response, which should allow us to defend, heal, and return to homeostasis,” she says. For good gut health and total wellness, Vitale suggests adopting lifestyle behaviours, like managing stress, getting good quality sleep, and eating a diet rich in multi-coloured fruits and vegetables.
You can also bolster your total health with supplements focused on probiotics, clean protein, and vitamins. Garden of Life offers a number of Certified Organic and Non-GMO options, including Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+, a supplement to promote emotional well-being and digestive health. Other powerful ingredients in this formula are organic Ashwagandha, blueberries, prebiotic fibre, and 50 billion Colony Forming Units from 16 probiotic strains. (CFU refers to the number of alive and active microorganisms.) Another good option is mykind Organics Multivitamin with more than 20 vitamins and minerals. Available in formulas for men and for women, they provide an abundance of antioxidants, are traceable to the original seed, and are derived from real whole foods.
And for nutrition on the go, perhaps on the way to the gym, try Raw Organic All-in-One Shake to deliver clean plant-based protein (20g), along with greens, fibre, probiotics, enzymes, plus 21 whole food vitamins and minerals. To help maintain energy levels and immune function, just add one scoop of the powder to water or unsweetened plant-based milk. Choose from Vanilla, Chocolate, Lightly Sweet, and new Vanilla Chai. They are dairy- and soyfree, with no artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners, or preservatives.
Along with gut health, bone health should also be a priority. Vitamin D is a key nutrient to aid with calcium absorption for healthy bones and to support the immune system’s function. Find it in mykind Organics Certified Organic Whole Food Vegan D3 Spray. One tasty spritz supplies 1,000 IU of D3, made from plant-based lichen.
To get the most out of any supplements you take, choose quality formulations free of chemicals, fillers, artificial preservatives, and dyes. For probiotics, Vitale offers this advice: “Find one verified to be non-GMO — meaning that the growth medium for the strains do not include the usual genetically modified corn, beet, and soy culprits.”