There are a few reasons why it’s important to pay attention to your microbiome, especially in your all-important role as Mom. Well, first of all – did you know that your microbiome is actually made up of 38 trillion microorganisms, that make up about fifty percent of you by cell count? That means you are technically speaking, 50% human, 50% microbes. Wild.
That said, there are obvious benefits to you when you take care of your gut health, as well as benefits to your babes. Let’s start with you – because we rarely have that chance anymore, right?
Let’s think about your eating patterns nowadays. Are you eating regular, nourishing meals? If so – awesome! I’m assuming though that, likely, something has slipped. I know when I became a mom, I went from my green juice, smoothies, salads, and gluten-free vegan meals to chips and salsa pretty dang quick. Of course, over the years I have figured out some strategies for myself but especially in the postpartum period, it is always difficult for me to take in enough high-quality, nourishing food. As motherhood goes on – there’s admittedly a lot of unconscious snacking happening in between the kids’ meal times and activities. So with changes in how we are nourishing our bodies can also come digestive discomforts. And, focusing on a digestive foundation can be extremely helpful in working through some of these discomforts!
Specifically – drinking enough water, reducing the number of processed foods, and taking a probiotic can be SO helpful here.
Let me tell ya this. Improvements in your overall digestion (ie diminishing bloat and some constipation relief) are often the most immediate effects of starting a probiotic. But get this – you know how you hardly have time now to go to the bathroom in peace? Well, certain probiotic strains can even trigger neurotransmitters that stimulate muscle contractions for increased motility—which means smoother, more regular stools and faster transit time. I’m here for this.
Throughout pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and beyond, there are changes happening physically and emotionally that are often beyond our control. There are certainly things we can use in our tool belt to bring in some balance — like therapy, self-care, an understanding of the cascade of hormones happening, nourishing our bodies with food and drink, and yep, even – probiotics. While we cannot rely on a probiotic to magically change our situation, the promising thing is that the research is being done and it is looking positive. A 2019 review of 21 studies on probiotics and anxiety revealed that modulations of the intestinal microbiome through probiotic therapy and diet changes reduced anxiety symptoms in over half the patients (Beibei, et al, 2017), suggesting the potential for treating mental health from the gut up.
Do you know why this is? It’s all part of the gut-brain axis. Our human gut is also housing over 100 million nerve cells as part of the enteric nervous system. They control the gastro system from your mouth to your intestines, and, by way of that are also providing feedback to your brain. Because of this – research is being done to investigate the benefits of probiotics on mental health.
Did the glowing pregnancy skin leave you hanging? I’ve been there too! The sudden changes in your hormonal makeup, coupled with sleep deprivation, dehydration, stress, and uneven mealtimes can all contribute to lackluster skin and acne in the postpartum period and beyond. Your skin microbiome has 100 billion microorganisms that play a vital role in your overall skin health, texture, and appearance.
The good news here is that in a 2016 study, scientists identified two of the root causes of adult acne—which were an imbalance in the gut-skin axis, and irregular insulin production. When oral probiotics were administered, participants exhibited a 32% reduction in acne symptoms compared to the control group (Saito, et al, 2017). This is a promising sign that your oral probiotic can be helpful when it comes to your overall skin health and appearance.
Did you know that a huge portion of your baby’s initial microbiome comes directly from you? Yes, you! This process of passing microbes from yourself to baby is called “seeding” and generally happens through the vaginal canal, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin contact. Over time, baby will gain microbes from places other than mom – like dad, brothers or sisters, the ground, and pets.
But keep in mind that the first microbes received are going to be the foundation for the future of the immune system. That’s why mom’s healthy microbiome is soooo important! In a way, you are the very first line of defense.
Okay, so how do we work on improving our microbiome so that both of us can have a great start?
I’m sure you guessed it. Probiotics.
Probiotics, by definition, are “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Don’t let that dictionary definition overwhelm you! Essentially, it means that these live microorganisms must survive digestion, be in the right amounts, and have a benefit to you. PS, yes you actually need probiotics to survive on their way down to your colon!
Anyway – while I was searching for a probiotic to take, the information out there was really quite confusing and misleading at times. There are so many probiotic supplements on the market right now and frankly, they all want you to buy what they make! I worked in marketing myself for 10 years and my job was to figure out the things to say to make you buy something! All that said – choosing a probiotic – while we know it is important and beneficial – can feel like a daunting and confusing task. Probiotics come in so many forms – from capsules to powders, with different strains and amounts, plus they are shelf-stable, or refrigerated, or in your food and drink.
After (a lot of) searching, I chose Seed because they really care about educating their users on what’s going in their bodies, rather than just throwing empty promises and catchy marketing words your way. Because of my marketing background, I often bypass the BS on the front label and head straight for the juicy stuff – the ingredients and education!
Furthermore – I even participated in Seed University so that I understood what the microbiome was, how the products actually work, the benefits, and what is going on in that tiny world within my body!
On that one – let’s get into what to look for when purchasing your own probiotics.
Having multiple strains allow for a more balanced formula that benefits your whole body. Seed probiotics contain 24 different strains of probiotic and prebiotic inside of their capsules. And, what’s awesome is that each of those were studied for efficacy. AKA there is a reason each strain is in this capsule, not just for fluff!
Plus, they also have 53.6 billion AFU, aka viable microorganisms! You are probably used to seeing CFU on your probiotic bottles, which stands for Colony Forming Units. This shows the number of colonies formed on a plate through a series of dilutions and has been used in microbiology since the 1800s. Seed goes an extra step and also considers the AFU, or Active Fluorescent Units. This captures a more precise measurement of viable cells.
Shelf stability is an important factor, as well. If I’m paying money for a product, I want it to last! AND I don’t need the extra headache of keeping some of my supplements in the pantry and some in the fridge. Luckily, Seed probiotics are shelf-stable for 18 months, without the need for refrigeration. This means you don’t have to worry about taking them along with you when you travel!
Yes, even the capsule that your probiotic comes in is important! For your probiotic to actually work, it has to survive the journey down the digestive tract. Seed uses a capsule-within-a- capsule technology (ViaCap®), with a probiotic inner capsule and a prebiotic outer capsule. Their 2-in-1 capsules even protect the probiotic from heat, light, moisture, and stomach degradation.
I hope this is helpful in your understanding what a probiotic can do to benefit you, and the best way to sift through the ever-growing and ever-changing market of what’s available. As a mom of 3, I am always on the path to “what is most effective” and “what is most efficient” and I feel I have found it here with Seed! If you have any additional questions – please drop them below!
If you want to try Seed – get 15% off your first month’s supply of Seed’s Daily Synbiotic by using code JESSB15 at checkout.
Thank you to Seed for sponsoring this blog post.
“DS-01™ is safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, but as with all new changes during this time, we suggest that you also speak with your physician. Fun company fact: Seed Co-Founders Ara and Raja were introduced when Ara was pregnant. Her journey through pregnancy and breastfeeding (with Raja’s guidance and education) inspired their collaborative vision for Seed.”
Beth Scupham. “Enteric Nervous System”. Anatomy and Physiology (Boundless), 2020; https://med.libretexts.org/@go/page/8031
Beibei Y, et al. “Effects of regulating intestinal microbiota on anxiety symptoms: A systematic review.” General Psychiatry, 2019; 32: e100056 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.%201136/gpsych-2019-100056
Marilia Carabotti, Annunziata Scirocco, Carola Severi, Carola Severi. “The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems.” Ann Gastroenterol 2015 Apr-Jun;28(2):203-209. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/
Saito, Y et al, “Effects of intake of Lactobacillus casei subsp. casei 327 on skin conditions: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in women,” Bioscience of Microbiota, Food and Health, 2017 Volume 36 Issue 3 Pages 111-120 DOI https://doi.org/10.12938/bmfh.16-031