Got holiday stress? Probiotics are your new BFF. Learn how to manage the busiest time of the year by balancing your microbiome.
Whoever thought it would be a good idea to lump November and December together on the calendar clearly wasn’t thinking straight. The holiday season is jam packed with family get togethers, “Friendsgivings,” work-related holiday parties, plus the added pressure of deciding where (and with whom) you’ll be ringing in the new year.
Ugh, we’re stressed out even thinking about it.
It’s no wonder we feel the need to surround ourselves and each other with tree-shaped frosted sugar cookies and festive boozy concoctions. Sugar is constantly within arms reach this time of the year, and too much of it will rock your blood-sugar levels, wreaking havoc on your gut. All of this mounting pressure and excitement manifests differently for everyone, but it starts and ends with your gut.
3 SIGNS THAT THE HOLIDAYS MIGHT BE CAUSING YOU STRESS:
While the holidays can be a joyful time, they can be just as equally stressful. For many of us, it’s a bit of both. So, it’s no surprise that mental health issues notoriously spike during the winter months. Up to 10 million Americans experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition linked to depression that overwhelmingly affects women.
Here are some possible signs that could be linked to seasonal stress:
You’ve (temporarily) ditched your healthy lifestyle in exchange for more indulgent habits.
- Drinking more alcohol than normal
- Eating more sugar
- Health-food will power has waned
Your skin is behaving abnormally.
- More oily or flaky
- Noticing breakout-behavior
You’re feeling kinda blue.
- Fewer hours of sunlight
- Less time to get outside after work
- A desire to sleep more
- Lack of motivation
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN STRESS AND YOUR MICROBIOME
When we feel anxious or like we’re stuck in a cycle of the blues, we often link it to external factors. Maybe you’re going through a bad breakup, you’re not exactly loving your job, or you’re experiencing a family crisis. But the reality is that what’s going on inside and outside are inextricably connected- it’s not down to one or the other. The gut and your brain are naturally wired to feed off of eachother, working together by relaying messages back and forth.
This is referred to as the gut-brain axis. In a 2017 study on the connection between gut microbiota and mental health, the evidence was clear:
“The bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and gut microbiota, referred to as the gut-brain-axis, has been of significant interest in recent years. Increasing evidence has associated gut microbiota to both gastrointestinal and extragastrointestinal diseases. Dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut have been linked to causing several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.”
MICROBES AND CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
The genes that control our sleep patterns are affected by our gut microbes. When our sleep cycle is interrupted, it changes the balance of our microbiome. And, if you’ve ever had a few sleepless nights in a row, you know how wacky it can feel. A microbiome that’s out of balance has the potential to lead to longer-term conditions like insomnia and depression.
The good news is that the probiotic Lactobacillus is showing promising results in studies related to insomnia and sleep regulation. A 2021 study found that supplements containing Lactobacillus increased the production of important sleep-related gut flora:
“In relation to sleep, some studies have indicated that gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) produced by the intestinal microbiota may influence the central nervous system (CNS) through the vagus nerve and have an influence on sleep. In this sense, Lactobacillus is one of the major GABA producing bacteria in the gut microbiota.”
THE ROLE OF GUT HEALTH IN ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Maintaining a balanced microbiome is the key to our emotional balance, as well. Several studies support the supplementation of probiotics to help sufferers of depression (Huang et al., 2016; Pirbaglou et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2016; McKean et al., 2017; Wallace and Milev, 2017). Scientists are also finding a lot of similarities in what probiotics are capable of when compared to traditional depression and anxiety medications, as well as the ability of probiotics to counter the unwanted side effects of traditional SSRI’s when used together. In one 2017 study, volunteers were either given probiotics or antidepressants, and then they were monitored for a month.
“Those given probiotics showed reduced cortisol levels and improved self-reported psychological effects to a similar degree as participants administered Diazepam, a commonly used anti-anxiety medication. Analogous studies found that probiotic therapy reduced depressive symptoms and improved HPA-axis functionality as well as Citalopram and Diazepam.”
While we don’t recommend stopping the use of any prescribed medications, probiotics can help rebalance your gut flora, which is proving to play an increasingly important role in mental health and mood balance.
HOW TO KEEP CALM: PROBIOTICS FOR STRESS RELIEF
Today, class, we have a fun new word for you: psychobiotics. No, it’s not magic mushrooms or something you have to do ceremonially in the remote corners of South America. Psychobiotics are the study of probiotics specifically in relation to mood and mental health.
As good as they are for your gut and your skin, probiotics are also proving to be a powerful ally in your emotional health. With that in mind, the perfect time to start your probiotic supplement routine is before the holidays.
Our independent research ultimately led us to creating our very own proprietary blend of 5 gut-friendly probiotics that you can feed your belly just once a day with our Daily Glow Supplements. A few of these strains in particular have been shown to demonstrate psychobiotic properties, helping to reduce anxiety and stress, starting with your gut.
- Bifidobacterium Longum- Studies have shown this probiotic strain decreased depression and increased mood and quality of life among patients suffering with IBS, a digestive disorder caused by gut-bacterial overgrowth and long-term stress.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum- For anxiety in particular, this strain has shown a reduction in stress-related symptoms in human trials.
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus- In a study involving women who had recently given birth and those suffering postpartum, this strain was shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Lactobacillus Paracasei- In a 5-week study, this probiotic was shown to reduce perceived symptoms of stress, with a particularly high success rate among women.
Not only are probiotics good for your gut, but we know that what’s good for the gut is good for the skin. We are, afterall, a skincare company, but what makes us different is how we’re approaching good skin: from the inside out.
We understand how important mental health is in terms of keeping our microbiome balanced, and therefore our skin healthy. And during the holidays, that balance is more important than ever. Our Daily Glow Supplements can not only help you keep calm under pressure this holiday season, but they’ll keep your skin looking good, too.