Let’s Talk about Gut Health and Probiotics with Marisa Moore, RDN

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD

What is gut health?

Gut health has become a buzzword over the past decade. Over the years, recognizing the importance of gut health has gone from simply focusing on what we eat and digestion to its impact on overall wellness.

But let’s back up a bit to understand why. The gastrointestinal tract (or GI tract) is essential for moving food from the mouth throughout the body, converting that food into nutrients our body can absorb, and eliminating waste.1 However, the GI tract is more than a pathway for absorbing nutrients. Its health can impact the entire body.

Growing research suggests that gut health goes well beyond good digestion.2 It may have an impact on the immune system and mood.3-5 Research on gut bacteria continues to grow and may be a key factor in understanding and maintaining gut health.

Disruptions to the GI Tract

Dietary and lifestyle patterns can affect the GI tract.

Gut microbiota—the microbe population living in the intestines—is sensitive to a variety of factors including lifestyle, dietary patterns, environmental factors and aging.6 Temporary changes like travel can have an impact. But daily habits have the greatest influence over time. Changes in what you eat—particularly food quality and excessive alcohol intake—significantly affect gut symbiosis7; that is, how your gut bacteria get along and maintain balance.

Skimping on fruits and vegetables may starve gut bacteria and affect their ability to thrive. As such it’s important to provide gut bacteria with a constant supply of fuel for optimal balance and health.

There’s now evidence that the Western-type diet—higher in fat and lower in fiber—can result in a shift in the microbial balance of the gut. Researchers are also studying how ultra-processed foods might affect gut. On the other hand, a diet high in sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber, such as legumes, fruits and vegetables and whole grains, can support the growth of healthy microbial populations.8,9

Further, there’s some evidence that our gut microbes affect sleep and might influence our circadian rhythm. The gut microbiome plays a key role in many different body systems. When it’s out of balance, we might experience sleep disturbances and become more susceptible to stress. Evidence suggests that the relationship between circadian rhythm and the gut microbiome may be bidirectional. 10 Though research exploring the gut-brain connection is in its infancy and largely based on animal models, it may shed light on how an imbalance in the microbiome might impact our mood, sleep, and mental health.11

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms that may provide a health benefit upon ingestion. These beneficial bacteria help us absorb nutrients and fight off unwanted bacteria in the gut. You can get probiotics from food or supplements.12

Getting probiotics regularly may help you establish more healthy bacteria in the gut. And that comes with benefits. Research suggests that probiotics offer strain-specific health benefits. These include a potential positive impact on the immune system, bowel regularity, mood and more.2

That’s probiotics. But what about prebiotics?

Prebiotics help feed gut bacteria. Prebiotics are largely indigestible carbohydrates or fibers found naturally in certain foods including chicory root, sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes), bananas, garlic, onions, asparagus and oats. Prebiotics are fermented in the gut to help gut bacteria thrive.

An easy way to remember the difference is that prebiotics are food for the friendly bacteria in the gut.13,14

Probiotics and Nutrition

Yogurt, kefir and pickled vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut are a few top food sources of probiotics. For a daily dose of probiotics, you might enjoy Greek yogurt and fresh fruit for a snack or try kefir in a breakfast smoothie to effortlessly add probiotics to your morning routine.

If you’re curious about how to get the most bang for your bite, there are a few things to consider.

  • Look for yogurt and kefir with live and active cultures. It’s often noted on the packaging. And try to eat the yogurt sooner than later since the number of cultures may decline over time depending on storage conditions and packaging.15
  • Though pickled vegetables contain some probiotics, it’s often difficult to determine just how much. Plus, pasteurized fermented foods may not have as many probiotics as those that are not.

Healthful diet with probiotic supplementation

Different probiotic supplements offer different potential benefits.

Benefits may be strain-specific. That is, the type of probiotic supplement you take should contain strains supported by research.

Remember that not all probiotics are created equal. This means that one Lactobacillus supplement is not necessarily like another. From differences in potency to manufacturing practices and storage, and the research backing up the specific strains they use, supplements vary. Choose products supported by clinical research and opt for a high-quality supplement brand you trust.

FLORASSIST® GI with Phage Technology

Studies show that gut health is influenced by a number of factors. Probiotic supplements may help to have a healthy and protective balance. Technological innovations are making this even easier.

You have to do your research to find the right products. And since you’re here, you’ve already taken the first step.

Life Extension offers several FLORASSIST® probiotics, each with its own health benefits. Life Extension FLORASSIST® with Phage Technology combines potent probiotics with innovative bacteriophage technology and takes a dual-action approach to support gut health.
Here are the top benefits at a glance:

  • Probiotic blend with 15 billion colony forming units (CFU)
  • Innovative TetraPhage Blend affects unwanted bacteria
  • Supports the growth of probiotic bacteria
  • Promotes digestion and stomach health

You can take comfort in knowing that the Phage technology is designed to only affect undesirable bacteria, leaving your existing good bacteria to thrive and create the ideal balance in your gut.

Synergy: supplements and a healthy diet

We know that a healthy diet is a key to lifelong health. But sometimes you need a little help. And some strains can help support the immune system from seasonal immune challenges.19 These are a few ways to use supplements to complement a healthy diet. And eating probiotic-rich foods doesn’t keep you from also incorporating supplements.

When transitioning from a heavily processed diet to incorporate more whole foods, take a small step approach. Going too fast can be overwhelming and may lead you to just give up. Think about what you can add to make it easier. Try pre-chopped or frozen vegetables for a dinnertime shortcut. Add big handfuls of spinach to a pasta dish or try healthy dishes when you’re out to eat. If, for example, you’re a big macaroni and cheese fan, add in some chopped cauliflower for a vegetable boost.

The Bottom Line

The best way to maintain a healthy gut microbiome is through a healthy whole foods diet including plenty of probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods. Probiotic supplements can help complement this diet to improve gut health and other parts of the body as well.

About the Author: Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist and communications and culinary nutrition expert. Her integrative and practical approach to providing healthy and delicious recipes coupled with science-based nutrition advice is regularly featured in the nation’s leading media outlets including CNN, the TODAY Show, Dr. Oz. Show, Women’s Health, Prevention, and many more. She is a consultant to food and nutrition companies, contributing editor for Food and Nutrition Magazine, contributor to People magazine and other national publications. Before launching her consultancy, Marisa worked as an outpatient dietitian, corporate nutritionist for a restaurant chain, and she managed the employee worksite nutrition program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Connect with Marisa at https://marisamoore.com.

  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Your Digestive System & How it Works. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works. Updated 12/2017. Accessed 10/8/2019.
  2. Khanna S, Tosh PK. A clinician's primer on the role of the microbiome in human health and disease. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89(1):107-114.
  3. Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology. 2013;6(1):39-51.
  4. Huang TT, Lai JB, Du YL, Xu Y, Ruan LM, Hu SH. Current Understanding of Gut Microbiota in Mood Disorders: An Update of Human Studies. Front Genet. 2019;10:98.
  5. Liu L, Zhu G. Gut-Brain Axis and Mood Disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2018;9:223.
  6. Hasan N, Yang H. Factors affecting the composition of the gut microbiota, and its modulation. PeerJ. 2019;7:e7502.
  7. Mutlu EA, Gillevet PM, Rangwala H, et al. Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. American journal of physiology Gastrointestinal and liver physiology. 2012;302(9):G966-978.
  8. Martinez KB, Leone V, Chang EB. Western diets, gut dysbiosis, and metabolic diseases: Are they linked? Gut Microbes. 2017;8(2):130-142.
  9. Zinocker MK, Lindseth IA. The Western Diet-Microbiome-Host Interaction and Its Role in Metabolic Disease. Nutrients. 2018;10(3).
  10. Li Y, Hao Y, Fan F, Zhang B. The Role of Microbiome in Insomnia, Circadian Disturbance and Depression. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2018;9:669.
  11. Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiology of stress. 2017;7:124-136.
  12. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: What You Need To Know. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm. Updated 8/2019. Accessed 10/8/2019.
  13. Ferrario C, Statello R, Carnevali L, et al. How to Feed the Mammalian Gut Microbiota: Bacterial and Metabolic Modulation by Dietary Fibers. Front Microbiol. 2017;8:1749.
  14. Davani-Davari D, Negahdaripour M, Karimzadeh I, et al. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods. 2019;8(3).
  15. Ferdousi R, Rouhi M, Mohammadi R, Mortazavian AM, Khosravi-Darani K, Homayouni Rad A. Evaluation of probiotic survivability in yogurt exposed to cold chain interruption. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR. 2013;12(Suppl):139-144.
  16. McFarland LV, Evans CT, Goldstein EJC. Strain-Specificity and Disease-Specificity of Probiotic Efficacy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Med (Lausanne). 2018;5:124.
  17. Issa I, Moucari R. Probiotics for antibiotic-associated diarrhea: do we have a verdict? World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(47):17788-17795.
  18. McFarland LV. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea and the treatment of Clostridium difficile disease. The American journal of gastroenterology. 2006;101(4):812-822.
  19. Yang G, Liu ZQ, Yang PC. Treatment of allergic rhinitis with probiotics: an alternative approach. North American journal of medical sciences. 2013;5(8):465-468.

Resources for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ashley Wyckoff, Bachelor of Science

Why do we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Most people are familiar with breast cancer and may even know someone who has had it. However, many people may not realize that healthy lifestyle choices may help reduce breast cancer risk. That is why each October different organizations work to educate the public about breast cancer. They have made this effort since the first organized weeklong event occurred in October 1985. Some of the organizations that participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month are the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.®, Wear it Pink and the American Cancer Society®.

Source: https://evergreenhealth.org/category/updates/page/2/

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to remember those who fought the battle with cancer, educate the public about the disease, and raise money for research so we can finally end the war with breast cancer. For more information, check out some of our previous articles:

Breast Health 101

Soy Consumption Associated with Lower Breast Cancer Risk

How to Protect Against Breast Cancer from Hormone Replacement

Breast Cancer Protocol

Nutrition Tips for Living Longer after Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Myths

Breast Cancer Risk

About the Author: Ashley Wyckoff, BS, is a Product Operation Specialist at Life Extension headquarters in South Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading and yoga to keep her mind and body healthy. She believes in equal access to quality healthcare and it is her goal to make it a reality.

Your Favorite Episodes of The Live Foreverish Podcast – International Podcast Day

September 30th is International Podcast Day! To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our top 5 podcast episodes of Live Foreverish, as determined by your downloads!

Here are the fan favorites:

1.The Truth Behind Varicose Veins - Targeting the underlying problem with nutrition

Spider and varicose veins…nobody wants them. But venous insufficiency is more than just a cosmetic problem - it can be a sign of overt cardiovascular risk. Drs. Mike and Gossard discuss what's really going on inside your veins and how to fix it with targeted nutrition.

2. All Eyes on Astaxanthin - Astaxanthin is a wellness powerhouse that deserves attention.

Nature's cellular protector, astaxanthin, provides numerous health benefits. Dr. Mike discusses the research with author Bob Capelli and why you should add it to your daily routine.

3. Getting Under Your Skin(care) - Build and protect your skin's structure

Rebuilding and protecting your skin's scaffolding is key to less wrinkles and fine lines. Mike and Dr. Gossard discuss research-proven techniques to increase collagen and prevent its degradation.

4. Why am I Always so Tired? The human energy crisis and chronic fatigue

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic, joins Dr. Mike and Dr. Gossard to discuss the human energy crisis and how it's driving a near epidemic of fatigue. And there's good news...there are ways to reverse the crisis.

5. Maintaining Muscle Mass for Longevity - Exercises for increasing muscle and best times to work out

Did you know that men can lose up to 8% of muscle mass per decade starting in their 40's? Dr. Mike discusses the best strategies for maintaining and building muscle mass with exercise physiologist and registered dietitian, Dr. Chris Mohr. Learn more about the Men’s Health Series.

Which is your favorite episode? What topic would you like us to cover next? Tell us in the comments!

About Live Foreverish: Join Dr. Mike Smith and Dr. Crystal Gossard as they sit down with some of today’s leading medical, health and wellness experts to discuss a variety of health-related topics. From whole-body health to anti-aging and disease prevention, you’ll get the latest information and helpful advice to help you live your life to the fullest. Listen now on LiveForeverish.com If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!

The Best Way to Test Your Cholesterol - Dr. Heidi Yanoti, Life Extension

Dr. Heidi Yanoti, DC – Life Extension Senior Wellness Specialist

Cholesterol management is a vital part of promoting heart health. But if you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with high cholesterol, you have probably heard and seen conflicting information.1 Is the focus on cholesterol a myth? Or do you need to lower cholesterol to prevent heart attacks? September is Cholesterol Education Month, so it’s a great time to learn the facts!

Related (Podcast): Is Your Cholesterol on the Level? Statin Alternatives for Lowering Cholesterol

Are standard cholesterol tests enough?

When doctors first began focusing on cholesterol as a cardiovascular risk factor, their attention was on total cholesterol. We later realized that total cholesterol alone tells us little. We needed to consider its two major components, LDL (low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol), for test results to better reflect cardiovascular risk. While this was a step in the right direction, recent research shows that we need to look even more closely at cholesterol and the particles that carry it through the blood, called lipoproteins, to more fully understand cardiovascular risk.

What is the NMR Test?

NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy is an advanced lipid-testing method that allows for a more in-depth assessment of the properties of lipoproteins and blood cholesterol than a conventional lipid panel.2 NMR testing goes far beyond the measurements of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol that standard yearly bloodwork measures. LDL particle size and LDL particle number are both important risk factors and can be used in conjunction with traditional lipid measurements to better estimate CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk.3 The NMR profile assesses LDL particle size and number.

The LDL Paradox

LDL particle number is a powerful tool for predicting heart disease.4 LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. LDL serves as a transport vehicle for cholesterol in the blood because cholesterol by itself doesn’t flow through the blood well. LDL particles can carry varying amounts of cholesterol. Studies indicate that the number of LDL particles, not just the amount of cholesterol in each LDL particle, is an important CVD risk factor.5 This means that your typical yearly labs could show high amounts of LDL cholesterol, but if you are maintaining a low particle number, your heart disease risk may not necessarily be high, depending on your other CVD risk factors. The opposite can also apply: if your standard cholesterol test shows a healthy level of LDL cholesterol, you could still have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease if your LDL particle number and/or other CVD risk factors are elevated. And you may not be aware of this without running an NMR test.3

What is LDL particle size?

LDL particle number is not the only important risk factor that the NMR test can detect. LDL particle size is crucial as well. Multiple published medical studies now clearly show that the specific properties of LDL particles in your blood are important factors in your risk for heart disease.6 We now understand that if the majority of your LDL particles are large and buoyant (sometimes referred to as big and fluffy), they may pose less risk to your heart and arteries. If your LDL particles are small and dense, they can much more easily infiltrate the artery wall to cause damage and start the inflammatory process that can lead to the development of arterial plaques.6 Small LDL particles also linger in circulation longer, giving them more time to inflict damage on your arteries.6,7 One study showed that men with the smallest LDL particle size had about three-fold increased risk of ischemic heart disease than men with the largest LDL particle size.8 The NMR test not only measures the average size of your LDL particles, but also offers a count of how many of the small, dense, more-atherogenic particles are circulating.9

What about HDL?

The NMR test also gives us more details about our HDL cholesterol. It has long been known that HDL cholesterol is protective for our heart and arteries, and studies show cardiovascular and even longevity benefits for those with high amounts of HDL.10-13 You can learn even more information about HDL’s protective ability if you utilize an NMR panel. When it comes to good, protective HDL cholesterol, more particles are associated with greater protection.14 The NMR test provides a measurement of HDL particles, and the higher your HDL particle number, the more beneficial your good cholesterol is for your cardiovascular system.15

The Bottom Line

What does this really mean to the average person? If you are relying on standard lipid profiles found in basic yearly blood tests, you may not have an accurate assessment of how your cholesterol impacts your heart disease risk. The information you glean from an NMR profile will provide more robust information and serve as an invaluable tool that your physician can use to decide whether a medication is needed or choosing which nutrients may best promote your cardiovascular health.

To learn more about cholesterol management, listen to the latest episode of the Live Foreverish Podcast as Drs. Mike and Gossard discuss alternative medications and nutrients for lowering cholesterol without all of the side effects.

About the Author: Heidi Yanoti earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University. She has been a Senior Wellness Specialist at Life Extension for over 10 years and a lifelong advocate for alternative approaches to optimal health. She enjoys sharing this passion with Life Extension customers, helping them achieve their health goals with a focus on promoting wellness. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, films and desert hikes in her Las Vegas, Nevada, home.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). High Cholesterol Facts. Accessed 9/11/2019. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm
  2. Am J Cardiol. 2002;90(8a):22i-29i.
  3. J Clin Lipidol. 2011;5(2):105-13.
  4. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004;6(5):381-7.
  5. J Clin Lipidol. 2007;1(6):583-92.
  6. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1273042.
  7. Am J Cardiol. 2002;90(8a):30i-47i.
  8. Circulation. 1997;95(1):69-75.
  9. Circulation. 2009;119(7):931-9.
  10. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2002;57(11):M712-5.
  11. Atheroscler Suppl. 2004;5(2):25-31.
  12. Age Ageing. 2007;36(5):514-20.
  13. Aging (Albany NY). 2018;10(11):3528-3540.
  14. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;60(6):508-16.
  15. Br J Pharmacol. 2012;167(6):1177-94.

Healthy Aging: Being Mindful of Brain Health

Regan Jones, RD

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’m confronted regularly with a wide variety of people with health-related inquiries. But for all the ways we differ in our individual health needs, there is one commonality we share. Every person on this planet is aging day-by-day.

It’s true that some of us are farther along on the timeline than others, but there’s no denying that we’re all putting days behind us as we move towards the days ahead of us. The question is — what are we doing each day to support that aging process as healthfully as possible? September is Healthy Aging Month and it’s the perfect time to answer this question, especially as it relates to brain health.

Why begin with the brain?

While physical signs of aging like muscle mass decline or weight gain can be seen outwardly, prompting people to lose weight or work out, the changes happening in the brain are often simply dismissed as a natural consequence of growing older — “Oh, I’m so forgetful these days!” The truth is, maintaining cognitive function is critical to healthy aging. The decline in focus and problem solving are common age-related affects among normal aging individuals.

It’s well known that as we age brain metabolism decreases which is associated with cognitive decline.1,2,3,4 There are many factors associated with age-related cognitive decline:

• Oxidative stress and free radical damage5
• Changes in hormone levels6-8
• Poor diet quality9,10
• Stress and social isolation11,12

Is cognitive decline inevitable?

Not necessarily. There are several things you can do to support brain health and cognitive function with age.

The good news is that you can support brain health through commonly recommended practices, such as increasing physical activity, decreasing stress, improving sleep quality and ensuring adequate nutrient intake through healthy eating and supplementation.13-18 With about 90 billion neurons, the brain is a sponge waiting to soak up high-quality nutrients to help it perform optimally.19 Most of that nutrition comes from the diet we eat, but supplements can help by providing additional targeted nutrients.

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Brain

To understand how healthy eating plays a role in brain health, it’s important to look at the research and, most notably, the recent revelation in the scientific community that an eating plan known as the MIND Diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age.20

The MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) emphasizes plant-based foods, specifically an increase in berries and green leafy vegetables and a decrease in saturated fats and animal-based foods. The following recommendations align with the MIND Diet21:

• At least three servings of whole grains a day
• A salad and one other vegetable a day
• One glass of wine a day
• A serving of nuts a day
• Beans every other day
• Poultry at least twice a week
• Berries at least twice a week
• Fish at least once a week
• Limiting butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese and fast or fried foods

Supplemental Support: Nutrients that Support Brain Health

In addition to eating a healthy diet, targeted nutritional supplementation may also support brain health.

Sage extract

Sage extract has been shown to promote healthy levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and the signaling of neurotransmitters like GABA, dopamine, serotonin, and more. Also of note, in pre-clinical studies, sage extract shows promise in promoting healthy gene expression related to lipid metabolism and insulin.22


Derived from the periwinkle plant, vinpocetine has been shown to promote cognitive function, support a healthy inflammatory response and help maintain healthy blood flow, oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain cells.23

Blueberry extract

Blueberry consumption and supplementation has been shown in many studies to support brain health and cognitive function.24 AuroraBlue® is a complex of blueberry and bilberry species from across the Alaskan tundra that are known to contain powerful antioxidants.


Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an essential part of healthy cell membranes, critical to both brain metabolism and intra-brain connections. Furthermore, PS helps with brain-related glucose metabolism and stimulation of acetylcholine production.25-27


By promoting the healthy growth of nerve cell components that support brain and nervous system function, Ashwagandha has neuroprotective effects on the brain. It has been shown to support healthy stress adaptation and cognitive function in aging individuals.28-32


In pre-clinical studies, Uridine-5’-Monophosphate (UMP) has been shown to promote healthy brain function by supporting healthy levels of both acetylcholine and dopamine.33-35

Life Extension created Cognitex® Elite, which contains the nutrients listed above, specifically to provide brain-friendly nutrient support for a healthy brain and cognitive function at any age.

Every day offers a new chance to preserve and protect our bodies and brains from the decline associated with aging. Science has shown that while the risk for decline is real, so are the benefits of lifestyle and dietary interventions. Through the right combination of stress reduction, physical activity and a nutrient dense diet through foods and supplement support, maintaining a sharp mind for many years to come is a reality we can all enjoy.

About the Author: Regan Jones is an award winning registered dietitian and host of ThisUnmillennialLife.com, an iTunes Top 30 personal journal podcast that offers women a roadmap through midlife. Jones, who began her career as an assistant editor at Cooking Light and Weight Watchers Magazines, is now frequently featured in the national media and is the 2017 winner of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s prestigious Media Excellence Award. She is also co-author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s 2016 Practice Paper, Social Media and the Dietetics Practitioner: Opportunities, Challenges, and Best Practices. Jones enjoys manning the microphone from her home in Georgia, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

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