It’s that time of year. When the clock strikes midnight, we celebrate until the wee hours of the first night of 2021. And to say that 2020 hasn’t been the easiest would be an understatement. If there ever was a time to turn over a new leaf, it would be this coming January 1st.
Every year, nearly 50% of Americans will take this time to take stock of their life choices and vow to make a difference. But creating new habits and behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. Which is why, of the people who make resolutions, only 7% actually follow through on them.
If the end of 2020 has you reflecting on your life choices, consider this: maybe taking a probiotic should be on that list. Before you sigh in exasperation and exclaim, “I can’t just take a pill to solve everything,” the quality of your microbiome affects every aspect of health from the physical to the mental. Let’s examine the top five New Year’s resolutions and how probiotics can help you achieve your goals.
This is the number one most common resolution, accounting for 50% of all goals. And after 2020—the year that saw many of us working from home and spending less time out and about—this resolution could become even more popular. And while choosing to exercise more is an admirable ambition, it entails more than just a commitment to changing your habits. It requires that you make it through the very real initial period of pain.
If your muscles are unaccustomed to activity, working out is going to hurt. Luckily, probiotics can help reduce inflammation and recovery time.
Dieting accounts for 43% of News Year’s resolutions, which is attainable. “Diet” can include anything from a major nutritional overhaul to the pledge to eat less takeout. And there are tons of diets out there, ranging from the tried-and-true to the trendy. The effects of a diet change can have far-reaching results.
Energy, sleep, immunity, mental clarity, and even beauty can all trace back to diet. Same with your microbiome. Of the resolutions on this list, diet is the most closely related to your gut bacteria, because everything that you eat is everything that they eat as well. Changing your diet means changing your gut. So make sure that the microbiota in your gut can do most of this shift.
Besides exercise and diet goals, weight loss in the top five, accounting for 37% of resolutions. But isn’t losing weight a byproduct of diet and exercise? Conventional wisdom would say yes, but health experts—or anyone that’s tried to lose weight long-term—know that it’s more than that. Weight loss or gain is just as easily a mental and behavioral issue. Stress, for example (and its byproduct, cortisol), is a frequently cited cause of weight gain. So choosing weight loss as a resolution could mean a series of changes rather than just one. It requires that you examine your overall health and assess where you can improve to achieve balance. Well, as it so happens, the gut microbiome is all about balance. And keeping your gut happy prevents your body from storing unnecessary fat.
And since we’re on the topic of weight and stress, stress reduction accounts for 34% of resolutions that will start in January. It’s no wonder; Americans rank as some of the most stressed people in the world. And after 2020, which saw a drastic, long-term change in lifestyle, that stress is currently through the roof.
But stress is such an ambiguous goal. Does it mean working less? Meditating more? Exercise can be a form of stress reduction, too. But these activities all boil down to the same thing: resilience. And it has proven that your microbiome can help regulate emotion.
Get More Sleep
Ah, sleep. We all wish we could get more of it. According to the CDC, only one in three adults gets enough. So, it’s no surprise that 30% will make this their goal for 2021. But sleep is so much more than the hour you go to bed and the time you wake up. It’s also about sleep quality; how frequently you wake up and how long you take to fall asleep. It’s about getting your body in tune with a circadian rhythm that suits your schedule.
And while this may sound strange, your gut keeps track of your sleep cycle as well. Your gut knows when it needs to produce the metabolites that you need to function and the hormones you need to relax. And diversity in gut bacteria can improve sleep quality and reduce the effects of a restless night. Keep your gut diverse.