Maria Shriver: The gut is often called the second brain

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Maria Shriver has an interview with Prevention to promote her partnership with Renew Life, a probiotics supplement brand. She talks about aging, about advocating for yourself with your doctor and about the importance of gut health. It’s aimed at selling probiotics, but a lot of what she said rang true to me and I wanted to talk about it.

“When it comes to the gut specifically, we know now that the gut is often called the second brain,” says Shriver. “Just like it’s critical to lead a brain-healthy lifestyle to keep our minds sharp as we age, it’s super important to lead a gut-healthy lifestyle as well.”

But when it comes to her health, Shriver reveals that her access to health and wellness was limited during her younger years. This is why she now stresses the importance of educating women about topics like gut health and hormones.

“Growing up, I never heard of gut health or probiotics (supplements) or prebiotics—especially for women. Women’s health, in general, wasn’t talked about much at all until recently. Funding and research into women’s health issues are still decades behind.”

And that’s not the only issue. Shriver says multiple women she has spoken with express that medical professionals often don’t have answers for their health concerns…

“When it comes to wellness, it’s critical for women to be the CEOs of their own health,” says Shriver. “Approach your visit to the doctor like a reporter. Bring a notebook, write down your symptoms, and be detailed. If something still doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel heard, get a second opinion. Persist. Advocating for your own health and for your loved ones can be daunting, but it’s how we move the needle and keep pushing forward.”

[From Prevention]

In early January, I got depressed and was withdrawing from friends. (I am fine now and have felt back to normal for months.) It was obvious to me that something was wrong and that it was serious. I realized that I had just finished a course of antibiotics so I googled it and found so many published studies that show a link between depression and recent antibiotic use! It’s so true that gut health and our microbiome can affect our emotional health. Now I take a probiotic every day along with drinking kombucha and eating more fruits and vegetables. It makes such a difference in my mood.

Getting back to Shriver, I like what she said about advocating for yourself at the doctor. Her advice is sound and it’s very necessary, especially for women. Being in the position to see multiple doctors is a privileged one in America unfortunately. It should not be this way. Plus, women of color have a much different experience seeking healthcare, in general, than white women.

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