The gut is often thought of as simply a tube running through our body. Although this may be functionally true, the health of this “tube” and the mix of organisms that live along its surface has a huge impact on how our body responds to food and other stimuli.
As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” To be more accurate, it should be, “You are what you absorb from what you eat.” Or even better, “You become what you absorb,” when you consider that what you absorb from your food is what’s incorporated into your body’s cells. In addition, you have a world of microorganisms – estimated to weigh between 3-6 pounds – that live along your GI tract.
There is, however, a fixed number of bacteria that can live in your gut, so the number stays relatively constant. What can change is the mix of “good” and “bad” bacteria, and it does so constantly based on what you eat and a number of other factors.
Consider the gut to be a battlefield – the lining of the gut is the frontline – where a battle between good and bad bacteria is constantly going on.
To maintain the integrity of the battle’s front line, and to allow us to absorb the nutrients we ingest, we need to make sure we have enough of the “good” bacteria to win the war against the “bad” bacteria.
SENDING IN REINFORCEMENTS
We don’t create the bacteria in our gut – collectively known as the microbiome – it must come from somewhere else. Our original bacterial mix came from our mother at birth. But after that, our environment and our diet supply us with the bacterial mix that makes up our microbiome.
Good bacteria originates from a variety of food sources – such as fermented foods – but sometimes we need reinforcements in the form of a probiotic supplement. Probiotics are a concentrated source of different strains of “good” bacteria that research has shown will support numerous functions in the body.
When you remember that the number of bacteria making up the microbiome is fairly fixed – there can only be so many troops on the battlefield – then the more good bacteria you can introduce, the stronger the front line gets.
Dietary diversity plays a significant role in the health of our microbiome – if we eat many different kinds of foods, then we encounter more strains of bacteria. Youth diets tend to lack the variety of a complex adult diet, which limits the strains of “good” bacteria children will encounter, which in turn increases the need to introduce these strains through a supplemental probiotic.
Recently, DNA testing of the microbiome’s bacterial mix has become available. This testing can identify the amounts and types of bacteria that reside in our gut. And the amounts and types of bacteria that researchers are finding relate to a host of conditions within the body.
For example, Yale University researchers found a significant difference between the microbiome of children who are lean and children who are obese. They observed that the microbiome of obese children more easily metabolize carbohydrates.
PROBIOTICS AND DIARRHEA
Multiple clinical trials are examining the role of probiotics in reducing the duration of various stomach conditions and ailments.*
Researchers continue to look at the impact of probiotics on minimizing the length of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and what specific strains of bacteria are beneficial in managing travel-induced diarrhea.*
PROBIOTICS AND RESPIRATORY HEALTH
Recent research has investigated the potential of a positive impact of certain bacteria on the respiratory health of children and athletes.
We often refer to having "butterflies" in our stomach when having to do something in public or relying on a "gut feeling" when making a decision. This is actually true for a valid reason – the gut and the brain are connected via the nervous system and the biochemicals that gut bacteria make.
The mix of bacteria in the stomach can have a big impact on which messages the brain receives from the gut. This finding is allowing researchers to look at this exciting pathway – known as the gut-brain axis – and how it affects many outcomes in the brain. For example, research at Ohio State University is exploring the impact of gut health on the temperament of young children.
As the availability of microbiome testing increases, researchers will be able to learn more about which specific strains of bacteria can impact certain functions in the body. These advancements will lead to an even better understanding of “You are what you eat.”
Until then, you can provide your gut with an excellent mix of “good” bacteria through a variety of fermented foods and from a robust probiotic supplement that will help you win the battle of good versus bad in your gut.
Someone once said that, “Officiating is the only vocation where you are expected to start out perfect and then only get better from there.” It’s true, officials face plenty of scrutiny every time they step on to the ice, and it’s unlikely that you will be able to please both teams with every call throughout the course of the game.
To make our job even more unique, you get a variety of “input” from players, coaches and spectators about your performance. Sometimes you’ll take those comments to heart in order to improve, other times you’ll tune the chatter out, knowing it’s not exactly helpful.
When it comes to our job in managing officials registration and education programs, things aren’t that much different. The Officiating Program leadership, made up of the Officials Section which is comprised of volunteer district referees-in-chief charged with establishing policy, finds it difficult to keep our 25,000 officiating members happy all of the time, while also balancing a commitment to the game of providing capable officiating.
They too hear a lot of chatter throughout the season, some of which is simply impractical and self-serving and tends to get tuned out, while some of it is heard loud and clear as legitimate concerns or ideas on how things could be improved. In any case, time is needed to explore the effect on the big picture and carefully think through all the possible ramifications of any change that is made for the betterment of the entire program, and ultimately, the game itself.
Consider the beginning of the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program back in 1983 when Mark Rudolph was brought in as the first director of the Officiating Education Program. It started with manuals, then the establishment of the summer development camps and instructor training programs, followed by the development of a more formal seminar program and open-book testing. It has continued to evolve to become the internationally recognized program you are part of today.
Along the way, there has been a tremendous amount of change taking place – much of which was actually suggested and encouraged by you, our membership. The digital age started electronic registration, then electronic testing, and more recently, the development of the online seminar curriculum. All of these ideas came from voices within our membership and USA Hockey’s leadership listened.
Sure, there have been a few naysayers suggesting we will lose membership as we make certain changes, or they say that we demand too much from our officials. After all, change is rarely easy and some people just don’t like it because it alters their routines. However, over the years and regardless of the changes that have taken place, the Officiating Program has seen growth in membership in 30 of the 35 years, and has continued to do business with only a couple of moderate fee increases. It is also important to realize that when change does occur, time is necessary to be able to fully evaluate the effect of that change. That has been especially true with the significant change in implementing the online seminar curriculum, now in its fourth season. This part of the educational process has been tweaked each season and culminated with a significant reduction in the time commitment necessary to complete all of the modules during the 2017-18 season.
Now that time has passed and as technology continues to advance, the Officials Section has spent the past 10 months evaluating our registration/education program and continuing to listen to membership feedback in an effort to continue to streamline the registration process while maximizing the educational benefit. The work of a sub-committee charged with this task has recently been completed and presented to the entire Officials Section, and received a positive response. Much of the specifics and details of the recommended changes moving forward will be finalized in the coming months, but we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the likely proposed changes to the registration process you will see for the 2018-19 season.