Provide: Balance Vegan Smoothie is designed to support the link between gut and brain health, serving to revitalize the microbiome while benefiting cognition and memory. This unique formula contains Lion’s Mane mushroom, hydrolyzed guar gum, and Lactospore prebiotic, all of which work to encourage healthy communication between the gut and the brain. Along with these powerful nutraceuticals, Provide: Balance also contains plant-derived proteins, and an array of berry seed powders to provide a high level of antioxidant protection.
Each bottle of Provide: Balance contains 20 servings, and each serving (20 gr) provides 12 grams of vegan protein, and is available in Original Natural Vanilla flavour (sweetened with a hint of stevia). It’s a great way to strengthen the relationship between your gut and your brain!
“The gut-brain axis (GBA) consists of bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions.” (Source)
Now commonly referred to as the second brain, the gut microbiome has been clearly established as critically involved in modulating neurochemical pathways. However, while the underpinnings of microbiota-gut-brain communication remains to be determined, it appears that “short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the main metabolites produced in the colon by bacterial fermentation of dietary fibers and resistant starch, are speculated to play a key role in this neuro-immuno-endocrine regulation”.
Both Lion’s Mane mushroom and Hydrolyzed Guar Gum increase SCFAs, essential to maintaining a healthy microbiome, which is why they are central to the efficiency of this product. (Source)
Now let’s have a look at those ingredients in Provide: Balance that contribute to supporting the gut/brain axis.
Recommended Serving: Adults mix 1 heaping scoop (20 gr) in 250 ml of liquid. Cut serving in half for children. May be used as frequently as desired.
Lactospore (400 million units)
Bacillus coagulans (marketed as Lactospore®) is a shelf stable (room temperature) probiotic, with clinically documented efficacy in supporting health and wellness. Lactospore works on restoring gastrointestinal balance through competitive inhibition of pathogens, the production of L-( ) lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, and production of bacteriocins, a sort of natural antibiotic that suppresses the growth of putrefactive bacteria.
A product like Lactospore, simply encourages the thriving of all the good bacteria that is already resident in your digestive system, and discourages the bad bacteria present from colonizing. This supports your unique microbiome, returning it to the healthful balance required for your body, not imposing other bacteria in ratios that may not be ideal for your system (as with commercial multi-strain probiotic products).
– Clinically effective in the management of gastrointestinal problems associated with infections, or the use of antibiotics.
– Proven value in the treatment of digestive disorders, diarrheal diseases, and constipation, in populations of all ages.
– Immune System Support; cholesterol regulation; treats canker sores
Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum
Since this new version of Provide is designed to support the gut-brain axis, it is essential that it provide a soluble fiber that will serve as a prebiotic, in part by increasing levels of SCFAs. We have chosen to use Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum (PHGG) for this purpose because, unlike inulin and many other soluble fibers, it can be used by those with SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), or those following a Low FODMAP diet (a diet used to treat IBS: FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates to be avoided, which includes some fibers).
PHGG is made by subjecting regular guar gum to enzymatic hydrolysis, a process whereby enzymes (mannanase, pectinase, and cellulose) break down certain molecular links. Once guar gum has been turned into PHGG, it becomes less viscous and turns into a superior prebiotic.
Each serving of Provide: Balance contains 3.5 grams of PHGG. That being said, a therapeutic dose is from 5 to 7.5 g daily, however, given the potential tendency of PHGG to initially cause some mild abdominal discomfort, it is always recommended that one start with a lower dose.
We believe that a 3.5 gr serving offers the prebiotic benefits of PHGG, while being less likely to cause any temporary side effects. If, however, one did get some gas or bloating, they would be advised to start with half a serving, moving up to half a serving twice a day. Soon thereafter one would have no problem taking the full serving, or even more than one serving in a day.
Organic Lion’s Mane Powder
Studies from all over the world have discovered the nutritional and health-promoting properties of this mushroom, and its potential applications in medicine. And what properties it has: “The reported health-promoting properties of the mushroom fruit bodies, mycelia, and bioactive pure compounds include antibiotic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, anti-fatigue, antihypertensive, antihyperlipidemic (cholesterol lowering), anti-senescence, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, and neuroprotective properties and improvement of anxiety, cognitive function, and depression.” (Source)
But, what does Lion’s Mane have to do with the gut/brain axis?
Since some clinical studies have found this mushroom to be protective against colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis (Source), which are related to gut microbiota, researchers decided to investigate the benefits of Lion’s Mane on the gut microbiome.
Thirteen healthy adults were recruited to consume Lion’s Mane powder for seven days straight. “Results showed that daily H. erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) supplementation increased the alpha diversity within the gut microbiota community, upregulated the relative abundance of some short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) producing bacteria and downregulated some pathobionts (pathogenic bacteria).”
In other words, they discovered that only seven days of ingesting Lion’s Mane altered the gut microbiota in a favorable way that could lead to “beneficial health effects”, and may well be involved in “the development of future treatments for central nervous system (CNS) disorders”. (Source)
Organic Red Raspberry Seed Powder
There are a number of foods naturally rich in a powerful antioxidant known as ellagic acid, and in recent years, much research has been done on the potential of ellagic acid to prevent cancer. According to research performed by Dr. Daniel Nixon, at The Hollings Cancer Institute at the University of South Carolina, ellagic acid can inhibit and stop cancer cell division, and induce apoptosis (normal cell death), in a variety of cancers (breast, colon, esophageal, pancreatic, prostate, and skin).
Many years of research on red raspberries by Dr. Nixon led him to conclude that the amount of red raspberries we need to consume, to attain this anticancer benefit, is about one cup per day. This amount provides us with around 40 mg of ellagitannins, the building block from which we make ellagic acid.
“Ellagitannins exhibit antimicrobial activity against fungi, viruses, and importantly, bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” (Source)
As well, these compounds also have anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties, improve the health of blood vessels, lower cholesterol, and reduce gum recession. Other studies, done overseas, suggest that ellagitannins have a host of other potential benefits, including protecting the cardiovascular system, improving wound healing, and preventing birth defects.
And, in January of this year (2021), it was determined that “ellagic acid is a neuroprotective polyphenol that can protect against demyelination”. Which means it can be of benefit for all neurological disorders (MS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, etc). (Source)
Dr. Nixon stated in his research that, “What is interesting to note is the superior efficacy of eating red raspberries as opposed to taking the individual phytochemicals in the form of dietary supplement.” And, further research discovered that the raspberry seeds have a far higher concentration of ellagitannins than the fruit does.
In fact, in a nutritional profile of raspberries put out by the Washington State Red Raspberry Commission, it is established that over 70% of the ellagitannins present in the Meeker red raspberry are found in the seeds. Thus, two grams of red raspberry seed powder provides the therapeutic amount of ellagitannins, 40 mg, which is equal to the amount found in one cup of fresh red raspberries. (Source)
Provide: Balance contains 1.5 grams of organic Meeker red raspberry seed powder, per serving. As well, this new version of Provide also includes other high antioxidant fruit seed extracts, namely cranberry and grape.
Organic Grape Seed Powder
The cold-milled Organic Grape Seed Powder used in this formula has antioxidant properties, calcium, and vitamin E. Organic Grape Seed Powder’s antioxidant properties are primarily from a high density of polyphenols and proanthocyanidins.
Polyphenols are known to help maintain blood pressure levels within the normal range, support immune functions, and promote good circulation. The proanthocyanidins, found in grape seed powder, improve skin appearance and elasticity, which can reduce the signs of aging.
Cancer research has found a specific compound in grape seed extract that not only inhibits the growth of prostate cancer tumors but also causes the cells that drive the growth to die. And, in 2009, researchers published a study summarizing evidence that grape seed extract administered to mice was effective in slowing the growth of not only prostate but also skin, colorectal and breast cancers. (Source)
Organic Cranberry Powder
Cranberry Seed Powder contains antioxidants properties derived from anthocyanidins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, which support the immune system and gut health. Proanthocyanidins also improve skin appearance and elasticity, reducing signs of aging.
Cranberries protect against UTIs, preventing the adherence of pathogens to cell receptors lining the genitourinary tract. (Source) Furthermore, recent studies have found that cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs), may also provide support for prostate health.
An in-vitro study, conducted on cranberries by researchers at Dartmouth University and University of Prince Edward Island, demonstrated that cranberry PACs appear to be toxic to human prostate cancer cells by interrupting the cancer cells’ life cycle. (Source)
The addition of protein to Provide: Balance means it can be used as a short term replacement for a meal, as it provides the equivalent of two large eggs worth of protein. However, we did use a vegan protein for this product, for a number of reasons.
The primary reasons for the movement away from animal proteins, both meat and dairy-derived protein powders (whey and casein), are environmental and ethical (animal rights). As well, many are simply allergic to dairy products, or find them difficult to digest.
Thus the new Provide is moving to be more inclusive by using plant proteins that anyone can benefit from, and comfortably include in their diet. And, as this product is designed to work on the gut-brain axis, and to be suitable for those with severe digestive disorders (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, IBS, etc), it needs to contain the least contentious type of protein available.
We chose to use both Pea Protein and Brown Rice Protein in Provide: Balance since they are the two most exceptional plant proteins.
Certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are considered to be “essential” because they cannot be synthesized in the body and thus must be obtained from the diet.
Pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a “complete” protein, and brown rice protein is only lacking in one essential amino acid (threonine). Brown rice protein makes up for this by having a higher concentration of the amino acids arginine and valine than whey protein does. Both these plant proteins are also especially rich in the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), three aminos (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) required by the body for building and repairing muscle tissue.
As well, both proteins are also hypo-allergenic, allowing these proteins to be suitable for those with multiple allergies.