The Chicago Journal

Beyond the Obvious: How Your Gut Microbiome Impacts Your Mood and Other Surprising Signs of Imbalance

If you are feeling tired, irritable, or experiencing other less obvious signs that may be impacting your overall health, these indicators could be related to an imbalanced gut microbiome.


The gut microbiota consists of trillions of microorganisms in the digestive tract that have a critical role in one’s overall health and well-being, and the gut microbiome includes both microorganisms and their genetic material.  An imbalanced gut microbiota or gut microbiome can lead to several health issues, such as flatulence, bloating, some gut discomfort, a change in stools, occasional constipation, negative effects of intestinal microbiota on influencing digestion, and some lack of mental focus, low mood, and difficulty concentrating.

This is because the gut microbiome (the community of microorganisms that reside in our digestive tract) produces chemicals that communicate with the brain, affecting mood, physical well-being, and behavior.  This communication between the gut and the brain is known as the gut-brain axis, and it involves a complex network of signaling pathways between the gut, the nervous system, and the immune system.  

To take care of one’s gut microbiome, it’s crucial to avoid or limit processed and sugary foods that can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut and lead to health issues. Regular exercise can help promote the growth and diversity of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which contributes to healthy digestion. Getting enough quality sleep, about 7-8 hours each night, is essential for overall health, including gut health. Reducing stress through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga can manage stress levels and prevent chronic stress from harming gut health. It’s recommended to avoid antibiotics unless necessary or recommended by your health care practitioner as they can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut.

According to Dr. Cheryl Reifer, Ph.D., RD, Coral Club expert, incorporating metabiotics (postbiotics) into one’s daily routine can be an excellent way to support the gut microbiome. Unlike traditional probiotics, metabiotics take immediate effect and do not conflict with the body’s natural microbiota. They are also highly digestible and can withstand acidic environments and antibiotics, making them a convenient and reliable option for maintaining gut health.  

Gut Microbiome

Metabiotic Metastick by Coral Club is an innovative dietary supplement that helps restore the body’s native intestinal microflora. It contains active Lactobacillus plantar metabolites from orange peel, Korean kimchi, banana pulp extract, and Vitamin B6.

These ingredients work together to provide a comprehensive approach to gut health:

  • The metabolites support lactobacilli and maintain healthy gut microflora while helping to reduce flatulence and promote intestinal comfort.
  •  Banana pulp extract provides food for healthy gut bacteria, stimulates their activity, and supports lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Vitamin B6 is essential for normal liver functions, absorption of vitamin B12, and regulation of digestive enzymes.

Incorporating Metastick into one’s daily routine can effectively support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and optimize digestive health. Regular exercise and eating high fiber foods can help promote the growth and diversity of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which also contributes to healthy digestion. 

Gut Microbiome

The website ( can be visited to learn more about the products that can assist in achieving health goals.

April is SAAM, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. What you can do to help.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is observed every April to increase public awareness about sexual violence and engage communities in prevention efforts. The goal of SAAM is to help individuals and communities understand that sexual assault is a serious problem with a lasting impact on survivors, families, and society.

The exact number of people who are sexually assaulted in the United States each year is difficult to determine because it is often underreported. However, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Additionally, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that on average, there are 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S. However, it is important to note that these statistics represent known reported cases, and, as mentioned before, it is likely that the actual number of sexual assaults is higher due to underreporting.

The origin of SAAM dates back to the 1970s when activists started organizing rallies and events to raise awareness about sexual violence and advocate for survivors. It was officially launched as a national awareness campaign in the United States in 2001, and since then, it has been observed annually in many countries around the world.

SAAM aims to educate people on how to prevent sexual violence, promote healthy relationships, and support survivors. It provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations to come together and take action to end sexual violence. By raising awareness about sexual assault and promoting prevention efforts, we can create a safer and more equitable world for all.

Here are some points that people should keep in mind this month during SAAM, and beyond:

  1. Sexual assault is a serious crime with severe physical, emotional, and mental consequences for the survivor.

  2. Consent is key. Sexual activity without active, affirmative, and ongoing consent is sexual assault.
  3. Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, age, race, or sexual orientation.
  4. Supporting survivors and offering them safe spaces and resources is crucial to their healing.
  5. We can all play a role in preventing sexual violence by challenging harmful attitudes and behaviors, educating ourselves and our communities, and promoting healthy and respectful relationships.
  6. There are a variety of support resources available for survivors, such as hotlines and counseling services.
  7. It is important to believe survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

By spreading awareness about sexual assault and taking action to prevent it, we can create a safer and more supportive world for all. Some who have been victimized, have found ways of dealing with the aftermath and healing from it. Hagit Vardi was one such person. 

Healing takes a lot of work and a lot of time, perhaps an entire lifetime, but when Hagit began recovering, she discovered poetry helped her to deal with those complex and sometimes conflicting feelings.

SAAMAnd She Wasn’t Damaged: Poems for Speaker and Chorus is a collection of poems that gives us a glimpse into the emotional and physical world of those who survive abuse–the self doubt, anger, shame, and despair that arise from the struggle between the need to know and the fear of knowing. While these poems serve as a voice for survivors, they also enlighten us about the intense and lasting effects of abuse.

Here is one of her poems from And She Wasn’t Damaged:

It May Well Be


It may well be

I have to take myself apart

Then put myself together anew


It may well be

Now the time is right

Although it was a long time due


If asked before the blast

I wouldn’t have been motivated


But then – I didn’t know

I wasn’t liberated

About Hagit Vardi: Hagit Vardi trained as a flutist and later in different modalities of healing arts. For the past twenty years, Hagit has been helping people as a Feldenkrais practitioner (including at the University of Wisconsin Integrative Health program) and has been teaching Feldenkrais for Musicians courses and workshops with her husband, Uri Vardi. In her sixties, Vardi started writing poetry as part of her healing process. She has published five books of poetry in Hebrew with Pardes Publishing. Her poems were published in newspapers, literary magazines and on the radio, and attract attention among mental health professionals and the centers of assistance for victims of sexual abuse. 






Exploring the Impact of Legalized Sports Betting in Illinois

Legalizing sports betting in Illinois has been a heated subject for some time. Many states have experienced increased interest in legalizing sports gambling since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. In particular, Illinois was one of the first states to legalize sports betting, making it a pioneer in this field. The legalization has given rise to several sportsbooks in Illinois offering bonuses and promotions to newbies and seasoned gamblers. This article discusses the potential effects of this kind of gambling on the state by first analyzing the rules behind the legalization of sports betting in Illinois.

Analyzing the new rules

Several new rules have emerged with the recent approval of internet and mobile sports betting in Illinois. For starters, online sports betting in Illinois on an event like the super bowl is considered illegal without a license from the Illinois Gaming Board. Moreover, each year, businesses must fork over a percentage of their yearly gaming earnings to the state as a licensing fee. In addition, all service providers must observe stringent safety guidelines to protect the privacy of their customers’ information.

The financial effect of sports betting on Illinois

The introduction of sports betting in Illinois has resulted in a dramatic rise in tax income for the state. The Illinois Gaming Board reported $41 million in revenue from sports betting in its first full month of operation. When you consider that it was only accessible for half the month, it is an astounding number indeed. Of the $125B bet on sports by Americans in 4 years since legalization, Illinois residents wagered more than $5.2 billion on sports in 2022 alone. Evidence shows that sports betting is becoming more popular in Illinois, resulting in increased state tax income. 

How Illinois’ professional sports teams are benefiting

The rise of legalized sports betting in Illinois has been a boon for the state’s professional sports clubs. Improved facilities, stronger coaching staff and expanded marketing efforts are all possible with the money gained from sports betting. In addition, this additional funding may be used by professional clubs to pay their players and staff higher wages. Furthermore, with the rise in the popularity of sports betting, there has been a corresponding rise in the number of people tuning in to watch games. With a bigger fan base, professional clubs may sell more products and attract a larger crowd to their games.

How local businesses are benefiting from sports betting in Illinois

Businesses in Illinois have benefited greatly from the state’s decision to legalize sports betting. There has been a rise in foot traffic at brick-and-mortar establishments offering sports betting since the advent of mobile and internet betting. It has led to higher profits for these companies and the creation of new positions. The state government has also benefited from the new business by receiving an increase in tax income. Illinois uses these funds for many public good projects and initiatives. The overall effect of allowing sports betting on Illinois’ economy has been beneficial.

Getting started with online sports gambling in Illinois

To legally participate in online sports betting, you must be 21 years of age or older and physically located in Illinois. You must also register for an account with a licensed online sportsbook operator. Once your account is set up, you can place bets on various sporting events. It’s important to read up on the different types of bets available so that you can choose one that best suits your needs and budget. Finally, always practice responsible gambling by setting limits on how much money you are willing to spend each month and never chase losses by continuing to bet after losing money

In conclusion, legalizing sports betting in Illinois has provided the state with a much-needed income boost and positive social and economic effects. However, it is crucial that possible hazards linked with sports betting, such as addiction and fraud, be considered seriously.

Simone Hufana and Color HerStory are making history

Simone HufanaShame among people of color in the United States is caused by a number of causes, including cultural norms, societal expectations, and media portrayal.

A long history of Eurocentric beauty standards in the United States has produced a desire for attributes such as lighter complexion, straight hair, and smaller facial features, while marginalizing persons who do not suit these norms.

Individuals of color who violate these norms may experience humiliation, low self-esteem, and profound mental health consequences, which are further exacerbated by discrimination and racial prejudice.

However, a new movement is challenging and weakening traditional beauty ideals while simultaneously celebrating variety.

Color HerStory

Simone Hufana is only one of millions of American women who have encountered such challenges in their lives.

Rather than being disheartened by the criticism, Hufana used it to kickstart her entrepreneurial career, culminating in the establishment of Color HerStory.

Color HerStory is a coloring book brand that features inspirational images of women who have achieved incredible things throughout history.

The brand’s purpose is to motivate and educate children and adults about the achievements of women from all walks of life.

Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, and Malala Yousafzai are among the famous women included in the coloring books.

The firm wants to promote diversity, inclusivity, and gender equality through its goods.

“Each page will have an inspiring woman on it with a small box to the side describing who they are,” the website reads.

“The coloring book provides not only representation for young girls and women, but empowerment.”

The founder

Simone Hufana grew up in a mixed family of Mexican and Filipino origin.

She was born and reared in the East Bay of California, where she witnessed injustice firsthand.

Her surroundings inspired her from a young age, and she grew up motivated to make societal reforms a reality.

Read also: Melissa Bailey’s Mission to Educate and Empower Women in Real Estate and Homeownership


Simone Hufana, like many other young entrepreneurs today, decided to start her own business when she was still in high school.

Because she was a part of her school’s business and finance academy, she already had the required building blocks for her ideas.

“One day after school while babysitting my 3-year-old sister at the time, I was watching her color in a coloring book while I was journaling on the couch,” said Hufana.

“I began to brainstorm a coloring book idea but was trying to figure out how I could make mine unique and different from everything else I had seen.”

Simone Hufana made the decision to create a book that would inform and encourage women.

“Growing up in the society that we do, I was ashamed of my features that came with me as a young brown girl,” the Color HerStory website wrote.

“I wanted fair skin like my classmates and Barbie dolls.”

“Until I grew older, I started taking pride in my different identities because I took the initiative to educate myself about my cultures and the women that look like me and are doing revolutionary things.”

“I got very inspired by what these women were doing and wanted to do what they were doing one day, changing the world,” Hufana continued.

“I realized that I was capable of doing so and ended up with this business idea becoming a reality.”

Pushing the idea into reality

Simone Hufana then proposed the concept to close friends and family, increasing the level of precision gradually until she had a book proposal.

“It’s funny because I actually sat on the idea for an entire year because I lacked a lot of confidence in the idea and thought people would see it as silly and stupid,” Hufana admitted.

A year later, Color HerStory was released to the public.

Simone Hufana competed in the Marshawn Lynch and Shopify Beastmode Business Competition Challenge.

She won the competition and was given mentors and resources to help her get started with her own business.

“I’ve been nurturing it ever since,” said Hufana. “And it has grown with me through my young womanhood.”

“I am going to change the world, and this is just the beginning.”

A hopeful outlook

Simone Hufana wants to stay on her present route for as long as she can, dedicating her life to her business and cause.

Color HerStory’s creator and developer emphasized the idea of outsourcing production and developing a team to aid in the preservation of livelihoods.

“I want to continue doing speaking engagements as well as event organizing, with a focus on BIWOC liberation and education,” Simone Hufana added.