Probiotics seem to be something that everyone is talking about these days, but what exactly are they? What do they do? Where do they come from? How do I know if I need one?
'Probiotic' literally means 'for life'. More often are defined as being "viable microorganisms that have a beneficial effect in the prevention and treatment of specific pathologic conditions when they are ingested". Basically they are the good bacteria that should be found in your gut. Did you know that approximately 85% of your immune system is found in the gut? This is because it is the job of these good bacteria to be the gatekeepers to our body. They are our first defence against foreign bodies, preventing colonization by viral and bacterial pathogens.
Wondering where you got your good bacteria from in the first place? Your mum! During a vaginal delivery the baby is covered in secretions which contain it's mothers bacteria. The mother passes her gut flora on to her baby and this in turn colonizes their gut. From that day forward we are constantly changing our gut flora depending on what we ingest. We are exposed to coughs, colds, travel, different foods, medications and all of these impact our gut ratio between good and bad bacteria.
Sat there thinking well my granny hasn't taken a probiotic and she never gets ill at 96! The truth is that she has probably had her fair share of 'probiotics' but they just didn't call them that then. Traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, raw yoghurt and even beer were all sources of good bacteria. In the days before fridges and supermarkets, fermentation was a way of preserving produce to survive long winters.
These days everything goes in the fridge, crops are sprayed with pesticides which just like the antibiotics you get from the doctors are not selective about whether the bacteria they are killing is good or bad. Most supermarket products have also been pasteurised to extend shelf life and prevent outbreaks of harmful bacteria. This means that the good bacteria in traditionally fermented foods is killed along with any bad that may have been present.
The good news is that there is now a move back towards traditional probiotics with kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut gaining in popularity. Thinking about stocking up on those yoghurt drinks from the supermarket? Think again! Did you know that many of them have more sugar per 100g than fizzy pop? One of the easiest ways to up your good bacteria is to take a probiotic supplement many of which also contain prebiotics (food not absorbed by the host that supports the growth of good bacteria).
So do you need a probiotic? The reality is that most of us should take a probiotic supplement even just in the short term. Why? The vast majority of us have at some point done at least one of the following all of which negatively effect your gut flora: taken an antibiotic; suffered from colds and viruses; have IBS or IBD; taken the contraceptive pill; taken steroids; travelled abroad; suffer from or have a family history of auto immune conditions e.g. under-active thyroid, diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, etc; or allergenic conditions e.g. food allergies and excema.
There is a wealth of research out there which clearly demonstrates the huge role that probiotics have in supporting our immune system and preventing disease. A recent study examining the role of probiotics in the reduction of diabetes states that probiotics contribute to a reduction in inflammatory response and oxidative stress. This leads to increased insulin sensitivity and a reduction in the autoimmune response.
Allergenic diseases have increased over the last 40 years in industrialized nations but NOT in the developing world. Put simply we are just too clean, our homes and farms are sprayed to within an inch of their lives, we eat processed foods and we aren't exposed to the diseases we once were. All of this impacts on our gut flora and prevents the normal responses to allergens from developing properly leading to an increase in disease. Children with food allergies have been found to have an imbalance between good bacteria and potentially harmful ones. The same has been observed in a study of children with atopic eczema.
So which one should I take? Well the answer is it really depends on you and what your individual needs are. A good starting point would be something like Bio-Kult or Optibac for everyday. However, there are a variety of ranges designed specifically for different needs: travel abroad, when you're taking antibiotics, pregnancy, breastfed babies, bottlefed babies, managing cholesterol levels, one for women for targeting the intimate flora, the list goes on.
Still not sure, or just want to know more? Pop into the shop and have a chat with us.
R. Rolfe. (2000) The Role of Probiotic Cultures in the Control of Gastrointestinal Health. Journal of Nutrition. 130 p.3965-4025
M.Geuking et al. (2014) The interplay between the gut microbiota and the immune system. Gut Microbes 5(3) p. 411-418
P. Kirjavaninen et al. (2001) Characterizing the composition of intestinal microflora as a prospective treatment target in infant allergic disease. FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology. 32 (1) p. 1-7
B. Bjorksten et al. (1999) The intestinal microflora in allergic Estonian and Swedish 2-year-old children. Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 29(3) p 342-346.
A.Gomes et al. (2014) Gut microbiota, probiotics and diabetes. Nutrition Journal. 13(60)
Now available at Nourishing Insights new clinic and shop at 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen. Food Intolerance testing can help a variety of conditions. If you have been suffering for some time and are getting by on endless rounds of pills which only offer symptomatic relief at best, food intolerances may be behind your continued health challenges. This test is suitable for children from 2 years old and involves a simple pin prick test. I offer a free 20 min consultation by phone to discuss your needs further and will advise as appropriate for each case. Test results are back within 10 working days.
Intolerance versus allergy.
The test involves a simple pin prick test which goes off to a UK registered Medical Laboratory. This test is an IgG test which looks at your Immunoglobulin G response to particluar foods. There is much confusion and misinformation about food intolerances and what they actually are. An 'Allergy' is where you have an instant reaction to something as is often the case with allergies to foods such as nuts and shellfish or even a bee sting. This can be a mild allergic response to a severe and sometimes even life threatening reaction where the person can go into anaphylactic shock. For these stronger reactions, it is necessary to carry a preventive medicine such as an epipen and serious care needs to be taken in managing this condition. The immunoglobulin involved in this case is IgE and testing for this is often done via the NHS. However we can now offer allergy testing also at our clinic if this is required.
An 'intolerance' on the other hand, involves an IgG response and the challenge with this is that it is often less obvious to the person experiencing it. Many people live for years without even considering that they may have one.That said, many of us know exactly when we've eaten something that our body doesn't like and a reaction can be fairly quick following a meal and can be quite severe. What is interesting is that when the results of a test come back, they often validate what the person was expecting and are thus very reassuring. One of the challenges is that it can take up to 72 hours to experience an IgG reaction which means you could for example, eat a potato on a saturday and have migraine on a monday and not join the dots between the two. So if you are one of those people who are not making the connection with food triggers, this could be why. The delayed reaction also makes it slightly trickier and time consuming when doing diary taking and elimination diets, although I also offer this approach and it works really well for many.
It is of course possible to have both allergies and intolerances. For example you may have an 'allergy' to latex or nuts and a 'food intolerance' for dairy and yeast.
Of course, there are other issues running alongside intolerances and the protocol for dealing with them involves more than just removal of identified triggers! This is where a Registered Nutritional Therapist comes in as I can ensure that you are well supported for total nutrient intake. I may also recommend further testing either via your GP or privately to identify other culprits.Ultimately, I will work with you to achieve balance and wellness across all body systems and tackling all of your health challenges in turn. We will also work together to heal the gut at cellular level and support digestive enzymes, stomach acidity and other fundamental aspects of optimal digestive health.This way, you will be able to re-introduce some foods as you heal over time. Nutritional Therapy deals with the root cause of these problems. A food intolerance may indeed be causing your migraine. However, the ultimate cause is the reason for the food intolerance in the first place. This takes us to 'leaky gut' or intestinal permeability. Food intolerance is therefore a symptom of an underlying weakness in your intestinal integrity. If this is not corrected, further problems will ensue longer term.
Weight loss as a side effect not as a goal!
One of the pleasant side effects of Nutritional therapy is that people usually lose weight. All recommendations involve following a 'clean' diet and the wonderful thing is that the appropriate support is given to be able to achieve this whatever your starting point. Something to consider regarding other weight loss approaches is that you can actually lose weight without eating healthy 'clean' foods. One example of this is just eating less. If we eat less 'junk' then of course we will lose weight but if we continue to eat foods that do not provide the right information to our cells, we are in big trouble! Add to this the fact that many of the foods we are told are 'healthy' are not. Weight loss should never be your primary goal to achieve wellness. It should follow naturally from following a health promoting lifestyle and appropriate foods for you. Interestingly, a kiwi fruit may be super health for your friends but if you are having an IgG reaction to it, it will not be healthy for you until you get to the root of the problem. In addition weight gain can be an unpleasant side effect of unidentified food intolerance due to inflammation and fluid retention.
IBS, pain and autoimmune conditions, skin conditions.
The commonest reasons for seeking food intolerance testing are the above and the results can be life changing for those who benefit. Double blind studies have shown a clear link between food intolerance and IBS with one study demonstrating a third of participants having at least one if not multiple food intolerances.
Interestingly, if you have an autoimmune condition, for example underactive thyroid, did you know that you are also at risk of developing other autoimmune conditions if you don't take steps to support your immune system now? I follow a Functional Medicine approach to my work as a Nutritional Therapist and autoimmune disease is an area of specialism for me. I very much follow the work of Physician Dr Amy Myers whose research in the USA has led to her setting up a specialist clinic in Austin, Texas in this area. If you have watched the recent BBC series 'doctor in the house' you will have some experience of this 360 degree approach to medicine and optimising health.
A Nutritional therapy consultation will help you get to the root of your particular health challenges.
To make an appointment and to discuss your health challenges further , please phone 01224 969637. I offer telephone and skype appointments for those at a distance. (Check with your insurance provider to see if Nutritional Therapy is covered)
#Aberdeen #Nutritionist #Functional Medicine #Food intolerance
I made an appointment with Beverley as I was struggling with underactive thyroid and had just been diagnosed with Polycystic ovary Syndrome. I didn't fully understand the link between autoimmune disease and food intolerance although I had suffered IBS for years, so it was all making sense! I was keen to deal with my PCOS through diet and supplements instead of drugs and am delighted in my success. Through eating the right foods for me, and balancing my blood sugar I was able to lose 2 stone and sort my hormones out. The result of all this (which I have to say wasn't as hard as I had anticipated!), is that I am now expecting my first baby! Highly recommend Beverley and Nutritional Therapy which really is life changing. Hannah, Aberdeenshire.
Welcome to the 21 day oatcake challenge!!
Many people ask me for simple, stress free hints and tips that involve the least effort but have the maximum impact.... so here we have it 'the 21 day oatcake challenge.'.
All you have to do is to replace every slice of bread you would normally consume each day with an oatcake/s for 21 days and the benefits to your health as well as your waistline will be well worth the tiny bit of effort involved.
Of course, there are lots of oatcakes out there but I'd like you to choose the Nairn's oatcakes or Paterson's. They don't have to have the words Gluten Free but they do have to be wheat free to be beneficial to your health. (Some of the triangular, slightly larger versions contain wheat so please avoid) Oats are naturally Gluten free but in order to carry that on the label they have to be manufactured in a part of the factory away from any gluten for the benefit of people with a serious allergy, so we don't have to worry about that unless we know we are one of those people. You will notice that Nairn's also make sweet biscuits. If you are continuing to eat sweet biscuits during this challenge, then please replace with these ones. However, we would recommend you take the opportunity to reduce sugar and try plain oatcakes with a savoury or nut topping instead. This will keep you going longer, so you don;t feel hungry and will maintain energy levels which is what we all need these days!
Oats are packed with both soluble and insoluble fibre which means they help to promote healthy digestion and also help us to feel fuller for longer. They contain a particular type of fibre known as beta-glucan which is known to reduce the bad type of cholesterol in our blood reducing our risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have also shown a link between consumption of oats and reduced colorectal cancer due to the fibre content.
Oatcakes also have a high mineral content especially manganese and phosphorous and are excellent for maintaining our energy levels. They also have a low glycaemic index which makes them helpful in managing blood glucose, especially if topped with a good quality protein/fat such as a nut butter.
Why ditch the wheat?
For many of us wheat based breads have become problematic. Complaints around bloating, IBS, eczema, depression and tiredness to name but a few have all been linked in many scientific studies to the consumption of wheat. When you consider that the wheat we eat now in our supermarket breads is a from a hybridized grains with 30% more gluten than our grandparents were exposed to, then you can see why so many people are removing wheat and or gluten from their diets, However, there are many other reasons for these types of symptoms and following this challenge does not replace an appointment with a nutritional therapist who can help you get to the root of your particular health challenges and may refer you for further testing via your GP.
At this stage just replacing a poor quality bread with limited nutrient value and some potential disbenefits with something more nutrient dense and with a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre can be a huge asset for maintaining health. There are of course many alternatives to wheat breads such as rye, spelt, amaranth and quinoa. Look out for these breads in theBiona range in the supermarket
However, for now, let's keep it simple. Oatcakes are delicious and portable. You can carry them in your handbag/briefcase to work or out for lunch. They are fab with soups so you are not tempted to pick up that bread. You can add any topping you like as you would a sandwich or have along with a bag of salad (NOT one of those awful pasta salads but a packet of greens or egg or other protein such as salmon in with your salad) Ideally make your salad at home with lots of veg and some protein, either meats, fish or veggy source such as kidney beans.
For snacking, they are ideal and can be enjoyed with some nut butters (check out almond, cashew and pumpkinseed butters or some pate or humus. You will find that you only need one and are ready for action with sustained energy! Similarly, they are great as a bedtime snack to keep you going through the night.
Check out some nut butters at your health food shops. For example, Meridian Almond Butter. Now also available in Supermarkets.
For breakfast you could replace that toast habit with oatcakes and an egg based breaky, or try oats as a porridge topped with nuts and seeds and a few berries. The great portability of oatcakes in the individual packets means that if you are in a rush, just make a boiled egg the night before (or as you take your shower!) and take your egg to work with some oatcakes to have when you get there. (Far superior to most cereals on the market!)
We would love it if you got your family, friends, work colleagues to join you in this 21 day oatcake challenge. Many people find changing their diet a little daunting, but this is a fabulous way to make such a huge benefit to your health in a short time.. You will be surprised at how well you do. Bon appetit!!
If you would like more ideas to support your health goals pop into Nourishing Insights, 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA for a chat and some advice.
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WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING
“I did Nutritional Therapy with Beverley and it was life changing. I highly recommend it!” Allison Blakely (Glasgow)
44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA
Tel: 01224 969637
Opening Hours: Sun- Mon: Closed Tue to Sat: 10am-4pm
Late night appointments available on Thursday evening on request.