Over the last ten years or so, the talk of probiotic supplements has got bigger but what are they and why do we need them?
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for our health. Within our digestive systems live trillions of good and bad bacteria that keep us healthy but the key is maintaining the right balance. Over 70% of our immune system lies within our gut so if our digestive system is compromised, chances are our immunity and general health could be too.
There has been a lot of attention in recent years on gastrointestinal bacteria and its role in mental health conditions. The gut is often referred to as ‘the second brain’ and is connected to the brain by millions of neurons, hormones and chemicals that constantly send messages to each other. That Butterfly feeling in your stomach when you are nervous, or an upset stomach when stressed is a good example of the gut-brain connection at work.
Numerous studies are finding that probiotics have a big role to play in the management of disorders such as autism, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Neurotransmitters such as serotonin (often known as the happy hormone) are also made in the gut so optimal digestive health is vital.
Sadly, many people fail to understand the importance of beneficial bacteria in our gut and continue to suffer with numerous health conditions which can often be helped by taking probiotics and of course, making some simple diet changes.
Everyday factors such as diet (alcohol, high sugar intake), stress, anti-biotics, travel and ageing can reduce the natural levels of good bacteria in our gut which help keep us healthy. The key is to maintain the right balance.
The below are just some health conditions that may benefit from taking a good quality probiotic;
- IBS / Leaky gut
- Food intolerances
- Candida overgrowth / thrush
- Eczema / psoriasis
- Obesity / difficulty losing weight
- Anxiety / low mood / depression
- Learning difficulties / Autism
- Auto-immune conditions
- General low immunity
I’m a big fan of Optibac probiotics and have used them whilst on antibiotics and also whilst travelling to avoid getting ill which I used to in the past when abroad. They are a family run business with a great ethos and they have a range of over 8 products to suit everyone from an ‘Every day’ probiotic to ones for those on antibiotics, travelling abroad and even a range for children and babies. They have also produced over 200 clinical trials with ongoing research.
You can read more about the different types of probiotics available on their website www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk or head over to their Instagram or Twitter accounts @optibac and show them some love
For all you chocolate fans, try this amazing smoothie, it definitely hits the spot and what’s more is you can indulge without feeling guilty 🙂
You will need:
- 1 banana
- 1/2 to 1 glass of coconut water
- 1/2 to 1 glass of almond milk
- 2 tsps of shredded coconut
- 2 tsps of raw cacao
- 1 tsps ground flaxseeds
- A couple of ice cubes
Throw it all in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
Blueberries are highly nutritious and are fantastic for children due to their wide range of nutrients;
- They have powerful anti-inflammatory properties so are great for children with inflammatory conditions such as ezcema, asthma and hayfever.
- They are bursting with antioxidants which make them great for healing common colds and viruses.
- Full of phytonutrients, they help protect and strengthen the immune system.
- They are also high in fibre and help hydrate the colon (this is visible when changing a babies nappy – if their poo is blue you know they’re working!)
Use with children as ‘sweets’, after all they’re not cheap.
Unfortunately they have one of the highest pesticide residue so wash using a vegetable wash or apple cider vinegar or buy organic.
Frozen can be cheaper and are just as nutritious and particularly good for smoothies.
Add fresh to cereal or on top of porridge, have with natural yogurt, add to pancakes or muffins, blend with yogurt and freeze for a yummy dessert or have as a snack 🙂
Tip for Mummy’s and Daddy’s with teething babies – cut the chewy stem from a pineapple, leave in the fridge or freezer and give to your baby to chew on.
Not only will they like the sweetness from the pineapple but this part of the fruit is rich in Bromelain which reduces inflammation, a key driver of pain in teething.
Simple and nutritious 🙂
It’s thought that lots of allergies are linked to an unhealthy gut. Over 70% of our immune system lies within our gut so if our digestive system is compromised, this can lead to an imbalance in the immune system which can bring on conditions such as hay fever.
- Fill your diet with anti-inflammatory foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, onions, garlic, apples, berries and turmeric.
- Limit your dairy intake as it can increase mucus production.
- Take a vitamin D3 supplement, vital to help modulate the immune system.
- Reduce sugar intake as this causes inflammation, something you do not want in your airways!
- Visit your local health food store and stock up on a good probiotic along with a supplement containing vitamin C, quercetin and bromelain.
- Try the homeopathic remedy ‘Pollenna’ by Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy http://www.nelsonspharmacy.com/