Most yoghurts from the supermarket are pasteurised. Unfortunately the high heat involved in pasteurisation sterilises or kills most of the bacteria – both beneficial or potentially harmful and therefore reduces most of the benefits. They may have been live at the beginning of manufacture, but not at the end. Even most of the yogurts certified as organic are pasteurised in some way.
The bacteria count per serving will also be far less than for a specially formulated supplement.
Scientific research on positive gut bacteria confirms their role in healthy digestion, immune function, and restoring the levels and variety of beneficial flora after antibiotics.
A well balanced microbiome supports colon health, helps prevent traveller’s diarrhoea, fights instances of candida overgrowth and may even reduce stress.
Gastroenterologist Lisa Ganjhu of New York University puts it well:
Probiotic supplements are especially useful when your body's normal bacterial balance is interrupted—which can happen when you're stressed, ill, traveling, or taking antibiotics.
It refers to the trillions of bacteria you are ‘host’ to - most of which are in your digestive tract or ‘gut’. Your microbiome includes ‘good’ bacteria that are literally vital for your health, immune system, digesting food and producing some essential vitamins.
Your Microbiome, however, also includes pathogenic bacteria – ‘bad’ bacteria that can cause illness and long term disease.
So a key function of the ‘good’ bacteria is to fight and crowd out the ‘bad’.
Some 70% of your immune system is located in your gut and the role of the billions of ‘friendly’ bacteria is to ensure your microbiome is healthy – which in turn keeps you healthy. See full report here.
At least 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. Your intestinal system can only support optimum immune health if there is a proper balance between the ‘good’ and bad types of bacteria in your gut.
Unfortunately, the "good" bacteria in your gut don’t last for ever and need constant replacing. Especially as we get older and absorb nutrients from food les efficiently.
The right prebiotic foods can normally replace the ‘good bacteria, but not always. And there are times when your natural beneficial bacteria can be degraded – for example by antibiotics (both prescribed and as residual traces in non-organic foods), by stress, excess dietary sugar, and even antacids.
When the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut is disturbed – a condition that health researchers call ‘dysbiosis’ – it can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, a compromised immune system and health problems. One fairly common result is candida. Taking high-quality ‘good’ bacteria in supplement form can help create a healthier balance.
Older people absorb nutrients less effectively from food. A healthier microbiome may help support better nutrient absorption.
Not necessarily. We recommend 60 days of supplementation during and after antibiotics, to support any medication in the event of a thrush or candida episode and at times of digestive upset. And if you are travelling to a country where foods are very different or food hygiene standards are lower. Some experts also recommend a supplement at times of extra stress and during a diet. See Report here.
However, because beneficial bacteria colonies do not last for ever, we do recommend a 60 capsule course of MicrobioticPlus 3 times a year.
Every capsule includes a unique mixture of plant fibres that we as humans can’t digest – but the ‘friendly’ bacteria use as their food source.
These not only nourish the good bacteria - which is important if they are to form a colony - but also bring about positive changes of their own.
We have included two types of this ‘resistant fibre’ as they each nourish different strains in different parts of the gut. These include inulin and fructo-oligo-saccharides or FOS.
If you are one of the rare people who eats fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut, kefir, miso, tempeh and unpasteurised cheese), every few days, the answer is probably no. Even so your best health depends on having a range of good bacterial strains, so an occasional boost from a multi-strain supplement could still help to support a healthy microbiome.
Probiotics may be the ‘stars’ of gut health – but stars need support.
A truly healthy microbiome needs an average of about 8 grams of prebiotics a day to feed the probiotics. Prebiotic rich foods include avocados, peas, wholegrain breads, asparagus, beans, lentils, chickpeas, allium vegetables like garlic, onion, leeks, artichokes, chicory, bananas, apples with skins on, oats and intriguingly dandelion leaves.
This suggests a quick and easy way to boost your prebiotic intake is via soups and smoothies.
So here are 5 filling, prebiotic-rich recipes. And they are all perfect if you are looking to feel full with few calories – yet get a big nutritional boost.
Since each recipe contains at least 20 grams of prebiotics, you don’t have to consume the soups or shakes every day.
Avocado, spinach and banana smoothie (4 servings)
- One small avocado
- 2 cups of kale
- 2 cups of leaf spinach
- 1 teaspoonful of grated ginger – or use Very Lazy ginger
- 1 dessertspoon of flax seeds
- 1 tablespoonful of honey or maple syrup
- 2 cups of almond milk, oatmeal milk or hemp milk
You can add a shot of protein powder if you want a meal in a glass. Just blend for 60 seconds in a blender, or Nutribullet or NutriNinja. You are getting healthy fats from the avocado, lots of vitamins including vitamins A and K and sweetness from the banana and honey.
Banana, apple, mixed berries and chia seed smoothie - serves 1
- ½ a banana
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen berry fruits
- I cored apple but with skin on
- 1 tablespoonful of chia seeds – or flax seeds
- 6 ounces (180g) almond milk
Whip up in a blender or Nutri Bullet/Nutri Ninja
Alternative 1: You can substitute cacao powder for the seeds
Alternative 2: You can substitute ½ a mango for the berry fruits
There is good evidence that flax seeds have a protective effect against breast and prostate cancer.
Four bean soup – serves 2
- 1 can Heinz 4 bean mix drained
- 2 ounces/50g of chick peas or lentils
- ½ large onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 large tomato – or ½ tin of plum tomatoes
- 2oz chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoonful olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Blend in a food mixer or Nutribullet. Then cook in saucepan for 7-10 minutes.
Red lentil curry soup (from Health Defence cook book)– serves 4
- ¾ cup red lentils
- 2/3 large leek bulb medium diced
- ¾ medium green chilli (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 20 cashew nuts (optional)
- 1/8 savoy cabbage (medium diced)
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- ¼ bunch coriander leaves (roughly chopped if using blender)
- 4 spoons of greek yogurt
Blend in a food mixer or Nutribullet / Nutri Ninja. Then cook in saucepan for 20 minutes.
Pea and ham soup - serves 4
- 8 ounces chopped smoked bacon
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 1 large onion
- 1 large head garlic
- 200g green soaked split peas
- 1 large leek bulb (use white section only)
- 1 large head garlic, peeled
- 3 cloves
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1 cup frozen peas
Blend in a food mixer and slow cook for 30 minutes.