Prebiotics and probiotics

Do you know the difference between pre and probiotics? If not read on to discover more.

Probiotics are commonly known as good bacteria and are widely available in supplement form, and they can also be found in some yoghurt. On the other hand, prebiotics are fibres that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria that are already present in your gut. [1]

Many of the beneficial bacteria in our lower intestine feast on fibre which we can’t digest ourselves and so passes through the stomach and small intestine to be dealt with by the bacteria in our large intestine (gut). So eating a diet which is high in fibre is hugely beneficial to our gut health, because the fibre is the food for your good bacteria.

ID-10099484But do we need to take a probiotic supplement? Lots of research has been done on this and while there is mixed results from the findings, many people are agreeing that taking a probiotic supplement can help with the treatment of Travellers Diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems, to upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, various skin disorders, diabetes, weight loss to infantile colic.[1]

Another good time to be taking a probiotic supplement is during and after periods of antibiotic use. Antibiotics are good at killing all the bacteria, good and bad, so it is important that we put good bacteria back into our bodies to maintain a healthy gut. My mother suffered with oral thrush during courses of antibiotics for years until she discovered probiotics.

Additionally, stress can take its toll on the good bacteria of the gut.

The topic of pre and probiotics can get very complex as there are many different species of bacteria and some species can be beneficial for specific health concerns. For example, research at the University of Aberdeen has shown that eating a bowl of oats every day can clearly change the proportions of different types of bacteria in the gut, and their research has shown that some of the species that particularly increases when people eat more oats can be very good for us. These bacteria produce chemicals which are good for our hearts and for our gut lining. [2]

So my personal recommendation would be to take probiotic supplements during periods of ill health and stress, or to combat particular health concerns. But during times when health is good then eat a diet with lots of fibre including oats, and indigestible carbohydrates (oligosaccharides, dietary fibre and resistant starch). Examples of these are onions, garlic, beans and lentils, cashews, and cooked potatoes that have been cooled.

probioboost

For a good, high quality supplement see Pro Bio Boost supplement from Neal’s Yard Remedies. This is suitable for vegetarians, and contains Bacillus coagulans, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifido Blend 3 Strain and Inulin (a type of prebiotic/indigestible carbohydrate derived from plants). No GMO and no synthetic binders or fillers.

Alternatively, the Organic Fibre Blend Cleanse help to maintain a healthy digestion with a cleansing blend of apple, flax seed and chia seed. Contains psyllium husk and Bacillus coagulans to help promote the natural health of your gut.

 

[1] Monash University https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/food-as-medicine/1/steps/82004

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4s0XkHq0HxZhjd5V2lQ2LRm/do-probiotics-do-any-good

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Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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What is Stress?

We all talk about stress in our lives, but what actually is “stress” and what does it do to our bodies? How can we be more aware and what can we do to help ourselves?

This blog offers an introduction to the topic of stress.

Our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the important part of our nervous system which controls our vital bodily functions such as our heart beating and our breathing.stress

It is split into two divisions: Parasympathetic and Sympathetic. The two sides work in an integrated and complementary fashion. When one is stimulated the other one is suppressed.

When we face any type of stress, whether it’s fear, anxiety, danger or worry, our nervous system reacts in exactly the same way: it prepares to “fight or flight”. This is because it senses a threat and it works to keep us safe. So whether you are running across a road of speeding traffic, or whether you are anxious about a looming work deadline, the body will be reacting in exactly the same way.

The sympathetic division predominates. A release of adrenalin instructs the body to prepare for “fight or flight”.

Blood vessels supplying the heart, limbs, head and brain dilate enabling more blood and oxygen to reach these body parts in preparation for physical activity.

Blood pressure and heart rate rises, as does respiratory rate.

The brain and eyes are also on full alert, improving concentration and peripheral vision.

Sugar is released into the blood system for the anticipated need for additional energy. This happens in the liver.

In order to conserve energy, the blood vessels supplying the non-essential systems of the body constrict, suppressing the digestive and immune systems.

The stomach and small intestine become inhibited, delaying digestion, the onward movement of food, and the absorption of nutrients.

Once the perceived threat has gone, the body will revert back to normal and rebalance: homeostasis will be resumed.

But in our modern day life, the perceived threat might go on and on for days, weeks, months or even years. Anxiety and worries can take all sorts of forms, such as work/job worries, financial worries, health worries, deadlines, long working hours, relationships: the list is endless.

As you can imagine, the ability to relax will be difficult: the body being on constant high alert. Problems include difficulty sleeping, feeling run down, constantly catching colds and viruses due to the suppressed immune system. Good nutrition will also be compromised with the suppressed digestive system, causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea, constipation etc.

It’s so important that we get a balance in our lives: time for work and time to rest/relax. We need time to allow the parasympathetic nervous system to predominate, and then allow the body time to rebalance.

This is where reflexology and other holistic therapies can be so beneficial. A regular session booked into the diary will break the constant stress cycle, and give you and your body an hour to lie back and relax: me time.

Reflexology, in particular, can be very beneficial in providing profound relaxation because of the high concentration of nerve endings in the feet: the feet are great access points for the whole body.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net