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clinical background

Gut Reactions #11 – Symprove probiotic for irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects up to 20% of the UK population with women at least twice as likely to be affected as men. Common symptoms include bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort. While there is no clearly defined cause of IBS, many sufferers find that symptoms are exacerbated by high stress levels, an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut and dietary factors such as wheat and dairy products, which are high in FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols). To clarify, FODMAPS are a collection of poorly absorbed simple and complex sugars that are found in a variety of fruit and vegetables as well as in milk and wheat.

While many control their IBS with a strict diet, avoiding ingesting foods high in FODMAPS, this blog will examine the positive effects that probiotic supplements, and more specifically Symprove, appear to have on the illness, relieving symptoms by correcting the imbalance in gut bacteria. Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” So, how may a probiotic supplement help to reduce IBS symptoms?

–    Probiotic bacteria may give a boost to the numbers of friendly bacteria in the gut, so less space is available along the gut lining for the colonisation of ‘bad’ microorganisms, which may cause both digestive discomfort and excess gas production.

–    The supplement’s ‘friendly bacteria’ may help to break down the FODMAPS foods that may exacerbate IBS.

–    The healthy bacteria may also play a role in modulating the gut’s nervous system, thus reducing the impact of stress on the gut.

Symprove, available without prescription from the internet and health food shops, is the first probiotic remedy proven in a clinical trial to work. A trial at London’s King’s College found that 57 per cent more patients with moderate-severe IBS achieved remission than those taking placebo (an identical looking and tasting supplement but one which didn’t contain any bacteria) while taking this supplement. Symprove is a water-based treatment that contains four live strains of the ‘friendly bacteria’ lactobacillus – the supplement’s makers claim that it helps to balance the gut and ‘reset’ the digestive system. There are two major advantages to Symprove compared to competitors, many of which contain bacteria that are freeze-dried or transported in food:

–    Symprove’s bacteria is live and ready to work immediately. The various strains work together to address the gut’s imbalance. This differs from freeze-dried products which are inactive when ingested and usually have very low survival rates when subjected to stomach acid. Those that do survive may also pass through the gut before having a chance to re-activate.

–    As it is water-based, Symprove doesn’t trigger digestion when ingested, meaning that it survives the stomach’s hostile environment. Food or dairy-based probiotics (such as yoghurts) usually trigger digestion, resulting in many of the bacteria being killed before it can have any effect.

Symprove is drunk at the start of the day at 1ml per kilogram per day. Symprove’s makers assert that it can take up to three months to notice positive effects – time is required for the friendly bacteria to build momentum to restore and maintain the gut’s balance, thus relieving the IBS sufferer of some of their worst symptoms.

For more information about this treatment option, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Harris.

 

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