Thursday 9 October 2014

Probiotics and Prebiotics – Helping to Keep Your Gut in Tip Top Condition

It’s that time of the year again when the weather changes, the kids have returned to school and nursery and all of a sudden tummy bugs and stomach upsets rear their ugly head once more!

Norovirus and the like take hold and last November/December time poor Sophia was struck down by one such stomach bug, which recurrently had her off school for a period of 4 weeks. As soon as we thought it had gone, it reappeared again. It was exhausting and upsetting for Sophia. Vomiting and diarrhea coupled with stomach cramps which would come in waves in the middle of the night meant that we spent many an hour during that period on the sofa downstairs. It certainly wasn’t fun.

As a family we take probiotics regularly however last year it was a bit more hit and miss. That won’t be happening again this year!

The gut houses approximately two thirds of our immune function so it’s really important to support this. When we have antibiotics or we have severe stomach upsets or food poisoning, we can strip our gut of the natural, beneficial bacteria which are needed to keep our immune systems working properly. Lack of these beneficial bacterium can also lead to conditions like candida.

Keen to try to get on top of this particular bought of sickness, I sent out an SOS tweet on Twitter, and Optibac were one of the companies that came to my rescue (Organic Burst were another). They recommended that I try Sophia on Saccharomyces Boulardii.

“Saccharomyces Boulardii is a unique probiotic yeast that has been safely used worldwide as a probiotic for more than half a century. It does not colonise the intestinal tract and is used as needed to support intestinal health. Saccharomyces Boulardii provides the intestines with unparalleled support against a broad array of pathogens that include bacteria, yeast and protozoans. Its mechanisms of actions are as follows:
  • It binds to certain pathogenic bacteria and occupies intestinal receptors, thus preventing bacteria from adhering to the mucous membrane
  • It inhibits bacterial toxins
  • It stimulates the intestinal immune system”

They kindly sent me a pack to try and within about 48 hours Sophia was greatly improved. We had her on them for about a week and supported this with a daily wellbeing probiotic afterwards. It did the trick and we finally managed to repopulate Sophia’s gut again. Phew!

Then back in August this year my husband and I were struck down by food poisoning. What was supposed to be a lovely end to our summer holiday turned into an absolute nightmare ! I’ve had stomach bugs and the norovirus before and that was bad enough but never had either of us suffered food poisoning and I hope we never will again.

The culprit was of course chicken – it always is isn’t it?! From our local Chinese takeaway. We’ve never ever had any issues before but when I tasted a strip of this particular dish I thought, “I don’t like the taste of this; I’m not having anymore”. However, that was all I needed to be hugging the loo 5 hours later along with my hubby. Good job we have 2 loos in our house!

We were both wiped out for 48 hours and my eldest Sophia was amazing helping with Jess; getting her breakfast and lunch, helping her get dressed etc. She was a star. Thank goodness Jess wasn’t a baby or we’d have really struggled. Your health is everything isn’t it?

Anyway, it has taken me a good 6 weeks to feel better again and Optibac’s Saccharomyces Boulardii was one of the products I reached for first to help me get back on my feet. I also put myself on their daily wellbeing probiotics too.

In addition, I have been using A Vogel’s Molkosan Fruit Prebiotic to encourage the growth of all those good guys in my gut again. A prebiotic such as Molkosan is a source of food for probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut. Theirs is fermented whey with fruit juices, stevia and calcium.

“Prebiotics are fibres which cannot be absorbed or broken down by the body and therefore serve as a great food source for probiotics, in particular the Bifidobacteria genus, to increase in numbers. Prebiotics by nature do not stimulate the growth of bad bacteria or other pathogens; the official definition of prebiotics is: ‘non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, which can improve host health’."

A Vogel kindly sent me a bottle to try out for review a few months back and I’m so pleased that I hadn’t tried it out sooner as it has been the perfect accompaniment to my probiotics in getting my gut back on track.

You put 20ml in a small glass of water and take it for at least 7 days in a row. It tastes a bit like the children’s Yeo Valley probiotic yoghurts. I like it and it has certainly made a difference for me over the past few weeks. You can also get Molkosan Original and Molkosan Vitality.

I use our probiotics in smoothies for the girls and I happily take them as capsules or in smoothies myself. We are stocked up for this winter and I’m determined to really support our gut health this time. Reducing sugar in the diet is also important as this suppresses our body’s immune function.

I thought I’d have a go at fermented foods this year; sauerkraut being my first to try. I’ll have to report back on how well I do.

There are many brands of pre and probiotics on the market to choose from now. You can either buy online or pop down to your local health food store to get yours. Optibac have a very comprehensive range for all sorts of conditions / situations so well worth checking out and of course A Vogel have their Molkosan range available too.

Do any of you use pre or probiotics on a daily basis? Do let me know in the comments section below. I love to hear your thoughts.

Make sure you keep your immune system in tip top condition this winter and include your fair share of friendly bacteria in the mix.

Until next time x


Disclaimer: I was sent some Optibac Saccharomyces Boulardii to try for Sophia when she was poorly last winter. I have decided to share our experience of them on my blog. I was also sent a Molkosan Fruit Prebiotic to try out for review on my blog. All thoughts, feeling and opinions are my own. I’m glad I had this in reserve to help my recovery from this bout of food poisoning!

It is always advised that you seek independent professional advise about taking supplements particularly if you are suffering with certain health conditions or you are taking certain medications. 



  1. This is a really interesting post Charlie, I have to be honest despite suffering with stomach trouble my whole adult life I never realised your gut was linked to your immune system in that way, now that you have said though it does make sense! I take Viridian skin clear which has probiotics but the Molkosan fruit sounds great and I like A Vogel so will looking in to that Xx

    1. Hi Ana. Thanks for stopping by x It would make sense to also try a probiotic too if possible. This is the friendly bacteria needed in the gut. The Molkosan will feed that friendly bacteria so both work together. The probiotic e.g Optibac or BioKult will be the long term product of choice with the prebiotic being given as needed to feed your good tummy bacteria. Good Luck xx Let me know how you get on :)

    2. By that I mean that the Viridian will have some probiotic but not a sufficient amount. A lot of vitamins are coated in a probiotic to help absorbtion in the gut x

  2. Great post! I'm a huge fan of Optibac too! Their range is so full, as you say, and their customer service is fab. I've tried a bunch of different brands for my IBS and none have worked like these (Im on the every day and the S.B as and when). Also love A.Vogel but havent tried the molkosan ... will save it for a rainy day perhaps!

    1. Thanks Emma :) x Great to hear that you have had success using probiotics with your IBS. And that the S.B made a difference too. Let me know how you get on with the Molkosan Fruit. I think you'll like it.


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