A piece of research came out and was widely publicised in the media in the last month or so.
The main headlines from it were that probiotic supplements do not work. Lazy journalism and headline grabbing words announced that we may as well throw all these supplements in the bin.
I delved into the research to see exactly what was being said rather than taking my knowledge from journalists who, it seems more and more these days, are expressing an opinion rather than reporting facts.
I found that this research was only carried out on 25 people. This is a tiny group to extrapolate anything major. Not only that but they were 25 healthy people.
The fact they were healthy is the key to a major flaw in the research. Why? Because if you are healthy your body should be working at its optimum. Taking supplements will not make you MORE healthy. You are either healthy or not, therefore, probiotics will simply add bacteria for a while that may be useful but they will not enhance your health when you are in good health.
Our body does not have an “extra healthy” mode for this would be a waste of important resources. Bear in mind that Health is different from fitness - we can get fitter, stronger, faster but we cannot work up more health.
Of course if you are ill then you can become healthier and most of the time this can be done with changes in your behaviour rather than getting drugs from the doctor.
For over a hundred years we Osteopaths have repeatedly observed and understood that our gut is vital for so many illnesses from our mental health to autoimmune problems and much more too. This has been ignored and even mocked by mainstream health professionals for decades but not anymore. Enormous research is coming out showing how vital our digestive system is to all aspects of our health.
This is why declaring war on bacteria with antibiotics has been, for many people, disastrous with them trapped in a round of chronic infections. I’ve seen countless examples of recurrent cystitis from the immune system damage caused by antibiotics because the cause of such problems is not simply some bacteria going wrong.
Antibiotics should be last resort medication, not frontline instant use drugs. If you have an infection your body, most of the time, given the right conditions such as rest, wholesome real nutrition (as opposed to take away food and ready meals) and gentle movement where possible, will clear up most infections without any need for drugs.
I cannot stress the importance of healthy rest when you are feeling unwell - most of us do not moderate our behaviour, soldiering on at work, taking something to mask the problem such as an anti inflammatory or a paracetamol based remedy. These do not cure us but reduce symptoms so we carry on and this can cause further illness.
Our body has some simple methods to cure us and we seem to want to stop it doing so. The basics are:
Inflammation - which causes pain and immobility but is busy repairing all the damage too. So if you take an anti inflammatory you interfere with repair and end up with recurring problems. And did you know the moment you pop one of these your chance of a heart attack increases from between 30-50% in the month you have taken it?
Fever - which raises our core temperature to kill off the bacteria or virus that is causing a problem. So if you take paracetamol or calpol you suppress this protection and end up getting more illness down the line.
Vomiting - which removes something the body doesn’t like. Therefore, taking a drug that stops this means whatever toxic substance was inside you still is!
Diarrhoea - which is similar to vomiting and protects us but we have got drugs that suppress this, bung us up and leave us vulnerable to more problems.
Modern medicine has created all these amazing drugs that suppress our body’s clever healing reactions. But when was the last time you heard a health professional explain all of this and suggest your body knows what it is doing and will fix you.
Doctors used to say their role was to amuse the patient while their body got them better - sadly it now appears that intervening with medication is first line defence rather than, for most of us, what should be a last resort.
Therefore, ensure your immune system functions well by healthy behaviour and yes, if you’ve had health issues or been on antibiotics or eat processed foods, then probiotics have a vital role to play in helping you and I’m sure many of you will testify how they have helped you - they’ve certainly helped me.
One of the best to try is Viridian’s Synerbio which is potent and has 8 different kinds of health giving bacteria.
Nature’s Aid also do a well priced acidophilus complex that is an excellent starter product.
Bio Kult and Optima also produce excellent products.