Sparkles & Stretchmarks is a blog documenting family life in all its glory - from the beautiful picture perfect moments we all love to the inevitable downsides that we're not so fond of.
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Keeping Your Gut Healthy With ProVen Probiotics
I've always been one of those people who have a bit of a "dodgy tummy". There's always been foods that disagree with me, I've always suffered with what I call "Travel tummy", and I've always suffered with terrible bloating.
Back in early 2013, when I was around 7 months pregnant with my first child, my "dodgy tummy" became far worse and after one particularly bad evening I found myself in the back of an ambulance on my way to the hospital...where I remained for 3 days afterwards.
They were just being cautious because of my condition of course, they wondered whether my issues were linked to gallstones or a grumbling appendix perhaps, and they wanted to keep an eye on me.
But when it settled down, I was released and I was never really given any definitive answer as to what the problem was.
For a while it seemed that certain "trigger" foods made it worse, and so - on Drs advice - I ended up following a coeliac diet for a good 10 months or so.
But tests ruled out the disease, and instead I was told to consider myself simply gluten intolerant. But with gluten avoided, and the symptoms still occurring every now and then I ended up being given a rather broad diagnosis of "IBS"...and told that in simple terms, there was nothing they could do to help me.
As a busy working mother of 3 young children, I've found this condition really irritating to live with - I just don't have the time to spend days in agony because I ate something that didn't agree with me, and so I've spent a whole lot of time googling various remedies and treatments and trying to find my own solutions
One thing that is repeatedly mentioned in most things I read is how beneficial the use of Probiotics can be in the treatment of IBS and IBS type symptoms.
New research from ProVen Probiotics shows that more than half of Brits have poor gut health, which is affecting their weight (41%), mood (49%), confidence (42%) and eating decisions (49%)
I was recently given the chance to try ProVen Probiotics out and see for myself if they make any difference to how I'm feeling.
The timing was perfect as I'd just been on a 10 day course of antibiotics to treat an recurring infection so I began taking them afterwards...I always remember a European friend of mine telling me that it was standard practise in her home country to give Probiotics out with every course of Antibiotics and how surprised she was that this wasn't done in the UK.
The ProVenProbiotics Adult Acidophilus and Bifidus 25 billion ((RRP £13.95 for 30 capsules)) contain 25 billion per two capsules and also contain calcium, Vitamins C and D, zinc and selenium to aid digestion and immunity.
Its recommended that they be taken for between 1-4 months depending on personal need, I'm currently a month in to my trial and I have to say - I have noticed a definite difference with bloating, and I have had only one IBS flare up in that time which was a very mild one. Usually in any given month I'll have at least 3, at least one of which is usually bad enough to see me bed bound for the day!
Of course it's difficult to say whether this is purely down to the ProVen or not, but it's given me enough faith in it to want to continue the trial and so I have purchased another few months worth. I'm really hopeful that they'll continue to help me regain some normality in my life after years of struggling with these horrible symptoms.
If you find yourself struggling with IBS type symptoms too, you might find these tips from dietician Helen Bond useful:
Give Your Body a Boost
“The knock on effects of ... too much stress, too many late nights and partying, can put your gut bacteria out of balance, allowing the less desirable types of gut bacteria such as Clostridium difficile and E. Coli to increase. The upshot could be reduced immunity, making you more susceptible to the winter bugs you might otherwise be able to fight off. However, you can improve your microflora with probiotics, which are friendly strains of gut bacteria. You can boost your level of probiotics with yogurt or drinks, fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut, and fermented milk drinks, like kefir. You could also take a high quality probiotic supplement, likeProVen Probiotics Adult Acidophilus and Bifidus – 25 billion. The richer and more diverse the microflora in your gut, the healthier and more resilient to illness you will be – so it’s in your best interests to take action to keep your bacteria in fighting form.”
Forget Faddy Diets
“No matter how ‘in-vogue’ food intolerances might seem, avoid cutting out major food groups like carbs, unless you have specifically been advised to do so by a doctor or a dietitian. Faddy diets are not sustainable in the long term and often deprive our bodies of some of the nutrients we need to keep our microbiome and digestive health in good shape.”
Enjoy a Healthy Breakfast
“Skipping breakfast is a sure-fire way to leave you with a grumbling mid-morning tummy and will do your digestive health no favours! Just like us, our gut microflora needs feeding, so always make time to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Skip the croissants and pain au chocolat, and instead have a bowl of warming porridge that is rich in prebiotic oats, or have a couple of slices of wholegrain toast, with some vitamin D rich scrambled eggs.”
Fill up on fibre
“Eating plenty of high-fibre foods like wholegrain breakfast cereals and bread, whole-wheat pasta and couscous, bulgur wheat, brown rice and ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, barley and buckwheat help to fill us up. Bacteria in the gut also breaks down fibre to produce essential fatty acids, which give us energy and encourages a healthy gut bacteria balance. But remember, the fibre in your diet also absorbs water during digestion, so be vigilant about your fluid intake as you increase the fibre content of your diet.”
Keep sweets as treats
“With all the tasty snacks lying round after the Christmas festivities, it’s easy to over-indulge, giving your digestive system an extra work out. Stock up on healthy snacks, such as nuts and seeds, dried and seasonal fresh fruit such as clementine’s; a medium clementine has just 25 kcals and will provide you 31% of your daily needs for immune boosting vitamin C and 1g of gut healthy fibre.”
“It’s important to eat the right food to keep your gut healthy, but you also need to make sure you are taking on board enough fluid to keep it working properly. Like vitamins and minerals, our fluid needs are individual. The amount of fluid that we need differs by what we eat, where we live, what we are doing and how big and tall we are - but a good rule of thumb is about 2 litres (eight to ten glasses a day). If you are drinking enough, your urine should be pale and straw coloured. Although water is the best drink to stay refreshed, other fluids like milk, fruit juice, tea and coffee still count.”
Rethink the way you drink in 2018
“While one glass of white wine might not cause a digestive upset, alcohol acts an irritant in the gut and is dehydrating, so drinking too much won’t help you feel at your best. Limit alcohol intake to no more than two units per day and have at least two alcohol free days a week.”
Relax and don’t worry
“Reducing our stress levels can have a positive impact on our gut health. Even mild stress can tip our gut bacteria out of whack, making us feel lethargic, lacking in energy, and potentially more vulnerable to infection. Take up stress reducing activities such as meditation, reading, exercising, and listening to music. And ensure that you get a good night’s sleep - adults need about 8 hours a night and children need more!.”
The ProVen range also offers ProVen Fit For School - chewable tablets have been specially formulated for children aged 4-16 years old to help maintain immune function and general wellbeing, and shown to reduce the number of coughs and colds by a third, their duration by 50% and absenteeism from school by 30% - and ProVen Probiotics Acidophilus & Bifidus with A-Z Multivitamins for Children which provides a combination of 100% of the recommended daily allowance of all 13 essential vitamins, together with 2.5 billion Lab4 friendly bacteria, and is recommended for children aged 4-16 years.