Gut feeling

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Matt Chittock discovers the best natural approaches to help bloated consumers get back to balance.

Do your customers complain about pain or irritability in the gut? Then they’re certainly not alone – from serious bowel issues to everyday bloating, a massive nine million people in the UK have problems with their digestive system.

“Lots of people come to me with conditions such as IBS, constipation and gastro-intestinal reflux,” says Higher Nature nutritional therapist Emma Mihill (www.emmamihill.com).

Food focus

She believes that a fundamental change in the UK’s food culture is what’s behind many of her patients’ problems.

Today food is all about convenience, so we’re drawn to packaged foods that have high levels of sugar. Because of this people are eating a really limited diet with only five or six different food types every week.”

Alison Cullen from A Vogel agrees that our problems can be traced back to modern diets.

“Gillian McKeith used to do a really interesting thing on TV where she laid out on a table what one of her clients eats in a week,” she says.

“Often you’d end up with this sea of grey food – which just can’t be good for your digestion.”

Mihill recommends taking things back to basics and asking clients to fill in a food diary, so they can see exactly what they eat. From then on it’s about upping levels of leafy green veg, drinking water, reducing sugar and also “making sure they get plenty of sleep and take time to laugh.”

Conscious eating

As well as being conscious of what goes into the body – the experts recommend that people with digestive problems should be aware of how they eat.“If you’re eating a quick sandwich while you’re working at your desk you’re just not giving the body a chance to digest properly,” says Cullen.“Chewing is necessary to create digestive enzymes in the first place,” adds Mihill.“So if you’re eating too quickly there’s no time to digest food.”Of course, sometimes our bodies are simply intolerant or allergic to certain foodstuffs.

“Many people that come to me already suspect that a certain type of food is causing problems,” says Mihill.
“Often they’re just looking for confirmation of what they already suspect. Cows’ milk can definitely cause problems – sometimes people have skin conditions linked to cows’ milk. It’s almost become a cliché – but wheat, and anything gluten-based can often be behind digestive conditions”
Happily, Mihill says that in around 90 per cent of cases she sees, simply cutting out the offending foods can turn gut conditions around completely.

Do your customers complain about pain or irritability in the gut? Then they’re certainly not alone – from serious bowel issues to everyday bloating, a massive nine million people in the UK have problems with their digestive system.“Lots of people come to me with conditions such as IBS, constipation and gastro-intestinal reflux,” says Higher Nature nutritional therapist Emma Mihill (www.emmamihill.com).

Food focus

She believes that a fundamental change in the UK’s food culture is what’s behind many of her patients’ problems.“Today food is all about convenience, so we’re drawn to packaged foods that have high levels of sugar. Because of this people are eating a really limited diet with only five or six different food types every week.”Alison Cullen from A Vogel agrees that our problems can be traced back to modern diets.“Gillian McKeith used to do a really interesting thing on TV where she laid out on a table what one of her clients eats in a week,” she says.“Often you’d end up with this sea of grey food – which just can’t be good for your digestion.”Mihill recommends taking things back to basics and asking clients to fill in a food diary, so they can see exactly what they eat. From then on it’s about upping levels of leafy green veg, drinking water, reducing sugar and also “making sure they get plenty of sleep and take time to laugh.”

Conscious eatingAs well as being conscious of what goes into the body – the experts recommend that people with digestive problems should be aware of how they eat.“If you’re eating a quick sandwich while you’re working at your desk you’re just not giving the body a chance to digest properly,” says Cullen.“Chewing is necessary to create digestive enzymes in the first place,” adds Mihill.“So if you’re eating too quickly there’s no time to digest food.” Of course, sometimes our bodies are simply intolerant or allergic to certain foodstuffs. “Many people that come to me already suspect that a certain type of food is causing problems,” says Mihill.“Often they’re just looking for confirmation of what they already suspect. Cows’ milk can definitely cause problems – sometimes people have skin conditions linked to cows’ milk. It’s almost become a cliché – but wheat, and anything gluten-based can often be behind digestive conditions”Happily, Mihill says that in around 90 per cent of cases she sees, simply cutting out the offending foods can turn gut conditions around completely.

Perspective on probiotics

Probiotic expert Peter Cartwright puts us in the picture about how they can help digestive health

What do you think that the average consumer understands about probiotics?
When I explain to acquaintances that I work in the field of probiotics, by far the most common response I get is: “Do they work?” In other words, there is a high level of scepticism from the general public.

Part of the reason for this is that probiotics are food supplements and are not allowed to make any claims in relation to disease, and yet the great majority of good quality successful human trials have been in populations with an illness. Consequently, probiotic products can only make rather generalised claims, which can sound rather dubious. Having said that, there is also quite widespread warming to the concept of improving your normal gut bacteria with the addition of ‘friendly bacteria’.

Put simply, how can probiotics improve digestive health?
There are about 50 trillion bacteria in the human gut, and they provide substantial benefit to our health. About half of all the immune cells in the body are found in the gut wall, and there is therefore great potential to help the immune system operate at a tip-top level.

The resident bacteria living in a person’s intestine is unique to that person, although there is a lot of commonality between individuals. These communities of bacteria are collectively known as the microflora. Our gut microflora is fairly resilient to attacks, but can become disturbed. Taking a probiotic regularly, either as a milk-based food, or as a freeze-dried supplement can help your own unique strains to recover more quickly.

A probiotic strain in a product will not stay permanently in your intestine, but its temporary presence will help create the right environment for a return to your natural balance of microfloral bacteria.

How extensive is the scientific evidence for the efficacy of probiotics?
There are a lot of randomised controlled trials that show benefit from probiotics in relation to infectious diarrhoea, lactose intolerance, antibiotic associated diarrhoea, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis and constipation. In the past, products have usually been developed to aid a wide range of conditions.

Now that the concept of probiotics is much more widely understood, companies are supporting research that will identify particular strains that will be especially effective in more targeted conditions.

Store Staples
Four natural ingredients that can boost digestive health
Meadow sweet
This clever herb acts as a natural antacid to soothe and protect the lining of the stomach without side effects
Ginger
Need something to ease stomach spasms? Ginger can be a natural tonic to relax and benefit an overactive or painful digestive system.
Milk thistle
Bitter herbs, such as milk thistle, can benefit the liver and make food easier to digest. Forms the basis of many reliable health store favourites.
Ashwagandha
For an Ayurvedic approach, this herb can help tackle stress and reduce anxiety – conditions that are often at the root of many digestive problems.

Gut Facts

  • There are 1000 times as many bacteria in the gut as there are stars in the milky way
  • The entire gut measures nine metres in length
  • Food takes between 24-36 hours to pass through the gastrointenstinal tract
  • IBS will affect a fifth of people in the UK during their lifetime

Hot Stocks

Top products from the natural world.

Going pro
Probiotics are big news in the natural gut health market – and as they grow in popularity brands are creating innovative ways for consumers to get their regular dose. For instance, Probio-Mints from Higher Nature offer a convenient way for shoppers to get the benefit with a tooth-friendly chewable mint format. Meanwhile ActiMint offer a chewable mint, which also includes prebiotics.

Peppermint prevention
Peppermint tea is a simple and cheap stomach-calming product that could be perfect for customers on a budget, or who want to approach bloating through the diet. Peppermint also features in New Nordic’s Dia, alongside garlic, as a way to reduce gas and bloating.

Anti-acid
Many digestive problems can be tackled by reducing acid in the gut – and there are many products on the health store shelf that make blitzing acid easy to achieve. Interestingly, spirulina, found in products like Organic Burst Spirulina, works as a powerful alkaliser to reduce acid.

Gut Health Listings

Bio-Acidophilus Forte Plus

BioCare® Ltd, Lakeside, 180 Lifford Lane, Kings Norton, Birmingham B30 3NU
Tel: 0121 433 3727 Fax: 0121 433 8705
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.biocare.co.uk

Bio-Acidophilus Forte Plus is a professional potency blend of the clinically proven LAB4 complex of probiotic ‘friendly’ bacteria in a convenient to use capsule form, ideal for situations where use of the very highest potency is required and where supporting the balance of the immune system is even more important. It contains 75 billion probiotic organisms as the unique LAB4 complex with the
added advantage of Lactobacillus salivarius. Bio-Acidophilus Forte Plus is vacuum packed and microencapsulated to maintain the stability of these fragile organisms. It is hypoallergenic and dairy-free. 30 vegetable capsules – RRP £56.10.

Lifestream Biogenic Aloe Vera

Healthy Sales & Marketing
Tel: 01403 786460 Fax: 01403 786280
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.healthysales.co.uk

Available as a juice, capsule, gel or mist, Lifestream Biogenic Aloe Vera is a tonic useful in maintaining the healthy function of the digestive tract, and a healthy immune system.
Containing only the fresh ‘inner gel’, Lifestream Biogenic Aloe Vera is rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins, plus other components essential for cell growth and renewal.
All Lifestream Biogenic aloe vera products are made from organically grown aloe vera and are 100% herbicide, pesticide and GM free, vegetarian and with no added colours, sugars, flavours or sweeteners.
For further details contact Cliff Moss Healthy Sales & Marketing on 01403 786460.

Terranova – Digestive Enzyme Complex

Kinetic Enterprises
Tel: 0845 0725 825 Fax: 0845 0725 826
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.kinetic4health.co.uk

Terranova Digestive Enzyme Complex is a powerfully active and intensely synergistic formulation of digestive enzymes and herbal extracts designed to help support the digestive system and aid food absorption. Contains Fennel Seed and Ginger which have a soothing effect on the digestive tract, chlorophyll-rich Green Barley Grass for bacterial balance and fibre, Stabilised Rice Bran, Artichoke Leaf, Cardamom Seed, and Gentian Root along with 12 digestive enzymes. All Terranova products contain no fillers, binders or other excipients and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Support for a balanced digestive health

HealthAid Ltd, HealthAid House, Marlborough Hill, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 1UD
Tel: 020 8426 3400 Fax: 020 8426 3434
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.HealthAid.co.uk

Digestive enzymes help with the breakdown of food and the extraction of vital nutrients. Poor diet, stress, poor chewing and overeating can all contribute to an insufficiency of digestive enzymes; which can reduce nutrient absorption. It also means that undigested food will pass into the large intestine causing flatulence and bloating. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can make a significant difference to your digestive health. Digeston™ contains a unique combination of eight beneficial enzymes, which helps to break down food in the stomach and gut and help alleviate digestion-related discomforts. Digeston™ retails at £6.99 for 60 Tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd

ActiMint



ECOBRANDS LTD, 2-36 Stratford Road, London W8 6QA
Tel: 020 7460 8101 Fax: 020 7565 8779
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.actimint.com

Optimising digestive health is easy with ActiMint probiotic supplements. Now with an improved formula and even fresher taste, the soft chewable mints replenish the body with beneficial microflora, also known as‘friendly’bacteria. Each tablet contains millions of Lactobacillus acidophilus units to help maintain a healthy balance in the digestive tract. The improved coating and increased prebiotic levels create a scientifically proven synergistic effect that ensures higher levels of microflora reach the gut. Additionally, natural, sugar-free sweetener Xylitol helps keep the mouth & gums healthy and reduces plaque.
Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and free from yeast, wheat, salt, lactose, aspartame, artificial colours flavours and preservatives.

Dida

New Nordic Ltd
Unit 20 Brough Business Centre, Skillings Lane, Brough
HU15 1EN
Tel: 01482 300695 Fax: 01482 300696
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.newnordic.co.uk
DidaTM Can help you fight that bloated feeling?
New Nordic’s DidaTM is a natural tablet, recommended for people who want to maintain a healthy digestion and reduce bloatedness. DidaTM is a highly effective natural tablet and is based on a traditional Swedish cinnamon herbal formulation including peppermint oil and many other health giving herbs, which have been shown to help maintain a healthy digestion and reduce gas, pressure and bloating after meals. These conditions are all related to the break down of foods in your stomach. DidaTM also contains immune-boosting garlic and clove, which acts as an antiviral.

Viridian’s High Potency Digestive Aid Veg Caps

Viridian Nutrition Ltd, 31 Alvis Way, Royal Oak, Daventry, Northants NN11 8PG
Tel: 01327 878050 Fax: 01327 878335
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.viridian-nutrition.com

High Potency Digestive Aid capsules is the best-selling digestion supplement from Viridian Nutrition providing a vegan combination of betaine hydrochloride, enzymes and extracts. This product is regularly advertised in national newspapers and is one of a range of supplements dedicated to healthy maintenance of the digestive system including Bromelain 500mg capsules, Tri-blend Probiotic capsules and powder, 40+ Synbiotic capsules, Children’s Synbiotic powder and Complete Fibre Complex capsules. Synbiotic formulas supply high potency strains of probiotics and prebiotics. The 180-strong award-winning range of nutritional supplements from Viridian Nutrition is dedicated to the future development and security of the health food store.

VOptiBac Probiotics For maintaining regularity

OptiBac Probiotics
Tel: 01264 339 770 Fax: 01264 339 771
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk
We’d like to introduce our NEW product – For maintaining regularity. Available in 2 pack sizes (10s RRP £9.99 & 30s RRP £24.99), it contains Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12® – recognised as the worlds most well researched B. lactis strain. Our specialised formula of B. lactis BB-12® & fructooligosaccharides (FOS) prebiotic has been shown to be especially effective in preventing and treating constipation, naturally.
Suitable for:
– Vegetarians & Vegans
– Gluten free diets
– Use during pregnancy
– Infants from 1 year +
– Long term use, will not cause dependency
With OptiBac Probiotics, regularity can be an everyday thing.

Bio-Kult and Bio-Kult Candéa Probiotics

OProbiotics International Ltd (Protexin)
Lopen Head, Somerset, TA13 5JH
T: 01460 243 230 • F:01460 249 543
[email protected] • www.bio-kult.com
People take probiotics to help their digestive tract and their immune system work better. Probiotics contain microbes (tiny living organisms) that are known to benefit human health. They influence our resident microbes, known as the microflora. The microflora, in different parts of the body, defend us against infection. If we had no microflora in the intestine, we would probably be several hundred thousand-times more likely to develop an infection. The microflora also keeps our immune cells in an alert state ready to act against invading germs. Probiotics remedy disturbed microflora and help keep future disturbances at bay.

Christmas brings stress and stress can upset the digestive system. Stress negatively affects our health and can have an impact on the microfloral balance in our gut. The more organised you can be the calmer you will be in the run up to the big day which will help keep your digestive system settled. Remember the song, “Don’t worry, be happy”.

Using a probiotic during times of stress will help balance the microflora in your system and keep your gut happy.

We all love a big blowout on Christmas Day, and that is allowed. However, in the run up to Christmas and New Year, try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water. Water is vitally important as it keeps food moving to where it is needed most – aiding digestion and absorption. Taking a good probiotic can also aid digestion, that way you will ensure your body is ready to combat all the turkey and trimmings on Christmas day.

Everyone knows exercise is good for you. So when out Christmas shopping or hitting the holiday sales, try to take the stairs instead of the lifts.

When flicking through all the Christmas films and repeats on TV, instead of using the remote, jump up from the sofa and switch channels on the TV set itself. Some probiotics have been shown to reduce illness in athletes after training, so if you do hit the gym after Christmas try taking a probiotic as well.

After taking on board all the previous tips it is important to give your body some well deserved rest. Sleep is very important to enable your body to re-charge. This will also let your digestive system relax as well. When you wake up remember to take a probiotic to help your digestive system tackle whatever you intend to throw at it that day! Bio-Kult is a unique multistrain brand of probiotic products, expertly formulated to help the digestive and immune systems.

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