Welcome to the Clever Guts website. I’m hoping that people will come here to share their experiences and create a community. The book that this website is linked to is selling well in the UK and Australia (where I am currently doing a book tour), which is great.
In the book I said that people would be able to come to the website and get additional information. So, first of all, an apology. I have not been able to pull together more information on things like probiotics, olive oil and a proposed sleep experiment as fast as I would have liked. It is happening and below are some updates, but things are progressing slower than I had hoped. I am, I promise, onto it. Do sign up for the newsletter and I will keep you better and more rapidly informed.
As I mentioned in the book probiotics are the living bacteria that are sold, mainly in capsule form, in the hope that they will help improve a number of different conditions. If you don’t have a specific condition then I suggest you aim to improve your microbiome by following the menus in the book and on this website. I also suggest you try adding in some fermented foods to your diet (see Clare’s video about how to make delicious purple sauerkraut here)
Although they do contain living bacteria I think it is unlikely that buying one of those yoghurty drinks in plastic bottles will make a significant difference to your health. That said, some people swear by them. You should be aware that they may contain significant amounts of sugar or artificial sweetener (depending on whether you go for regular or light versions) and relatively few bacteria (usually 6-10 billion in a bottle. You should be aiming at more like 20 billion)
If you do have a specific issue that you want to try a probiotic for then below is currently the best I can do. Recommending a particular brand is tricky because it depends on the reason you are wanting to take it and the strength of evidence behind that brand. The following brands have a degree on scientific evidence behind them, but I would be grateful for any feedback on how helpful (or otherwise) you have found these products. Also if there are others you would like me to take a look at.
This is a probiotic which contains a mixture of different strains of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, though I would still recommend that if you have IBS you try to sort your diet out before/while taking VSL#3. You can buy VSL#3 via their website.
This is a probiotic which contains Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus According to Medline Plus, part of the US National Library of Medicine, taking HOWARU Protect may help reduce reduce symptoms of cough and runny nose, also lung infections in children under 6. Visit their website for more information
Health Span Elite
This is made by a British company for athletes and was recommended to me by someone who also advises the English Rugby team. He recommends their products on the basis that they contain what they say, and nothing more, something which is important for an elite athlete. The danger with buying supplements in any form off the internet is they can contain substances like steroids which for an elite athlete would be career suicide. More information on Health Span Elite at their website.
Sleep and Prebiotics
In the book I wrote about wanting to set up an online study to see if consuming potato starch helps improve sleep quality. Since writing the book I have also tried a special pre-biotic fibre, which was originally developed by Reading University. I found this to be more effective than the potato starch, though also more expensive. What was striking was that within a week of starting on the fibre supplement the quality of my sleep, as measured by devices leant to me by scientists from Oxford University, had improved significantly. It could be chance and there is no guarantee that it will work as well for others, which is why I want your help.
I’ve decided to set up an online survey asking people to try this, potato starch, or another well tested way of improving sleep quality, and report back. We’re just ironing out some glitches and I’m hoping this trial will be ready to go soon, for anyone who fancies joining in. I will give you full details of the pre-biotic and where to get it then.
In the book I also wrote about the fact that extra-virgin olive oil is the most counterfeited food in the world and that I would try to find brands that have some degree of certification. It is still early days but what I would say is that small, specialised providers are likely to be your best bet for price and quality, though they will be more expensive. If you are particularly concerned, it appears that Italian olive oils have some of the biggest problems. I will update when I hear more and happy to get recommendations from you for your personal favourites. I also welcome any manufacturer who cares to get in contact who can guarantee, on the basis of lab tests, that their extra-virgin, really is extra-virgin.
All the best,