One of the foundations of Kitchen Geekery is that we deal in the realms of science and fact. Sometimes though there is a place for more personal articles and experiences too – and this is one of those occasions.
As I approach my 30th birthday – at all too high speed - I have been doing a retrospective of myself, a collection of things I can work on to make myself, and my life better. This isn't something unusual for me, except I am applying it to my body, rather than something behavioural or academic. One of my problems is that sometimes I have a bit of a pot belly, and I frequently suffer from an upset stomach. In all truth, I have always put it down to poor core fitness, and the latter digestive issues I always assumed were normal and just never discussed.
However, I began this venture like I would any other – with some online research, and spent many an evening reading tomes of data on everything possibly relevant to my situation. Through the course of this, I realised that I have all the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBS); my stomach bloats randomly (It seemed), and I could have an upset stomach several times a week - ranging from foods passing through all too quickly, or all too slowly. So after my self-diagnosis, (There were other compelling symptoms) the next step was to look into a cure or way to reduce the effects of my IBS. Unfortunately, despite IBS being a very common condition in modern society, the human body is a complex machine and there is no real cure for something with such a wide variety of triggers and affects.
The first was to make a correction to my diet; to reduce the level of processed foods, salt, and complex carbohydrates I consume. The other was to try a probiotic treatment.
The diet side I will discuss in more depth in another article, but I have settled onto a crude form of the Paleo diet, which seems to work for me. To newcomers; it's also known as a caveman diet – the aim is that you eat more of what the body is historically used to, and less of the stuff that civilization has given us. Fish and vegetables in, bread and candy out, more traditional cuts of meat is increased - but grains, pasta, rice and potatoes are almost totally out. The diet was more of a long-term solution, and to be quite frank I wanted some quick results too. That left me with a probiotic drink called Symprove.
Now I must say that mileage will vary, but I would like to share my personal experience of the product.
Symprove is a gluten free probiotic drink, similar to those fancy yogurts and drinks like Yakult. The premise is also the same; replace the bad bacteria in your gut with friendlier ones. The (claimed) difference is that Symprove has strains which can live and grow in your gut, and that if taken for a time will gradually rebalance your digestive tract. Please note that because it contains live cultures you need to keep Symprove refrigerated once the bottle is opened.
Now that's a big claim, and Symprove say you need to take the treatment for around 3 months to really see the benefits. It's worth noting that a trial at London’s King’s College Hospital found that 57 per cent more patients with moderate to severe IBS achieved remission while taking it. Although not a high chance, the data is from a highly respected medical institution and helped me decide to take the plunge.
Oh, and I should mention it isn't cheap – it's roughly £20 for a 500ml bottle, and you need to take 1ml per 1kg of your bodyweight every day, I am 6'2 and 86kg, so that means I get just over 4 days from a bottle. That's 6 bottles a month, or £120! A significant investment of anyone's money. However, after doing lots of research, I came to the conclusion that if I was offered the chance to greatly reduce the symptoms for about £360 (A three month treatment) then I would have bitten someone's hand off for the chance.
So I have, and for the last six or so weeks, I have been taking 85ml of the passion-fruit flavoured Symprove daily - as soon as I wake up (as it recommends), and on an empty stomach.
I personally quite like the taste, although there is an original (unflavoured) option too, which held no appeal. During this period I have been taking a shot of Symprove atleast 5-10 minutes before I have my first food or drink of the day. In the time I have been using Symprove I am yet to suffer another upset stomach – quite a revelation to go from 2-3 bad episodes a week to none. My stomach bloating has also been reduced noticeably, and on the two occassions I've have became bloated it was much less so than I normally would have.
Now I did mention a change to my diet, but to ensure I wasn't crediting Symprove unfairly (and wasting my money!) I kept my diet the exact same for the first five weeks or so. During that time I had eaten some very hot curries, consumed alcohol with friends, enjoyed a Nando's or two, and had plenty of gorgeous bread – but not once did I suffered the usual complications. It's also important to make clear that this is not a sponsored review, and that I bought Symprove out of my own pocket, and of my own free will. I do have an affiliate account setup on the purchase, but it's attached to the cheapest online supplier of Symprove I could find, so there is no conflict of interest.
Over the next two months, I hope to see further improvements and to reduce the bloating completely – but generally if things stay as they have been, I would still be delighted with the improvements felt. After the three months has passed, it's suggested you just take a shot of Symprove now and again or when you feel it might be wise (Before that epic BBQ party perhaps!). In the last week I have also switched to an approximation of the Paleo diet, but that's generally to lose a bit of body fat! Although it should help my digestive tract massively too.
That's my experience of using Symprove, and I would really enjoy reading everyone's feedback, especially if you have any success, or horror, stories about Symprove. I will remain impartial in my editorial commitments, and they might even help me personally!