A huge range of probiotics is available online and in health food stores. All claim to support your gut health and general well-being. However, not all probiotics are created equal.
For instance, tablet and powder forms of probiotics have a lower chance of passing through your stomach alive than food-based probiotics. Live probiotics such as Kefir, cultured yoghurts and fermented foods get your digestive juices flowing. These stomach acids kill some of the bacteria as they pass through. Although some bacteria survive, fewer of them make it to the parts of your gut where they can settle and thrive.
Water-based probiotics, like Symprove, pass through your stomach without triggering your digestive juices. This gives the bacteria a far better chance of survival. They pass quietly through your stomach, surviving the acids found there and arriving safely where they’re needed. They take up residence in your gut and begin to thrive alongside the other good bacteria that are resident there.
For the past three months, I’ve been consistently downing a 70ml shot of Symprove each morning. I’m a healthy woman in my early 50s. I don’t take any medication and have no specific health issues or problems with my gut. Even so, I was interested to see if it would improve my general well-being and live up to the claims of increased energy, vitality and improved mood.
Before we get into my experience with Symprove, first, a little about what it actually is and what it claims to help with.
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What is Symprove and what is it good for?
Symprove is a water-based probiotic that contains four different types of good bacteria for your gut. The water-based fermented barley solution is different from other probiotic supplements that come in dairy or powdered form. This unique solution supports the bacteria and gives them a much higher chance of surviving the harsh environment of your stomach because it doesn’t trigger digestive juices. Instead, the bacteria pass through your stomach unharmed to reach your intestine, where they can thrive.
It works to balance your gut’s microbiome by delivering a daily dose of good bacteria where it’s needed most. Thanks to the non-dairy, gluten-free solution, Symprove is great for people on dairy-free, vegan or gluten-free diets and those following FODMAP or even regular diets.
What bacteria is in Symprove?
Good gut health relies on a diverse range of bacteria, yeast, fungi and viruses to remain healthy. The average gut microbiome contains more than 160 different species. The dominant strains are Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Fusobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia, making up around 90% of our gut’s microbiota.
All four strains of bacteria in Symprove are Firmicutes. Among other things, Firmicutes help to extract energy from the food we eat. They also help us break down fats and clear toxins from our bodies. While doing all this, they produce butyrate, a compound with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that helps control the growth of cells in our gut wall, keeping your colon healthy.
The specific types of bacteria in each shot of Symprove are:
- L. rhamnosus (Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus) Found in some dairy-based probiotics, l. rhamnosus is a friendly gut bacteria known to relieve digestive issues such as IBS symptoms and leaky gut. It also protects against cavities and strengthens your gut health.
- L. acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus) This friendly bacteria helps to break down food and extract nutrients for your body. It’s also great at maintaining an acidic environment in your gut, supporting both your immune system and digestion.
- L. plantarum (Lactiplantibacillus plantarum) Found in your mouth and your gut, this type of bacteria works hard to control the levels of unhelpful bacteria in your gut while also breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.
By keeping the balance of good and ‘bad’ bacteria in check, l. plantarum improves digestive problems such as diarrhoea and constipation. Small studies also point to their usefulness in treating skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and seasonal allergies, although there is not much evidence supporting these claims.
- E. faecium (Enterococcus faecium) This multi-tasking gut bacteria was discovered in 1899 and considered a type of Streptococci (bad bacteria) until 1984, when scientists took a closer look.
It’s now known that this particular bacteria isn’t involved in infections. Rather, it helps our bodies by producing folate, clearing our systems of the nutrients and compounds pathogens need to survive and boosting immune cell function. It even improves our ability to burn fat. Despite our patchy knowledge when first discovered, E. faecium is a very helpful microbe for our guts.
What is the difference between Symprove and other probiotics?
The key difference between Symprove and other probiotics is the water-based solution that carries these four friendly bacteria straight to where we need them most. Being water-based, it won’t trigger digestion, and the barley-fermented water solution supports the four good bacteria for 5 months of shelf life. It also helps them slip past your pyloric sphincter and into your small intestine, where they can reside and survive.
Your stomach treats Symprove like water, so it essentially passes straight through. University College London School of Pharmacy has conducted tests with Symprove bacteria, leaving them in stomach acid for 45 minutes — much longer than they’d usually stay for — and found 99% of the Symprove bacteria survived.
Unlike many dairy-based probiotics and other food supplements with active bacteria, Symprove isn’t creamy or particularly filling. Taking a 70ml shot each morning on an empty stomach won’t have you feeling like you’ve spoilt your breakfast or any other meal. After waiting ten minutes for the live bacteria to slip into your intestines, you can carry on with your usual breakfast routine.
What does Symprove do?
Symprove delivers a daily dose of colony-forming units of friendly bacteria right where your body needs them. They’re also live, active and ready to get to work as soon as they arrive. These help to balance your gut microbiome with good bacteria.
The bacteria in our guts affect nearly every aspect of our lives, from energy levels to mood, sleep quality and our immune system. When our gut is healthy, the rest of our body tends to be healthy too. Science is starting to show us that good gut health is the cornerstone of good general health.
Taking Symprove doesn’t deliver immediate results. Over the course of a 12-week programme, people taking Symprove report increased energy levels, reduced bloating and other digestive issues, improved immune system function, and better mood.
Starting the Symprove 12-week programme
After being sent a big box containing three four-week packs of the different Symprove flavours in mid-March, I began the 12-week programme. As a fan of Kefir and fermented foods, I was intrigued to find out what this probiotic would taste like.
I was also curious about the effects it would have. I don’t suffer from digestive issues, I have a healthy gut with no bloating or poop issues, and my overall health is good. Of all the touted health benefits, I was hoping to enjoy an improved mood and energy. Being in my early 50s, perimenopause is upon me. The lack of energy and dark moods that come with it are the hardest to bear.
I decided to start with the original flavour and cycled through to the mango & passion fruit, finishing up with the Strawberry and Raspberry flavour on week three. Then I’d repeat it all until mid-June when, hopefully, I’d feel on top of my game.
The morning shot on day one was a bit of a shock. Reminiscent of cold miso soup, the natural flavourings weren’t hard to stomach, but neither were they particularly pleasant. Gently salty with heavy umami tones is the best way to describe the unusual flavour of this formulation.
Immediately after taking it, I felt slight heartburn. I was also quite gassy soon after taking it and burped my way through the morning. Day two was a little calmer, and by the fourth day, my morning shot of Symprove slipped down without any noticeable impact.
Week two gave me a chance to enjoy the mango and passion fruit flavour of Symprove. I was hoping for a sweeter morning treat, but that wasn’t to be.
My favourite flavour was Strawberry and Raspberry. By week three, the morning shot was an easy part of my routine, however, my digestive system didn’t seem to be changing noticeably, aside from the uncomfortable gassiness in the early days.
Half-way through the Symprove programme
Around the halfway mark of taking the regular 70ml shot of Symprove, I was contacted by the customer service team to see how I was getting on. The team at Symprove are really friendly and happy to answer any questions you might have about Symprove or gut health.
I asked about the impact of better gut health on perimenopausal women as I’d not noticed any changes in my mood or energy levels. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research into this area of women’s health, and menopause comes with a host of symptoms. However, I did learn about the bi-directional relationship between the gut microbiome and estrogens. The gut regulates circulating oestrogens, and oestrogens may also regulate the gut microbiome.
On learning this, I looked into foods that would help my gut bacteria break down excess oestrogen and clear it from my system. Broccoli sprouts, other brassicas, fatty fish, and rosemary now make regular appearances at meal times. I also eat prebiotics such as quinoa and similar prebiotics to support the good bacteria my body needs.
Although I wasn’t seeing any noticeable changes from the probiotics, I did have renewed interest in what I was eating and how that was affecting my health and well-being. These small changes, combined with the Symprove formulation of four bacteria, are likely responsible for what happened next.
Completing the Symprove journey
Before the end of the 12-week course, my mood and energy levels were better than ever. The focused attention on my diet, tweaking it to support me better in my life stage, and the regular morning shots of good bacteria seem to have done me the world of good.
Symprove does seem to help maintain better health - both physical and mental. Although it’s not a cheap probiotic, it does live up to the claims that 9 out of 10 people feel the difference by 12 weeks. It was certainly true for me. I felt a lot better at around 9 weeks, with more energy, a lighter mood and feeling more like myself.
My verdict on Symprove
After trying this for myself, I can easily see why dieticians, doctors and other healthcare professionals recommend this particular probiotic to people experiencing problems with their digestive system, immune function, or mood. The four different types of bacteria it delivers to your digestive tract all work on specific parts of your health. Combined, they improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.