I used to wonder when reading trend reports of fashion shows how on earth all the designers’ imaginations would collectively magically sync up to the extent where there would be a cohesive theme running through a season. It seemed unfathomable to me that, say, twenty designers of note would wake up with a lightening bolt of inspiration and think ‘cowboy boots! It’s got to be cowboy boots next season! And while I’m at it, I’ll make sunglasses tiny. And animal print – let’s throw that in there too!’
But the visitation of muses seems to be a mass thing: a hushed hint of a blush pink fabric here or an excessively adorned shoe there seems to ripple through the fashion world and snowball, and as a result I find myself googling corduroy and trying on Victoriana lace up boots.
And so it is in the wellness and beauty spheres too.
Twenty years ago, to pick a random date before the dawning of the wellness culture, the gut was something referenced by the odd nutritionist, perhaps by a very bold dermatologist or psychiatrist who believed in a holistic approach. There were those who pioneered the whole inside out thing (Gwyneth and Madonna on macrobiotics, for example), but the myriad links between the gut and body were mostly ignored and a symptom like arthritis or anxiety or acne treated without any regard for the body’s extraordinary micro biome.
Things have now reversed entirely. Today, the word of gut health has spread far and wide, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone advising on mental or physical health who doesn’t suggest looking to the gut before searching for answers elsewhere.
But this isn’t without its issues. For one, there are many brands piggybacking off the trend, releasing skin products claiming to affect the microbiome, sweet drinks containing some beneficial bacteria which is invariably cancelled out by some other ingredient in the mix, and far too many probiotics brands who cannot substantiate claims that their bacteria strains reach the gut live.
I found one I trust enormously just over two years ago on a trip to Grayshott to try their health programme, where the excellent nutritionist Dr. Stephanie Moore told me about a live bacteria liquid probiotic derived from barley called Symprove. It impressed her, she told me, because the four strains of live bacteria were proven in independent studies to survive, thrive and colonise thanks to it being both live and water-based, meaning the stomach doesn’t try to digest it and therefore allows it to reach the large intestine.
I took home a four pack which would give me a month worth of shots, and duly took them as prescribed: every morning, on an empty stomach, at least ten minutes before breakfast.
At first, I noticed merely that I feel a little more sprightly, which I skeptically reasoned could’ve been anything. After about a month, three things happened that unequivocally were the result of my daily Symprove shots.
First, my skin got a hell of a lot clearer. Really, it was quite remarkable; people actually remarked that my skin looked good. Nothing else in my diet or skin routine had changed.
Next, my energy shot through the roof in the morning. This was not the normal state of play for me: I have always by default been a slow, crawl out of bed, feel vaguely crap for a few hours, ease into the day sort.
Also, I felt calmer. This I assumed could’ve been anything (though links between gut and mental health are now well established and I suspected that a happier gut might’ve had an effect on my serotonin, though I had no way to prove it).
At the time of these happy changes taking place, I took note, but sort of just carried on without thinking too much about it. Then I ran out of Symprove. Everything else remained more or less as it had been during my twelve weeks on it, but, after a particular stressful fortnight which I suspect taxed my body, I started to see my energy levels dip, my skin break out, and my mind feel a little foggy and my nerves a little more frayed.
I bought more Symprove, and within a week felt this reverse.
This is a pattern that’s repeated itself over the past two years: on Symprove = I’m more likely to be perky, bright-eyed, well-rested; off Symprove = more fragile and brittle of immunity, definitely more inclined to hormonal acne, absolutely grumpier and more tired.
I’d urge you to try it. Do it properly, though: a shot a day, every morning, making sure you take it on an empty stomach. Once open, keep it in a fridge and make sure it doesn’t either freeze or heat up.
I am working with Symprove to raise awareness of their probiotics and this post has been sponsored. Click here to learn more about Symprove.