Symbiosis: the intimate relationship of different organisms living and evolving in harmony within an ecosystem for the benefit of each other.
A lot has changed over the past 20 years regarding our knowledge and appreciation of the digestive microbiome. Our early concepts of the digestive tract (as simply a home to various beneficial bacteria, which can easily be repopulated by replacing what is missing (either due to antibiotics or disease)) now seem as outdated and limited as the probiotics designed to be the solution.
We now understand that our digestive microbiome is a complex and dynamic ecosystem unique to each of us and ever evolving. As with all ecosystems we should think more holistically in terms of biodiversity and environment before we think in terms of numbers and species.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”– George Santayana
There are many historical examples of irreversible damage to biodiversity: think of the ruddy duck, grey squirrel, or Japanese knotweed. Currently the probiotics industry is driving the use of unnatural levels of laboratory-evolved ‘super’ strains to try and balance a human ecosystem that is home to thousands of diverse microorganisms. There are no long-term studies across diverse populations as to the effect of specialised probiotic strains in their billions upon the delicate, natural biodiversity of the digestive microbiome.
Although probiotics are generally deemed to be safe, there is a distinct lack of long-term studies in this field of research. One of the problems we have is that due to the inability to culture most bacteria species, we have only studied approximately 10% of the bacteria in the human digestive tract. More worrying is the growing volume of studies suggesting that ‘mega-dose’ probiotics and laboratory-evolved strains may actually be harmful. You can read about some of this new research here.
Ecosystems are holistic and must be considered as such. If your digestive microbiome is compromised (clinically described as ‘dysbiosis’) there will always be an effect on digestive function. All elements of digestion are intrinsically linked, and one element affects the other: the terrain (gut lining), pH, digestive flow, stimulation of hormones and neurotransmitters, etc.
As for the best approach to managing this complexity, we could take some inspiration from the film Field of Dreams: ‘If you build it, they will come’. What farmer in his fields would try to grow crops or foods without nourishing the soil first? We must take the same approach in nourishing the unique terrain of the digestive tract.
Finding the answer is as simple as asking how did our ancestors create such healthy digestive microbiomes and maintain perfect digestive function (before we realised we all need probiotics)? The answer is through fermented foods.
For thousands of years, every culture across the planet has consumed fermented foods: by as much as 30% of their diet, on average. Fermented foods contain a complete, thriving ecosystem with every single nutrient and compound to support microbial life, protecting it and allowing it to colonise the digestive tract.
To best support any digestive function the answer must be food based. There is no greater natural influencer of digestion—including all its processes and inhabitants—than food itself.
In terms of our Living Culture Symbiotics, Living Nutrition offer some key differences from ordinary fermented foods. We use a combination of the most widely regarded ‘superior’ fermentation processes: kefir (water) and kombucha. We prepare our fermentations very carefully so that the microbial diversity and activity is enhanced. We only use organic ingredients and traditional methods to get the very best results. In the final stages we freeze dry our fermentations to naturally preserve them and then analyse the end product for its nutrient and microbial values.
Billions of a few bacteria species bound to a maltodextrin molecule synthesised in a laboratory.
Your digestive microbiome is designed to respond to food, not mega-dosed synthetics.
Millions of 100+ bacteria species bound to enzymes and digestive nutrients within a fermented food ecosystem.
Naturally fermented from plants
100+ balanced and evolved species
Bound to natural enzymes and peptides
Complete with fermented ‘mother’
Rich in numerous digestive nutrients
A wide range of natural prebiotics
A complete living ecosystem, harmonious with your digestive microbiome
Synthetically grown in laboratories
A few isolated bacteria species
Attached to maltodextrin (to stabilise)
Never had a ‘mother’ ☹
No digestive nutrients
Added prebiotic sugars/fibres
Basically lots of naked, exposed bacteria