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Gravesend doctor Manpinder Sahota discusses the importance of friendly bacteria

I have woken up to the magic of of how important our friendly bacteria in our gut are.

I have suffered with ulcerative colitis for many years and although I tried many natural remedies (and turmeric did help) by far the best has been the addition of prebiotics and probiotics to my diet.

Manpinder Singh Sahota, of Pelham Medical Practice, Gravesend
Manpinder Singh Sahota, of Pelham Medical Practice, Gravesend

Not only are my stools (you might call it poo) normal now but my energy levels and sleep have improved. I have done some research and some of the benefits of probiotics include:

  • It can help with irritable bowel syndrome
  • It can help colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • It may help improve sleep
  • It may help improve mood
  • It may increase your energy levels
  • It may help with allergies including eczema
  • It may help people with recurrent urine and chest infections
  • It can help with indigestion and acid reflux.

I have also found another reason - and the most important - why antibiotics can be bad for you.

Although antibiotics will treat bacterial infections (although many are just given for viral infections and antibiotics will not cure cold or flu symptoms), they kill off large numbers of your friendly bacteria which are so important for your immune system.

This is why I see many patients pick up another infection after a course of antibiotics because the immune system is affected.

In Australia and France, patients receive a probiotic course to take after their antibiotics.

Anyone taking an antibiotic should take a course of probiotics afterwards, especially children - you can give them Actimel.

I have seem many children with gut problems like colitis and food intolerance and all have had many courses of antibiotics for a few years before the gut problem appeared.

After suggesting probiotics to the parents of these children I have seen a dramatic improvement in their health.

Especially during cold and flu season, giving something like Actimel can boost their immune system and prevent them from catching viruses.

Prebiotics, which feed your friendly gut bacteria, can be just as important and a good one to take is Bimuno which should be mixed with a good natural bioyoghurt.

Dr Sahota says good bacteria have worked wonders for his gut
Dr Sahota says good bacteria have worked wonders for his gut

A good probiotic is Bio-kult but feel free to try others and see how your gut or symptoms respond.

For me the best foods to eat which contain lots of friendly bacteria are kefir, which can be found in many superstores now and local eastern european shops, sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage, and kimchi. My favourite is kefir, though, which I combine with a probiotic.

Please do look after your gut and I promise you, your gut will look after you.

n Dr Sahota is diabetic lead for the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group, KCC obesity champion and Member of the Health and Wellbeing board.

He is part of the GP team at Pelham Medical Practice, Gravesend.

You can follow him on Twitter @sahota_m or Facebook – search for prevention medical practice.

Please go to the Kent County Council websites for ideas to help your family to get healthier.

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