I’ve suffered with gastro issues for most of my life. The episodes and ‘flares’ I experienced when younger went mostly unsupported, causing me to avoid foods and simply get by, often just forcing my way through a day. Symprove was a supplement recommended to me by a physiotherapist and after my own research felt this was something that could help calm a sensitive gut. Here, I share my experience of taking this supplement. In addition to my week 4 review, I will also provide an update after week 8 and week 12 so you can see the full journey and my experiences of taking Symprove.

12- week Symprove review

My Symprove journey started 3 months ago! – Where has that time gone?! A lot has happened in that time; I have had a lot of stress to juggle, been on holiday and had a change in diet and routine during that time too.  All things that can cause flares in my IBS symptoms. So, has taking Symprove helped? What have I learned? Read on to find out.

When I started, I was ambivalent about how effective I would find Symprove. After all, I have had to manage IBS and many other bowel and stomach issues since my teenage years (a long time).  But, the reviews and feedback of those that followed the Symprove 12-week plan, as well as the independent studies on its effectiveness, provided an element of hope after just getting by for so long.

Astoundingly it has had quite a number of benefits; there has been a significant reduction in bloating and the heavy and uncomfortable feeling it brings. I still bloat from time-to-time but certainly not at the same levels I did before starting this programme. Additionally, the consistency in my bowel movements are certainly healthier too; I find I’m much more frequently in type 4 category on the Bristol Stool Chart! I even think it has significantly helped with my acid reflux; although not at normal levels, I have noticed a huge improvement here too – namely not as frequent, nor do I get the burning sensation to the same degree.

I also think that the programme has helped to boost my immunity; during my holiday the majority of us ended up coming down with something, but mine hovered at sore throat for a day or two and a noticed a little fatigue but that was it. Everyone else was really quite poorly and normally I would be too; I seem to catch everything and it lingers.

I finished the 12-week plan just 6 days ago but I am still maintaining all the benefits I have gained since I started. I hope it continues. As we approach cold and flu season, it is something I will continue to monitor and like recommendations, should I catch a bug or have a need to take antibiotics, which could cause an imbalance again in the gut microbiome, I will follow up with an additional 4 weeks to boost those levels. My partner has been so impressed with the results I’ve seen in this trial that he’s going to give it a go too – if it’s encouraged him, I know it’s been a success!

Symprove trial

8-week Symprove review

Through week 5 and 6 there is a noticeable difference to the frequency in my bowl movements; where I would regularly go 2-3 times a day, there has been a few occasions where I haven’t gone at all in this period for a day or two. However, aside maybe one day, I wouldn’t describe it as being constipated, nor would I say this change has caused me to feel uncomfortable. I have noticed some bloating, perhaps associated with this change in frequency, but certainly not to the same extent as before I started taking Symprove and certainly not as painful, nor do I feel as heavy.

During this part of the trial, I ventured on holiday and it turns out that it’s pretty easy to continue taking Symprove even when traveling; the key thing is to ensure you do not travel with open bottles – the supplement can be cupboard stored until opened and then has to be kept in the fridge until used/within 10 days), but isn’t going to do well with fluctuations in temperature as this can kill the bacteria and is the essential component of the supplement. The only issue experienced is a little bit of wastage as I went between two destinations during my holiday and it meant having to discard a little (1 days’ worth) of the supplement and forgoing my supplement for a few days.

These few weeks, where I have become a remiss with taking my famotidine tablet (for stomach acid) routinely, that Symprove isn’t going to solve all my stomach and bowel issues, but it has certainly helped ease and reduce a significant proportion of symptoms.

We’re on the home stretch now, just the final four bottles to go – 12 weeks’ worth is the recommended prescription to build up adequate levels of bacteria and gut microbiome. Stay tuned for my final update.

4-week Symprove review

I start my new Symprove supplement programme at a particularly stressful time. I am in the midst of another bereavement and I’m hit pretty hard by it. I lose my appetite completely; I am consumed by grief and this is triggering noticeable symptoms. However, I am more aware than ever, following a bereavement in 2019 that I have to prioritise food, water and the continuation of my new routine to help improve my overall gut health.

 The routine itself is easy, the moment I get up, I take my Symprove shot – as you need to take it on any empty stomach, before any food or drink, including water. But as you only have to wait 10 minutes before you can eat, if you do get hungry soon after waking (like me), by the time you have made a coffee and breakfast, you can consume it straight away.

What’s my flavour?

I am trying the Strawberry and Raspberry flavour as I do have a sweet tooth and, looking at reviews, it is a little sweeter than other flavours. It does have a slight tang to it that stays with you for a few minutes, like fermented foods do, but it’s not bad and actually quite refreshing, especially as its cooled in the fridge.

Over these first few weeks, I am quite aware of an adjustment going on; I notice a significant increase in gas passing, particularly belching, and it’s somewhat smellier than usual. Though, once I’ve been come aware of it, I don’t find it to difficult to hide it from others, so that’s something. I also find that my bowel movements have become more urgent in the morning but it’s comfortable, there’s a reduced smell here, a few weeks on, and I’m noticing an improved consistency around weeks 3 and 4.     

Additionally, there does seem to be a markable difference in bloating. It’s certainly reduced, both the volume of bloat and frequency. Where I would’ve found myself bloating 5 of 7 days, I would say it is more 3 days, if that. It took some time to notice this difference but as I enter week 5, this does seem to be a more frequent occurrence.

Finally, one other, I think quite significant difference actually, is a change in appetite. Where I would have to eat little and often to help qualm physical hunger, the burning from acid reflux and/or sugar crashes and the effects of this, I notice the hunger pangs don’t kick in with as much frequency, that I feel fuller for longer even with smaller portions and particularly food cravings or needs are not as prominent.   

I feel that I am still experiencing a fluctuation of symptoms, like my body is still adjusting to this new supplement, but generally there has been a lot of improvements even in just 4 short weeks. I am curious, and even a little excited, to see how my body continues to adapt to the Symprove pro and prebiotic shots as I head into weeks 5 and beyond.

A bit about my IBS

I was around 12 years old when I started to develop gastro symptoms; I recall the Dr’s being quite dismissive of it, prescribing Fybogel which only exacerbated the bloating and cramps I was experiencing. At 19 when I had a particularly bad flare, the Dr’s were again dismissive but their reluctance to do any investigations was purely because I was ‘too young for cancer’; ‘it’s probably IBS’ and there isn’t anything that can be done. A few years later, still struggling to manage my symptoms, I was referred to a dietician who instructed an exclusion diet to see if/what foods were a trigger. However, this was largely unguided, with no follow up- that led to several years of avoiding lots of foods for fear of triggering symptoms, a huge weight loss, as well as a need for dental fillings after they recommended I increase my fruit juice intake to avoid an even greater weight loss (I cried about this a lot).

Most recently, in 2019, I had a significant gastro episode; exactly what this episode was, we’re unsure. There was no conclusive diagnosis but the general opinion was that I suffered some kind of infection. This caused inflammation in both upper and lower abdomen (whereas my symptoms up to this point were largely lower abdomen), with all tests, which included a flexible sigmoidoscopy, an endoscopy and colonoscopy, thankfully returning no lesions, ulcers, lumps, colitis, Crohn’s, or celiac disease. The change in IBS symptoms and an introduction of acid reflux was likely because of post-infectious IBS and I was once more left to my own devices but experiencing significantly more symptoms.

Although the NHS have been amazing at conducting tests with any noticeable and regular changes in recent years (once in my 30s), there is a lack of support in terms of symptom management. It’s taken a significant number of years to understand more about the symptoms I experience, the causation in fluctuations of symptoms and a lot of trial and error to find the right techniques to help me manage my symptoms. My mechanisms for managing IBS include:

  • Eating little and often
  • Buscopan really is effective at managing cramps
  • Famotidine, for me, is effective at controlling the stomach acid
  • Most pre-cut fruit and vegetables are a trigger
  • Sleep is the most important thing I need
  • Don’t wear tight clothing, especially around my diaphragm
  • Drink plenty of water: at least 2 litres a day
  • Emotional stress is a HUGE trigger; the start of IBS at 12 and my hospital admission in 2019 were all within a few weeks following a bereavement
  • Stress generally can cause some symptoms

I’ve certainly learned a lot over the years as to what can trigger certain symptoms and I’ve learned some ways to help manage those. However, it isn’t always clear cut and, particularly when it comes to foods, there are very few I have to avoid altogether; in fact, I could eat something one day and has no effect on me whatsoever, and I have it again another day and it cause an increase in symptoms. In addition, poor digestion of certain foods was something I felt needed addressing, concerned that my body isn’t able to extract all the essential nutrients and minerals.  

Why Symprove?

It is indicative, through studies in recent years, that an imbalance in the gut microbiome has been linked to gastrointestinal conditions, such as IBD and IBS (Bull and Plummer, 2014). Specifically, it creates symptoms such as bloating and increased gas, while other studies indicate an imbalance could be a cause of food intolerance and allergy, even poor absorption of key nutrients- though the jury is still out on that.

As my core symptoms include digestive issues, especially foods high in fibre, and even those that randomly cause a flare- like cucumber; bloating, which is a recurrent, almost daily symptom for me, and the imbalance in stomach acid, studies indicate that my subset of symptoms is related to an imbalance in gut bacteria.

You can increase your gut bacteria through the foods you eat, however, if you’re struggling with an imbalance, this isn’t going to be enough. Like any significant deficiency, the best way to get a substantial increase is through supplementation. Increasing gut bacteria is no different. But, crucially, it’s the type of supplement that makes all the difference. Imperatively, live bacteria will allow for the best chance of the bacteria surviving to the gut, multiplying and helping to restore the balance in the gut microbiome. Additionally, the live bacteria can get to work straight away helping to improve those debilitating symptoms.

I found that Symprove just ticked all the boxes and the outstanding 6,000+ positive reviews gave me hope that I could finally get my symptoms under control without too much avoidance. The key factors for me were:

  • It is a water-based, live bacteria drinks supplement and it only needs 10 minutes for it to get to work. You take it first thing, on an empty stomach, so it causes little disruption to my morning routine.
  • It contains four strains and 70 billion live bacteria cultures in each 70ml shot, including Lactobacillus which is resistant to acid.
  • It has been tested in independent studies, one of which determine that Symprove was the only probiotic that met the standards set out in a research challenge: it is alive and remains alive when it enters the body, it survives as it moves through the stomach, and it can get to the lower gut to continue its essential work there too.
  • You don’t have to take it long-term. The studies show significant improvements in gut health when taking a daily dose of Symprove for just 12 weeks. Beyond that, you can then complete a shorter, 4-week course as and when you have the need to take antibiotics, or suffer with a gastro infection such as Norovirus, for example, both of which can deplete the levels of your gut bacteria.

References:

Bull MJ, Plummer NT. Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Dec;13(6):17-22. PMID: 26770121; PMCID: PMC4566439

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