Our PT and nutritionist James Dixon tests one our favourite probiotics in this Symprove review. Find out how he got on with it and just how good (or bad) it is right here…
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Probiotics are some of the most potent forms of supplementation we can take for our overall health and wellbeing. They are yeast with live bacteria which a great amount of scientific data has proven can work wonders on your quality of life.
Very roughly speaking, our bodies contain what we refer to as both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. Obviously, the good is good and the bad is bad. You want as many good bacteria as possible to tip the balance.
This is what a good probiotic supplement can do for you – deliver lots of healthy good bacteria into your gut. Once they reach the large intestine, they will begin to work their magic. Probiotic supplements can improve your digestive health, improve your nutrient absorption and uptake, and boost your immune health, among many other things.
However, many probiotics don’t survive to the large intestine intact. Your stomach acid can kill a lot of them off. The good bacteria will arrive under strength and damaged.
Luckily, there is a new form of probiotic on the market – so called ‘probiotic water’. Symprove is a fantastic example of a probiotic water done well, and I was recently lucky enough to have the opportunity to check it out. Let’s find out just how good it is in my full Symprove review.
Quick Verdict: Symprove
Symprove is an incredibly high-quality probiotic. It is water based to enable optimal friendly delivery of good bacteria into the gut. In turn, this will help your microbiome, which will bring a wealth of health benefits.
This isn’t all talk. Symprove’s system has been proven by third party testing from researchers at UCL. They showed that the probiotic strains in Symprove did indeed reach the gut intact, where they were able to deliver live bacteria.
Symprove is one of the most scientifically well-respected supplements out there, in fact. When they make a claim, you can be sure they’re onto something.
It’s not actually labelled as either a pro- or pre-biotic. However, it works in much the same way – actually, it works a lot more effectively than most other pro- or pre-biotics out there. It delivers four strands of live bacteria into the gut in large doses with every bottle.
I particularly like the company behind Symprove – Symprove Ltd. They were founded in 2002 in the belief that we can all lead healthier, happier lives by maintaining healthy gut bacteria balance. However, their story goes back quite a bit further than this.
The story begins in the mid-eighties with Barry Smith, Symprove Ltd’s founder. He was a farmer. Disenchanted with existing animal feeds, he developed his own. He based his recipe on germinated grains, which are a form of probiotic. It centres on a fermented form of the natural grain barely.
Symprove had a fantastic effect on the health of his livestock, so much so that he was selling it on the agricultural market by the mid-nineties. In fact, it had such a good effect that Smith decided over time to introduce a form of it to people for human consumption.
Smith raised funding for clinical research and applied his formula to human health as a food supplement.
Thus, Symprove as we know it was begun. After a lengthy research period, it was launched for human use in 2010.
Benefits of Symprove
Any good probiotic will bring benefits for the immune and digestive systems. You will see a good spike in your immune health, keeping you free from sickness and infection. You will also find your digestion stabilising, making probiotics a great help for issues such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
This is where most of the benefits will go. Or, at least, it’s where the most profoundly felt ones will be – and these are also the systems that can suffer the worst from a lack of good bacteria.
However, there are far more benefits to be gained from maintaining a healthy microbiome (sort of the sum of your body’s bacteria.)
For instance, having plenty of good gut bacteria can reduce inflammation in your body. This underpins part of the immune health boost you get from a good microbiome. It also reduces your risk of suffering from many chronic diseases, such as certain cancer forms, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and heart disease, as well as common mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.
Digestive health isn’t all about keeping yourself regular. It also involves how well you break down and absorb nutrients. Having plenty of good bacteria can help your body to do this. It can also improve your gut lining and help your body as it creates vitamins.
There are very few things a healthy microbiome can’t improve, actually. It can boost pretty much every element of your overall wellbeing, giving you more energy, a more positive outlook, and keep you in robust health.
And regularly drinking Symprove is one of the best ways going to keep your microbiome good and healthy.
As above, Symprove is water based, which means that it does a far better job of bringing healthy bacteria into your large intestine than other sources. It does this by avoiding activation of the stomach’s digestive processes. Where another probiotic source like yoghurt would cause the stomach to digest it, Symprove simply goes on through.
This means that a far larger proportion of the good bacteria made it through intact.
Some other probiotic supplements are freeze-dried. This ensures that their bacteria get through the stomach relatively intact. However, this freeze-drying process can leave the bacteria dormant. They will go all the way through your body without activating, making them completely useless.
Symprove uses only live, awake, fresh bacteria, relying instead on its water-based nature to get them where they’re needed.
And, also as above, this isn’t all talk. The theory is solid and proven. A landmark study by University College London showed that it works. It compared eight leading probiotics, putting each through three identical tests. These tests aimed to find out whether the bacteria arrived in the gut alive and intact, surviving digestion in stomach acid.
Symprove was the only product they tested that passed each and every test. It’s incredibly good.
This is further backed up by work from ProDigest, which also found that Symprove reaches the gut intact and greatly improves immune function.
It is also 100% vegan. It’s a supplement after my own heart, truly.
Some of the products I write about have dozens of ingredients. This section can read like two or three articles in its own right. Not so here, however. No probiotic is ever going to have an exhaustive list of ingredients.
A good probiotic will have billions of live bacteria of all kinds but will get these all from relatively few sources.
This is the case with Symprove. It is made using an extract of germinated barley. From this, Symprove Ltd. extract four strains of probiotic bacteria. They are diverse and varied, giving you a fantastically balanced, rich source of bacteria for your gut microbiome.
These live strains are as follows:
Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 30176
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCIMB 30175
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus NCIMB 30174
Lactiplantibacillus plantarum NCIMB 30173
The NCIMB is simply their designation as they are independently characterised by the National Collection of Industrial and Marine Bacteria. They use DNA sequencing and mass spectrometry techniques to categorise different strains of bacteria and thus characterise them and their benefits.
This is unimportant, however. You don’t need to go trawling through their database (though, of course, you are completely welcome to) – all you need to know is that between them, these four strains give you around 10 billion varied, beneficial CFUs with every single serving.
That is more than enough to keep your microbiome healthy and functioning optimally.
How To Take Symprove
Symprove is a drink. Therefore, it is incredibly easy to take. Simply knock it back and get on with your day.
However, there is a little preparation involved with it. It comes as a bottle with a serving cap. You measure out a 70ml dose into your cap, give it a shake, and you’re good to go.
One dose daily should do it. I wouldn’t recommend going above three. Aim to take your first dose early in the morning before you’ve broken your fast. Give it ten or fifteen minutes to do its thing before you eat or drink anything else.
Symprove offer a suggested 12-week programme. They say this will allow you to make the most of it, getting the best gut health possible. It’s pretty structured and well planned out. However, I think it’s too short term. Keep going indefinitely – your gut microbiome will need constant replenishment.
This 12-week programme is perfect in isolated cases, however. If you have just finished a course of antibiotics, you will need to rapidly replenish your good bacteria. Think of the 12-week programme as a kind of kick-start, getting you back to full health rapidly and efficiently.
Probiotic foods and supplements should be fairly predictable. They shouldn’t give you any adverse side effects, especially if you take them in the doses or quantities suggested. This is true of Symprove – the only negative side effects I think most people will suffer if they go for too much is an uncomfortably full bladder.
There should be no allergic reactions involved, which is a massive plus. As many other probiotic sources are dairy based, allergies can really stymie plenty of peoples’ attempts to improve their gut microbiomes. There is none of that here.
Symprove may lead to a little bloating, but again, stick to the recommended doses (I wouldn’t go above one daily most of the time) and you should be fine.
You should always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements. There may be complications or interactions with other drugs if you’re on any pre-existing medical routine or suffering from any pre-existing medical concerns. However, in most cases, probiotics will help rather than hinder, improving your immune health and speeding up any necessary healing processes.
I can’t claim that my gut bacteria flourished whilst taking Symprove – or, at least, not with any certainty. I didn’t count my good bacteria! However, from the benefits I did enjoy, I can pretty safely infer that my microbiome was left in far better fettle for drinking it daily.
I don’t generally suffer with any kind of digestive concerns. I’m a vegetarian on a high fiber diet, so there are generally no issues there. However, I do drink lots of strong coffee and whey protein, which can cause stomach upset. I was far more comfortable, far less prone to acid reflux, and far less bloated than usual when I was taking Symprove.
I also drank less coffee than usual. This wasn’t a conscious choice, or anything I noticed at first. My wife picked up on it, mentioned it to me, and I realised that I had indeed been cutting my consumption by a couple of cups per day. My natural energy levels were so much higher that I simply didn’t need to reach for the espresso.
It’s handy to take, nice tasting, especially if you get some kind of filter or mineral water, and incredibly beneficial. Full marks all round – honestly, this stuff is great.
Pros and Cons
- It gets the bacteria to your gut really effectively
- It works incredibly well
- Everything is vegan
- Four separate probiotic strands makes for great variety
- It is incredibly well backed-up by high quality scientific research
- It’s not cheap – a month’s supply will be about £50 or so
- You need to mix it up yourself
Symprove is one of the best probiotic supplements that money can buy. It has a broad range of gut friendly bacteria from four separate probiotic strains, which means that it will improve your digestive health, immune function, and energy levels, whilst ringfencing your overall health and wellbeing.
Your body won’t break down Symprove, meaning that it will reach your large intestines intact. This will allow for optimal good bacteria absorption. In the long run, you will notice your immune health and overall wellbeing improving. In the short term, your digestive health will improve and you will get less bloated than usual.
The manufacturer recommends you take daily doses for twelve weeks, at which point you will see the best results. However, I would suggest going with it long term – your gut will always benefit from a steady flow of good bacteria. As a good compromise, you might consider going for 2-3 12-week blasts per year.
Yes, Symprove should stop your stomach from bloating. This is particularly good if you habitually take whey protein or suffer from any digestive issues.
Symprove definitely gets my seal of approval. It’s fantastic.
Yes, it is on the pricey side. But these people spent twenty years developing it before bringing it to market. Then, when it came out, the scientific community pretty much universally praised it for its quality and efficacy.
If that’s not worth a little extra cash, I don’t know what is.
Symprove will get a broad array of beneficial, good bacteria to your gut, in high enough quantities to make a real difference. This partly comes from the formula – it is potent to begin with. It also arrives intact as it is water based, meaning that your stomach doesn’t destroy the bacteria on the way to your intestines.
It is easy to take, low-cost enough (just!) to be worth it for anybody with the money to spare, and incredibly potent. It’s one of the most beneficial supplements I’ve ever come across.