Optimal gut health is key to your overall wellbeing
A key and central ingredient in Tonic One is probiotics. Probiotics are commonly referred to in association to gut health, but the multitude of other health benefits branch out far beyond this. We interviewed actress, author and nutritional therapist Rebecca Breeds to answer all your questions on probiotics: what they are, how they work, and why they are crucial to consume on a daily basis to optimise not just your gut health, but your overall wellbeing.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in the Sydney Burbs. Love nature, travel, storytelling and all things physical and mental health. Oh… and my dog.
Can you tell us about your job and what inspired you to become a nutritionist?
It’s not easy being a fat kid. Not just because of the teasing but because you are made to feel like there is something inherently ‘wrong’ with you. Add to that, I felt deep down in my withers that I was meant to be an actress. What business does a middle class, fat kid from the burbs have with Hollywood?! But I believe that anything is possible and by my late teens and early 20’s I was lucky enough to be living my dream.
But the beach-centred shows I was on also meant living my nightmare: being in a bikini in front of people. At that time my interest in nutrition was mainly driven by the desire to look ‘good’ for the cameras in a sustainable and healthy way. But over the last 10 years as I’ve healed my relationship with myself, overcome candidiasis and had endometriosis surgery, my drive to learn about nutrition is 100% about feeling amazing in my own skin and wanting to help others do the same.
I dipped my toe in a one year health coaching course in 2016. It was tantalising, but not enough. I wanted more and I needed the science! The Why. The How. I loved biology in school, so it was a no brainer to enrol in the Nutritional Therapy Institute. After two and a half years of study and a six month internship with nutrition company ‘The Chief Life‘, I received my diploma as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I am in the final stages of editing my book ‘Dear Moonface’. It’s ‘everything I wished I knew when I was you’ for young women who want to expedite the journey I have been through. Stay tuned…
What are probiotics and how do they work?
Pro – Bio means For – Life. Think of it like a garden. A gut garden.
Probiotics are the seeds that grow into plants, trees, flowers and vegetables.
Prebiotics fertilise the soil to keep it rich and healthy.
Weeds are a part of the natural ecosystem in small non-invasive amounts. Gram-negative (or ‘bad’) bacteria naturally exist as part of a healthy gut ecosystem, but must be kept in check by the predominant Gram-positive ‘good’ bacteria.
Say we have a damaging weed getting out of hand we need to eliminate. The doctor gives us an antibiotic. This is like spraying death chemicals over the entire garden knowing that at some point it’s going to hit the weed. But all the other plants, flowers and vegetables are taken out too. Additional pesticides on our food, chemicals in our water, beauty products, pollution, sterile city lifestyles, even the birth control pill can all have this ‘anti’-biotic (anti-life) effect on the plants in our gut garden. If we do this enough without supporting the healthy plants to grow back, our garden will be bare, or completely overrun with weeds. This means disease and death.
Taking probiotics is like throwing new seeds over our garden so that it remains full of life and in the correct balance. In our current way of life, I believe it is imperative to counteract the onslaught of ‘anti-biotic’ factors with re-seeding our gut garden.
How do probiotics optimise gut health?
Our bacteria help us digest and assimilate nutrients and energy from our intestines into our bodies. Without nutrients, nothing would work. Nothing. Muscle contractions, brain function, bone building, immune system. Whilst doing this, they defend us against pathogens and disease, they influence hormone regulation and are even responsible for synthesising some nutrients like vitamin K2 that contribute to our bone health. Every single different species of bacteria have their specific function.
What are some other health benefits of probiotics?
Another major health benefit is the gut-brain axis. It’s been shown that more signals travel UP to the brain FROM the gut than come down from the brain to the gut. If we’re talking about the chicken and the egg, this suggests that poor gut health can play a part in poor mental health, which I think is encouraging. Improving gut health is relatively easy and could help swing the momentum for people suffering poor mental health in the right direction.
What are some potential consequences of not taking probiotics?
Overgrowth of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria like candida, yeast infections, parasites, compromised mental health, compromised immune function, pain and discomfort with bowel movements, IBS and more scary stuff I won’t go into for now because I think you get the picture.
How many probiotics do we need to consume?
Consuming a high-quality probiotic product is important and a high quantity of bacteria per product (millions/billions) is also important, but even more so is a high variety of probiotic strains. Look for products that provide as many as 14 strains. Then we need to mix it up. Different products with probiotic and prebiotic foods. Remember probiotics are like seeds, and the more and many varieties of these seeds we throw onto the garden, the more likely we are to counteract the loss of species that have been attacked by lifestyle factors to support a balanced and thriving ecosystem.
How can you consume probiotics?
Easily and every day!
Fermented foods like plain yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut should be worked into the weekly or daily menu. Prebiotics are in everyday foods like almonds, chickpeas, garlic, onions, leeks and bananas.
Breakfast is my favourite way to have pre and probiotics. Your pipes are clear from the overnight fast so there is more available surface area for the seeds to land. Chia or yogurt puddings with almonds and coconut flakes or green smoothies with coconut kefir water, banana and avocado are great places to start.
I like to mix up my probiotic supplements. I have a few favourites I cycle through monthly to enhance varietal seeding, including bioceuticals body ecology products and James Wellness’ Tonic One. Lately I’ve been using Tonic One to shot down my fish oil and probiotic supplement. Pow Pow Pow!
Tonic One is a liquid supplement containing fermented probiotics, marine collagen and tender green coconut. Each serve contains 6 billion good bacteria to aid digestion, boost hydration and support healthy, youthful skin. Click here to learn more about the many benefits you can receive with Tonic One.