Professor Simon Gaisford

Busting the Science of Probiotics with Professor Simon Gaisford

Here at Symprove HQ we’re BIG fans of Professor Simon Gaisford, the Head of Pharmaceutics at UCL School of Pharmacy. Simon recently sat down with Ella Mills on her Delicious Ways to Feel Better podcast to discuss everything from why gut health is important to busting the science around probiotics.

You can listen to the podcast here – whizz along to 37 minutes for faster access to Simon’s mind-blowing science.

We’ve pulled out some of the main takeaways for you…

Why does gut health matter?

A portrait of Professor Simon Gaisford

In Simon’s words, “If your gut is in good order, everything else follows from that.”

“We have a lot of things living in our gut, microorganisms, usually bacteria but they can be fungi and some other things. We have a massive mix of bacteria and it’s really important that we have a healthy mix of those bacteria.”

“The reason it’s important is because like all living creatures, bacteria can eat things and then produce waste compounds. If those bacteria produce compounds that are useful for us, then our body can absorb them, and we gain benefits from those bacteria. If those bacteria produce something that’s bad or harmful for us, our body is going to react to that.”

“In a general sense, the way to maintain good health is to consider your gut bacteria, and the balance of good to bad bacteria, and try to maintain as many good and as few bad as possible.”

So, what’s a probiotic and how could that help?

“The majority of probiotics on the market belong to a special group of bacteria called lactic acid bacteria. They’re called that because the waste product they produce from eating food is lactic acid, this then acidifies the gut content.”

“Research has shown that those bacteria that are not very good for you are not very tolerant to acid conditions, so right from the get-go you can swallow a probiotic, it can produce lactic acid and one of the net results of that is that the bad bacteria struggle to survive because the acid is increasing.”

“The other discovery is that most good bacteria in your gut can eat lactic acid as a food substance, which takes the acid away and as a consequence they produce a series of other compounds called short chain fatty acids.”

“In practice you might start with a balance of bacteria where not all are good, swallow a probiotic, the probiotic bacteria arrive in the gut, they produce lactic acid, the acid helps kill off the bad bacteria and then it encourages the good bacteria to flourish, and in that way rebalance your gut flora.”

Could you take probiotics on a regular basis?

“Don’t see a reason not to. All of my testing has shown that by taking a probiotic you encourage the good bacteria to do even more good work. And I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t want that.”

What makes Symprove special?

We’ll end on this juicy nugget from Simon “bacteria are living and like to live in water, so a water-based product is going to be the most effective at delivering live bacteria to the gut”.

After more? Watch what happened when Professor Simon Gaisford was joined at UCL by Mesha Moinirad, aka @mr.colitiscrohns on TikTok, to explain what makes Symprove different...


@mr.colitiscrohns @symproveyourlife ♬ Forever - Labrinth