The magic of microbiomes

Certain strains of microorganisms have been clinically proven to enhance gut health as well as contribute to general wellbeing

By Ingrid Wood
Ⓒ Shutterstock
Ⓒ Shutterstock

Part of our approach at YourLuxury is considering all the elements that make for a luxurious life, not least of which is the luxury of health. That’s why we love a product and approach that takes the bigger picture into account. Right now, the focus is on the gut — the gatekeeper to your health.

Your gut is a bit like your body’s second brain in the way that it regulates so many functions over and above the digestive system. There are thousands of different types of bacteria in your intestines, most of which are good for your health, but if there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome (its community of microorganisms), your body can battle to absorb nutrients, store fat, and regulate blood sugar and this can lead to a variety of issues, including weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, hormonal disorders, allergies, low immunity, anxiety and depression.

There is also a key connection between gut health and hormones and the essential role it plays in female health. When gut health isn’t optimal, hormones are thrown out of balance. Research shows that the microbiome plays an important role in oestrogen regulation and poor gut health increases the risk of oestrogen-related diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and even breast cancer.

“You should see your gut as one of the effective information-gathering systems in your body, linked intrinsically to the immune and endocrine systems,” says Kerri-Lee Taylor, owner of Kiko Vitals, a collection of wellness products formulated by female naturopaths and scientists. For women, the gut microbiome has a direct effect on oestrogen, sleep hormones, stress and thyroid, explains Taylor, so an unhealthy gut microbiome can throw your hormone balance off completely.

The Femme Glow Duo: Hormone Balance & debloat + gut glow Ⓒ Kiko Vitals
The Femme Glow Duo: Hormone Balance & debloat + gut glow Ⓒ Kiko Vitals

“We created the brand because the complexity of the female hormone system / endocrine system has been overlooked in the natural wellness space. Women have been voicing their concerns around symptoms from a very young age, like painful periods and heavy periods, to adult acne, PCOS and endometriosis and infertility, all the way through to perimenopause and menopause. Their hormones significantly impact every phase of womanhood, and the current options on the market are very aggressive and disruptive.”

The brand also aims to break through the scepticism around microbial therapies from a research-led perspective.

The latest product to be launched by Kiko Vitals is a powerful synergy: Prebiotic + Probiotic (R429), which includes strains of bacteria that have been clinically proven to ease digestion and increase folate production, as well as contribute to cardiovascular health and improve skin health. The blend also helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem, supports digestion, boosts overall immunity and aids in reducing bloating and constipation, as well as weight loss, among a host of other health benefits.

Another product that can be added to your daily routine is the incredible Kiko Vitals Debloat + Gut Glow (R480), a fast-acting anti-bloat supplement that contains digestive enzymes. It can be taken immediately after a meal to ease bloat and works within an hour.

Both the above products are suitable for males too, but Hormone Balance is strictly for women. “Its advanced scientific formula is directly geared towards endocrine harmony,” says Taylor.

Cape Town-based dietician Stephanie Rouillard suggests these four easy steps to ‘reset’ your gut:

  1. Remove the real offenders from your kitchen and say goodbye to the obvious culprits like alcohol, refined sugar, man-made sweeteners, processed carbs, saturated fats and preservatives. Stock up on whole, fresh foods.
  2. Re-inoculate your gut with ‘alive’ food every day. Start with fermented foods (kombucha, yoghurt, aged/raw cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh and kimchi) but start low and go slow — some may aggravate gut symptoms. Aim for 30g of fibre every day. Healthy snacks such as chia seeds and golden flaxseeds should be at the top of your shopping list.
  3. Repair the gut lining by fuelling your body with healing nutrients. Choose foods rich in omega-3, clean protein and zinc. Boost your cellular health with polyphenols. Aim for two different coloured vegetables at every meal and stay hydrated.
  4. Rebalance your lifestyle by moving daily, getting outdoors, and seeing family or friends. Stress is toxic to your gut.
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