Harnessing the power of good bacteria
Leaders in the development of friendly bacteria products to support the microbiome
Introducing our amazing gut bacteria
“Despite what we have been led to believe, not all bacteria are bad.”
Our bodies contain more microbes (bacteria) than human cells and our gut bacteria (or microbiome) is established at birth when bacteria are transmitted from mother to baby. This microbiome then develops fully during the first 2-3 years of life as the baby is exposed to different external factors.
The microbiome is vital to support a healthy life and, once it is developed, each of us has around 100,000 billion viable bacteria living in our intestines. These bacteria comprise around 1,000 different species and 5,000 strains and weigh around 1.5kg in total. They do not live in our stomach as the environment is too acidic for the bacteria to survive but are a key part of the physiology of our small and large intestines. 95% of the bacteria reside in our large intestine where the layer of bacteria on the gut wall is up to 200 cells thick.
Everybody has their own individual microbiome, which is influenced by our diet, environment, lifestyle, genetics and early exposure to microbes. We all carry both good and bad bacteria in our guts and it is the diversity and balance of these bacteria that is key to supporting health.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria have been identified as the two most helpful bacteria species in the human gut microbiome and are the species of bacteria most widely researched to date. Clostridium difficile is an example of a strain of bacteria that negatively impacts health, which is often termed pathogenic.
What does the gut microbiome do?
The importance of the gut in supporting health is becoming increasingly understood as research furthers our insight into the composition of the gut bacteria and the roles that they play. More than two-thirds of our immune system is located in the gut and the enteric nervous system (which forms part of the gut) is often called the second brain.
The different species of bacteria in the gut microbiome fulfil different functions. Some bacteria synthesise (produce) vitamins and neurotransmitters, others support digestion and/or absorption of nutrients and some support the immune system.
The bacteria also help to support the function of the mucous membrane (mucosa) that covers the inside surface (wall) of our intestines. The microbes form part of this mucosa as they move through the body and help form a protective barrier to defend against toxins and bad bacteria.
As a result of the many different functions of the gut bacteria, an imbalance of unhealthy microbes in the intestines has been shown to affect health in general. Studies have linked the composition of the microbiome to immunity, inflammation, weight, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), depression and mood, as well as multiple sclerosis, autistic spectrum disorders and Parkinson’s disease.
What affects the microbiome?
Recent research into our microbiome shows that the more diversity we have in the number and type of bacteria strains we carry, the healthier our microbiome is believed to be. In fact, a lack of diversity in our microbiome is believed to be a precursor to illness and health issues.
Whilst the basic structure of our microbiome is established by three years of age, the specific composition will change almost daily throughout our lives. Bacteria forms around half of the faecal mass (poop) we excrete every day and replenishing this bacteria with friendly species depends upon what we eat and drink and any medications and supplements we take on a daily basis.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are both keys to supporting this bacterial balance and it can be negatively affected by a wide range of external factors, including infection, medications (particularly antibiotics), a diet high in alcohol and sugar, lack of sleep, stress, smoking and lack of exercise.
An imbalanced gut bacteria is referred to as ‘dysbiosis’ and symptoms include bloating, gas, indigestion and food intolerances, as well as other symptoms often termed IBS, low energy and reduced immunity. Long-term changes in our microbiome can ultimately result in atopic, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as allergies, asthma and IBD.
Like the rest of our body, our gut bacteria are designed to reset back to their ‘normal’ structure following any challenges, such as illness or medications. To enable this to happen, however, requires fibre, particularly from vegetables, and an overall healthy diet, which is often lacking in our modern lifestyle.
For example, before refrigeration was invented, we ate lots of fermented and cultured foods (such as sauerkraut and pickled vegetables), which gave us an ongoing supply of friendly bacteria and helped to maintain balance in the microbiome. Today’s diet lacks these foods and with all of the potential daily negative pressures on maintaining an optimised microbiome, there will always be disruption to its balance. This is where friendly bacteria supplements provide a mechanism to help to re-optimise this balance and hence support health.
“Our vision for the future is to keep accumulating evidence for the effectiveness of the Pro-Ven brand and to show that friendly bacteria really can benefit family health.”
Dr Nigel Plummer, Founder and Managing Director of ProVen
Pro-Ven is a leading brand in the friendly bacteria (probiotics) industry and is a key product range in the gut support section at Holland & Barrett, both in-store and online.
The brand has been developed to support gut bacteria balance, whilst also providing additional nutrients to support specific individuals and life stages.
One of the world’s most respected probiotics manufacturers
The Pro-Ven brand was established in 2012 by Dr Nigel Plummer, a world-renowned expert in the microbiome and the use of friendly bacteria products to support gut health. Dr Plummer has worked with live bacteria for more than 30 years and produced his first human probiotic in 1994 when the market was in its infancy.
Commitment to science and innovation is part of the culture at Pro-Ven and its parent company, Cultech Ltd, and the company employs a team of around a dozen research scientists who manage a number of primary research projects with leading universities and hospitals each year and work continuously to remain up-to-date with the latest microbiome research.
This innovative, research-led approach to business and product development was what led Dr Plummer to establish Pro-Ven, with a vision to bring an understanding of the need for friendly gut bacteria products to the general public.
Around 17 years ago, Dr Plummer and his team of scientists developed Lab4, a trademarked group of four bacteria strains, which are used in many of the Pro-Ven products. His goal is to develop the best and most clinically relevant probiotic products and to become recognised as contributing to the academic knowledge base surrounding the microbiome and the use of probiotics.
As part of this commitment to research, the Pro-Ven team work continuously to identify new strains of gut bacteria and state-of-the-art technology for new product development. As the importance of the gut and the microbiota are increasingly understood, the potential for product development in this area increases.
What makes Pro-Ven unique?
As well as the commitment to research and development, all Pro-Ven products are manufactured at the company’s own current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) facility in South Wales. A brand new state-of-the-art probiotics manufacturing suite was added to this facility in 2018 and incorporate Pro-Ven’s proprietary production processes, known as TriPhase and StabilityMax.
TriPhase is a unique three-stage technology, which increases the stability of the Pro-Ven live bacteria products at every stage. StabilityMax then combines the TriPhase treated active ingredients with optimised ‘gas-tight’ packaging and ‘overage’ of bacteria. As a result, all Pro-Ven products guarantee the number of bacteria in all products until the end of their shelf-life.
“We are 100% committed to the development of the probiotics industry both in the UK and around the world and invest around 5% of our company turnover back into research and development every year. We produce products based on research and customer need.”
Pro-Ven products are all multi-strain and all contain clearly defined human strains of bacteria that have been shown to survive at room temperature, meaning they do not need to be refrigerated.
The Pro-Ven range of products is targeted at different life stages and requirements, based on the understanding that different people have different needs, both probiotics and other nutrients.
Pro-Ven in Holland & Barrett
Pro-Ven products have been sold via Holland & Barrett since 2017 and the company stocks six products from the Pro-Ven range to support a variety of customer groups – both adults and children – with billions of the most studied friendly bacteria in every product.
With 12.5 billion friendly bacteria per capsule, calcium to support digestion and vitamins C and D, zinc and selenium to support immunity.
Pro-Ven Adult Acidophilus & Bifidus is designed for everyday use for adults
Multivitamins for Children
Pro-Ven Acidophilus & Bifidus with delicious blackcurrant flavoured chewable tablets, specially formulated for children aged 4-16 years of age
Multivitamins for Children
Each tablet contains 2.5 billion friendly bacteria with at least 100% of recommended amounts of essential vitamins to help maintain immune function and general wellbeing
Lactobacillus with Cranberry capsules contain specific strains of Lactobacillus bacteria native to the female urogenital tract
With cranberry extract and vitamin B6 to support women’s health and hormonal activity
Acidophilus & Bifidus
Digestive Enzymes is specially formulated with friendly bacteria, calcium to support the digestive process and digestive enzymes
Acidophilus & Bifidus
Enable your food to be broken down and absorbed easily and efficiently
Pro-Ven CardioPro provides 10 billion friendly bacteria per capsule
With olive leaf extract and vitamin B1 to support normal heart function
Pro-Ven Adult Acidophilus & Bifidus – contains high levels of friendly bacteria for shorter periods
When a more intensive supplement is required, such as alongside and following antibiotics
When taking your Pro-Ven supplements, remember to always take them alongside food to ensure the friendly bacteria reach the intestines where they are required.
If you are taking antibiotics, take Pro-Ven at least two hours away from the last and next doses of antibiotics.
It is virtually impossible to take too many friendly bacteria and any side effects are usually mild and temporary. These side effects can include gas and bloating along with mild changes in stool consistency. The species of bacteria used in Pro-Ven products are not gas-forming and do not cause these side effects directly, but as one of the ways they work is to ‘crowd out’ the bad bacteria species, these other bacteria can cause fermentation and gas.
Any side effects should diminish within a week or two and the Pro-Ven research has found beneficial effects from taking the friendly bacteria usually manifest within the same period.
Finally, as safety is a key consideration when choosing any supplement, it is reassuring to know that Pro-Ven products are supported by ongoing research and vast numbers of customers all over the world take the products daily and have done so for the past eight years.