Q & A: Indigestion and Immunity

“I often suffer from bloating and flatulence, which is very uncomfortable. I also catch every cold floating about, so clearly my immune system is not very good. Are these two issues connected in any way? Would probiotics help?”

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer answers.

The answer to both of your questions is a resounding ‘yes’!

With regards to your digestive problems, firstly, it’s worth keeping a food diary to see if you can relate onset of symptoms to any specific foods. However, it is more likely that the beneficial bacteria, naturally residing in your digestive tract, are out of balance; this will produce the symptoms you are describing.

Good gut bacteria is linked with a healthy immune system and good digestion.  I would recommend to take a course of probiotics (also known as friendly bacteria) for around three months; these are best taken in supplement form, which are readily available in good health food stores.

A specialist supplement will provide much higher potencies of bacteria than is naturally found in foods such as yoghurt. However, it’s also good to eat live natural yoghurt and drink kefir (a fermented milk drink) as these foods provide additional good bacteria.

Interestingly, specific bacterial strains are associated with good immune health. Therefore, look for a supplement containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidium as a minimum. Also look for one providing 30 billion bacteria per dosage.