Prebiotics, Probiotics and Gut Health

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Understanding The Gut Microbiome
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Five Ways to Control the Microbiome and Gut Health

It’s striking that nearly half the population faces significant digestive issues, and what’s intriguing is that many of these problems are classified in medical texts as having an ‘unknown cause.’

Considering the worldwide rise in obesity, fatty liver disease, metabolic disorders, and the leading causes of death such as cancer and heart disease, which are closely linked to these metabolic issues, it becomes clear that focusing on improving gut health is a logical and vital starting point for overall well-being.

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Prevalence of Digestive Disorders

Let’s summarize the most common digestive complaints.

Up to 50% of us have poor digestive health and suffer from a metabolic condition associated with digestive imbalance.

Chronic constipation, Indigestion and Acid Reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Crohn’s disease are very common.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services each year the following number of people are affected in the USA alone. (5)

Chronic Constipation

  • Prevalence: 63 million people
  • Ambulance visits: 4.0 million
  • Hospitalizations: 1.1 million
  • Mortality: 132 deaths

Indigestion and acid reflux

  • Prevalence: 20 percent of the population
  • Ambulance visits: 8.9 million
  • Hospitalizations: 4.7 million
  • Mortality: 1,653 deaths

Gastric Ulcers

  • Prevalence: 15.5 million people
  • Ambulance visits: 669,000
  • Hospitalizations: 358,000
  • Mortality: 2,981 deaths

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Prevalence: 15.3 million people
  • Ambulance visits: 1.6 million
  • Hospitalizations: 280,000
  • Mortality: 21 deaths

Crohn’s Disease

  • Prevalence: 359,000 people
  • Ambulance visits: 1.1 million
  • Hospitalizations: 187,000
  • Mortality: 611 deaths

Add these together and you get nearly 50% of the population of the United States! I think you get the picture, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digestive disorders. Often these complaints come in combination, and one can lead to another.

This begs the question “What is going wrong?” nearly 50% of the population may have constipation, acid reflux, ulcers, irritable bowel, or Crohn’s disease, and we haven’t even talked about Celiac disease, food intolerances, hemorrhoids, gallstones or colon cancer which are also very common digestive disorders.

You can imagine the staggering number affected by all of these combined. No wonder our hospitals are under pressure.

Understanding The Digestive Tract - A Quick Look?

The most complex system in the human body, the digestive tract starts at the mouth, goes through the esophagus into the stomach, small intestine (includes ducts in from the pancreas and gallbladder) then into the large intestine or colon. It is far to complex to even begin to understand in detail but I will make a grand statement that may explain the basics.

Your digestive system works in a similar way to your home garden compost heap. You throw your scraps on your compost and a little while later you have a nice pile of fertilizer come out the other end. The difference with your gut is that there’s a permeable membrane that filters out the good stuff, the nutrients that your body needs, and what is left behind become the compost.

The process of digestion largely involves acid, enzymes, and bacteria of which there are literally trillions of. These micro-organisms exist in a subtle balance with each other and have to compete with thousands of unhealthy parasitic organisms, bacteria, worms, yeast, mold, and fungi. If our health organisms become deficient, then the unhealthy varieties move in for the kill.

A very important point to remember about what you eat relates to this simple fact. Don’t eat anything that you wouldn’t throw on your compost heap because it simply won’t digest properly. For example, most factory-processed foods are preserved with chemicals and these will upset your digestion.

What we want to eat are foods that break down naturally like unprocessed fruits and vegetables. These feed the good varieties of microbes and are called prebiotics.

Dysbiosis - What is it?

Gut dysbiosis refers to the microbial imbalance on or inside the body.

It’s like a disruption in the peaceful neighborhood of microorganisms living in your stomach and intestines. Normally, these tiny creatures, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, work together to keep you healthy. But when this balance is disturbed, it can lead to various health problems.

In a healthy gut, these microorganisms help with digestion, absorb nutrients, and keep bad bugs in check. However, when there’s an imbalance, several things can happen:

  1. The types of microorganisms can change. Good ones might decrease, and bad ones might increase, upsetting the balance.

  2. Inflammation can occur in the gut, causing long-term inflammation in your body. This inflammation can lead to issues like digestive problems and even autoimmune diseases.

  3. You might experience tummy troubles like bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation.

  4. Your immune system might not work as well, making you more prone to infections and autoimmune diseases.

  5. It could affect your metabolism, potentially leading to problems like obesity and diabetes.

  6. Interestingly, it may also impact your mood, possibly contributing to feelings of depression or anxiety.

In simple terms, gut dysbiosis is when the harmony in your gut’s microorganism community gets disrupted, and it can cause a wide range of health problems.

The most common diseases associated with it include:

Gut Dysbiosis

What are some other symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis?

Herbs for Gut Health

Herbs are well known for their effectiveness in treating digestive complaints. Many herbs have a long tradition of use, which has now been scientifically proven. Combining a prebiotic, whole-food diet with digestive herbs has got to be the ultimate gut-health protocol. Read more about the herbs I recommend by clicking the links below.

This is my favourite formulation for balancing general gut health over the long-term. It’s a product I developed personally for my clients in the late 1990’s and the results are wide-reaching in terms of gut health.

Click the ingredient names for more details on each:

4 Capsules daily is recommended.

Prebiotics to treat Gut Dysbiosis

Prebiotics were originally defined in 1995 by Gibson and Roberfroid as “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon and thus improves host health. (7)  

Quite simply Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients that stimulate the maintenance and development of good Gut microorganisms.

None of the natural microbial species that are normally in our Gut are bad overall. Some yeasts and bacteria can actually help get our gut back in shape.

Probiotics introduce good bacteria into the Gut whilst prebiotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria that are already there. These agents have great potential to improve or maintain a balanced intestinal microflora (microbiome) to enhance Gut health and general well-being. (3)

Prebiotics in fiber can be soluble or insoluble and can be found in lots of fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble Fiber – It goes into our bodies and pretty much comes out the same! It doesn’t dissolve water and goes through us pretty much intact. It provides bulk and stimulates the bowel wall to move. You can find these fibers in vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and the skins of apples.

Soluble Fiber – It turns into a gel by taking in water. It slows down digestion and the uptake of nutrients. Through this process, soluble fiber stops a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and they make us feel full. Some examples of soluble fiber include linseeds, slippery elm, psyllium hulls, chia seeds, lentils, strawberries, beans, nuts, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

Psyllium is classified as a mucilaginous fiber due to its powerful ability to form a gel in water. This bulking fiber acts as a sponge, absorbing water and waste material in the bowels. Psyllium husks significantly increase the level of stool moisture and both wet/ dry stool weight, this is why it has such a great effect on relieving constipation and improving bowel health.

An important factor in the positive effect of prebiotics is colonic bacterial fermentation. This allows the positive gut bacteria to thrive. Easily gut-fermented foods include apples, artichokes, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, garlic, leeks, onions, and oats. (7)

Probiotics - Good bacteria

There is a lot of talk about probiotics and for good reason. With our processed food diets, we have become deficient in the healthy bacteria and other organisms that should be alive in our Gut.

Billions of microorganisms live in our digestive systems – they live in an antagonistic/competitive way of fighting against one another constantly. Most of these organisms have a win-win relationship with us. The digestive system makes a nice warm environment for them as well as feeding them. In turn, we get benefits such as:

  • Improved Bowel Motility – the ability to move spontaneously and actively, consuming energy in the process;
  • Get Nutrients – such as folate (needed for healthy cell reproduction), vitamin K for blood clotting, B12 which helps make DNA and red blood cells, biotin for cell growth and fatty acids which help maintain healthy cells in the bowel wall;
  • Development and maintenance of a healthy immune system and bowel wall;
  • The production of chemicals that hinder the growth of other types of bacteria;
  • The breakdown of the complex carbohydrates that our digestive systems can’t digest – such as cellulose and starches; and
  • Facilitates the breakdown of cancer-developing carcinogenic substances that enter the bowel. (1)
These microorganisms mainly come from our birth, as the baby comes in contact with intestinal flora and the mother’s vagina. Unfortunately, this does not occur in a Caesarean section and can make a big impact on the type of organisms that settle in the intestine in the babies early life. This may have an effect on the immune system. (2)

Probiotics for Immunity 

We mentioned the development of healthy immunity above. It is well recognized that breast milk has a powerful effect on building the immune system of the baby, but lesser known is the effect of good prebiotic and probiotics in the diet can also go a long way towards improving the immunity of adults and even the elderly.

Some examples include:

  • Probiotic supplementation has been shown to enhance natural killer cell activity in the elderly (8)
  • Another study demonstrated that dietary consumption of probiotics can enhance natural immunity in healthy elderly subjects, and that a relatively short-term dietary regime (6 weeks) is sufficient to impart measurable improvements in immunity that may offer significant health benefits to consumers. (9)
  • In a 3-week trial consumption of lactose-hydrolyzed low-fat milk powder supplemented with probiotics promoted an increase in immune killer cell activity of 147%. (10)
  • One study showed that consuming 300g/day of yoghurt containing B. lactis and L. acidophilus strain for 5 weeks significantly elevated the percentage of granulocytes and monocytes showing phagocytic activity from 92 to 95%. (11)

Other Foods For Gut Health

Many foods can help digestive health and improve the digestibility of other foods. While other foods can provide fibre, feed the microbiome, and balanced acidity. A mainly plant-based diet is recommended, but it is worth avoiding too many lectin-rich foods, such as nuts, seeds, and beans if you’re having digestive issues. Read More about Lectins Here

Digestive Enzymes

Papaya and pineapple are two of the richest plant sources, as attested by their traditional use as natural “tenderizers” for meat. Papain and bromelain are the respective names for the protein-digesting enzymes found in these fruits and these are included in the Herbal DETOX and BodiTune DETOX ‘n SLIM products to assist in the digestive process.

Read more about Digestive Enzymes

Organic Food

A study, called the largest of its kind, has found that organic foods have more nutrition than conventional foods, including more antioxidants and fewer, less frequent pesticide residues. (4) Eating a wide variety of foods, especially whole foods that are unprocessed, organic or as minimally processed as possible. Eat more washed and raw fruits and vegetables. Raw organic foods contain lots of bacteria and fiber to feed and nurture the natural Gut bacteria. These bacteria are also Prebiotics along with fiber as we discussed above. Read More about Organic Food.

Vegetarian Diet

A diet high in fiber provides more prebiotics for the good gut micro-organisms, plus fruit and vegetables are our primary source of digestive enzymes. Research also shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index (BMI), lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity. Read More about Vegetarian Diet.

Herbal Detox Program

The Ultimate Herbal Detox program contains all of these herbs mentioned below and provides your digestive system with a complete cleanse, balance and restoration process. It is simply one the best things you could ever do for your intestinal balance and general health.

What Are the Benefits of doing the Ultimate Herbal Detox?



I highly recommend completing a Herbal Detox program once or twice a year to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Remember “You are what you eat” or even more accurate “You are what you absorb”

Brett Elliott ®

Reviews and Feedback

My food digestion improves immensely afterwards

I’ve done about eight Ultimate Cleanses over the last several years and tend to want to do one at least every year. Each time it has been enjoyable as I feel the cleaning process inside my body, and I have more energy. I’ve let go of sugar cravings and eat wholesome foods. Over ensuing months after each cleanse I tend to slip on my quality of food as I am on the run with work, eat takeaways or politely accept cooked food at a friend’s house with less nutritive value, (white flour products, cakes, biscuits, overcooked veggies, etc) and one’s quality of metabolism slips back. That’s why I Cleanse and Detox around each six to nine months when I feel the time is right.

I have noticed my metabolism digesting food improves immensely after the Cleanse program is over and during my last Cleanse 25 October through to 4 November I weighed 84kg, and started on fruit juices/small fruits/herbs/whey powder (protein sourced from milk) mixed into smoothies, and ate at least 2 avocados a day for the first five days. Then I did the last five days on no avocado, no fruits, just herbs and water or herbs and juices. I had plenty of energy to do all the things I needed to do. I recommenced eating regular and wholesome foods 4th November, weighing around 76kg, having lost about 8kg, and over the next five weeks my body metabolism shaved off another 5kg as I ate wholesomely and was more active surfing, etc. On 18th Dec I weighed 71kg, well 70.9kg to be exact.



More benefits besides just weight management

During my school days I was a very active person and had never faced problems with digestion, metabolism, or maintaining a comfortable weight. Unfortunately, this ideal lifestyle slowly but surely changed since I graduated from University. Whilst my eating habits remained the same, I took post in a sedentary job without having the time to exercise. I had put on excessive weight (especially around my legs and stomach), and somewhat had a feeling that my blood was not circulating well.

I had been introduced to your products through a friend from New Zealand, and have completed the Detox and now on the Slim program. First of all, I would like to thank you for creating these great natural products. Besides the weight benefits, my skin has cleared and I am feeling mentally sharp and energetic. You have helped me change my physical/mental well being, and mainly perception of food which can never be valued on a price tag. To be honest, I was quiet surprised what had come out during the Detox.. I can therefore look forward to cleansing on a yearly basis after New Year’s celebration. Thank you so much.


My lower stomach pain has gone after years of trying to find an answer

“Before a therapist at the Como Shambhala in Bali recommended the Ultimate Herbal DETOX I ran to several doctors who could not help me with my problems. Over the years I had difficulties with my digestion and my lower stomach was aching, when I had to go to the toilet. One of the doctors here in Germany even told me to stop eating yoghurt and raw vegetables!

When I finally ordered the Ultimate Herbal DETOX and followed the 10 day program this spring I felt so good an light and the pain was gone completely. Plus I was so happy that I even SHOULD eat yoghurt and vegetables! First I was a little doubtful, if my body will get some side effects of the Cleanse. But there were none, I just felt healthy and wonderful already during the first days of the Cleanse. I can highly recommend this product to anybody, who wants to do something good for their digestion and future health!” Olivia Schuff, Munich

Testimonial Kindly supplied by Healing Vibes


No more flatulence or nausea

Hi Brett,

I just wanted to drop you a line about what is going on for me. The past weeks and my digestion has lead me to almost be afraid to eat food, I felt so bad just after eating. I started your 14-day DETOX programme last night, what is strange is what has happened.

I have been a vegetarian since I was 17yrs old, I am now 33yrs. My Dad died of bowel cancer and I have always been a conscious healthy eater, also no coffee (makes me nauseous) and not much alcohol. This winter has been a pretty hard one emotionally and my routine, eating and looking after myself has suffered. I have put on 5kgs but worse was this nausea that I experienced every morning, I stopped getting out of bed and eating breakfast. Anxiety and teeth grinding leading to insomnia often, was terrible and so I started exercising hard at the gym 4 weeks ago to try and get back my body and life on track. Going to a local health 2000 store the natropath said I should take L- Theanine, Magnesium+ B6, and B12 ( all solgar) and Malcolm Harker Calmunurse for my anxiety. But even tho I felt calmer, my digestion was shot and my nausea didn’t leave.

So at a health food shop talking to another natropath, I was suggested that it could be my liver. I got two colonics ( my first ever), one open system last Friday and one closed system on Sunday. The latter put me on a high fiber diet and said after iridology that I had a past with leaky gut. I wasn’t suprised. The diet from the colonic clinic I have been on Sunday/Mon/ Tue was: no lactose or gluten, and LBS II x2, and Psyllium Hull x2 at bed time.

I was going to the toilet 6 times by lunch time and it was a watery mess each time. However my nausea was bad still. I tried to eat a bowl of wheat free Purebread Granola for breakfast yesterday and was so sick for hours, no actual vomiting but dry reaching, bloating, burping and wind etc. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t even digest toasted meusli, so I went and got digestive enzymes and Thompson’s Multidophilus, which kind of helped. At my wit’s end yesterday, I also purchased your DETOX kit from Shena Hendon at Elementa in Remuera rd. She has done it and recommended it. Also, worried about the protein intake in my diet and the effect on the sex hormone production, on discussion with her naturopath, I bought the expensive Isowhey Complete by pharma foods: which I took yesterday, and this morning in my smoothie.

I stopped the LBS II x2 and Psyllium Hull x2 last night and took instead 3 each of your 4 capsules as a trial. I felt better and so this morning took the whole 20capules. I am feeling so, so much better today already, no burping, flatulance or nausea. I am so happy with your product but still concerned how best to proceed. I am stunned. Instead of feeling worse while I DETOX I feel better! I don’t understand; was I detoxing without the right nourishment for my liver and digestion, and finding my gut couldn’t handle all the fiber?

I am feeling so much better this morning and I don’t want to feel like yesterday ever again so I really want to do the full 10day DETOX and get it right. Also I am thinking about buying another DETOX kit for my Mum and doing it together.


This stuff works!

I have just ordered Ultimate Herbal Detox. This will be the 4th time I have used this in the last 5 years and it really works. I use the 14 day detox plan and I also followed the suggested food diet plan on two occasions and lost 7 kg each time. The third time I did not stick to the food plan so well but still lost 4 kg. As well as the weight loss I felt healthier and had more energy. The feeling of bloat had gone and no more indigestion.The product was originally recommended to me by a friend so it does work.


It has really changed me

Lots of interesting information to help me to better health. The Slim pack and Ultimate Detox has worked really well to aid my digestion and slim down my tummy! Which is great. The process and changes I’ve now made towards food has really changed me. … many thanks.


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