Gut health is absolutely one of the biggest wellness trends in recent times. It’s a catch-22, because there’s a huge amount of evidence that proves gut health (and the health of the microbiome) is integral to overall wellbeing. But it also provides endless opportunities for brands to capitalise on misinformation, leading to confusion and mistruths when it comes to supplementation. To help us cut through some of the noise, we spent time with Blair Norfolk, an autoimmune disease sufferer and founder of Activated Probiotics. As one of the first gut-related nutraceutical brands to back its entire range with scientific evidence, Activated Probiotics has managed to curate a range of supplements that target specific gut-relevant issues, be it asthma, IBS, iron absorption or prenatal care. Below, Norfolk talks us through how to choose a supplement that works, things you should look out for and the science informing the creation of his brand.

GRAZIA: How did you end up in the world of supplements?

Blair Norfolk: I started my journey in the health industry after I was diagnosed with two incurable autoimmune diseases. I was determined to find a solution. I connected with some of the smartest minds in medical research and nutraceuticals, and I believed to truly solve some of the common health problems we face as a society we had to bring together the best people who all shared a common goal, to improve quality of life and reduce the burden of chronic disease.

GRAZIA: What are you trying to do with Activated Probiotics?

Blair: The core of Activated Probiotics is to give Australians access to products developed from leading global clinical research into the gut microbiome and its interplay with human health. Through research and innovation, we have set out to provide natural probiotic solutions to a number of serious diseases, many first of their kind in the world. Including but not limited to: reducing depressed, reducing bone loss in post-menopausal females, increasing the absorption of iron for young women and even reducing the frequency of allergic asthma attacks.

GRAZIA: What is it about gut health representation in the media that bothers you?

Blair: There has been some bad education that has been adopted as common knowledge that we hope to correct.

  • The idea that a higher does is better – dosages should always be based on the ‘clinical dose’ from the research study or clinical trial.
  • More strains in a probiotic product is better – Probiotic strains (e.g. Lactobacillus Plantarum) have individual functions and should not be just thrown together. Each strain has powerful properties and often interact very differently when put with other strains. Generic products that just add every strain they have in their catalogue together is very concerning to us.
  • High quality probiotics are kept in the fridge – This is actually the opposite. The best quality probiotics are shelf stable and a consumer should always ask, “why does a particular probiotic need to be in the fridge?”

GRAZIA: How is Activated Probiotics different to other probiotic brands?

Blair: The key differences are:

  • We produce clinically proven (world first) products for specific conditions:
    • Increasing iron absorption.
    • Mood (reducing depressive symptoms).
    • Bone Health (reducing bone loss).
    • Allergic asthma (Reducing the frequency and severity of allergic asthma attacks).
    • Boosting the immune system and reducing the common cold.
  • We use a patented microencapsulation technology to protect the probiotic bacteria on the journey though the stomach acid to get to the gut. This means our products have a 5x more effective delivery than non microencapsulated probiotics.
  • No need to be kept in the fridge, shelf stable for two years.
  • Up to 30 years of clinical research into the probiotic strains we use, and full track and traceability of all our bacteria.
  • Sold behind the counter as practitioner ONLY products through pharmacy

GRAZIA: What has your clinical evidence shown you?

The key way probiotics have been clinically proven to impact a number of diseases is via a few key pathways:

1. Reducing inflammation, the root of many diseases.

2. Increasing the adsorption of vitamins and minerals.

3. Modulation of the immune system and auto-immune response we all have going on in our bodies each and every day.

4. Replacing bad bacteria with good bacteria, to minimise the negative impact of the harmful ones.

GRAZIA: Activated Probiotics have been able to tailor its products to suit different conditions. Why do you think you’re one of the first to operate in this way?

Blair: We have had first access to new research into the gut microbiome through two key research partners, Probi AB of Sweden and Probiotical SrL of Italy. These partners give us first access to their new products as they become available. We have been trusted with this as we are focussed on education and training rather than advertising campaigns.

GRAZIA: What’s the most interesting piece of evidence relating to probiotic supplementation you’ve come across?

Blair: Personally, The number of people I’ve seen or heard from that have recovered from their IBS using a probiotic is pretty amazing. As far as research, one exciting piece of data we saw from a famous rat study (by Fredrik Backhed) was that feeding skinny rats the faeces of obese rats and vice and versa ended up in the skinny rats becoming fat and the fat rats becoming skinny. This showed how important the role of microbes are in our metabolism.

GRAZIA: One gut health “myth” you’d like to dispel?

Blair: That we should also only consume strains the research says we need, not those added to sell a product. Companies who sell on quantity only do so for a lack of scientific evidence.

Activated Probiotics are available via certain pharmacies. Learn more here