Happy and healthy through life with probiotics

The population is ageing. The life expectancy of both men and women has grown an average of 10 years since 1950. In fact, some researchers predict that most people who were born after 2000 and have lived in developed countries will live to at least 100 years.

But healthy ageing is not solely about reaching an advanced age. It is about living happy and healthy throughout all life stages. We strongly believe that a well-balanced gut microbiota is at the heart of it all. For that we offer premium probiotic formulations to support the gut microbiota significantly – and it all starts at birth.

Gut bacteria crucial for health
The human body is home to a large number of microbes. Researchers say that humans are considered to be “meta-organisms” because the human body contains so many microorganisms. They make up at least half of the total number of cells in the body and are collectively referred to as the human microbiota. The human microbiota is mainly found in the gut, but also on the skin and in the mouth and nose. Especially the intestinal bacteria play a crucial role in human health. In fact it has been stated that the health of the gut microbiome can predict longevity.

Healthy gut, healthier ageing
Studies have shown that our gut microbiota influences our immune-, neurological-, and metabolic development and functioning. Changes in the composition and diversity of our gut microbiota can lead to, among other things, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, or metabolic disorders causing a reduced quality of life. In short, their main but not sole role is to maintain human health by helping to control immune system responses.

Quality of life for everyone
Our purpose is to enable people to live a happy and healthy life throughout all life stages. The benefits of probiotics for ageing are that they boost the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut. In that way they help to protect against harmful bacteria, enhance the function of the intestinal barrier, provide an immune supporting role, and improve gastrointestinal motility and assistance to the body’s inflammatory response.


Tamara de Weijer
‘I believe strongly in probiotics’


Tamara de Weijer is a general practitioner in the Netherlands. Her mission is to make the Netherlands healthier by devoting more attention to lifestyle – and to do so both in and outside of her consultation room. To this end, she has a successful online programme that helps people improve their lifestyle. She also writes a blog for Healthy Ageing on the importance of healthy diet and good gut health.

You have to learn to live with it. Those were the words used about 26 years ago by the doctor who diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome. The swollen belly, the constipation, and the nasty cramps: apparently they were part of who I am. Until ten years ago, that is, when I started looking deeper into nutrition and changed my diet, mainly to lose some weight. My stomach aches vanished like snow in the sun. What’s more, I had lots more energy and felt fitter on the whole.

Sadly, that changed when I joined some friends on a ski trip. It was immediately apparent that in the resort it was impossible to eat healthy foods – lots of vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruit. On Day 3 my stomach began acting up, and on Day 5 I became terribly ill. Stomach flu, I thought, but back home my complaints didn’t go away. On top of that, I was irritable and gloomy, although I’d been eating healthy again for a long time. A friend then advised me to do a complete reset. I started taking Ecologic, and after just two days my stomach was calm again, and I felt fitter.

We have to go from corrective medicine to preventive

I believe strongly in probiotics and in the importance of gut health for total health. Hippocrates said it more than 2,000 years ago: all sickness starts in the guts. And ever more studies confirm that he was right. This is why it’s also so important that Winclove does clinical studies, and user studies as well, on the broader effectiveness of probiotics. Patients in my practice too are participating in them.

Working on lifestyle
In health care we need to simply work more on lifestyle; we need to change from corrective medicine to preventive. I am truly convinced that we can help at least 75% of all sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome worldwide. With lifestyle, with healthy diet, and when necessary with probiotics. So that no doctor ever has to say You have to learn to live with it.

Tamara de Weijer

5 Questions

Karen Koning, PhD Manager Education
‘The microbiota is fascinating…’


‘I turn myself upside down every day’

Prof. Dr. Eric Claassen (1957) is a Dutch immunologist. He is Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Vrij Universiteit in Amsterdam and has been working on innovation in nutrition and gut health for more than 30 years. In 2019, he together with two co-authors published a book titled ‘Gezond naar 115’ (‘Healthy to the Age of 115’). The three authors visited various countries around the world to find out what factors contribute most to healthy ageing.

We sat down with Eric Claassen, because we’re curious about the extent of the gut’s role in healthy ageing.

You have a special interest in gut health; where did that come from?
‘In the early nineties I thought I had a chance to win a Nobel Prize by manipulating lactic acid bacteria in the gut in such a way that they could suppress the clinical effects of multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system overreacts and attacks the nerves. We used bacteria from the human gut to re-educate the immune system, which would make it tolerant again. We could show it in mice, rats and monkeys. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more complex in humans; we couldn’t demonstrate any effect.’

How important is the gut microbiota to health?
‘Our intestinal content consists of 1.5 kg of bacteria; 100,000 billion in total number. These bacteria communicate continuously with the rest of the body, and vice versa. So it is of the utmost importance that these bacteria are in balance. In the right balance, 0.5-1% of them consist of potentially pathogenic bacteria, while the rest is harmless. When balanced, your stool is good, your mood is lifted, and you remember fine things. People with irritable bowel syndrome, for example, tend to have negative thoughts remarkably frequently. So they not only suffer from a diseased gut, they are also mentally mismanaged by their gut.
In the past 10 years, when researchers started to apply fecal transplants, the relationship between the composition of the gut microbiota and health became crystal clear. By changing the composition of the microbiota, they were able to demonstrate that the gut microbiota is not only capable of influencing the development of disease, but also of reversing it. A very successful example is type-2 diabetes. As I told you, I didn’t qualify for the Nobel Prize, but this research certainly does.’

A recent publication* shows that lifestyle and environmental factors have a greater influence on the gut microbiota than genes do.
‘Actually, that is no surprise to me. We have known for a long time that unhealthy living and getting ill are strongly linked. Unfortunately we don’t act on it. If you go into the jungle of Africa without a gun and get eaten by a lion everyone will tell you: ‘how could you be so stupid’. If you live an unhealthy life in the Western world and you get ill, we pretend it’s pure bad luck. It is admirable that in Groningen* they are trying so hard to support the relationship between lifestyle and health with scientific evidence. But I strongly doubt this is going to change people’s behaviour.’

Which foods have the most impact on our gut bacteria?
‘I always had a clear opinion about the sugar mafia, but a few years ago I came to think differently. ‘Simple sugars’ are disastrous for the gut. These sugars preferentially stimulate pathogens (harmful bacteria), which live off of them. In general, you should ingest as little junk food as possible to keep your gut in shape. Bad input creates bad output. In other words: ‘garbage in, garbage out’. In contrast, our intestines need the complex sugars. Many of these so-called prebiotics can be found in vegetables such as chicory, asparagus, leeks, parsnips, artichokes, garlic, and onions. In short; eating less added sugar and more vegetables is very healthy for the gut. On the other hand, as I said before, I am aware of the fact that many people find it difficult to change their eating habits or do not have access to healthy food. I think probiotics can be an add-on possibility that can supplement the daily diet to help shape a healthy gut microbiota.’

What do you advise people who want to take probiotics?
‘International Cochrane reviews indicate that you need to ingest a minimum of 4 billion probiotic bacteria daily to be able to manipulate your gut microbiota. Which bacterial strains you choose is of importance, but to a certain extent, since every individual has a very unique gut microbiota composition. So in my opinion, it is best to choose a specific probiotic for a certain goal, for example to relieve IBS symptoms, to reduce the severity of allergy, to influence your mood, or to boost your immune system. You then monitor your symptoms by using a diary and score your complaints on a scale of 1-10. If you experience no improvement after taking a probiotic product for six weeks, then maybe you should try a different probiotic product. In 50% of the cases, people can manage their symptoms in this way.’

Do you manage to live a healthy life yourself?
“Partially. I am 3 kg above my target weight and those kilos are right on my belly, and that bothers me. So I know how hard it is, because even if it’s only three kilos; I can’t get them off. But I am healthier than most people in my age group. I’m heading to the age of 65, and if I make it, according to the statistics, I am more likely to reach the age of 90.”

To get inspiration for your book, you visited very old people in different countries. What did you learn from these people?
‘I never had much of a love of yoga. But since I visited China and Japan, I turn myself upside down for a while every day. Since it improves your balance, you’re less likely to fall, and that increases your life expectancy. But the biggest eye-opener came from a 104-year-old woman in Costa Rica. She told me that she spends an hour every day on her makeup and clothes. She thought this was important because she still wanted to be seen by the men in the village. I myself never expected that this would be so important for healthy ageing. But now I know: the more zest you have for life, the higher your life expectancy.’

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Antibiotics are indispensable in our fight against infectious disease. However, they not only affect the pathogens for which we take them but also disturb our microbiota which can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD). It is estimated that up to 20% of children, who most often take antibiotics, develop diarrhoea after antibiotic treatment.

Probiotics have shown to be effective in preventing AAD, but not all probiotics are equal. Moreover, there are marked differences between adults and children. Therefore, we wanted to assess whether our premium probiotics formulation Ecologic® AAD, which has shown to be highly effective in preventing AAD in adults, can also prevent the development of AAD in children.

To this end a randomized, quadruple-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre study was performed in collaboration with two teams led by the internationally renowned researchers and paediatricians Prof. Hania Szajewska and Dr. Tim de Meij. The study included 350 children from the Netherlands and Poland aged 3 months to 18 years who received antibiotics because of an infection. Ecologic® AAD showed to be very effective in preventing diarrhoea during and after antibiotic use in children as it reduced the development of diarrhoea by 35%.

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