Sanitisers have an effect on you microbiome?

The first time I heard about probiotics – the healthy gut bacteria we need for good digestion, was when I had to take a course of antibiotics and it came with a serious instruction to follow the course with probiotics. The reason to reintroduce gut culture is because of a problematic side effect from such dramatic intervention; a damaged gut biome. The problem is in the name – antibiotics because they are, broadly speaking, a bacteria killer.

I paused for thought, then, on all the antibacterial products we are spraying and inhaling,rubbing into our skins and lathering on our children’s hands during this pandemic and wondered how that works for us in the same context as antibiotics. 

 Should I be taking probiotics in the face of all the products 

we’ve been using to fight the threat of Covid19 
that we have endured this year?

I found that the answer is a convincing yes! Besides the obvious observation that the category of products we are talking about are definitively designed to wipe bacteria out, do we know the threshold of staying hygienically safe and still protecting against the contagious pathogens we get exposed to in the shared ecosystem outside of our homes?

 This study on the chemicals commonly used in antibacterial consumables, acknowledged to my relief that many products are benign and sometimes beneficial to our bodies; this is not a fear mongering endeavour. However three specific chemicals are found in sanitisers, antibacterial soaps, cleaners and rubs, common in our supermarkets and those all over the world. These chemicals are triclosan, triclocarban and acrylate copolymers. While I found a report stating manufacturers had stopped or were phasing these chemicals out  of South African products back in 2016, other reports claimed these products are found in the majority of sanitisers in South Africa. They are ingredients that should be listed on the labels so check first if you have the option to choose from the shelf before you buy.

 Admittedly they tested the most common chemical, triclosan, on Zebrafish but cited their reasons with sound logic. The bacteria in the study act the same or very similar to those in our gut and on the same principals. All things considered; the findings were quite compelling.

 The undeniable observation most consistent throughout the study was the fluctuations in the gut microbiomes of test subjects exposed to the chemical rendering adjustments needed by the body to adapt, putting measurable strain on the exposed fish. 


Gut health is all about balancing the microbiome to function optimally, and fluctuations in this balance combined with exposure to pathogenic, or bad bacteria, is why we get sick.

Perhaps the conditions we live in call for acute sanitising and we may not have control over how much exposure we get of these chemicals, but knowing that probiotics arms me with a functional immune system, then obvious comes full circle.  Should I be taking probiotics to maintain a healthy gut culture, more so now that we are using so many antibacterial products and sanitisers?

Yes! It is the most sensible remedy, right after wise choices in what chemicals we breathe, rub and lather into our bodies.

 You can buy probiotics over the counter or you can get your probiotics naturally with delicious fermented foods. These are foods that have been transformed or cultured with trillions of good bacteria to deliver to your gut, including sauerkraut, yogurt and cheeses, but the most bacteria rich fermented food you can get is kefir which has more than 20 strains ready to thrive with you. Remember to include a lot of prebiotics (fibre rich foods) to feed your microbiome for health benefits including clear skin, mental health and a good immune system.

 Kefir can be grown in milk or water or bought at many health food stores or online from leading kefir supplier, NuMEsa Foods. You can have it delivered to your door. Both are delicious and come in a variety of flavours so delicious and healthy you might quit your regular soda for a fizzy bottle of berry kefir instead!

We at NuMEsa believe in a healthy tummy, happy life!

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