Gut health is all the rage these days, and probiotics and prebiotics seem to be at the centre of the discussion. However, no matter how many times these terms get thrown around, many of us are still clueless about what they are, let alone what they do. Probiotics and prebiotics – even though they may sound similar, they, however, are two different things and also play different roles in maintaining a healthy gut. So keep on reading as we break down the basics of these two important things that are essential for our gut health.
What Are Probiotics And Prebiotics?
As mentioned, both probiotics and prebiotics are two different things, even though they may sound similar. They also play different roles in maintaining your gut health. You can differentiate the two by the different roles they play:
- Probiotics – These are living strains of bacteria found in certain foods or supplements that add to the population of good bacteria (normal microflora) in your digestive system. They can provide numerous health benefits.
- Prebiotics – These substances come from different types of foods (typically high-fibre foods) that serve as food for good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics stimulates and improves the balance of the preexisting good bacteria.
Benefits of Probiotics
The good bacteria in the gut, also referred to as the gut microflora or microbiota, perform many important functions in the body. Consuming healthy foods with the right amount of both probiotics and prebiotics can help ensure that you have the right balance of these bacteria to keep not just your gut microflora healthy and improve your digestive health, but also a different aspect of your body. Here are some of the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics:
- Digestive health
Several studies have shown that probiotics may improve digestive health in some people. These studies have shown that taking probiotics while using antibiotics reduced the risk of antibiotic-related diarrhoea by 60%. Additionally, another study has also shown that taking probiotics could improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in specific individuals. Also Read: Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What You Need To Know
- Mental health
A recent study has demonstrated that probiotics may reduce the symptoms of depression and improve mental health. Probiotics may have this effect because there is a link between gut and brain health.
- General health
Numerous studies have also confirmed that taking probiotics may reduce the need for antibiotics, the incidence of ventilator-assisted pneumonia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections, such as yeast infections, eczema and more.
Benefits of Prebiotics
Prebiotics serves as food for bacteria and other beneficial organisms in the gut. They occur naturally in many foods. The benefits of prebiotics have links to the benefits of probiotics. Prebiotics may support a healthy gut, offering better digestive health, fewer antibiotic-related health problems, and other benefits.
Some research suggests that prebiotics may benefit the body by improving calcium absorption, changing how quickly the body can process carbohydrates, and supporting the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, potentially enhancing digestion and metabolism. Also Read: 9 Best Teas That Can Improve Your Digestion
The Link Between Probiotics And Prebiotics
Both probiotics and prebiotics play essential roles in maintaining gut health. Both are needed for your gut to be healthy and functional. Prebiotics serves as food for probiotics, so probiotics need access to prebiotics to work effectively. So basically, probiotics add soldiers to your army (gut microflora), and prebiotics gives the soldiers the support they need.
Boosting Probiotic and Prebiotic Intake Through Foods
When it comes to improving your probiotic and prebiotic balance in your gut, eating the right food can make all the difference. Making a change in your diet is all you need to do to boost your prebiotic and probiotic intake. That said, eating the wrong things (like high-sugar and high-fat foods) can feed the bad bacteria in your gut and give them an advantage over the good ones. So what are the right foods to support better gut health? Here is a list of food for both prebiotics and probiotics:
There are many foods that are naturally rich in probiotics.
- Fermented foods, such as kimchi
- Fermented buttermilk
- Unpasteurized pickled vegetables
While there are many supplements that are rich in prebiotics, it is also important to know that many foods also naturally contain prebiotics in them, especially in many high-fibre foods, including some fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Legumes, beans, and peas
Did you know? Some probiotic-rich foods may also contain prebiotics. Babies get access to prebiotics through the sugars in breast milk, and some infant formulas also contain prebiotics.
Probiotics and Prebiotics Tips
Before you start taking prebiotic and probiotic products or supplements, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure you are getting the best out of them. Make sure your probiotics are kept cold in the refrigerator — heat can kill them. They are living organisms after all! However, you do not have to worry about this with prebiotics.
Also, if you have recently taken antibiotics because of a bad infection, those can kill the good bacteria in your gut — not just the bad ones. Taking probiotics can help repopulate these good bacteria.
A Healthy Gut with Preserva Wellness
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The Bottom Line
For most healthy people, there is no need to take prebiotic or probiotic supplements. A diet consisting of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fermented foods makes it possible for people to consume sufficient prebiotics and probiotics without relying on supplements.
Disclaimer- This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider in case of any health complications.