Gut Health: Probiotics & Prebiotics
Today’s focus, gut health. The health and wellness industry is exploding with probiotic news from the hottest new products on the market to the latest research findings. We’re constantly being fed information about probiotics but not so much about prebiotics. What’s the difference you ask? While they sound very similar, probiotics and prebiotics are not the same, although they both help to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria in the body and aid healthy digestion.
Probiotics are types of ‘living’ friendly bacteria similar to those that inhabit our digestive tract. They are naturally found in cultured or fermented foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, aged cheese, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, miso, tempeh and kombucha and can also be taken in supplement form.
Probiotics help to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in the intestines, they support our immune defences, are useful for anyone suffering from the uncomfortable symptoms of bloating or gas. They may also help to restore good bacteria after a course of antibiotics. There are many different types of probiotics and each behaves a little differently. You might be familiar with lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidibacterium lactis, which are often found in yogurt.
AND REMEMBER, there are some excellent dairy-free yogurts on the market these days bursting with probiotics such as Kite Hill which is almond milk base or The Coconut Cult which is of course coconut-based.
Prebiotics are ‘non‐living’ food ingredients that reach the large intestine unaffected by digestion, and ‘feed’ the good bacteria in our gut helping them to grow and flourish. Prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto‐oligosaccharides (GOS) are naturally found in many foods including:
- Jicama (yacon), Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root all contain inulin, a form of prebiotic fiber
- Dandelion greens are leafy green vegetables that are made up of 25% prebiotic fiber
- Allium vegetables such as garlic, onion, leeks, chives, scallions, cabbage
- Whole-grain and sprouted-grain breads
- Wheat germ, whole wheat berries
- Apple cider vinegar
- Potato skins
Having a combination of prebiotic and probiotic rich foods and topping up with a supplement if needed can help our bodies maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria and support health and wellbeing. They may be especially beneficial for active growing bodies to support their developing digestive and immune systems and to help relieve stomach issues.
Our guts have 100 trillion bacteria, most of them “good” bacteria. Unfortunately, those good bacteria are starving due to antibiotic use, anti-microbial cleaners and our reliance on fast-foods, simple carbohydrates and saturated fats, instead of adequate plant-based fiber.
Bacteria gets a bad rap, which should come as no surprise, since bacteria are responsible for many diseases. But bacteria can be good or bad; it just depends on the type. In fact, certain bacteria are so vital to our survival that, through working on the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), scientists are dedicated to exploring the important symbiotic relationship that exists between microbial cells and people.
More and more people are beginning to understand the role the gut plays in overall health, and probiotics have become an important tool in the fight against chronic disease. But prebiotics are just as essential to maintaining a healthy microbiome.
In order to promote and maximize a healthy gut, you should eat prebiotic-rich foods while taking a daily dose of probiotics — both via eating the right fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement such as Garden Of Life Probiotics. We’re also pretty jazzed about Ora’s Trust Your Gut organic probiotic w/ prebiotic powder.
Remember, everyone has a different microbiome due to our varying genes, diet and geographical location so what works for some people won’t necessary work for others. Do your own research, talk to your doctor or just follow your own ‘gut’ (no pun intended) instinct!
As always, we love hearing from you so leave us a comment below!