Difference between PRO- and PREbiotics
Probiotics: Good Bacteria – Prebiotics: Their Food
- Probiotics are good bacteria, prebiotics are the food or fertilizer your body needs to have the good bacteria thrive
- Probiotic and prebiotic food sources are quite different so you need to eat a diversity of food containing fermented foods, yogurts, kefir, high fiber veggies and fruits
- Supplements can give you a temporary boost to set you on the right track but in the long run your diet is the absolute best way to keep your body balanced and healthy
Have you given your gut health thought before? Have you done anything to improve your overall gut health? Share!!! We want to know!!!
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy by controlling growth of harmful bacteria.(1)
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for probiotics. Nom-nom-nom! They are essentially a special form of dietary fiber that acts as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut and as such help you maintain a healthy digestive system. (1)
Foods rich in prebiotics include asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal, and legumes, skin of apples, onions and garlic, psyllium husk, and chicory root.(2)
One of the best sources of probiotics is yogurt. It has good bacteria like lactobacillus or bifidobacteria. Look for “live or active cultures” on the label to be sure your favorite brand of yogurt is a rich source of probiotics (make sure though you also get one loooow in sugar since sugar really counteracts the effect of the good stuff!!!). Other good food sources are sauerkraut, miso soup, fermented, soft cheeses (like Gouda), and even sourdough bread. The common feature of all these foods is fermentation, a process that produces probiotics.(3)
As you can see probiotics and prebiotics come from quite different sources for the most part. Getting enough prebiotics in is really really important and given our “western diet” often very difficult for people. (4) Folks just don’t eat enough veggies and fruit anymore these days to cover that ground and as a consequence they starve their good bacteria. Worse even, instead of eaten naturally grown stuff most people eat a high amount of processed foods or junk food containing lots of sugar and God only knows what else.
Unfortunately, sugar does not feed the good bacteria but the bad ones, creating an even greater imbalance!!!!!!! Double whammy!!!!!!!. Sugar nourishes pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut. This might be actually more harmful to you than the effect this stuff has on your insulin resistance (risk factor for diabetes and weight issues… anyone interested yet?)!
While the research and understanding on probiotics and prebiotics is getting more and more solid, there is still a limit to fully grasping the complexity, and with it, all the different strains of bacteria that make up an ideal and healthy blend for someone’s gut. Supplements can help tilt the scale of good versus bad bacteria into the right direction especially if you had a significant disruption of your system by taking, for instance antibiotics, but in order to optimize your gut biome, you need to consume a diversity of probiotic containing foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, different yogurts, kefir, cheeses, AS WELL as prebiotic foods such as bananas, apples, legumes, onions etc. (2)
A disruption of your gut flora can have SERIOUS consequences (4)
- Genetic expression
- Immune system
- Risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis
- MENTAL HEALTH such as ADHD, depression, anxiety – the gut is actually quite frequently referred to as your second brain these days!
Remember, nature is generally (pretty much always) way ahead of science and can offer everything you need in form of natural foods!!! So eat up!!!
1. Smith,M.W., 2012. Probiotics and Prebiotics:Ask the Nutritionist [Online]. WebMD LLC. Available: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/probiotics[Accessed September 25, 2017].
2. Jackson, F.W., 2016. Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: Prebioticsare not probiotics. [Online]. Available: https://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotin-academy/what-are-prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/[Accessed September 25, 2017].
3. Palsdottir, H., 2016. 11 Probiotic Foods That Are Super Healthy [Online].Healthline Media. Available: http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-super-healthy-probiotic-foods#section1[Accessed September 25, 2017].
4. Singh, R.K., Chang, H.W., Yan, D.,Lee, K.M., Ucmak, D., Wong, K., Abrouk, M., Farahnik, B., Nakamura, M., Zhu,T.H., Bhutani, T. & Liao, W., 2017. Influence of diet on the gut microbiomeand implications for human health. Journalof Translational Medicine, 15,17.