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Probiotics and Prebiotics

Gut health is a topic of discussion these days, and probiotics and prebiotics seem to be the focus of the discussion. However, although you’ve heard these terms before a million times, you might not know how they play a part in keeping you healthy from the inside out. So, let’s start with the basics and talk about probiotics and prebiotics.  

 

 

What are probiotics?  

 

Probiotics, as you may have heard a million times, are live microorganisms, usually specific bacterial strains that directly add to the population of the healthy microbes in your gut. These beneficial microorganisms are intended to maintain or improve the normal gut flora in the body. Some health benefits of probiotics include: 

  • Improving your overall gut health.  
  • They are good for your digestive system  
  • Improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, urinary tract infections, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Reduces gas and bloating 
  • Reduce diarrhea 
  • Boosting mental health like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and memory lose 
  • Lowering the blood pressure 
  • Reducing the severity and duration of infectious diarrhea 
  • Weight loss 

 

Foods rich in probiotic includes: 

  • Yogurt 
  • Miso 
  • Natto 
  • Kimchi 
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Pickled vegetables 

On top of foods, you may take supplements containing probiotics. A single dose may contain a particular strain or blends of microbes. The species of bacteria included are those proven by research to be effective in treating a particular ailment.  

 

What is prebiotics? 

 

Prebiotics are foods for probiotics made from specialized plant fibers. They act as fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. The digestive system can’t break down prebiotics, so they can make their way down the digestive tract. Eventually, they reach the part of the colon where probiotics hang out.  

Prebiotics are found in many fruits and veggies, especially those with complex carbohydrates like resistant starch and fiber. Complex carbohydrates aren’t digestible, so they can make their way down the intestine to become foods for bacteria and other microbes. Some health benefits of prebiotics include: 

  • Aiding in weight loss 
  • Encouraging normal blood sugar level 
  • Boosting bone health 
  • Enhancing mineral absorption, anti-inflammatory, and immune-assisting effects 

 

Prebiotic-rich foods include: 

  • Oats 
  • Asparagus 
  • Onion 
  • Garlic 
  • Berries 
  • Apple skin 
  • Legumes 
  • Garlic 
  • Banana 
  • Peas 
  • Chicory roots 
  • Artichokes 

 

Can you take probiotics and prebiotic supplements together? 

 

Probiotics and prebiotics are both vital to your gut health, your brain, and your entire body. You can add them to your daily meals as foods or supplements, and your entire body will thank you for the rest of your life.  

 

You can consume probiotics and prebiotics separately or together, as long as you are consuming a variety of both to reap the benefits. However, combining probiotics and prebiotics is the best way to get all the synergistic effects of these beneficial compounds. You call this symbiotic. It was originally used to describe supplements but has been adapted to foods.  

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