Prebiotics & Probiotics
I take probiotics and I give them to my toddler and I often get asked why I take them and their benefits. I learned of their importance about a year ago and I am hooked.
Most of you by now have heard of probiotics but another important component to ingest is prebiotics, which sounds very similar to probiotics but it is actually different. Confused yet? Let me clarify.
Prebiotics Prebiotics are the non-digestible fiber in food - like in fruit and nuts. Prebiotic fibers feed our beneficial intestinal flora, which synthesize vitamins, protect us from germs and improve our immunity. It’s easy to understand when you break down the latin roots: “pre” means before and “biotic” means bacteria. Prebiotics are what come before the bacteria, i.e. the food source for the beneficial bacteria in our gut. I call fiber the unsung hero of nutrition because it has so many benefits and gets so little recognition. Most of us know that fiber improves digestive health and regularity. One of the main ways it does that is by acting as a food source for our beneficial bacteria. It also helps us feel full, reducing the temptation to overeat, and lowers our cholesterol by attaching itself to cholesterol molecules which prevents them from entering the blood stream. Probiotics Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria that naturally occur in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. They are referred to as the “good” bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics eat prebiotics—and when fed well, they multiply and grow to keep bad bacteria at bay. For ultimate health, our bodies require both prebiotics and probiotics. Eating both ensures we have the correct balance of bacteria, helping our bodies function at their peak. Our intestinal bacteria promote nutrient absorption, protect us from germs, improve our immunity and reduce inflammation. The opposite of good gut bacteria like prebiotics and probiotics, are, you guessed it…bad bacteria. Diets high in sugar and processed foods influence our gut bacteria as well—but in a negative way, acting as the food source for bad bacteria. Eating foods with prebiotics and probiotics help keep the bad bacteria in check, allowing our microbiomes, and our bodies, to thrive.