Prebiotics and Probiotics… What are they?
Think of some of the greatest dynamic duos: Batman and Robin, Simon and Garfunkle, or Mac and Cheese, Peanut Butter and Jelly… the last two being the greatest in my opinion! Prebiotics are food for Probiotics, so they technically need each other! When taken together, this is known as microbiome therapy. They both support the body in building and maintaining a healthy colony of good bacteria. When taken together, prebiotics and probiotics can help people suffering from diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, allergic disorders, and even the average cold and flu. The great thing is you can take pre-and probiotics to simply be proactive and maintain healthy gut flora.
Pre- and probiotics help to produce good bacteria. In turn, this produces certain substances that acidify the colon and serve as a nutrition source for the colon’s cells. This acidity is exactly what our body needs! The colon provides an oxygen-free environment so this bacteria can grow and produce on-going nutrition. Having a colon that operates maximally has wonderful benefits for the entire body, so let’s get into the difference between the two and why you should be supplementing with both.
Are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest. They are essential, as they feed the probiotics in order to bump up the health benefits even more! These non-digestible fibers are degraded by gut microbiota.
The two most popular, and most backed by research, are known as inulin and oligofructose. Inulin can be found in wheat, onions, bananas, garlic, leeks, chicory root, artichokes, agave, jicama, and wild yam. Because food industries and agriculture have become more developed in the past few centuries, our food contains less inulin, meaning some of us may need to get our prebiotics from supplements. Not to mention, some of these foods may not be native to our home countries, so they will not be locally sourced or seasonal. In the U.S., most people are not getting enough fiber, and the little fiber they are consuming is from wheat or onions.
These tiny living microorganisms include bacteria and yeast that can help lower the number of bad bacteria in your gut. These bad bacteria can eventually cause illness or inflammation in the body, so it’s important to take probiotics to help replace the bad with the good!
The two most common probiotics found in most supplements or foods are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. There are many foods rich in probiotics, including yogurt, kefir, fermented foods, kombucha, and cheeses like Gouda.
3 major benefits-
Improve Mental Health: Research is showing there is a great correlation between gut and brain, so if your gut is unhealthy, your brain might be as well. Probiotics are great for those with depression, anxiety, OCD, and more. For example, researchers are saying the Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus can significantly reduce anxiety-like behavior in rodent studies*.
Recover Gastrointestinal health: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. IBD affects as many as 450 people out of every 100,000 in the United States. The gut microbiota shows an abundance of bacteria linked to inflammation and a decrease in the diversity of bacteria. Having fiber can be painful, and most of the time does more harm than good for those with IBD, so taking a prebiotic can be extremely helpful.
Reduces seasonal allergies: Specifically, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium longum were used in a study* for those suffering from hay fever. The probiotic treatment improved hay fever sufferers’ allergy-specific quality of life scores and reduced symptoms in hay fever sufferers who had mild symptoms to begin with.
How much do I need to take?
This all depends! Speak to your doctor or a Naturopath to figure out which specific strains would benefit you. Probiotic supplements can be pricey and not every strain works for every ailment, so find out exactly what you need. Probiotics are tricky, and if you take them sporadically, you may not feel their full benefits. Research shows that 100 million to 1 billion probiotic microorganisms must reach your intestine for you to experience health benefits*. If you are on antibiotics or take a medication that kills off good bacteria, you may be told to take a higher dosage of probiotics to replenish your good bacteria. This is super important in helping you stay healthy and strong and to help fight off infections, inflammation, and the cold and flu.
When should I take it?
There is lots of research out there, and some probiotic manufacturers recommend taking the supplement on an empty stomach. Others will advise you to take it with food. Seeing as different microorganisms and bacteria survive in different conditions, it is safe to say that consistency is most important. Probiotics don’t stay in your gut for long, but having them pass through your body is when you’ll feel the most gains. Aim to take your probiotic at the same time every day as this could actually make them more effective.
Ensuring you are getting enough pre and probiotics from foods can be difficult. Speak to a medical professional about what strains could be right for you. Once you get started, let us know if you have experienced any benefits from your pre and probiotics. Pay attention to all the benefits and not simply those you are trying to treat. You may notice improvements in mood, allergy tolerance, bowel movements, and more! Just remember, not all bacteria are bad! Make sure you’re fighting the bad guys off with the good!