Having an upset stomach after a light meal outside or feeling rather blue most of the time, are a few of the many issues connected with an unhealthy gut. The secret to having a healthy gut is consuming probiotics in food or as supplements. These microorganisms are becoming an increasingly popular way to help rebalance the gut flora as well as support healthy gastrointestinal and immune functions. Probiotics are the same or very similar to the microorganisms present in our bodies, so they work well. However, these probiotics are more effective when your stomach has enough prebiotics. Here we talk in detail about prebiotics and their functions.
What Are Prebiotics?
Probiotics and prebiotics sound pretty similar, but the difference between them is more than just one letter, as the two play different roles for our digestive health and immune system.
- Probiotics are bacteria in the gut and are also known as ‘good bacteria’ they live in our bodies naturally and help the intestines break-down food.
- Prebiotics are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest, but they feed the friendly bacteria (probiotics) in the gut and help them grow. They aid digestion and increase the production of essential vitamins.
Together, they form a great team, which helps the gut flora flourish and do their job the best they can. You don’t necessarily need to take prebiotics for probiotics to work, but taking them can make your probiotics more effective and beneficial. Simply put, adding more prebiotics to your diet can give you a happier gut.
How Do They Work?
Prebiotics by themselves aren’t known to be very useful. However, when used as a companion to probiotics, prebiotics seem to be effective in improving the gut flora. This, in turn, offers health benefits such as strong immunity, better digestion, improved bone density, weight loss, and excellent brain health. Along with this, probiotics go to the root cause of your skin-related issues and clear the toxins from inside the body, which leads to glowing, clear skin and prevents premature aging.
Additionally, when prebiotics are fermented, they produce short-chain fatty acids that help keep the colon healthy and maintain blood sugar balance.
Prebiotics can also help in easing common digestive issues like bloating and constipation, increase the bioavailability of minerals, and even promote satiety while eating.
Adding Prebiotics in Diet
A major source of prebiotics is dietary fiber. Though all prebiotics are fibers, not all fibers are prebiotics. Unlike the common forms of fiber in food, prebiotic fiber can be broken down by beneficial gut microbes, thus improving your gut health. Fruits and vegetables have them naturally, but you can also take them in the form of nutritional supplements. When a food source contains a combination of both prebiotics and probiotics, it is known as a synbiotic item. Synbiotic foods include cheese, kefir, and certain types of yogurt.
Some rich prebiotic foods include:
- Legumes, beans, and peas
To experience any meaningful health benefits from natural prebiotic sources, you would have to consume large portions of them. Prebiotic supplements can be taken regularly to help the growth of good gut bacteria. Unlike probiotic supplements, prebiotic supplements do not contain live bacteria. They are highly stable and remain unaffected by acidic gut conditions.
It’s important to note that not all prebiotics are the same and some are more specific in the type of bacteria they feed. Prebiotic supplements come in the form of capsules (which commonly include probiotics as well) or plant-based prebiotic powders.
As you can tell by now, prebiotics are a great addition to go along with your probiotics. Consuming plenty of prebiotics and probiotics from natural foods or supplements will help balance the good and the bad gut bacteria. At the end of the day, optimizing your gut flora can have major benefits for your overall health and wellbeing.