Prebiotics and Probiotics: What You Should Know
Prebiotics and Probiotics: What You Should Know
Gut health is quickly becoming one of the most popular topics in the health and wellness scene. If you’ve only recently started hearing about the gut microbiome and what it can do for your health, you may be wondering what the difference is between probiotics and prebiotics.
The difference between probiotics and prebiotics is that one helps feed the other. Probiotics are millions of bacteria that live in your intestines, while prebiotics are essentially food for your probiotics. Having a healthy balance of probiotics and prebiotics is key for maintaining a healthy microbiome.
If you’re interested in learning the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, you’re on the right track for a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. Keep reading to learn more about probiotics and prebiotics and how best to incorporate them into your diet.
What Is the Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Probiotics are the live bacteria that live in your large intestine and make up your gut microbiome. Prebiotics are the plant fibres that work as food for your gut bacteria. Eating probiotics will increase the number of bacteria in your gut while eating prebiotics will keep the bacteria in your gut healthy and alive.
Probiotics are live bacteria that line our large intestines. These microorganisms help us digest foods that we cannot digest on our own. They also help us prevent and treat conditions like IBS, IBD, and diarrhoea and even help our immune system.
The two most common types of probiotic bacteria are:
You can get more probiotics by consuming fermented foods and taking probiotic supplements. More on that later.
Prebiotics are what keep your gut bacteria alive. These are mostly plant fibres that our large intestine cannot digest without the help of our gut bacteria, or probiotics. These plant fibres help keep our gut bacteria strong and healthy, which in turn helps us stay strong and healthy.
Probiotics and Prebiotics Work Well Together
As you can see, prebiotics and probiotics have a symbiotic relationship. You cannot focus on only one of the two while neglecting the other.
Taking probiotic supplements will not help you that much in the long run if your diet is not structured to support all the new bacteria that you are ingesting. If you do not eat prebiotic food, then your probiotics will go to waste as they will starve and die.
Prebiotic foods are mostly complex carbohydrates that our bodies cannot digest. Our gut bacteria take these complex carbs and turn them into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These fatty acids have been shown to help maintain a healthy body by preventing disease.
Here are just some of the things that SCFAs can help you with:
- Prevent diseases like IBS.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Reduce fat storage.
- Regulate the pH of your intestinal tract.
- Improve mental health and brain functions like memory and cognition.
- Regulate sympathetic nervous system.
Without prebiotics, your gut bacteria will not be able to produce the SCFAs that your body needs for all of the reasons mentioned above (in this non-exhaustive list of benefits).
This is why you can’t just focus on one and neglect the other. To make SCFAs, you need probiotics. And for the probiotics to make SCFAs, they need prebiotics.
Focus on increasing both the amount and variety of prebiotics and probiotics that you consume in order to improve your gut health.
How Does Food Affect Your Microbiota?
Plant diversity is the number one indicator of gut health. Studies have shown that eating a wide range of prebiotic food increases the amount and diversity of gut bacteria.
This makes sense if you think of it like each type of bacteria can only survive off of one type of plant fibre: some can only eat fibre from lentils, some can only eat fibre from broccoli, and some can only eat fibre from bananas.
If you don’t eat lentils, then all the bacteria that can only survive off of lentils will starve to death. The same will happen to the other types of bacteria if you stopped eating broccoli and bananas. This will greatly reduce your gut flora diversity and can have a negative impact on your gut health.
The best way to increase your gut microbiota is by eating a wide variety of plants. The more types of plants you can fit on your plate, the more types of bacteria you will be able to feed and keep healthy and strong.
Gut microbial diversity has been shown time and time again to be linked to many diseases, including diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer. You can significantly improve your health and prevent diseases by eating a diet that is rich in both probiotics and prebiotics.
What Are Probiotic Foods?
Most fermented foods will be full of probiotics. This includes:
You can also take probiotic supplements to increase your gut bacteria, but incorporating probiotic food into your diet is both easy and tasty. You should have no problem finding a probiotic food that you like and making it a staple of your diet.
What Are Prebiotic Foods?
Generally, all fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains will be prebiotic food. The plant fibres that gut bacteria like to eat are found in—you guessed it—plants. Increasing the number of plants in your diet is a surefire way to increase your prebiotic consumption.
Some examples of great prebiotic foods are:
- All kinds of beans, including black, pinto, and garbanzo beans.
- All kinds of lentils, including yellow, orange, and brown.
- Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread
- Fruits like berries, apples, and bananas.
- Vegetables like leafy greens, artichokes, and potatoes.
Remember that increasing the number of plants that you eat is just as important as eating more of them. Next time you go to the grocery store, try buying a wider range of fibre-rich foods.
Why Should I Eat Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods?
Prebiotics are the food that probiotics eat in order to produce short-chain fatty acids. Increasing the amount of both probiotics and prebiotics in your diet will improve your gut health and can help prevent many diseases and health complications.
Taking care of your gut health is now easier than ever. With a single gut health test kit from OSbiome, you can get a personalized report that will let you know exactly which foods you need to eat to improve your gut microbiome. Order yours today to get started on your journey of improved gut health.