You may have heard both terms used over and over, lauding their various health benefits, but what exactly are probiotics and prebiotics? More importantly, how does the combination of both affect our general wellbeing?
The relationship between prebiotics and probiotics is an important one.
Probiotics are the live microorganisms found in bacteria, fungi or yeast. Probiotics are integral to maintaining your gastrointestinal tract and promoting overall gut health.
Prebiotics act as the fuel for probiotics to do their job. Probiotics require sustenance in order to be able to perform in the gut, therefore, feeding them prebiotics – non-digestible food fibres – allows them to thrive in the gut and stick to the bowel wall.
Within the digestive system, there are 10 times more bacteria than cells in the body. The health of our microflora, or internal ecosystem, is integral to almost anything else in our body. From allergies to ailments, maintaining proper gut health is a must if we want to give our bodies a fighting chance at turning around any health problems we face.
Including a diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics is the fastest way to boost your immune system, improve digestion and support mental health. Whilst probiotics can support the production of B12 and K vitamins, prebiotics promote the growth and function of good bacteria and prevent harmful or ‘bad’ bacteria from reeking havoc on the gut.
If your body isn’t getting its necessary dose of pre and probiotics, bad bacteria has a greater chance of flourishing in the gut, leading to a plethora of health issues such as flatulence, inflammation, constipation, leaky gut, UTIs, cold and flus and can even affect emotional health.
So where do we find probiotics? Foods such as yoghurt, kefir, miso, other fermented dairy and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, all contain high doses of probiotics necessary for maintaining proper gut health. What about prebiotics? Foods such as flaxseeds, Jerusalem artichokes and legumes all contain prebiotics and will stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
STEPS TO A HEALTHY GUT
Avoid gluten, sugar, processed grains and anti-inflammatory medications.
Drink water: it helps the bowels work to get rid of toxins.
Eat probiotic yoghurt and fermented foods, such as kombucha tea, that help build beneficial gut bacteria.
Avoid over-using antibiotics.
Avoid drinking chlorinated water.
Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach as this damages the villi (folds in the small intestine tissue) and can cause leaky gut syndrome.