Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Probing Probiotics & Prebiotics

There are many effective ways to improve your health - like adding probiotics and prebiotics to your daily regimen. You've likely heard of probiotics before, but do you know how they benefit your health and how to select the right one for you? This article can help.

What is a probiotic?

Before delving into how probiotics can help your body, let's first explain what they actually are. In the simplest terms, probiotics are the good bacteria (live microorganisms) that live inside your digestive tract and help your body to function properly. There are many different types of probiotics, and each one performs a different function in your digestive system.

The billions of bacteria that live inside your digestive tract are often called "microflora," or more correctly, "microbiota," and the environment that they work together to create inside the body is called the microbiome. Maintaining proper balance within your microbiome is crucial for overall health.

How do probiotics help?

The beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract are influenced by a variety of factors such as stress, medication use, traveling and poor diet. Therefore, it is important to prioritize diet and lifestyle to maintain proper gut ecology. Probiotics are also effective for maintaining healthy populations of beneficial bacteria. Numerous clinical studies have shown probiotics have positive effects on health, including assisting in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients and contributing to immune system health. Some studies have suggested that certain beneficial strains may also support brain function.

Probiotics in your diet

Probiotics are found in many foods you may enjoy every day including yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut. However, due to food processing and packaging, maintaining the stability and potency of the live beneficial bacteria in these foods can be a challenge. Including probiotic supplements in your routine ensures a consistent dose to help you and your family maintain optimal health.

Prebiotics are not probiotics

While the general public has long understood probiotics, prebiotics are less known. But there are significant differences between the two, including health benefits. As mentioned, probiotics are live bacteria in yogurt, other dairy products, and pills. Doctors often prescribe probiotics to patients on antibiotics in an attempt to combat gastrointestinal side effects of the medication. And while probiotics have been shown effective in managing certain gastrointestinal conditions, they do not have the same power that prebiotics do.

First, they’re delicate — heat and stomach acid can kill them, rendering them ineffective before they’ve even been digested. Also, those who don’t eat dairy foods for taste or dietary reasons may find ingesting adequate amounts of probiotics difficult, if not impossible. Finally, we don’t know which “good” bacteria our unique bodies would benefit from. For some people, a certain good bacterial strain would be helpful. For others, it may not. When we consume probiotics, we’re taking a guess at which bacteria might be helpful and hoping for the best. We’re also hoping the ones that make it past the heat and acid of our stomach will actually go on to provide some health benefits to our system.

If this is a probiotic then what is a prebiotic? In short, the prebiotic is a specialized plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon. While probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut, prebiotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria that’s already there. They help your good bacteria grow, improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. This ratio has been shown to have a direct correlation to your health and overall wellbeing, from your stomach to your brain.

The body itself does not digest these plant fibers. Instead, it uses these fibers to promote the growth of many of the good bacteria in the gut. These, in turn, provide many digestive and general health benefits. Recent studies have also shown prebiotics and good bacterial gut balance play a direct role in mental health. Individuals who consume prebiotics on a daily basis have fewer issues with anxiety, depression, and stress. In fact, when their saliva was tested, it contained lower levels of cortisol. High levels of this hormone have been linked directly to mental health disorders.

Prebiotics, unlike probiotics, are not destroyed in the body. They are not affected by heat or bacteria. Getting the full benefits of prebiotics is easy, especially when consumed in a full-spectrum supplement form.

Prebiotic fiber is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as the skin of apples, bananas, onions and garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, and beans. Sounds easy to get enough prebiotic fiber, right? Unfortunately, the minute amounts of fiber in each of these foods — such as 1 to 2 grams per serving — make ingesting enough fiber extremely difficult. Most people should consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day, and the foods highest in prebiotic fiber — chicory root is one such example — are nearly impossible to eat in large quantities every day.

The good news is that adding a prebiotic fiber supplement to your diet is fast and simple. In supplement form, prebiotic fiber is also mild in texture and nearly tasteless, making it easy to add to water, cereal or any other food. Simply sprinkle it on your foods or in your favorite drinks to enjoy the many benefits. Prebiotin makes it even easier — you can buy it in on-the-go, single-serving packets that are perfect for a busy lifestyle.

How Prebiotics Help

For years, hardly anyone in the medical profession paid any attention to the role the colon plays in overall health. Over the past 15 years, however, we have discovered that the colon — and specifically, the bacteria that call the colon home — is incredibly important to wellness. The healthy bacteria that live there strengthen the bowel wall, improve mineral absorption and aid in the regulation of hormone production, which has a range of essential benefits. Prebiotics fertilize these good bacteria as they stifle the production of the bad, disease-causing bacteria, and Prebiotin prebiotic fiber is independently shown to cause the multiplication of beneficial bacteria which combat gut dysbiosis.

When you have ample beneficial bacteria, you can experience better overall health from a physical, mental and emotional standpoint. You’ll be better nourished, feel fuller, and able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight more easily.

Can You Take Probiotics and Prebiotics Together?

Yes, you can take probiotics and prebiotics together. Prebiotics do not negatively interact with probiotics. Prebiotics do not interfere with medications, either. High-quality probiotics and prebiotics are safe when taken together. In fact, when you think about how probiotics and prebiotics work, it makes sense to take them together. Simply put, prebiotics are “food” for probiotics. Probiotics digest prebiotics and use the molecules as energy. In some ways, probiotics and prebiotics act synergistically for gut health.

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