Probiotics and Prebiotics
Big words used in nutrition and supplementation but what are they? They sound the same however they both play different roles in maintaining a healthy body.
So let’s explain what they are exactly:
Probiotics are live bacteria found in food or supplements providing numerous benefits.
Prebiotics come from certain carbs mainly fibre. Humans can’t digest this however the beneficial bacteria in your gut eat this fibre.
Gut bacteria/Gut flora
Gut bacteria or Gut Flora perform many important functions throughout the body. It is essential to eat balanced portions of both pre and probiotics to maintain a healthy body. The good bacteria in your body will help fight the bad bacteria and Fungi. The bacteria provide critical nutrition to your cells to help reduce inflammation.
Gut bacteria go on to form Vitamin K and short chain fatty acids which then line the colon and protect against harmful substances, bacteria and viruses. They may also help reduce risk of cancer.
How do you maintain healthy gut bacteria?
- Legumes, beans
FIbre we can’t digest but play the important role of providing nutrients to the bacteria to support digestion and immune function.
- Plain Yoghurt
- Fermented foods… Sauerkraut/kimchi/pickled veggies
- Variety of fruits/veggies
Easily obtained foods that contain important bacteria.
What foods affect gut bacteria?
A diet high in sugar/fat will influence your gut bacteria in a negative manner. By constantly feeding and allowing the harmful bacteria to grow and colonize you are shutting off the helpful bacteria from doing its job.
Harmful bacteria may also allow you to absorb more calories throughout the day leading to weight gain.
Another big issue is the use of antibiotics which can cause disruption to helpful bacteria. There is sufficient research coming out now that suggest a link to antibiotic use and health problems later in life.
Can you supplement probiotics?
While there are plenty of options out there to use (just type into Google to see your options) many of these are different forms of bacteria and irregular concentrations. The main warning sign is the fact they aren’t a whole food so therefore won’t contain the same fibre content. Some of these supplements won’t make it past your stomach acid and are therefore relatively useless.
If you want to keep a healthy gut flora then eat plenty of natural whole foods. Lots of greens some fermented foods and keep a healthy balance of fat and sugar. Maintaining a healthy flow of pre and probiotics into your body keeps you firing on all cylinders and has many health benefits as well as keeping many potential diseases at bay. Eat variety and exercise it always comes backs to the same 2 things.