Prebiotics and probiotics are getting a lot of attention from nutrition and medical communities! Why? Many research studies are showing a wide variety of health benefits from these food components. In this article, I will review exactly what you need to know about prebiotics and probiotics. This includes ways both food components can benefit you as well as how you can get more from your diet.
In the video below, Amanda Haney discusses exactly what you need to know about prebiotics and probiotics!
If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.
What are prebiotics and probiotics?
The world health organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that provide a health benefit when consumed in adequate quantities.
We call probiotics “good bacteria” because they can strengthen your digestive system, decrease bad (or unhealthy) bacteria living in your gut, and boost your immune system. Probiotics are found in fermented dairy foods like yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses. They’re also located in non-dairy sources like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and cultured non-dairy yogurts.
On the other hand, prebiotics are the non-digestible components of foods found in complex carbohydrates. Even though your body can’t digest prebiotics, the good bacteria in your gut can (and they love to do so)!
Also, the probiotics you consume need plenty of prebiotics to stay healthy and multiply. Foods that contain prebiotics include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
How do prebiotics and probiotics improve your gut health?
Prebiotics and probiotics work as a team to restore the balance in your gut that can be negatively impacted by the environment, the foods you eat, antibiotics, and genetics. In fact, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and cramps are all signs that your gut bacteria may be out of balance!
Current research has shown the right probiotics may help treat these symptoms as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and intestinal infections.
Studies have also shown probiotics can help reduce the severity of viruses like colds and cases of flu as well as improve allergies like eczema and hay fever.
At this time, more research is being done to see how probiotics may play a role in obesity, cancer, and depression or anxiety.
In addition to prebiotics and probiotics in foods, there are many supplements on the market that contain these food components. A wide variety of bacteria types and concentrations are available, but not all have been linked with health benefits.
As always, before changing your diet or starting a supplement, first discuss your symptoms and health goals with your registered dietitian. Together you can create a diet plan that works best for you!