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?
The integrity of the gut can be compromised by various things like environmental triggers, food allergies and sensitivities, genetics, and medications. Diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and cramps are all signs that your gut bacteria may be out of balance. Luckily, prebiotics and probiotics work as a team to restore the balance in the gut.
Current research shows that the right probiotics may help treat unwanted symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and intestinal infections.
Studies also show that probiotics may help reduce the severity of the flu, common colds, allergies, and skin issues like eczema.
Studies are currently evaluating how probiotics may impact a variety of diseases including obesity, cancer, depression, and anxiety.
There are many probiotic and prebiotic supplements on the market. A wide variety of bacteria types and concentrations are available, but not all are associated 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!