There is a lot of hype these days on probiotics and prebiotics. In fact, Prime Women featured probiotics in a recent article on the importance of taking them. But what about prebiotics … what distinguishes the two and why should we care?
Probiotics are the live beneficial bacteria and yeasts, created by the process of fermentation, that are good for your digestive system by colonizing your gut with health boosting microorganisms. Robust microorganisms in the gut:
The critical issue for probiotics is not how many bacteria but how many different strains of bacteria. Different strains have distinct functions, concentrating in various places along the digestive tract so they all work synergistically. The three most important strains are:
In essence, the probiotics keep substances from ‘leaking’ into the body and provoking an immune response.
While the benefits have not yet been conclusively demonstrated, preliminary evidence suggests two important health benefits:
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are high fiber, non-digestible foods that act as food for microflora which help improve microorganism balance in the gut.
As prebiotics make their way through the stomach without being broken down, they bring about positives changes in the digestive tract and organs, essentially becoming fuel for beneficial gut bacteria.
Simply put, prebiotics feed probiotics. They work together to maintain balance and diversity of intestinal bacteria especially by increasing the presence of good bacteria.
Believed benefits are numerous:
Good sources for prebiotics are:
A good metaphor for probiotics and prebiotics is that seeds – the probiotics – flourish because of water and fertilizer – the prebiotics. Scroll down in this article for a good video explanation of both. The bottom line is that adding both probiotics and prebiotics to your diet is an affordable way to potentially achieve better digestive health as well as other health benefits.