Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Gut Feelings

Our bodies have trillions of different bacteria living in them. While this may sound daunting, these bacteria contribute to our digestive health. Moreover, they aid in supporting our immune system and various other physiological processes. While our gut microbiome is formed in the first few years of our lives, there are foods and other factors that can help improve it. 

Two of these are probiotics and prebiotics. 

In this article, we’re going to have a closer look at the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. We’ll also highlight which foods contain each of them and explore the benefits of both of these compounds. 

Understanding Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria. When consumed correctly, they are a major player in our digestive health. They work by adding good bacteria into our gut, thus pushing out the bad bacteria. Over time, the good bacteria encourages the gut microbiome to produce compounds that the rest of the body can use in order to function to its full potential. 

Where Can You Find Probiotics?

Probiotics are natural compounds that can be found in a variety of foods. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh

Today, you can also buy a variety of natural probiotics supplements that can help the overall function of your gut. 

The Benefits of Probiotics

In addition to balancing the bacteria in your digestive system, probiotics can help improve certain mental health conditions. Thanks to the increasing number of studies linking gut health with mental health, more nutritionists and other health experts are recommending probiotic foods and supplements to their clients and patients. 

In addition to the above, certain probiotics can help keep your heart healthy. These compounds can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. By breaking down bile in the gut, probiotics stop the body from reabsorbing cholesterol. Last but not least, probiotics can help with weight management. They achieve this by preventing the absorption of dietary fat.

Understanding Prebiotics

While many confuse probiotics and prebiotics, they are completely different compounds. Prebiotics are a form of non-digestible dietary fibre that further feeds your gut bacteria. Simply put, prebiotics can feed the efforts of probiotics. Similarly to probiotics, prebiotics have a number of benefits and are found in a variety of foods. 

Where Can You Find Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are only found in specific plant-based foods. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Watermelon
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens

Prebiotics are also found in a variety of health supplements such as powdered inulin. 

The Benefits of Prebiotics

The benefits of prebiotics are similar to those of probiotics. These compounds can improve your overall gut health as well as the function of your digestive system. They also enhance your immune function, reduce the risk of heart disease, can help with weight management, and aid in regulating hormone levels and mood.

In addition to the above, there are now studies that show that prebiotics enhance the absorption of essential minerals that are crucial for preventing fractures and maintaining strong bones. Some of these minerals include magnesium, iron, and calcium. 

As you can see, probiotics and prebiotics both play a key role in helping us maintain a healthy gut. Adding both of these compounds to your diet could help with various aspects of your overall health. Moreover, the strong link between our gut and our brains means that these compounds are essential if we want to stay well both physically and emotionally. 

the health benefits of probioticsAuthor Bio: Dr David Badov

Dr Badov has been a practising specialist physician with nearly 30 years experience in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. Bowel Cancer Prevention, Preventative Medicine and Longevity has been an integral part of his research into the latest medical advances, technology and wellness tools to incorporate into HealthScreen.