First. Let’s start with the Difference Between Prebiotics And Probiotics
Have you ever wondered about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? Although they have very similar names, they play different roles when it comes to your health.
Let’s take a closer look at prebiotics, probiotics, and which is more important for your gut.
What are probiotics?
According to the World Health Organisation, probiotics are microbes that provide health benefits when we consume enough of them.
Fermented foods are often referred to as probiotic foods, as they contain potentially beneficial strains. Fermented foods include:
- Yoghurt and cheese containing live cultures
- Milk kefir
- Water kefir
- Pickled vegetables
Probiotics also come in the form of supplements – typically in the form of a capsule, tablet or powder.
However, it’s important to remember that not all probiotic supplements are equal or useful for your health concerns. Different strains of bacteria offer different health benefits, and more strains doesn’t necessarily mean it will be more effective.
There are also some people who should not take a probiotic without consulting with a healthcare practitioner. For example, someone with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) may worsen their symptoms if they take a probiotic supplement.
So what are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a group of dietary fibres that act as food for specific species of bacteria.
When you consume prebiotics, the friendly microbes in your gut take them and use them as fuel. They can also convert it into a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate can help to reduce inflammation, as well as repairing and enhancing the gut lining.
Foods that contain prebiotic fibres include:
- Green bananas
- Beans and legumes
Like probiotics, you can also take prebiotics in the form of a supplement. A supplement may contain one or more types of prebiotic fibres, and it may also have other ingredients depending on what it has been designed to help with.
Why are prebiotics so important?
Why? Because prebiotics help to support the trillions of microbes that already live in your gut.
All of the microbes that live in the digestive tract are collectively known as the gut microbiome. The research into the gut microbiome is still in the early stages. But what is known is that the greater the diversity of beneficial microbes living there, the better.
Research has found that reducing your carbohydrate (and fibre) intake for even one day can significantly affect your gut microbiome. A low intake of fibre reduces the abundance of beneficial strains and increases the abundance of potentially harmful strains.
On the other hand, eating more fibre can change the gut microbiome for the better by increasing beneficial strains.
The foods that contain prebiotic fibres also contain plenty of nutrients that support your gut health. This can include antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
So by consuming prebiotics daily, you can support a good balance and diversity in your gut.
Can it still be beneficial to consume probiotic and fermented foods as part as a balanced diet? Absolutely. But they aren’t a requirement for a healthy gut.
Should you take a prebiotic supplement?
In an ideal world, you would get all of the prebiotic fibres you need from your diet. But life can be busy, and no one eats a perfect diet all the time! That’s why it can be a good idea to consider a prebiotic supplement to support your gut health.
Looking at taking a prebiotic supplement? Our Gut Relief is a science-based formulation that helps to maintain gut integrity and function. It contains prebiotics such as pectin and guar gum, as well as nutrients and herbs that support gut health. You can learn more about Gut Relief here.