Probiotics vs. Prebiotics

Simply put - probiotics feed on prebiotics and produce short chain fatty acids which provide a slew of benefits for the entire GI tract as well as several major systems of the body! Find out why you need to be consuming a diet rich in both!



PROBIOTICS


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that reside in the digestive system and play a key role in healthy function of the GI tract. The microbiome consists of both beneficial, helpful probiotics, as well as opportunistic, “bad” bacterias. Both of which are essential for normal functioning. They key is the having the right balance of both “good” and “bad” bacterias. Consuming foods rich in probiotics or supplementing with probiotics are a great way to add beneficial bacteria to your body. It eliminates bad bacterias and ensures there is a healthy balance.


Supplemental probiotics however are not meant to be taken every single day. Probiotic supplements are what we call ‘transient’ bacterias. They pass through the GI tract, provide beneficial bacteria and support digestion, but they don’t stay there and they don’t do much in altering the overall microbiome. They’re great for the short term and offer support if you’re suffering from IBS or IBS symptoms, if you’ve recently taken an antibiotic or other factors that could have depleted your microbiome. However, the goal is to not have to rely on supplementing and the most efficient way of building a strong and long lasting microbiome is through consuming a whole food plant based diet rich in fiber, getting daily exercise and stress management.


PREBIOTICS

Prebiotics are able to modulate the composition and function of gut microbiota. Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that bacteria consume and produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a by product. Short chain fatty acids are then released into the blood stream, benefiting not only the GI tract, but other major organs as well. They help to improve the intestinal barrier (remember leaky gut?), maintain mucus production and protect against inflammation. Studies have found that prebiotics can decrease the population of harmful bacteria and improve immune function by increasing the population of protective microorganisms. “Beside neurological functions, prebiotics are also capable of influencing mood, memory, learning, and some psychiatry disorders by changing the activity and/or composition of gut microbiota.”*


It is crucial to consume a diet rich in prebiotic fiber to feed your microbiome. I would highly suggest you make sure you’re consuming at least one of these foods per day. If you don’t consume these regularly you can supplement with psyllium husk or acacia gum powders simply added to your morning coffee, smoothie or oatmeal. My absolute favorite way of consuming prebiotic fiber is a roasted chicory root latte! Mmmm heaven! And such a lovely alternative to coffee! Part of the reason a long term low FODMAP diet could be detrimental is because it cuts out so many of these prebiotic foods.




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