I’m sure you’ve heard more than once that “probiotics” and “prebiotic” are good for our health, but what are they really?
Probiotics are living microorganisms, these are beneficial bacteria or yeasts that are present in foods, medicines and dietary supplements. when ingested in the right amounts, they provide benefits to our health, by supporting optimal digestive health, a favorable environment for the absorption of nutrients, and a healthy immune system.
Probiotics are intended to enhance the population of good bacteria found in the guts as they promote their development. As they grow in the intestine and adhere to the intestinal mucosa, they prevent other harmful bacteria from implanting and carrying out their negative functions to our guts, acting as a barrier that prevents colonization of the intestine by pathogenic germs.
Unlike the good bacteria that benefits from us eating healthy and then provide us with health benefits, the harmful bacteria benefits from us eating junk food, they love sugar and they are the cause of cravings, they send signals to our brain to request sugar and unhealthy foods causing an imbalance of gut bacteria.
An imbalance means there are too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. It can happen due to poor nutrition, medication such as antibiotics, and more. However, poor nutrition may actually be the main driver of imbalance of gut bacteria and gut inflammation. There is emerging evidence that the standard American diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fat, may initiate this process to feed the bad bacteria and kill the beneficial bacteria, causing to disrupt this balance. Consequences can include digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems, lack of energy, inflammation, obesity and more.
Now let’s talk about prebiotic, unlike probiotics, prebiotic are not living organisms. Prebiotics are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria, non digestible plant fibers that is beneficial for the intestinal health. Prebiotic are compounds that the body cannot digest, but have a physiological effect on the intestine by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli).
The most studied prebiotic are two: inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (also known as FOS), and they may appear naturally in some foods or be added by the manufacturer to provide the food with specific benefits. These act together with probiotics, repopulating the intestinal flora and optimizing their functions in favor of the health of our organism.
How to include prebiotic in our diet?
It isn’t necessary to spent a large amount of money to obtain these beneficial bacteria for the organism, since we can naturally include prebiotic in our foods with the following tips:
- Use garlic, onion and leek as a base for sauces, soups, or salad dressings, as they contain inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides that are natural prebiotic.
- Include legumes in your meals, which have raffinose and stachyza with prebiotic action.
- Cook potatoes with skin, do not to cook in excess, this way you preserve its indigestible fiber that behaves like prebiotic in the intestine.
- Add asparagus or artichokes to your recipes to take advantage of their frutctooligosaccharides or their inulin.
- Include snacks such as Pistachio nuts, almonds, walnuts, also a plant based yogurt with flaxseed and berries. Flaxseeds contains large amounts of fiber that helps maintain gut health and keep the digestive system running smoothly.
Both, probiotics and prebiotics provide a number of benefits in the prevention and treatment of some health disorders. Among other benefits , they favor the balance of the intestinal flora, they improve nutrients absorption, helping to increase our energy levels, and reduce inflammation. Probiotics, in particular, can help stabilize and relief the symptoms of ulcerative colitis or crohn’s disease. Now that you know it, what are you waiting to start enjoying the benefits of these healthy bacterias?