We’ve all heard of probiotics and prebiotics, but how many of us actually know what they are and why they’re good for us? Well, get your microscopes out, we are taking a look!
The main difference is, probiotics are live bacteria that live within food, whereas prebiotics are types of fibre that these friendly bacteria live on in your gut. This means you need both of them to make your digestive system work at its top capacity. If you think that you’re not getting enough of either in your system, you can purchase both probiotic supplements and prebiotic supplements, or obtain them naturally through some great food sources.
We’re constantly told that live cultures in yogurt are good for our gut health, but what does this really mean? The idea of something living in your yogurt doesn’t sound too appealing, but it turns out it’s pretty important! These ‘good’ bacterias are fundamental when it comes to keeping our digestive systems functioning properly. Good for us, there are some great vegan sources of probiotics as well.
Our gut is home to good and bad bacteria. Maintaining the right balance is incredibly important – no one likes having an upset stomach! As bacteria are often thought of as the bad guys, it may come as a surprise that our body needs colonies of bacteria in order to stay healthy. This healthy bacteria helps to break down and digest food, produce vitamins and battle with other bad bacteria that threaten to take over.
In terms of improving your immune system, probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies. They’ve also been shown to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut, keeping you safe from any outside nasties!
Research also suggests that good bacteria not only helps our physical health, but our mental health. This research suggests a correlation between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, meaning probiotics could be a future treatment of depression and anxiety. Of course, more research is needed into this subject, but the relationship between food and mood is becoming increasingly part of conversations.
There’s a great variety of healthy foods that are natural probiotics. These probiotic foods contain good bacterias, and although sometimes have unfamiliar names like lactobacillus, they are commonly found within familiar dairy products such as yoghurt and kefir.
However, there are also some amazing vegan probiotics that you can incorporate into your everyday diet. The key is fermented foods which include:
Prebiotics are types of dietary fibre that help feed the friendly bacteria that probiotic foods supply. This means you need a good amount of both to reach your optimum gut health. They’re a team so they work best together!
One of the things that good gut bacteria does is turn prebiotic fibre into a fatty acid called butyric acid. The main benefit of this acid is that it gives your colon cells energy . In fact, this acid provides your colon cells with 70% of the energy they need. This acid goes by a couple of different names including butyrate and butanoic acid. Whatever the name, it’s all the same goodness!
Keeping your gut bacteria healthy is a great way to protect yourself against any harmful bacteria and fungi. One study shows that keeping this good bacteria in check can even help your immune system function properly. Along with other fatty acids, the good gut bacteria helps to create a strong gut barrier against unwanted substances, viruses and bad bacteria.
A great way to get those prebiotics into your body is through certain prebiotic foods. They’re found mostly in different fruits, vegetables and legumes and are easy to implement into any diet. Some of the best prebiotics include:
Probiotics and prebiotics are vital to keeping everything in our bodies moving smoothly. They also keep our immune system in tip top condition! Working in harmony with each other, the probiotics provide the good gut bacteria and the prebiotics provide them with the food they need to survive. They’re found in such a wide variety of foods that there’s something for even the fussiest of eaters. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the importance of gut health and do your best to keep yours working efficiently!