Probiotic vs Prebiotic : How Important Are They For Our Health?


Well, it’s been a question of mine as well for quite some times -- along with some other below questions:

What is probiotic?
What is prebiotic?
What are their differences?
How important are they for our body?
What health benefits can we get from consuming them?
How can we get them?
How to put them into our diet?

Now, if you are wondering the same questions as mine, let’s explore the world of probiotics and prebiotics and their relationship here.

What is probiotic?
Probiotics are alive. They are friendly microorganisms inhabiting our digestive tract that help keep our digestive system healthy by controlling growth of harmful bacteria.

Probiotics get into our intestines from foods we eat or supplements. There are many types of probiotics, and each one behaves a bit differently in our gut. Probiotic bacteria must be kept alive. They may be killed by heat, stomach acid or simply die with time.

What is prebiotic?
Prebiotics are non-living. They are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. Most prebiotics are some form of fiber. Our body does not digest fiber, but the bacteria in our gut, including the probiotics, digest the fiber. Feeding these helpful bacteria keeps them doing what they are supposed to do in order to help our health.

How important are they for our body?

By helping the good bacteria grow, means that we improve the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. This ratio has been shown to have a direct correlation to our health and overall wellbeing, from our stomach to our brain.

What health benefits can we get from consuming them?

Probiotic bacteria supports digestion and offers many benefits to long-term health. There's encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:
• Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
• Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
• Treat irritable bowel syndrome
• Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
• Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu

Some benefits associated with prebiotics are:
• Metabolic support
• Mineral absorption
• Vitamin utlization
• Laxation
• Immune system benefits
• Encourage normal blood sugar

Recent studies have also shown prebiotics and good bacterial gut balance play a direct role in mental health. Individuals who consume prebiotics on a daily basis have fewer issues with anxiety, depression and stress. In fact, when their saliva was tested, it contained lower levels of cortisol. High levels of this hormone have been linked directly to mental health disorders.

How can I get them and put them into our diet?
The types of foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics are very different. Therefore, there is no food that contains both. However, you can find supplements that contain probiotics and prebiotics.

One of the best sources of probiotics is yogurt. It has good bacteria like lactobacillus or bifidobacteria. Look for “live or active cultures” on the label to be sure your favorite brand of yogurt is a rich source of probiotics. Any food that is cultured or fermented has probiotics, like: miso, sauerkraut, kefir, natto, tempeh, kimchi, buttermilk, cheddar, Gouda, Parmesan, sourdough bread, kombucha, beer and wine (yippee ^_^).

Prebiotic fiber is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as the skin of apples, bananas, onions and garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, beans and whole grains.

photo: lifejacks.com

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