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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dooreck with Gurpinder Bahia

What are Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Updated: Feb 17


What are prebiotics and probiotics?

Prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, but they work in slightly different ways and can be found in different foods.


What are prebiotics?


Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics help promote the growth and activity of healthy gut bacteria, improving digestion, strengthening the immune system, and reducing inflammation.


Prebiotics can be found in various of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer a wide range of health benefits.

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What are probiotics?


On the other hand, probiotics are live microorganisms that offer a wide range of health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Probiotics help replenish the beneficial gut bacteria, improving digestion, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation.


Probiotics help balance the bacterial community in the gut, boost the immune system and improve digestive health.

Different strains of bacteria in probiotics

Probiotic supplements contain different strains of beneficial bacteria, each with unique benefits. These strains include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces, among others.


An article from Harvard Health states the importance of choosing a probiotic that meets one's specific health needs. Usually, these products contain just a few bacterial strains, compared with 3,000 or so strains in your gut. And not all gut bacteria are alike.

Prebiotics versus Probiotics


Both prebiotics and probiotics play a crucial role in supporting a healthy gut microbiome, but they work differently. Prebiotics nourish and support the growth of beneficial bacteria, while probiotics introduce live bacteria into the gut to promote optimal balance and health.


According to Mayo Clinic, prebiotics serve as food for human microorganisms. Probiotics possess live microorganisms that improve the normal microflora in the body.

Combining pre- and probiotic-rich foods is recommended for optimal gut health and healthy digestion.

Foods that contain prebiotics


  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Soybeans

  • Garlic

  • Artichokes

  • Mushrooms

  • Greens

  • Onions

  • Chickpeas

  • Oats

  • Whole grains


Foods that contain probiotics


  • Yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Tempeh

  • Pickles

  • Miso

  • Sauerkraut

  • Sourdough bread

  • Kimchi

  • Kombucha


Below is an educational video on prebiotics and probiotics from Osmosis from Elsevier.



How you can produce healthy gut bacteria


  • Diet is the best way to help restore your gut health, with a balanced diet intaking plenty rich foods of high fiber can help.


  • Limit sugar, saturated fat, and processed foods. These can deplete the good bacteria in the gut. As always, try to stick with whole, unprocessed foods.


  • In addition to eating a healthy diet, some other ways to improve your gut health are lowering your stress levels, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated.


Statistics


According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children aged 4 to 17 (0.5 percent) had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.



  • Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.

  • Choose reputable brands.

  • Pay attention to how your body responds to probiotic and prebiotic supplements.

  • Be cautious with infants, young children, elderly individuals, and those with compromised immune systems.

  • Introduce gradually: When incorporating probiotic-rich foods or supplements into your diet for the first time, introduce them gradually to allow your digestive system to adjust.

  • Maintain a balanced diet.


Summary


Adding these prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods to the diet can help create a healthy gut microbiome, improving digestion, immune function, and overall health.

Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthily. 🌱 🌾 🌿


Personally


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.


"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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