Good gut health is extremely important for the human body to maintain at all ages. A good gut is responsible for allowing you to absorb the necessary nutrients from the food digested while simultaneously riding bad bacteria and waste materials. Poor lifestyle choices can cause an unhealthy gut. This can lead to issues such as indigestion problems, sleep issues, unexplained mental problems – anxiety and depression, unexplained weight changes and in some serious situations, diabetes, and risk of certain gastrointestinal cancer. Don’t panic! A healthy gut is easy to maintain through consuming foods that contain good bacteria for our gut. These types of food are characterised as either prebiotic or probiotic. Below I will explore the difference between prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotic foods are non-digestible food ingredients that contain live strains of bacteria that cannot be digested or absorbed into the human body. Instead, they act as a catalyst that stimulates and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. In other words, these foods fuel the good bacteria in your gut which then provides beneficial nutrients for your body. Prebiotics are found in many fruits such as apples, bananas & berries and also in many vegetables such as asparagus, onions, peans & peas. They are also extremely high in fibre in specific complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, sweet potato (yams) or legumes such as beans. Benefits of prebiotics include reduced cholesterol, stronger gut wall health and immune system, promoting regular bowel function and regular blood sugar levels, and most importantly fuelling the brain and the body
Probiotic foods on the other hand already contain living bacteria and micro-organisms and are consumed to directly add to the population of healthy good bacteria in your body. People usually choose to consume a specific strain of bacteria to intentionally stimulate growth among the pre-existing good bacteria. Probiotics are usually found in many fermented foods as they are able to produce their own bacteria. These include fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. They are also found in fermented dairy goods such as yoghurt and some types of cheese. However, there are many probiotics that don’t take the form of fermented foods. Examples of these include nutrition bars or probiotic supplements taken in the form of pills or powder. Benefits of probiotics include lower risk of allergies, lower stress levels and improvements in sleep, improvements in skin and mood, easier pregnancies and prevention of many diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and preventions of cancers such as prostate and stomach.
In summary, it is important to maintain good gut health to ensure your body has the essential healthy bacteria to fight off bacteria, viruses, and infections. Make sure you consult with your physician or research your condition to find the health supplements to take. So now you know more about prebiotics and probiotics you are on track to a healthy functioning digestive system!