Probiotics & Prebiotics. What are they? Do I need them?
Confused about the difference between Probiotics & Prebiotics? Let us break it down for you, read on to find out what they are, the benefits of Probiotics and Prebiotics. Who might need them and which foods to eat to get them into your diet.
What are Probiotics?
Live bacteria which are beneficial for our health, especially the digestive system. In Greek “pro” means promoting and “biotic” means life, so they “promote life”.
Benefits of Probiotics:
- Help to relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS (abdominal pain and bloating, constipation and diarrhoea) and maintain a healthy digestive system.
- Help to prevent obesity, and therefore, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes and Hypertension.
- Help pregnant women to prevent allergies (including eczema and hay fever) in their children, if consumed when pregnant.
- Help to maintain a healthy immune system, which aids in the prevention of colds and flu.
- Help to prevent gingivitis and tooth decay.
- Help with treatment for urinary tract infections.
- Naturally occurring sugars are fermented into lactic acid during the fermentation process, therefore, they are suitable for people on a sugar-free or Candida diet.
You may benefit from Probiotics if you:
- Were born via Caesarean-section, because you missed the opportunity to receive probiotics that are present in the Mother’s birth canal and are passed to the baby.
- Have ever taken antibiotics, because these do not discriminate between beneficial and harmful microbes in the gut, killing them all.
- You have consumed a diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugar, and low in fibre.
- Live a highly stressful life and are experiencing symptoms as a result of this.
- Are managing an autoimmune condition.
- Are healing Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut).
- Want to live the healthiest life you can!
Sources of Probiotics:
- Coconut kefir (fermented coconut water).
- Kefir (fermented milk – preferably raw/unpasteurised).
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).
- Kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables).
- Yoghurt (cow, buffalo, goat, sheep or coconut). Make sure it is full fat and unsweetened.
- Fermented soy products i.e. miso, tempeh and natto.
- Aged cheeses (preferably raw/unpasteurised).
- Kombucha (fermented tea).
- Unwashed organic produce contains beneficial microbes from soil.
- Probiotic supplements.
What are Prebiotics?
Indigestible fibres from food which feed probiotics in our gut. In Greek “pre” means before and “biotic” means life, “before life”.
Benefits of Prebiotics:
They help probiotics to flourish. Fibre feeds the good guys, whereas, sugar feeds the bad guys.
You may benefit from Prebiotics if you:
Are consuming lots of probiotics, to help keep them alive.
Sources of Prebiotics:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Dandelion greens
- Root vegetables
For optimal health, probiotics should be incorporated into your diet daily. Prebiotic fibre is found in most plant foods, therefore, these are easier to include in your daily diet.
Olivia Kennedy ~ final year Naturopath, Nutrition & Herbal Medicine student at Wellpark College