People usually have a negative perception of bacteria. We think of them as some sort of germs. Even though probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts, they are suitable for our digestive system.
These aren’t the only bacterias present in our body. Our body hosts both good and bad bacterias, and probiotics fall in the good category, helping us maintain a healthy gut.
Doctors often suggest probiotics to people who face digestive problems. These probiotics can be found in both supplements and foods such as yoghurt.
Unlike probiotics, prebiotics isn’t bacterias. Instead, they are a unique type of plant fibers that boost the growth of healthy bacterias, which results in a healthier digestive system.
If you’re looking forward to adding some prebiotics to your diet, then these fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are what you can add to your diet:
- Legumes (beans, lentils & peas)
- Whole Grains
- Green vegetables
If you’re looking to add a natural source of probiotics to your diet to improve your digestive system, then consuming fermented products can be a good option.
Some fermented products which contain probiotics are:
- Unpasteurized pickles and pickled vegetables
- Non-dairy Kefir
- Kombucha tea
The reason it’s essential to eat unpasteurised, fermented food is because when the food goes through the process of being pasteurised, the bacterias get killed.
If you’re looking for foods that not only contain prebiotics but also have probiotics, then consuming kimchi and sauerkraut can be bbeneficial. (2)
Benefits of Prebiotics
Prebiotics has multiple health benefits; some of these benefits include:
- Prebiotics are a unique type of bacteria present in usually functional or modified foods that provide more benefits to the body than the essential nutrients. As prebiotics do not get digested, they interact with the bacterias in the gut and improve gut health.
- The small intestines in our body cannot digest prebiotics because the enzyme required to break down these bacterias so they can be absorbed in our bloodstream is not present. As prebiotics do not get absorbed in our bloodstream, they flow down to our gut and stimulate the activity of the good bacterias to present there so they can promote better gut health. These interactions are mainly due to the consumption of fermented foods.
- Bifidobacteria, which is a healthy bacteria, is usually increased due to consumption of prebiotics, but studies have shown that prebiotics can also increase the number of other friendly bacterias.
Prebiotics for General Health
Recent studies have shown that the advantages of prebiotics aren’t limited to only improving gut health; prebiotics can also play a massive role in improving absorption of calcium, decreasing the risk of allergies, improving the function of your immune system, and have an overall positive effect on your metabolism.
Scientists are working towards discovering the maximum potential of such foods on the metabolism and gut of people. Even though some nutritionists claim prebiotics to boost gut health, not all nutritionists can vouch for prebiotics to improve health.
Prebiotics for IBS
When it comes to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), prebiotics have played a considerable role in its treatment, but the studies that have been conducted showed mixed results.
Some studies have shown that increasing the dose of prebiotics can reduce the symptoms of IBS. In contrast, other studies show that a higher dose of prebiotics can increase IBS symptoms because FODMAPs increases the symptoms of IBS ( as fermentation results in higher gas, which could lead to abdominal pain and feeling of bloatedness.)
But one study has shown that prebiotic supplements may have a therapeutic benefit. As the number of participants in this study was less, and the results can not be concluded from this study. (3)
Benefits of probiotics
Some of the benefits of Probiotics are:
- They help in keeping the digestive system healthy by boosting the growth of healthy bacterias.
- Probiotics are microorganisms that are considered as useful, live bacterias that are beneficial for your health when they are consumed.
- Probiotics work to aid in restoring the bacterias in the gut to their natural levels.
- If there is an imbalance, that means that the harmful bacterias outweigh the good ones. These can be the result of an illness or antibiotics.
- The source in which probiotics are found in a rich quantity is fermented food or supplements.
- As probiotics help grow good bacteria, they can also help prevent or treat diarrhoea.
- If the diarrhoea is caused by taking antibiotics, then taking probiotics may be a wise choice.
- Studies have proven that the risk of diarrhoea due to antibiotics decreased tremendously after consuming prebiotics.
- The risk associated with antibiotics reduces by 42% when probiotics are consumed.
- Probiotics can also be beneficial for diarrhoea that is not associated with antibiotics.
- Probiotics will be effective based on the dose of probiotics it has already taken.
- Studies have shown that probiotics can also aid in improving mental health.
- Probiotics can also help keep the heart healthy as it lowers the level of bad cholesterol and insufficient blood pressure.
- Probiotics are also vital as they reduce allergies and eczema. (2)
Gut bacteria influence many vital parts of your health; hence it is essential to keep it balanced.
The balance between good and bad gut bacteria is established through the consumption of probiotic and prebiotic foods.
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