A friend was asking the other day ‘What’s the difference between prebiotics and pro-biotics?’Isn’t it enough that I take probiotics or drink Kombucha that contains probiotics? The answer is no. For a healthy gut and digestive system, you need to be consuming both.
Probiotics, what are they?
Pro-biotics are live bacteria or yeast that help promote a healthy gut and digestive system. Healthy bacteria, probiotics aid in digestion and help to balance the growth of bad bacteria. This helps to reduce your chances of digestive problems like bloating, flatulence, constipation, GI tract issues and leaky gut. Higher levels of healthy gut bacteria also aid in improved immune function and reduced inflammation throughout the body. New studies also indicate it is beneficial for mental health.
To boost probiotic intake include fermented foods in your diet which include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh, buttermilk and other fermented vegetables.
Tip: Add fermented veggies like pickles and pickled cabbage to your lunchtime sandwich or homemade burgers.
Prebiotics, the difference
Prebiotics area type of fibre and therefore found in whole high fibre foods.Probiotics eat prebiotics so think of them like fruit and vegetables to us (full of nutrients to promote health). Prebiotics fuel the growth of probiotics promoting a healthy gut.
Prebiotics can be found in oats, bananas, apples, garlic, leeks, onions, bran, asparagus, root vegetables, beans and legumes.
Tip: High fibre foods are good sources of pre-biotics.
Do I need to take a probiotic supplement?
If you have a healthy diet, eat high fibre foods and include at least 2 servings a week of prebiotic foods (see list above) then a probiotic supplement is generally not recommended.
If however, you know your diet could do with some improvement (too many takeaways/alcohol, not enough whole fresh foods), you suffer from poor gut health, leaky gut syndrome, stomach upsets or constipation then a probiotic would be beneficial for promoting a healthy gut, reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.
Tip: Looking for a supplement? Pick one that has the highest number of different strains. Different strains promote different types of ‘good bacteria’ to grow leading to better gut health.
Want to know how you can improve your digestive health?
Listen to these Mind Movement Health Podcast episodes:
Episode 7 – Better digestion: 5 Easy ways to help beat the bloat
Episode 52 – Food Sensitivities and Better Digestion with Trish Whetstone
Episode 59 – 5 Simple Ways to Improve your Gut Health