What are prebiotics and probiotics? How can I benefit from them?
This is a question I get a lot as there is often confusion about what prebiotics and probiotics can do to keep our bodies healthy. A Russian biologist named Elie Metchnikoff, best known for his pioneer work in researching the immune system, first observed that in the 1900’s Bulgarian peasants who consumed fermented milk and food products lived longer and healthier lives. How was this possible and what was the root cause of this life extension?
Probiotics are the good guy bacteria that keep our digestive system healthy and clear of harmful bacteria. When we are born our gut is sterile. It is only when we begin feeding, depending on the mode of which we feed, that our gut becomes colonized with bacteria. This will help support our immune system function. Some studies also suggest that probiotics assist in CLA production, improved mucosal integrity, decreased abdominal adiposity, decreased total cholesterol, free fatty acids and blood endotoxin as well as improvements in blood sugar. Probiotics can also assist in reducing digestive diseases as well as the many symptoms associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
There are virtually hundreds of known species of probiotics and unknown as to which source is most beneficial for the average healthy person. Prebiotics are very delicate, they not only have to compete with the 1000 other bacteria in our digestive system but also can be destroyed by heat, stomach acid or simply just die off in time. It is unclear what exact population equates to a healthy gut, however given the need to repopulate as a consistent factor it is not a bad idea to look for quality sources of probiotics in foods to consume.
BEST SOURCES OF PROBIOTICS
- Indian Dosa/Idlis
- Sourdough bread
- Ethiopian Injera
- Lemon Pickles
- Tangy Chutneys
- Dark Chocolate
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. So why eat them? They are food for the probiotics. Fiber compounds are generally the most significant source of prebiotics. If you are getting enough fiber in your diet then generally you are getting enough prebiotics. Prebiotics are not sensitive to heat or stomach acid. They are in fact very useful in reducing inflammation in the digestive system as well as reducing symptoms of other chronic digestive disorders. Prebiotics also help strengthen the bowel wall, improve mineral absorption and regulate hormone production.
BEST SOURCES OF PROBIOTICS
- WHITE/BLACK BEANS
I hope you found this article on Prebiotics and Probiotics, the Key to a Healthy Gut helpful.
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