What are Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Pre and Probiotics, also known as “friendly bacteria”. Friendly bacteria? Does that sound a little fishy to you? Yes, and this why:
Think of your digestive system as an intricate fish tank. It is filled with all sorts of little fish and sea life swimming around. Some fish help clean your tank- the bottom feeders eat up the gunk along the bottom. You also may have some snails that help clean the sides of the tank. Everyday, you sprinkle some fish flakes into the tank to feed the little fishies. Are you picturing it? Maybe reminiscing of a childhood fish tank?
Well, in the world of pre and probiotics- the fish, snails, and sea life represent the probiotics at work in your gut- they are actively working to keep up a healthy ecosystem.
The fish flakes, represent prebiotics. The tank itself can’t really do anything with the fish flakes-the purpose of the flakes is to feed the fish. The fish eat the flakes to survive and grow. When we consume prebiotics, the already present probiotics will “consume” the prebiotics (flakes). Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrate fibers- our “tank” (gut) cannot use them- however- the prebiotics are like food to the probiotics. Essentially probiotics will “consume” the prebiotics. Prebiotics naturally ferment in our gut and help nourish the probiotics.
Our gut is packed with TRILLIONS of bacteria. Overgrowth of bad bacteria can cause digestive issues and weaken our immune system. In fact- did you know that your GUT is your largest immune defense system. A healthy gut can equal a healthier YOU. This is why we need pre and probiotics to help keep us healthy and to help ward off the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. In studies, probiotics have been shown to help people who suffer with lactose intolerance, diarrhea, gas, and overall digestive problems. Studies have also shown it can lessen your chances of getting the seasonal flu.
The opposite of a probiotic is an antibiotic. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria. They would be like the sharks in the tank! This is why people on long term antibiotics often need to ingest more probiotics. Poor diet can also cause there to be an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Eating for a healthy gut:
Probiotics. Fermented foods contain probiotics, such as:
- Sourdough Bread
- Sour pickles
- Saur kraut, homemade or unpasteurized.
- Tempeh- made from fermented soybeans
- Miso Soup- because it’s made with fermented soy bean paste.
- Gouda Cheese
Prebiotics. Prebiotics might surprise you where they come from and are often found in foods that contain inulin.
- Jerusalem Artichokes (raw)
- Red Wine
- Maple Syrup
- Onions, Leeks, and Garlic
- Dandelion Greens (raw)
- Chicory Root (raw)
So give your tank the healthy eco-system boost it needs, and consider adding pre and probiotics into your diet.