Prebiotics and Probiotics both aid the body in maintaining a healthy bacteria balance that support intestinal health and digestion. While the names sound very similar, they play very different roles in the digestive system.
A lot of gastrointestinal problems can stem from not having the right level of good bacteria in your digestive tract. That’s right — there is such a thing as good and bad bacteria!
The good bacteria in your gut helps with a handful of biological tasks, helping to breakdown and digest food, communicate with your immune system, and can help prevent inflammation.
Prebiotics & Probiotics Breakdown:
Prebiotics are components of foods that the body cannot digest that act as food for the good bacteria in your digestive system. This stimulates growth among the preexisting good bacteria.
Prebiotics are present in fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Some research suggests that prebiotics may benefit the body by:
- improving calcium absorption
- changing how quickly the body can process carbohydrates
- supporting the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, potentially enhancing digestion and metabolism
Probiotics are live bacteria also found in certain food or supplements.
Probiotics occur in many fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh.
- Enhance digestive function
- Boost immune system (speed recovery from illness such as the common cold)
- Improve nutritional absorption
While both can be naturally found in many foods, if your diet does not include these types of foods or not enough of them, you may want to look into a probiotic or prebiotic supplement. These are simple ways to increase the good bacteria in your system. Both are available in pill or powder, if you feel you are not eating enough of these healthy foods on a regular basis.
Dietary changes, while taking some commitment, are also a great way to improve digestive health. High sugar foods can actually aid the bad bacteria in your gut, so it is very important to limit these types of foods. Replacing ice cream with a Greek yogurt can not only remove a bad food item from your diet, but also add a good one into your day. Small, simple changes such as this can make a big difference in your digestive system over time.