Most people know that probiotics are good for health. They’ve been linked to lowering inflammation and healing leaky gut.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that confer a health benefit to the host.
Yet here’s the thing most people still aren’t aware of: to reap the benefits of probiotics, you need prebiotics.
Unlike probiotics, however, prebiotics are not considered living organisms.
Together, prebiotics and probiotics are considered synbiotics due to their combined effect of synergy.
Prebiotics can be defined as a non-digestible fiber that can beneficially impact the host by stimulating the growth or activity of bacteria in the colon1.
This fiber makes its way undigested to the large intestine where it provides beneficial effects. This fermentable fiber then can be broken down by water in the colon and fermented by microbes. Fermentation generates short chain fatty acids (like butyric acid), which become fuel, or food, for probiotics.
Typically, foods that are high in soluble fiber are considered prebiotics.
The importance of prebiotics is that they have the ability to change the composition and the activity of the gut microflora. The more prebiotics (fuel) these good microbes have, the better they function and the healthier your gut is.
There are some researchers that went so far as to define specific criteria that must be met in order to be classified as a “prebiotic”. They said that prebiotics must a.) have a resistance to stomach acid or digestive enzymes, b.) have an ability to be fermented by the intestinal bacteria, and c.) be able to selectively enhance the growth and function of gut microbes2.
Prebiotics include non-digestible carbohydrates (large polysaccharides like inulin, resistance starch, pectins and gums), fructooligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharides and lactulose.
The importance of prebiotics can be seen in human breast milk. Oligosaccharides, a type of prebiotic, are the third-most abundant nutritional compound in breast milk3. They are responsible for forming the baby’s gut microbiome and facilitating proper immune system development. Breast fed babies have found to have a better composition of beneficial bacterial species while more harmful bacterial species have been found in formula fed babies3.
Prebiotics are needed for a healthy and happy gut and body!
They are required to boost the function and composition of good bacteria in the gut.
When good bacteria flourish, this changes the pH of the gut (the pH less desirable for the bad bacteria). This pushes the inflammatory, bad bugs out and allows the good ones to grow.
A healthy gut microbiome as a result of diet rich in pre- and pro-biotics is linked to an improved health and a lower risk of disease.
It should be noted that you reap most of the benefit when you consume prebiotic foods in their raw state. Cooking can breakdown some of the fiber content. The fiber breakdown with cooking is likely minimal, however, and any consumption of prebiotic foods has proven beneficial.
Additionally, avoid diets high in fat and sugar as they can influence the growth of harmful bacterial species10. Instead, focus on a Paleo diet rich in prebiotic and probiotic foods, as well as supplements.
In order for probiotics to have the greatest impact on gut health, you need prebiotics!
If you’re not able to consume an adequate dose of prebiotics regularly or you’ve got leaky gut (most of us do), you should look into supplementation. Often, diet alone isn’t enough and nutritional supplements are needed.
We have a great product called Gut Fuel.
Gut Fuel is aimed at increasing the amount of food in the gut for healthy bacteria to feed on. This fuel is butyric acid and it helps decrease intestinal permeability and help promote the growth of good bacteria. Gut Fuel also contains other important nutrients to aid in absorption and repair of the gut lining.
Also, try adding dried dandelion to your soups and salads for an extra boost. Or throw some raw garlic, onions or leeks into all your recipes!
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