Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
Prebiotics The promoters of “good” bacteria (probiotics) in the body that enhance the growth of health-promoting species bacteria in our intestine is known as prebiotics. Prebiotics are a selectively fermented and non-digestible ingredient that fuels probiotic bacteria to stimulate healthful bacteria in the colon. An increase in health-promoting bacteria is beneficial towards the health of the gastrointestinal tract and inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria which helps boost immune system function.
Probiotics The “good” bacteria or live microorganisms that naturally live in our intestines are known as probiotics. Consuming foods that contain probiotics such as yogurt is especially beneficial towards the digestive system. The purpose of consuming probiotics is for the bacteria to travel through the upper digestive tract and repopulate or colonize in the lower digestive tract such as the colon. This process can help displace the amount of “bad” bacteria and replace the “good” bacteria in the colon which is beneficial towards the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract and boost immune system function, like prebiotics.
Synbiotics Prebiotics and probiotics combined are known as synbiotics. Consuming both together would be advantageous as synbiotics since prebiotics act as food or fuel and the probiotics would help repopulate the bacteria in the colon. Therefore, the benefits of both prebiotics and probiotics overlap, so consuming synbiotics would overall improve gut health!
Where can I find prebiotics and probiotics? Although these can all be found in supplements, powders, and teas, they are found readily in foods! Absorption and digestion is more readily available from food sources.
▪ Prebiotics: Asparagus, Onions, Garlic, Chicory, Bananas, Tomatoes, Leeks ▪ Probiotics: Fermented Dairy Foods (yogurt, kefir, fermented cheese), Kimchi, Soy Milk, Tempeh, Miso ▪ Synbitoics: For synbiotics, combine foods from the pre- and probiotics list! Examples: adding garlic and leeks to kimchi, topping chicory or asparagus with tempeh, aged cheese and tomato kabobs, a banana and soymilk smoothie with honey, topping yogurt with bananas, and many more.
Including foods that contain prebiotics, probiotics, or even synbiotics are beneficial towards our digestive system and immune system function. Although current research regarding other health benefits of pre- and probiotics are inconclusive, the future of these functional foods has been promising.
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