Why gut health is important?

Did you know that your gut health is important and has a direct impact on the rest of your body? 

The gastrointestinal system serves as a communication hub and a disease fighter in addition to being the major “portal” for ingesting and processing nutrients. In the gut, all food is broken down to a simple form that may enter the bloodstream and be given as nutrients throughout our bodies. This is only possible if your digestive system is in good shape. Infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi are fended off by good bacteria and immune cells in a healthy gut. 

A healthy gut is important, from your nervous and immunological systems to your mental health and digestive function. A healthy gut communicates with the brain via nerves and hormones, which aids in the maintenance of overall health and well-being. 

Prebiotics and probiotics definition

Prebiotics and probiotics both support the body in building and maintaining a healthy colony of bacteria and other microorganisms, which supports the gut and aids digestion.

Here’s a simpler way to tell the two apart:

Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-living, such as food fibers that nourish probiotics in your gut. 

Probiotics:  Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria or yeast that are found naturally in your body like what you find in yogurt

What is prebiotics?

Prebiotics are compounds found primarily in plant-based foods that supply nourishment to your gut’s beneficial microorganisms. Prebiotics dietary fibers, resistant starches, and polyphenols (a type of phytonutrient) all help health-promoting bacteria grow and function.

Because your body is unable to break down these compounds, they are passed on to your microbiota, which converts them into beneficial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and vitamins.

Health benefits of prebiotics

Prebiotics promote the growth of health-promoting bacteria species while also increasing their activity. Indeed, prebiotic foods aid in the creation of organic molecules by beneficial bacteria, such as short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, and acetate). 

Prebiotics are found naturally in plant foods and milk, so you may already be consuming them without noticing them.  The most stable sources of prebiotics are specific types of dietary fiber because they are less sensitive to heat and age, compared to say, polyphenols, which are plant nutrients that can be affected by cooking.

But just because some fibers are prebiotic doesn’t mean all fibers are prebiotic. Gut microorganisms are unable to break down some insoluble fibers.  That’s fine because these, like psyllium husk and hemicellulose, provide mass and weight to your feces. They aid in the regularity of bowel motions, preventing constipation and abdominal pain.

Example of insoluble fibers food;

  • Wholegrain foods such as wheat bread, brown rice, and couscous.
  • Root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.
  • Celery, cucumbers, and courgettes.
  • Fruit with edible seeds like strawberry, banana, and pomegranate.
  • Beans, pulses, and lentils.
  • Nuts and seeds.

Prebiotics provide a number of health benefits, including:

  • Short-Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) production:

Because SCFAs tend to feed only beneficial bacteria while preventing potentially dangerous or undesired species, prebiotics has a tremendous effect on gut health.

This is due to the lower pH level in the colon caused by the SCFA fermentation process, which affects pathogens (bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi) while benefiting helpful bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

  • Fiber for digestive health:

Prebiotic fibers are insoluble fibers that are not digested. These fibers aid in the passage of waste materials out of the body, resulting in better bowel motions.

  • Weight management

Fiber helps manage healthy weight by inducing a feeling of being full and curbing your appetite. Fiber takes longer to chew, which increases saliva and gastric acid, causing the stomach to distend and triggering a feeling of fullness.

Prebiotics food list

Inulin is the most prevalent prebiotic fiber, and it is generated by over 36,000 different plant species. Oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharides, and resistant starch are all examples of prebiotics.

These fibers can be found in foods such as green vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

The picture below show the most common food that provides contains high probiotics compared to others.

Prebiotics
Probiotics

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are naturally present in the intestine of humans. Many activities in the body are supported by probiotic bacteria, including digestion, nutrition absorption, immunological function, memory, and mood.

Probiotic bacteria can be found in foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, and kombucha. Supplements containing probiotics are also available.

Health benefits of probiotics

Probiotic bacteria are known for fermenting, which is a process in which bacteria change a substance.

Are there any probiotics made from plants? Foods like tempeh (fermented soy), sauerkraut, kimchi, and Lacto-fermented pickles are all made possible by bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which metabolize carbohydrates and boost the nutritional content of these foods.

Humans benefit from fermentation because fermented foods provide an excellent route for beneficial microorganisms to enter the body. It was also necessary for the past because no one had a refrigerator or freezer, and science is now turning to these ancient foods to find health remedies.

  • Role in Gastrointestinal System

There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of probiotics on human health, and not just for gastrointestinal issues. Probiotics have such a wide range of impacts that experts are even looking into how they can help with mental health.

Antibiotics disturb the microbiota, and probiotics can help mitigate the negative effects. If your doctor has ever recommended probiotics along with antibiotics, it’s because antibiotics damage the microbiome and probiotics can help mitigate the harmful effects. Probiotics deliver good bacteria into the gut microbiome, which can help restore balance and prevent the overabundance of unhelpful, opportunistic microorganisms.

  • Anti-cancer properties

Probiotics may offer anti-cancer qualities, according to some studies, particularly in the case of colon cancer. Certain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains have been demonstrated in studies to inhibit the growth of bacteria that create enzymes that convert pro-carcinogens to carcinogens.

Probiotic organisms show anti-cancerous activity by producing anti-tumorigenic compounds, reduce the effect of carcinogens by binding to them or reducing the absorption of mutagens through the intestine and enhancing the immune system of the host. 

The majority of deaths due to cancer occur in lower and middle-income countries and the people either do not have quality testing and treatment facility or cannot afford costly treatment. It has been seen that traditionally used fermented foods have a high concentration of probiotics. These foods can be prepared using low-cost food items and have great health benefits.

  • Lower blood pressure

Probiotics may also help to reduce blood pressure, which is a potential benefit. Probiotics had previously been shown to lower cholesterol levels, but studies have shown that giving daily doses of probiotics to those with high blood pressure for more than eight weeks reduced blood pressure.

A study by Saman K. (2014) showed that consuming probiotics may lead to a modest but significant reduction of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. These results propose probiotics as potential supplements and dietary constituents to improve blood pressure and prevent or control hypertension.

 

Probiotics food list

According to Food Safety Helpline foods are foods and supplements that include a live bacterium source that has a variety of effects on the human body. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, for example, assist maintain order in the gut microbiome by maintaining the proper acidity and preventing opportunistic bacteria from colonizing your gut.

Food for probiotics

Is it possible to combine prebiotics with probiotics?

Probiotics

Probiotic bacteria use prebiotics as a source of nourishment. This is why some probiotic pills include prebiotics, though usually in tiny amounts. As soon as the probiotics enter the intestines, the good bacteria come into contact with prebiotic food sources. This provides food for the bacteria and allows them to multiply, allowing them to combat dangerous bacteria in the gut microbiome.

You can also take probiotics alongside a prebiotic supplement for extra gut help. This strategy has two main advantages:

  • Assisting probiotic bacteria in making it to the gut and colonizing the intestines.
  • Supporting beneficial anaerobic bacteria that can’t be found in dietary supplements.

Prebiotic fibers, on the other hand, do not all provide the same level of support. The included prebiotic “food” should be properly chosen for the probiotic bacterial strains in the formulation for maximum benefits. 

If you’re taking a fiber supplement along with your probiotics, it’s better to take them separately.

Prebiotic fibers are commonly found in high levels of fiber supplements. If you take this along with a probiotic pill, your good bacteria may have a good day and proliferate far too quickly. This can cause bloating and gas, as well as other digestive issues.

Summary

Both prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial to maintaining a healthy gut flora, digestion, and overall health. Some probiotic pills include a small amount of prebiotics to help these beneficial bacteria get the nutrients they need.

Because various bacteria prefer different types of food, it’s critical to pair the correct prebiotics with the right probiotic strains. Furthermore, adding prebiotics to a supplement only works if the supplement reaches the large intestine intact. Many probiotics perish when exposed to the harsh environment of the stomach or small intestine, preventing them from colonizing the gut.

Both prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial to maintaining a healthy gut flora, digestion, and overall health. Some probiotic pills include a small amount of prebiotics to help these beneficial bacteria get the nutrients they need.

Because various bacteria prefer different types of food, it’s critical to pair the correct prebiotics with the right probiotic strains. Furthermore, adding prebiotics to a supplement only works if the supplement reaches the large intestine intact. Many probiotics perish when exposed to the harsh environment of the stomach or small intestine, preventing them from colonizing the gut.

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