Proper understanding of probiotics and prebiotics for reasonable supplementation

Both prebiotics and probiotics can support beneficial bacteria and other organisms in the gut. So do you know how to distinguish these 2 types?

Probiotics and prebiotics are both pretty big topics in nutrition today. However, although they sound similar, the two have different roles in your health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, and prebiotics are food for these bacteria. The following article will help you better understand both.

What are probiotics and prebiotics?

Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for human health. However, they have different roles:

  • Probiotics: Also known as probiotics, probiotics are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. They can provide many health benefits.
  • Prebiotics: These substances come from carbs (mainly fiber) that humans cannot digest. The beneficial bacteria in your gut feed on this fiber.

Gut bacteria, collectively known as the gut flora, or gut microbiota, perform many important functions in the body. Supplementing with a balanced amount of both probiotics and prebiotics can help ensure that you have the right balance of these bacteria to keep your gut microbiome healthy.

What are probiotics and prebiotics?

The job of probiotics and prebiotics is to keep the intestinal flora healthy

Why are gut bacteria beneficial?

The good bacteria in your digestive tract help protect you from harmful bacteria and fungi. A 2013 study of gut bacteria confirms that many of these good bacteria can support immune system functions, improve symptoms of depression, and help tackle obesity, among others. other benefits.

In addition, some of your gut bacteria make vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids are the main source of nutrients for the cells lining the colon. They promote a strong intestinal barrier that eliminates harmful substances, viruses and bacteria. This also helps reduce inflammation and may potentially reduce cancer risk.

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Benefits and side effects of probiotics

Probiotics, such as yogurt, can support digestive health. Research on the effects of probiotics is still inconclusive, but it does suggest that they may be beneficial in the following areas:

  • Digestive health: Many studies have found that probiotics can improve digestive health in some people. A 2017 Cochrane review found that taking probiotics while on antibiotics reduced the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%. A 2014 analysis of 24 trials found that probiotics may help prevent the life-threatening disease necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants.
  • Mental health: A smaller group of studies suggests that probiotics can improve mental health. A 2017 review found that probiotics may reduce symptoms of depression, but the authors note that additional studies are needed to confirm this. Maybe probiotics have this effect because of the link between gut health and the brain.
  • Gastrointestinal health: The results of studies often show that people with disorders affecting the stomach and intestines may see improvement with probiotics. For example, a systematic review of trials in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that probiotics seem to improve symptoms of the condition. However, the authors note that it is not yet clear what the benefit might mean or which probiotic strain is most effective.
  • General health: The authors of a 2017 review of 17 Cochrane reviews cited evidence supporting the potential benefits of probiotics. They found that probiotics can reduce: The need for antibiotics, the incidence of colds, the incidence of ventilator-assisted pneumonia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections, for example. like yeast infections, eczema

However, the review found no high-quality evidence that probiotics could prevent disease, and the authors concluded that more trials were needed.

Benefits and side effects of probiotics

Probiotics are found in many foods and aid in digestion

Side Effects

According to the same review above, people with Crohn’s disease have a higher risk of side effects when they take a particular probiotic. People with weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to side effects. Other research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health supports the conclusion that probiotics may not be safe for people with serious underlying medical conditions.

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A 2018 analysis of probiotic trials warns that many studies do not report safety data, including information on side effects, even when they claim to prove that probiotics work. . The lack of safety-related data suggests that scientists know very little about the risks of probiotics, especially potential problems with long-term use. Anyone concerned about the risk of side effects should talk to their doctor before dramatically increasing their probiotic intake.

Benefits and side effects of prebiotics

Prebiotics are a component of certain foods that cannot be digested by the body. They serve as food for bacteria and other beneficial organisms in the intestinal tract. The benefits of prebiotics are related to the benefits of probiotics. Prebiotics can support a healthy gut, leading to better digestive health, fewer antibiotic-related health problems, and other benefits.

There is less research on prebiotics than on probiotics. Therefore, the extent to which prebiotics improve health is unclear. Scientists are still not entirely sure that they can reinforce the purported benefits of probiotics.

Some research suggests that prebiotics may benefit the body by:

  • Improves calcium absorption
  • Changes in how quickly the body can process carbohydrates
  • Supports the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, potentially boosting digestion and metabolism

Prebiotics occur naturally in many foods, so people don’t need to take a prebiotic supplement. There is currently no evidence that taking prebiotics and probiotics together is harmful. However, people with chronic or serious medical conditions should avoid probiotic or prebiotic supplements unless directed by their doctor.

Prebiotics act as food for probiotics, so probiotics need access to prebiotics to work effectively. Research evaluating the link between the two is ongoing, and scientists have yet to confirm whether taking prebiotics can aid the growth of probiotics.

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Benefits and side effects of prebiotics

The benefits of prebiotics correlate with the benefits of probiotics

Food supplements with prebiotics and probiotics

People who eat a balanced, varied, and healthy diet get more prebiotics and probiotics through their food. Many foods are rich in probiotics, including:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Traditional fermented butter milk
  • Fermented cheese, such as Gouda

By including a variety of foods in their diet, people can ensure that they consume a variety of prebiotics that can promote different strains of bacteria. Prebiotics are found in many fiber-rich foods, including some fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Some probiotic-rich foods may also contain prebiotics. Newborns get access to prebiotics through sugars in breast milk, and some infant formulas also contain prebiotics. For most healthy people, a prebiotic or probiotic supplement is not needed. However, the risks of doing so are usually minimal for people who are not immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions.

A diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fermented foods makes it possible for people to consume enough prebiotics and probiotics without depending on supplements. You should consult your doctor or nutritionist if you feel you need specific advice on a diet that is right for your needs.

Not only stopping at prebiotics, probiotics, but now also postbiotics. To learn more about postbiotics, please see the article 5 great health benefits of postbiotics

Reference source

What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? Accessed date: 12/14/2020

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