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Gut Health: Prebiotics vs Probiotics

Gut Health: Prebiotics vs Probiotics

Gut health, probiotics, prebiotics; it can be difficult to keep up with all the buzz words.  So today, I’m breaking it down for you.  First, it’s important to understand what your gut is.

The Gut

The gut is sometimes referred to as the body’s second brain.  It is home to billions of different strands of bacteria (good and bad), it digests and absorbs everything that is ingested (food, nutrients, medication etc), and is home to 70-80% of your immune system.  Anatomically, the gut (AKA the gastrointestinal tract) starts at the mouth and ends at the anus.  The health of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, and colon all play a role in overall gut health.

Now that we have covered what the gut is let’s move on to how prebiotics and probiotics can contribute to a healthy gut and the difference between the two.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria which promote health benefits, especially in relation to digestive health.  They are often referred to as “good” bacteria.

Benefits of Probiotics
  • Strengthen the bowel wall
  • Reduce constipation
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve mineral absorption
  • Regulate hormone production

Today, we are exposed to so many different variables that can reduce the levels of “good” gut bacteria.  Some of these include: sugar, alcohol, smoking, antibiotics, and stress.  Including probiotic rich foods in your diet is key to replace the “good” bacteria that may be depleted as a result of the above.

Foods rich in Probiotics
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Kvass
  • Kombucha
  • Yogurt

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are indigestible fibre’s which help to stimulate the growth of “good” bacteria.  Therefore they help to improve the overall health of the gut. More formally, this vegetable fibre is know as Inulin and Oligofructose.

Benefits of Prebiotics
  • Enhanced immune function
  • Increase vitamin production
  • Weight management control
  • More energy
  • Improve regularity
  • Prevent/Improve leaky gut
Foods rich in Prebiotics
  • Raw Chicory Root
  • Jerusalem Artichokes (AKA Sunchokes)
  • Raw Jicama
  • Under-ripe Bananas or Banana Flour
  • Raw Garlic
  • Onion
  • Raw Dandelion
  • Raw Asparagus

So to recap, the gut is the body’s second brain.  It plays a major role in our overall health.  Prebiotics are the food that help to stimulate the growth and proliferation of the probiotics, or the “good” gut bacteria.



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