When talking about the gut and what to do to support it, inevitably prebiotics and probiotics will be brought up. Those are great, but what do these words actually mean? And how to they benefit your gut? Well rest assured, we’re going to clarify all that right here.
Your Gut and its Microbioorganism Residents
Before we get into definitions, we need to briefly mention what’s going in the gut. First of all, the “gut” is the organ where the process of digestion happens, from your mouth all the way to the point of exit, right the other end.
In your gut exist a super diverse collection of little critters or microorganisms which are a mix of bacteria, yeast and viruses together called the microbiome. There are so many of them, they outnumber the amount of cells that constitute our entire bodies by 3 to 1!
These teeny-weeny guys are all alive and thriving. The thing about them is that they are not made by our bodies, they’re more like tenants to your tummy introduced through food. They are influenced by the outside world and what we put into our systems. Like in any place around the world there are some good guys and some bad guys and ideally there’s are healthy balance of both living it up in there.
Like Airbnb holiday renters, they just check the place out for a bit, in the hopes of some good food and a good time before they’re on their way again and you hope they leave the place nice and tidy for the next lot.
There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that keeping a healthy microbiome has a multitude of health benefits. So to keep things happy and running smoothly in your gut and overall health, it’s important to keep up a large diversity of organisms and give plenty of food for them to be happy and thriving. This is where the probiotics and prebiotics come in.
Watch the video to find out more about probiotics and prebiotics:
Probiotics are the live microorganisms found in certain foods and supplements. These are the lively bunch living it up in that tummy of yours especially when they’re in large and diverse numbers. The key thing to know about getting probiotics in your body, is that they’re alive and therefore they need to be consumed alive.
What are the best sources of probiotics you ask? Probiotics can be found in both supplement forms as well as in natural foods.
Supplements like Symprove and others are a great source of controlled probiotics so you know what you’re getting. These kinds of probiotics are a good place to start but you can also find plenty of probiotics in naturally fermented foods. Ideally a wide variety of sources of probiotics are the most likely way of getting the most diverse crowd in there.
Some of the best natural sources of probiotics are:
- Pickles (fermented ones, not those in vinegar)
- Cheese (preferably unpasteurised and definitely not the plastic stuff in the supermarket)
Prebiotics are the foods that keep the critters happy and lively. They are essentially fibres found in numerous kinds of foods that we eat but that aren’t digested or absorbed into the body but instead are eaten by the bacteria in the gut. Food, not for you, but for your gut. You’ve probably heard that fibre is good for your digestion, well it is but also for your bacteria!
Much like probiotics, you can find prebiotics in supplement and food forms. Brands like Bioglan Inulin powder and many other supplements offer a great way to quickly up your fibre intake. Of course the best and most natural way to add prebiotics into your systems is through a diversity in food.
There are plenty sources of fibre but here are some of the best sources of prebiotics in foods:
- Jerusalem artichoke (the king of prebiotics)
- Flax and Chia Seeds
The science behind probiotics is still young but there is enough knowledge out there to say that the more diverse the crowd and the better they’re fed, the healthier and happier you will be. Until scientists figure how to tailor make a probitotic mix with the right strains of bacteria for your needs, the best thing to do is get a whole bunch from a variety of places.