Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve our health in so many ways. But did you know that a separate term exists and this term is prebiotics? Prebiotics were first discovered while studying probiotics and they are just as important for human health.
What Are Prebiotics?
The simple answer is that prebiotics are supplements that help the probiotics in the human body grow and develop. With their help, probiotics and beneficial live bacteria in the gut begin multiplying and improving the microorganism balance.
The main aim of prebiotics is to aid the natural good bacteria in our digestive system and especially in the intestines. With the help of prebiotics, probiotics can curb the growth of pathogens and even become capable of killing those harmful bacteria.
Good sources of prebiotics in a natural diet would be Jerusalem artichokes, fruits and vegetables. Any source of good plant fiber can help the good bacteria thrive.
Some of the most important prebiotic foods include:
- Raw chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Raw garlic
- Leeks and onions (uncooked)
- Raw wheat bran
- Beans and other kinds of legumes
- Root vegetables
Prebiotic fiber is only beneficial in its raw state. When foods are cooked, many of the beneficial prebiotics found in them get destroyed.
What’s The Difference Between Prebiotics And Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacterial cultures and the supplements that contain these strains of good bacteria. Probiotic supplements should be taken whenever the balance between the good and the bad bacteria in the gut is disturbed..
Prebiotics, on the other hand are plant fibers. They cannot be absorbed or digested by the body. Hence, they become an excellent food for naturally occurring probiotics or such that we consume as supplements.
In essence, prebiotics do not aid the growth of non-beneficial bacteria. They only affect a small number of bacteria found in the colon. Thus, they influence positively the activity and heath of those naturally existing bacteria.
Prebiotics Are Fibers
As said, prebiotics are fibers. They aren’t a source of live bacterial strains. Taking prebiotics and probiotics alongside each other, however, will create optimal conditions for the growth and the multiplication of the good bacteria.
Why Consume Prebiotics?
The reasons for taking probiotics and prebiotics are different. While you would need prebiotics to support already existing bacteria, probiotics will add new bacteria to your system.
Very often, a doctor will recommend a good probiotic supplement and advice you to consume prebiotics with it. The main reason why you need prebiotics is because they help the good bacteria grow faster.
By using prebiotics and probiotics simultaneously, you’ll experience more pronounced and quicker results.
A Few Additional Considerations
How much prebiotics should you consume and is there such a thing as too much? The minimum recommended intake of fiber is 135 grams per day. It’s not possible to experience a prebiotic “overdose.”
The beneficial fibers are found in foods that we naturally consume. As such, they’re safe.
If you’re experiencing any digestive issue and you find your condition to be aggravated by foods like raw cabbage or raw garlic, you may want to talk to your doctor first.
Your digestive health will be assessed and a doctor will let you know whether upping the intake of insoluble fiber is a good idea.
The market also features prebiotic supplements for the individuals that simply can’t get enough fiber from their diet. If you don’t know how to choose such a product, talk to your doctor.
A physician will recommend a quality probiotic supplement and a prebiotic that will work alongside each other. Prebiotics are regulated like other natural supplements and as such, high quality products are perfectly safe to use alongside a healthy diet.
Such products are also safe for children and are particularly beneficial for little ones that experience frequent digestive issues.