PREBIOTICS – What Are They And Why Does Your Life Depend On Them

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When it comes to optimal gut health, the terms probiotics and prebiotics are regularly used. These two work together to not only the benefit of your gut health but your overall health as well.

Prebiotics or probiotics?

Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that can be found in your digestive tract, certain foods and some supplements. They’re crucial for gut health and can even boost your immune system. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a type of fibre that probiotics feed

on in the digestive system. They’re lesser known than probiotics, but just as important. It is important to note that prebiotics cannot be digested; when they’re inside the body, they pass through the small intestine and into the colon, where they’re fermented by the gut microflora.

Throughout their journey, they act as fuel for the probiotics living within the gut. As our gut health can readily affect the health of our body- it’s important to allow for both of these to work together in ensuring and maintaining a healthy balance in our guts.

Read on to discover the various health benefits of consuming prebiotics.

1. Improved gut health

By feeding probiotics, prebiotics help to improve both digestive and gut health. As they feed on prebiotics, the probiotics produce short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids improve the health of the intestinal lining as well as regulate electrolytes that

are important for proper digestion and healthy bowel function. Furthermore, according to a report published in The Journal of Nutrition, the combination of prebiotics and probiotics can help ease irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. The combination can also help treat digestive problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, and diarrhoea.

2. Boosts immunity

Eating a diet consisting of probiotics and prebiotics helps the body better absorb important nutrients, which can enhance our immunity. Studies have shown that this boost can reduce the risk of tumors and cancer cells within the stomach. Probiotics can also help to lower the pH in the gut and this prevents the potential growth of damaging bacteria.

3. Stress relief

Although there continues to be new research on how mood and hormone balance can be impacted by the health of the gut – new studies have shown the impact that prebiotics can have on the brain in regards to stress. In a study conducted by the University of Oxford, volunteers who received prebiotics not only displayed a positive change in their cortisol levels, but also had improved emotional processing.

4. Weight control

Fibre is a nutrient linked to weight management as it helps to regulate appetite. It therefore should come as no surprise that prebiotics have been linked to weight loss. A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition found that prebiotics can help

prevent obesity by regulating appetite in encouraging satiety.

5. Improved bone health

As prebiotics help the body better absorb minerals- some of the minerals absorbed can help improve bone health. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that through prebiotics, the body better absorbed magnesium, calcium, and iron. These minerals are all important for optimal bone health and they can also reduce the risk of fractures.

6. Eating for gut health

The foods we consume can affect the bacteria in our gut, which is why it’s important to add probiotic and prebiotic foods to our diet. Furthermore, you can’t improve your gut health by combining probiotic foods along with foods heavy in saturated fats, as probiotics cannot improve your gut health this way.

In looking to optimize your gut health, remember to include foods such as:

  • garlic,
  • onions,
  • flaxseeds,
  • Jerusalem artichokes, and
  • a variety of leafy greens and whole grains.

Although there are supplements that can provide prebiotics and probiotics, supplements should never take precedence over a healthy and balanced diet.

 

Culled from: MSN Health

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