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Prebiotic vs Probiotic Supplements: Which Are Best For Your Health?

Some medical experts have nicknamed the gut your “second brain” as the enteric nervous system plays a key role in how you feel and function.

 

But are you doing enough to take care of it?

 

A compromised gut can lead to disease, lack of energy, mood problems and other negative symptoms. That’s why you need to prioritise the health of your microbiome—the colony of organisms that live in your gut.

 

With almost 1,000 species of bacteria in your microbiome, you need to eat a varied diet to keep them healthy.

 

That begs the question, “Which is more important for my health, prebiotics or probiotics?

 

We’ve got the answer for you below.

The role your gut microbiome plays in your overall health

Your microbiome is crucial for many human functions and without these microbes in your body it would be very difficult to survive.

 

Your microbiome helps you to:

 

Digest the healthy sugars in breast milk

Break down fibres found in food

Control your immune system and how your body responds to infections

Control brain function through the central nervous system

 

Overall, a healthy gut is crucial for a healthy body.

How to keep your gut healthy

To keep your gut healthy there are a number of strategies to implement:

 

Incorporate fermented foods into your diet as they are a potent source of probiotics (which are live microbes)

Eat fibre rich foods such as bananas and oats as they are a good source of prebiotics (food for your microbes)

Plan to eat a diverse range of foods as this can improve the number of different bacteria you have within your gut

Avoid antibiotics if possible as they kill both the bad bacteria that are causing your infection and the good bacteria.

Take probiotic and prebiotic supplements to ensure your gut has optimal microbe levels

What are prebiotics and prebiotic supplements?

Prebiotic supplements provide food to the microbes living in your gut to keep them happy and healthy.

 

However, you can obtain the required amounts of prebiotics through food as well since prebiotics can be found within plant fibres. You can think of these plant fibres as food that promote growth within your healthy bacteria.

 

But the problem is, you can’t eat just any old fruit or vegetable and expect a healthy gut.

 

Instead, you need to focus on foods that contain complex carbohydrates (fibre and resistant starch.) While you use the digestible portion of the food for energy, your gut feeds on the fibres which you can’t break down.

 

Some prebiotic foods include:

 

Chicory root

Dandelion greens

Jerusalem artichoke

Garlic

Onions

Leeks

Asparagus

Bananas

Barley

Oats

Apples

Konjac root

Cocoa

Burdock root

Flaxseeds

Yacon root

Jicama root

Wheat bran

Seaweed

 

 

Besides prebiotic foods, there are tonnes of supplements on the market. While there are many accessible prebiotic foods, it may be worth taking a supplement containing foods that are hard to find. However, make sure to consult with a doctor or health professional before taking any supplements.

Prebiotic benefits

By feeding the microbes in your gut with prebiotics you can enjoy these benefits:

 

Your gut bacteria and cells are healthy and well-fed

You may be able to absorb calcium easier

Improved blood sugar levels

Faster digestion, which can reduce constipation or bloating


Jean-Yves Beson
Jean-Yves Beson

Author