What are Pre- and Probiotics?

So what’s the fuss with pre and pro-biotics? What are they? Why are they good for your gut? And where can we find them?

Firstly, prebiotics are the food for probiotics. Inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides are the major types of prebiotics, which are mostly sourced from plant foods. These oligosaccharides (carbs) occur naturally in dietary fibre-rich foods, such as bananas, onions, garlic and asparagus.

Prebiotics have an enormous range of health benefits! Some of these include:

  • Stimulating the growth of (good) bacterial microorganisms, such as bifidobacteria (a form of probiotic).
  • Boosting the metabolism, which can assist in weight management.
  • Improving digestion and promoting regular bowel movements.
  • Reducing risk of cancer – specifically colon.

If prebiotics are responsible for all of these fantastic health benefits, why do we need probiotics?

Well, probiotics are responsible for creating diversity in our gut micro-biome. They are a form of bacteria and yeast that can be found in fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or in capsule form. Lactobacilli, streptococci, bifidobacteria, some yeasts and moulds are the common probiotics.

These “super bugs” are responsible for promoting our gut health by:

  • Increasing the number of good bacterial troops that already inhabit our gut (yes, there are good bacteria).
  • Creating barriers and fighting unwanted invaders (pathogens).
  • Improving mental health – specifically anxiety and depression.
  • Reducing symptoms of colon specific diseases, such as diverticular disease.

It’s clear to see that pre- and probiotics have an ENORMOUS impact on our overall health and wellbeing. We must therefore take responsibility to ensure that we are feeding our bodies with the proper fuel it needs! Everything we eat has a profound effect on our gut microbiome, whether it’s the “good” (nuts, wholegrain bread & fruit), or “bad” (soft drink, chips & burgers). We need to make healthier choices for our bodies and chose foods that are fermented and rich in both grain and dietary fibre. By doing this, we have a greater change of leading a happier and healthier life!

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