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Why Are Prebiotics And Probiotics So Important?

Written by: Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Chelsea Haines

The Prebiotics and Probiotics Industry is booming – the marketing is so good everyone knows they need them, but why? Walk through almost any grocery, drug, or health store to find shelves of products promising to fill your gut with "good" bacteria. But why are prebiotics and probiotics important? Are you also wondering what they are and if they are more than just the latest fad? Or even what's the difference between them, and where is the best place to get them? Then you are in the right place, my friend.

lab sample of probiotics and prebiotics

Why are prebiotics and probiotics suddenly so popular?

With how quickly supplements with these labels gained popularity, it's no wonder some of us began to question whether or not this was the next fad. The incredible findings from gut health studies sparked the popularity of over-the-counter probiotics. What was once a relatively understudied and misunderstood organ quickly became one of the key focus points for maintaining health. With the power to positively (or negatively) impact everything from your mood to your chances of serious diseases, the whole world – (supplement and pharmaceutical companies included) jumped at this new knowledge. Fads go as quickly as they come, but the research on gut health is compounding, and prebiotics and probiotics are here to stay.


Probiotics?

Probiotics are nothing new. Anyone who has ever taken antibiotics will likely have also taken probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts. Probiotics are live, active microorganisms that fight harmful bacteria in the gut. Because antibiotics essentially wipe the microbiome of all its bacteria (there’s a reason Superman doesn’t drop a bomb on all of Gotham City – he’d be killing the good guys, too), probiotics are there to try repopulating it. Probiotics are vulnerable to heat and stomach acid. That means they are best kept in a cool, dark place and should be taken on an empty stomach. If purchasing probiotics, invest in a brand with double encapsulation so that the microorganisms service the long journey through your stomach acid and make it all the way to your colon.


Probiotics can

  • Regulate metabolism

  • Synthesize vitamins

  • Suppress inflammation

  • Neutralize pathogens

  • Improve immunity

Prebiotics?

The lesser known of the two are prebiotics. Prebiotics are a non-digestible food ingredient known as fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Prebiotics assist in creating an optimal feeding ground for your good gut bacteria to flourish. They are fuel for your probiotics and can survive heat, cold & stomach acid.


The difference between Pre & Probiotics:

Prebiotics and probiotics support the body in building and maintaining a healthy colony of bacteria and other microorganisms, which supports the gut and aids digestion. The most significant difference is that probiotics contain live microorganisms. Prebiotics give it away with the prefix "pre," meaning before.


Prebiotics feed the constantly multiplying probiotic microorganisms. Prebiotics are then what comes before probiotics since it's part of creating them.


Do you really need them?

A gut health researcher once said: "Adding probiotics to an already diverse gut microbiome is like adding an ant to a rainforest." Do we need prebiotics – YES. Do we need probiotics? It depends on the state of your microbiome.

Functional stool testing can tell us exactly what your gut is lacking so that we know precisely which probiotic strands to supplement. The reality is that many of us do not have a diverse gut microbiome. I always focus on prebiotics FIRST to colonize and feed the good guys. If you have had gut issues in the past or currently, supplementing with a high-quality probiotic could be beneficial to repopulating and supporting your gut. However, please remember that too much of a good thing is also too much. Dysbiosis of the microbiome – an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut – can be due to both too many “opportunistic” or “bad” gut bugs, as well as too many of the “good bugs” too! Visualize a coral reef that doesn’t have enough “opportunistic” fish to eat the algae growing – the algae will take over and kill the reef, despite it being the “good” bacteria. This example goes both ways – not enough algae (good gut bugs) will inhibit the balance of the territorial fish (the bad gut bugs), and the reef will also suffer. The key to a thriving coral reef (microbiome)? Balance of bacteria that work in harmony. There are special cases, like when taking antibiotics, a probiotic supplement is recommended.


Why quality matters.


Did you know that the majority of our microbiome lives in our colon? That means – for probiotics to have the most impact, they need to survive the long journey of the GI tract and down to our colon. That means they need to live from the manufacturer to your home. Then from your mouth, past stomach acid, and through your small and large intestines, to have a chance at having the intended positive impact. That is quite the journey. These probiotics must be protected during this trek, or they will never reach the colon. They're pretty useless if they don’t make it to the colon. Thus, the quality of the probiotics you use REALLY matters. Spending money on a good-quality probiotic ensures you’re not wasting money on (also expensive) poor-quality supplements that end up down your toilet.


So why are Pre & Probiotics important?


Because of new research, your gut health determines your quality of life. Prebiotics feed the gut microbiome, and probiotics keep us healthy and vibrant. While I mention an incredible company that helps make obtaining these probiotics easier, here are some natural pre – and probiotics options.


Prebiotics

  • Bananas

  • Apples

  • Leeks

  • Oats

  • Onions

Probiotics

  • Yogurt

  • Kimchi

  • Kombucha

  • Kefir

  • Sauerkraut

You have the power


Supplementing and consuming the foods mentioned above will already do you good in improving your gut health. If you are ready to get to the root of your gut health issues and uncover the link between your gut and mental health, my team and I at the Gut Health Agency are just what you need next.


Finally, if you take just one thing from today's article, it's that YOU have the power with what you put in your mouth to radically transform your health. Best of all, now you know the types of foods and if need be, supplements to start that journey.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Chelsea Haines Brainz Magazine
 

Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Recently featured "The Gut Health Coach" by Yahoo!, Chelsea Haines has a unique way of helping high-performers heal. She doesn't claim to know best. Her mission: to remind you that YOU are the expert on your body, only you know precisely what you need, and you are not "crazy" for feeling how you feel. Her expertise stems from personally healing autoimmune disease paired with formal degrees in psychology, gut health, and mindfulness. She’s the Founder of The Gut Health Agency, where a team of health coaches & Registered Dietitians merge health coaching with clinical testing for increased patient compliance and lasting habit change ‒ a needle-moving combination not otherwise seen in the gut health space.

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