The Benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics – And How They Can Transform Your Wellbeing
Prebiotics and probiotics are starting to take their turn in the health world’s spotlight – but do they really deserve the attention they’re getting?
The short answer is yes. While many of us in the West are only now realising how beneficial these nutrients can be, many cultures have enjoyed foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics for centuries, from sauerkraut and kefir, to miso and tempeh, for their enormously health-improving properties.
Read on to find out what do they really do, and how much of an impact can they have on your health.
What are probiotics?
You might have come across probiotics already – commonly known as the “friendly” bacteria that inhabit the intestinal passage.
Commonly found in live yoghurts as well as many other foods, probiotics help to detoxify and maintain the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract, by populating the lining of your intestine with bacteria.
Unlike other “bad” bacteria that can cause infection or illness, the bacteria found in probiotics protect your body, by filtering toxins from passing through into the bloodstream, and enabling essential nutrients to be absorbed.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are not another form of gut bacteria – in fact, they are composed of non-digestable carbohydrates, that are essential to the growth and development of probiotic bacteria.
By supporting a healthy environment for probiotic bacteria, prebiotics can help to boost your immune system and improve bowel function.
How can probiotics and prebiotics help your health?
Together, the most important role of prebiotics and probiotics is to boost and maintain a healthy immune system, ensuring optimum overall health.
By removing a greater amount of toxins and preventing them from passing through into the bloodstream, these nutrients help to minimise the risk of illness from developing – from common infections and viruses, to more acute conditions such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Having a greater amount of probiotic bacteria in the gut can also minimise the presence of harmful bacteria, which can ease many conditions related to dental issues, such as gingivitis, halitosis and dental disease.
They are also enormously helpful in helping your body recover, when taking antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to eliminate harmful bacteria – but they often have a severe impact on beneficial bacteria too, leading to common side effects such as diarrhoea, bloating, and general discomfort.
By adding probiotics and prebiotics to your diet when taking a course of antibiotics, you can help to re-populate your gut’s bacterial flora, making sure that healthy function is restored as quickly as possible.
Adding them to your diet
Prebiotics and probiotics can be taken as supplements, but can also be widely found in a variety of foods. Having a varied and well balanced diet that includes fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut, and “live” dairy or non-dairy yoghurts are easy ways of introducing more to your daily diet.