So what is the difference between a probiotic and a prebiotic?
If you have read my most recent blog on probiotics and their use (read it here) then you know all about the importance of taking probiotics at certain times in your life. Here in this blog I’ll explain what prebiotics are and why they’re useful. In addition, you don’t even necessarily need to buy them as an extra supplement; you can eat them as part of your normal diet.
Prebiotics are substances that are not able to be digested by the human body, but that within the body stimulate the growth and successful multiplication of beneficial probiotic bacteria.
This all happens within the intestine and colon, where digestive probiotics mainly reside. The prebiotic substances are usually dietary fibres and non-digestible sugars (by humans) that give probiotics a good ‘boost’ by providing them immediately what they need to be successful. This allows the probiotics to thrive and take up residence on the gut lining so they can do their work and help with your digestion and immune system function. By providing this probiotic-nurturing environment in the colon and small intestine it encourages the healthy bacteria to proliferate, which in turn means there are less pathogenic bacteria in the gut. There is only so much space, after all, and if it’s being taken up by probiotics then bacteria like E.Coli and Salmonella have less chance of thriving.
Another benefit of prebiotics is that they aid with removal of cholesterol from the body.
This occurs because they bulk up the volume of indigestible fibre passing through the intestine, increasing the amount of waste solids you pass and therefore the cholesterol that is removed along with it. This helps keep your intestine and colon healthy because it doesn’t allow carcinogenic toxins or waste products from digestion to sit too long in contact with the gut wall – it flushes them through your body the same way that water flushes out your renal system. In addition, high fibre diets are correlated with lower bodyweight.
Whole grains (for example flaxseeds, wheat germ and oats) have prebiotic chemical properties, because they are not absorbed in the gut but break down by fermentation into short-chain fatty acids which are used by the beneficial bacteria to survive. Probiotics sources also include Spirulina, raw chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic and leeks, banana, wheat bran and flour, and fermented dairy products like kefir, cheese and sour cream. So add them to your shopping list!
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, please ask your chiropractor next time you come in to see us in Eastbourne.
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