It’s quite the conundrum that in our disinfectant-crazed society, the hottest new thing on the health scene is intentional bacterial exposure. Probiotics, or microorganisms taken for beneficial reasons, are commonly found in fermented products like yogurt. These microorganisms, or so-called “good bacteria”, are being touted as digestive aids and may even play a role in treating and preventing illness.
But for all the hype surrounding probiotics, little is being said about prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbs that act as fuel for probiotics to live on. When combined in the body, probiotics and prebiotics act together. And in fact, the BBC reports that prebiotics increase good bacteria in the body at a far greater rate then probiotics.
The BBC goes on to say that while probiotics contain good bacteria, prebiotics make already existing good bacteria in the gut healthier. One study showed that when a group of test subjects were given a diet of prebiotics for a week, their good digestive bacteria increased by 133 million. On the other hand, the other subjects were given a diet of probiotics, and their good bacteria count hardly changed.
The diet that the prebiotic group was given was high in inulin, dietary fibers that are found in many types of plants. Examples of foods that are high in this fiber are Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, garlic, dandelion leaves, chicory, leeks, and onions.
Both prebiotics and probiotics have an important job to do in the body. And remember, they work together for digestive health. If you are trying to boost your health or soothe a digestion related problem, consider adding prebiotics to your diet as well as a probiotic supplement.
- “The Prebiotics Vs Probiotics Test”, BBC
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