Probiotics, Prebiotic and Gut Health
There are many bacteria – both good and bad – living within your digestive system. The balance of these bacteria can be altered by various factors, including the use of antibiotics, G.I. infections and unhealthy eating habits.
When the bacteria become unbalanced (too few good and/or too many bad bacteria), it can have negative effects on your digestion and health. You may experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue and poor concentration.
Probiotics and prebiotics can help restore the balance.
You’ve probably heard of probiotics. They are healthy bacteria similar to the good bacteria that live in your digestive system. When consumed regularly over an extended period of time, probiotics can help increase the population of good bacteria in your digestive system. Taking probiotics helps support good digestion, and can provide specific health benefits including:
- decrease diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics
- Improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis
- Improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Probiotics are added to foods such as yogurt, or they can be taken in supplement form.
You may not be as familiar with prebiotics. Prebiotics are “food” for the good bacteria in your digestive system. Consuming prebiotics, regularly over an extended period of time, helps the population of good bacteria multiply and grow.
Prebiotics are found naturally in some foods and are added to others. Foods that contain prebiotics include:
Vegetables and Fruit: artichoke, asparagus, garlic, leeks, onion, tomatoes, banana
Grains: barley, rye and whole grains; some breads and breakfast cereals
Dairy: fermented dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk and kefir; breast milk
Other: some sports drinks and snack bars
Prebiotics may also be found in various supplements including prebiotic supplements, probiotic supplements, fibre supplements, nutritional or meal replacement supplements, and vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements.
It may be most beneficial to consume both probiotics and prebiotics, so that they can work together to keep a healthy population of good bacteria in your digestive system.