PRObiotics and PREbiotics – what are they? And are probiotics and prebiotics important to your health?
And if you can benefit from one or both of them, what are the specific prebiotic and probiotics health benefits?
Let's begin with what are probiotics and do you really need them?
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria and other microbial organisms that naturally live in the digestive tracts of animals. Your own body is home to trillions of these "friendly" beneficial microorganisms.
The "good" bacteria in your intestines manage 4 main jobs for you:
- They help to digest your food,
- Fight off disease-causing bacteria,
- Make nutrients available for you to use,
- And keep bowels moving at the perfect pace.
When people speak of "probiotics" they're generally referring to probiotics supplements or fermented probiotic foods that contain good beneficial microorganisms like the ones naturally found living in your body.
Eating healthy probiotic foods and taking quality probiotics supplements stimulates the growth of the natural beneficial bacteria found in your intestines. These "friendly" bacteria contribute to better digestion and help protect you from "unfriendly" harmful bacteria that cause illness.
Many factors can disrupt your body's natural probiotic balance, including:
- Taking antibiotics,
- Not getting enough fiber,
- Ingesting environmental toxins,
- Formula instead of breast-feeding babies,
- And eating a diet high in refined bad carbohydrates.
Probiotics Health Benefits
There's an ever-growing scientific interest in probiotics. More and more studies show that increasing your daily probiotic intake with probiotic foods and probiotic supplements can offer you the following health benefits:
- Improve poor digestion;
- Boost immune response;
- Reduce lactose intolerance;
- Increase calcium absorption;
- Improve vitamin B absorption;
- Treat diarrhea and constipation;
- Increase magnesium absorption;
- Reduce the risk of certain cancers;
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
- Shorten lengths of intestinal infections;
- Prevent and treat urinary tract infections;
- Prevent and treat harmful yeast infections;
- Treat most viral respiratory tract infections;
- Improve your ability to absorb food nutrients;
- Prevent colon inflammation following surgery.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates available in thousands of different plant foods. They stimulate the beneficial probiotic microorganisms to grow and multiply and help to improve your intestinal probiotic balance.
The two most common prebiotics are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. The richest food source is bananas. Other prebiotic sources are:
- Whole grains,
- Onions and leeks.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.