You’ve likely heard of probiotics: they’re those friendly little bacteria that reside in your gut and promote better overall health (with benefits like improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and even weight loss promotion through enhanced dietary fat absorption). A healthy gut makes a healthy body, and probiotics are vital in order to ensure yours is a thriving gut biome.
But are you familiar with prebiotics? These are lesser-known and therefore lesser studied: we know less about the benefits of prebiotics than we do the benefits of probiotics. Yet what we do know is that prebiotics have their own unique health benefits and may be equally important in generating good gut health. Creating a healthy gut biome may not actually start with the probiotic like we thought – it starts with the prebiotic. Understanding what prebiotics are and why they’re so important can help us unlock the secrets of a healthy body (and a really happy gut).
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a type of fiber found in foods that many of us eat every day (bananas, garlic, and leeks, to name a few). They’re a fiber that we can’t digest: instead, prebiotics sit in our gut and help “feed” the other tiny microorganisms that reside there, including – you guessed it – probiotics. And that’s what makes them so essential: if a healthy gut requires probiotics, and probiotics need to “feed” on prebiotics, then you’ve got to make sure your prebiotic intake is prioritized to stimulate that healthy gut.
Many of the fiber-rich foods that you’ve eaten for decades are actually excellent sources of prebiotics. Great examples are
Fruits: apples, kiwis, blueberries, and the super-fibrous banana
Vegetables: onions, leeks, garlic, spinach, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichoke
Nuts and seeds: pistachios, flax seeds or chia seeds
Fermented foods: sauerkraut or kefir
You can also find prebiotics in things like apple cider vinegar, honey, or even dark chocolate. You’ve likely been eating a fair number of prebiotic-heavy foods all along; you just didn’t know it!
Why are prebiotics important?
There are two big reasons that you should make prebiotic intake a nutritional priority. The first is that, quite simply, the prebiotic fuels the probiotic so that IT can function effectively. Probiotics have countless health benefits, but if they’re not “fed” by the prebiotic, their impact is less. Well-fed probiotics can
- Stimulate digestion
- Help stabilize mood and promote better overall mental health
- Offset the negative side-effects brought on by antibiotic use (namely diarrhea)
- Help lower cholesterol (specifically LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol) and reduce blood pressure
- Reduce the severity of allergies or eczema
- Reduce symptoms of certain digestive disorders (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease)
- Boost overall immune health
- Assist with weight loss through reduced appetite and increased absorption of dietary fat in the intestine
and that’s just the beginning. So it’s vital that these happy little microorganisms are well-fed with prebiotics so they can effectively do their job.
But what we know about prebiotics so far (and remember, they’re much less studied and therefore we’re really just scratching the surface of their potential) is that their individual benefits are also significant. Studies so far indicate that prebiotics alone can
- Help stimulate calcium absorption
- Change the rate at which our bodies process carbohydrates
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Improve sleep and mitigate the negative impacts of stress on our bodies
- Help control appetite (an important part of most weight management strategies)
- And may promote body fat reduction (as studied in children battling obesity).
When they’re prioritized together as part of a well-rounded diet, a gut biome that’s replete with both probiotics and prebiotics is a powerhouse of physical well-being and overall good health. The lifestyle coaches at Body Refined are here to help you develop a comprehensive nutritional plan that will make ingesting probiotics and prebiotics a seamless part of your everyday life. By working together to make a plan and practicing behavioral changes that will create lifelong wellness, you and Body Refined can use the powerful benefits of probiotics and prebiotics to promote weight management, assist with cholesterol management and even help with diabetes management. The benefits are countless: come talk to us about what making prebiotics a part of your daily nutritional plan can do for you. We can be reached by calling (844) 899-4846 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.