The first thing you need to know is that there is a difference between prebiotics and probiotics, but together, they work in perfect harmony.
What is a Probiotic?
Probiotics are live bacteria in yoghurt (you may have seen the yoghurt drinks boasting high levels of live good bacteria) and certain dairy products. They can also be taken in pill form as a supplement. They are extremely delicate and cannot easily be absorbed due to stomach acid and overheating in the stomach. Also, we do not know exactly which bacteria will be beneficial, as different bacteria can be helpful to one individual and not as helpful for another.
There are proven health benefits from probiotics if your body manages to absorb them, which are:
- Strengthened immune system
- Increase of calcium – stronger bones
- Levelled out appetite due to a healthier gut
What is a prebiotic?
It is actually a plant fibre. Rather than adding its own benefit to your body, it actually nourishes the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon (probiotics). Prebiotics will actually help probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut – so taken together can be very effective and beneficial for the body.
How can we take make sure we get enough?
These can be found in foods such as onions, chicory and garlic – now you may understand why so many people rave about the benefits of garlic! However, to see real benefits, it may be necessary to take large amounts of these foods, which certain people may find difficult. This is why a lot of people take it in the supplement form from products like Udo's Choice Super-8.
My advice is to take prebiotics along with probiotics for the best result. If you can get it from your food, that’s great, but if not, taking it via a supplement tablet will still bring benefits for your body and improve your digestive system health. If the good and bad bacteria in our gut is not balanced, it can lead to bloating, yeast infections and diarrhea, so it is beneficial to understand how to keep the levels right.
Certain things that can upset the natural balance are:
- Poor diet
- Certain medication, specifically antibiotics
Due to probiotics often being eliminated in the gut, prebiotics are needed to ensure their survival.