PROBIOTICS or PREBIOTICS?
Most of us have heard of probiotics, they are the good bacteria we can take as a supplement or through fermented foods. What they actually do is super important in that they support a better healthier gut structure and function and influence our normal bacteria residents – our microbiome in a beneficial way.
More and more scientific research is finding how our microbiome is literally impact the health of our whole body – YEP really important stuff.
But what about prebiotics? Few of us know what a prebiotic even is!
Prebiotics are the fuel that feeds the microbiome and while there are times that probiotic supplements are needed and useful, prebiotics are a can vital as a long term strategy in ensuring a healthy microbiome.
Probiotics are live or even dead bacteria that are good for your digestive system.
These bacteria are found naturally in foods such as:
- Apple cider vinegar with mother
These types of foods can help support our gut microbiome with probiotics supplements being valuable in certain situations such as when taking a course of antibiotics or if you have been diagnosed with inflammation and other digestive disorders. When you feel unwell with acute illnesses like the flu or colds probiotics can also help the immune system get back on track.
Certain probiotics are useful in certain situations, Lactobacillus plantarum for inflammation, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus for allergy, Saccharomyces boulardii after antibiotic use, for travellers diarrhoea and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). There are also strains that are useful in pregnancy and for mum and bubs such as Lactobacillus fermentum.
Prebiotics are the food or fuel for our beneficial bacteria and provides a sustainable and long term answer to improving your digestion and gut health – it’s also more cost effective.
Prebiotic supplements include:
- Partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG)
- Slippery elm
- Grapeseed extract
Prebiotic foods include:
- Chicory root
- Coconut Meat & Flour
- Flax and Chia Seeds
- Dandelion Greens
- Jerusalem Artichoke
Lets take a look at something like PHGG which is a soluble fibre or resistant starch that feeds bacteria especially the beneficial bifidobacteria.
It is great for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea, constipation, and for those with issues with FODMAPs because it does not cause bloating like lactulose or inulin. It selectively increases levels of butyrate producing bacteria, whilst also increasing butyrate production in the colon, normalises stool form and decreases colonic inflammation. Butyrate is a fatty acid that gastrointestinal cells can use for fuel to heal and repair.
It’s worth noting that psyllium husks can increase butyrate production in the colon also, but psyllium can be classed as colonic food rather than prebiotic and the seeds are even better at increasing butyrate production in the colon.
What Does The GUT like?
- Fermented foods – kefir, sauerkraut, kombuchu, apple cider vinegar with mother, yogurt
- Prebiotic foods and fibre – onion, garlic, leeks and the others listed above
- Bone Broths
- Fresh wholefoods that are nutrient dense
- Variety (an important reason we like to have you eating the least restricted diet) – nature gives us foods in season
- Optimal protein intake
- Well chewed food
- Enjoying food especially in a social setting i.e. eat your food with friends and family and savour the flavours
- Meditation/relaxation techniques
What Should a Healthy Bowel Movement be like?
- No straining
- Once to twice per day formed
- No urgency
- No undigested foods
- No oiliness
- No floating
What is Bad for the Gut?
- Food you react to like gluten and dairy for some people.
- High sugary or starchy foods
- Highly processed foods including vegetable oil (not olive, avocado, coconut though)
- Poor stress management (gut has its own nervous system!)
Signs of an unhealthy gut!
- Bowel movements that are loose/hard/urgency/oily/any colour other than brown/feel incomplete
- Stomach pain
- Depression/poor motivation
- OCD and any mood disorder
- Back pain
- Dry skin
- Muscle fatigue/aches/pain (unexplained)
- History of allergies (hay-fever/eczema/asthma) or psoriasis
- Autoimmunity (all of them have a strong gut connection)
- Hormonal issues