There was a time when probiotics were something people talked about only in health food stores. A lot has changed since the 1970s and '80s. If you watch commercial TV, you’ll hear all about probiotics in yogurt and supplements and why you need them. You don't hear as much about prebiotics, and, perhaps more importantly, how probiotics and prebiotics work together to support your gut’s health.
We have a lot to learn about the impact of our gut’s health on our overall well-being, but we do know that digestive diseases send millions of people to the doctor every year. We also know that many more are suffering with gastrointestinal problems that negatively impact their quality of life. We also know that prebiotics and probiotics are vital to improving gut health, which is why we’re going to discuss them in detail.
Probiotic vs Prebiotic
Probiotics are helpful, living bacteria that benefit our digestive systems in a number of ways. These friendly microorganisms help keep bad bacteria at bay and play a role in breaking down and properly digesting food. And while it may seem a bit off-putting to think about microorganisms living inside us, in reality there are trillions of them, and they play a significant role in our health.
The goal of probiotics is to boost your body’s number of positive, friendly bacteria in your gut’s microbiome. This term describes the internal environment of our gastrointestinal tracts, which act as their own ecosystems, complete with billions of microorganisms that play various roles in bodily processes. While science has a lot of work to do to fully understand the gut microbiome, studies have shown that it impacts areas like immunity, autoimmune diseases, cancer, mental health and a range of other serious issues.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are types of non-digestible fiber that act as a food-source for probiotics. That’s right, in order to grow and thrive, all the friendly bacteria found in probiotics needs something to ingest. Prebiotics play their own important role in gut health above simply fueling good bacteria. More studies need to be done, but we know that prebiotics play a vital role in absorbing minerals, maintaining normal blood sugar and normalizing bowel function.
Benefits of prebiotics and probiotics
Together probiotics and prebiotics work in harmony to restore and sustain proper gut function. The trick is to make sure your body has enough of each to do the job well, and that’s harder than you may think. Many things we do damage our gut biome and the good bacteria we need. Everything from drinking alcohol and taking antibiotics to poor food choices and stress can negatively impact the balance, allowing bad bacteria to take over and cause all sorts of problems.
One of the best methods to boost your body’s level of friendly gut-bacteria is to use supplementation. By taking a high-quality probiotic and prebiotic, you can restore balance and keep your digestive system on track. Not all supplements are created equal, however, which is especially important when it comes to pro and prebiotics. Not only does it need to have enough living bacteria to do the job, it has to make it through your stomach’s acidic environment to have any impact at all.
How to Select Probiotics and Prebiotics
For a probiotic or prebiotic to have any real effect on your health, it must colonize your gastrointestinal tract. This allows the good bacteria to grow and thrive, tipping the balance back in your body’s favor. Along the way it will go through the extremely harsh environment of the stomach which is full of acid that kills bacteria.
To solve this, you need to consume so many healthy bacteria that enough actually make it to your small and large intestines. And it takes a lot to do the job. A pro and prebiotic need to have several billion microorganisms to effectively colonize the gut. This means any supplement you take must protect the bacteria through the stomach so that they reach your gut healthy and ready to take charge.
While several billion sounds like a lot, supplements are readily available to meet that criteria. You can find high-quality pro- and prebiotic supplements designed with delayed-release capsules ranging from 5 billion to 30 billion live bacteria. These will provide your body with enough healthy bacteria to get your gut-health moving in the right direction.
Probiotic and Prebiotic FAQ
The subject of pro and prebiotics can be a bit confusing and overwhelming when you first start to look into it. To help you sort myth from fact, we created the following list of frequently asked questions.
Why is gut health important?
A healthy gut is necessary for immune health, proper digestion and the proper absorption of nutrition. And although there is still much left to study, science has shown that gut health impacts much more than digestion. We know that it plays a role in immunity, autoimmune diseases, metabolic processes, cardiovascular health, cancer processes, neural function and many other critical bodily processes.
What does bacteria have to do with gut health?
Bacteria in the gut are sometimes called “flora” or “microbiota.” This microbiota is vital to key processes like breaking down food, manufacturing vitamins and training our immune systems. This friendly bacteria is essential to life, so it is essential that we maintain the right environment to help them flourish.
What makes bacteria good for your gut?
Sometimes referred to as “beneficial flora,” good bacteria play an essential role in your gut ecosystem. This beneficial flora helps manage the bad bacteria population by fighting off existing harmful strains and impeding growth of new ones. It also aids many key bodily processes including, but not limited to digestion, metabolic functions, cardiovascular health, manufacturing vitamins and even reducing inflammation.
What is bad bacteria?
Otherwise known as “opportunistic flora,” bad bacteria is also a normal part of your gut microbiota, but it can cause serious issues when left unchecked. While science has a lot to learn about the issue, we know that having an overgrowth of bad bacteria can lead to many issues, including serious digestive issues, autoimmune issues and more.
What is a balanced gut?
Think of your microbiota as a scale with good bacteria on one side and bad on the other. If you have more harmful bacteria than good, your scale won’t be balanced. Good bacteria keeps the population of bad bacteria in check, while any imbalance can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living strains of helpful bacteria that support your body’s existing population of good bacteria. These can help keep bad bacteria from taking over and causing a range of serious digestive and health issues.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber that act as a food-source for probiotics, and they come from plants. They are important for maintaining a stable colony of healthy, gut-friendly bacteria. Are prebiotics better than probiotics? No. In fact, they are equally indispensable to your gut health.
Can you find probiotics and prebiotics in food?
Yes, you can get both from food sources. Probiotics come from fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, kimchi and other similar foods. Some foods have probiotics added to them as well. Prebiotics naturally occur in fibrous plant foods like vegetables, fruits and grains.
It can be difficult to get enough of these foods to keep your digestive system working properly. It can be even harder to get enough to help correct existing issues related to your digestive health. This is one reason many people supplement their diet with pro and prebiotics.
Do pre and pro biotic supplements help?
Probiotic and prebiotic supplements are an easy way to boost your intake of the right type of friendly bacteria. Not only can you control the type and amount you take, you can get enough of them without needing to overconsume fermented foods. Not everyone is a fan of the way fermented foods taste as well, making supplements an easy choice.
Prebiotics and Probiotics Supplements
Where can you buy prebiotics? Trio Nutrition has developed the best prebiotic and probiotic combination:
Pre-Pro Live: Get all the benefits from 30 billion probiotic CFU with 10 probiotic strains in the world's first pre- & probiotic supplement.
Nirvana Kombucha: Reap the benefits from 5 Billion CFUs with the added benefits of Organic Kombucha but without the bitter taste.
The information in this article and throughout Trio Nutrition’s blog is for informational purposes only, and should never be mistaken for professional medical advice.
The information in this article and throughout Trio Nutrition’s blog is for informational purposes only, and should never be mistaken for professional medical advice. With reference to all blog articles, the statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information or product references contained in the blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.