Your daily regimen should include a healthy probiotic as well as a prebiotic to maximize digestive health. Confused about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Probiotics have gained popularity in the past decade or so, as well-known doctors and nutritionists have advertised their digestive benefits. Big-name companies like Dannon and Yoplait have made millions selling probiotic yogurt.
But what about prebiotics? Read on to learn about this dietary sidekick that deserves more mainstream attention.
Food for Your Probiotics
A probiotic is a supplement that contains freeze-dried live bacteria that come to life in your digestive tract and promote intestinal health. The probiotic’s lesser-known cousin, the prebiotic, is the food probiotics need to thrive.
Prebiotics are a form of carbohydrate that can’t be digested by the human body. As they move through your digestive tract, they nourish probiotics and increase the positive effects probiotics have on your health.
When you pair probiotics with prebiotics, the dynamic duo becomes a powerhouse in your body.
Supporting Health and Immunity
The effects of the prebiotic/probiotic combination include:
- Healthier composition of intestinal microflora
- Favorable effect on digestion
- More effective metabolism of fats
- Stronger immune system
- Reduced probability of illness
- Emotion and mood stability
Research shows that they reduce the incidence of so-called civilization diseases— widespread afflictions like osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease— by promoting better overall health. For example, they support a healthy heart by decreasing “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
They also improve your day-to-day wellness. Prebiotics, when paired with probiotics, reduce digestive distress and flatulence, prevent constipation, and promote regularity. They boost dopamine and serotonin, improving your mood.
Dosing and Diet
The proper dose of prebiotic is up to 20 grams per day. Take a high-quality supplement or eat a diet that includes lots of prebiotic-packed foods.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that probiotic foods, like yogurt and fermented veggies, are the same as prebiotic foods. The list is actually quite different for prebiotics.
Good prebiotic foods include:
The Sugar Effect
Any discussion of prebiotics and probiotics wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the impact of sugar. Sugary foods inhibit the effectiveness of prebiotics.
Digestive health is a careful balance of bacteria in the body. When you eat sugary foods, certain bacteria - the ones that make you feel gassy, bloated, and run down - gobble up the sugar and tilt the balance toward the growth of more bad bacteria.
So don’t throw your money, or your health, away by buying good supplements and spoiling them with sugar. Invest in high-quality prebiotics and feed them high-quality foods. You’ll feel the difference from head to toe, and from gut to mind.