What’s the Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics?

October 8, 2020 Published by Leave your thoughts

When you’re shopping the aisles of your favorite local health food store in Eau Claire, WI, you might wonder about the differences between probiotics and prebiotics. One letter makes a big difference: probiotics are the healthy gut bacteria that help you digest food properly, while prebiotics are the food for this kind of bacteria.

Probiotic supplements and foods are live bacteria that, when you eat them, are transferred to your gastrointestinal system. Prebiotics include nondigestible carbs, such as fiber, that feed the healthy bacteria and help it thrive.

Here’s what you need to know about these helpful supplements

What helpful gut bacteria does, and how to keep it
There’s good bacteria and bad bacteria, and when it comes to the human gastrointestinal system, the good bacteria are absolutely necessary. Good bacteria help prevent obesity, aid your immune system and may even prevent depression (which is part of why you feel better when you eat a healthy, balanced diet). They also help form vitamin K and fatty acids, which line your colon and help keep out bad bacteria and viruses and may even help prevent cancer.

If you eat the wrong kinds of foods (like a high-sugar, high-fat diet—similar to what you’d get if you only ate a diet of fast food), it feeds the wrong type of gut bacteria. This can contribute to insulin resistance, higher BMI and poor immune system function. Food isn’t the only way it can be affected, however. Antibiotics can affect your gut bacteria and may permanently change it when taken in early childhood and adolescence. Pesticides can also affect your healthy gut bacteria, so make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Probiotic and prebiotic foods
Many foods already contain probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotic foods include fermented foods and those containing live bacteria, like kimchi, yogurt, kombucha and pickles. Prebiotic foods are even more abundant in legumes, fruits and vegetables. Try adding berries, bananas, oats, sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes), onions, dandelion greens and garlic to your diet—they’ll naturally feed the healthy gut bacteria you already have.

Should you take supplements?
The most important thing to remember is that not all probiotic supplements are created equal, and if you’re not already eating prebiotic foods, they won’t have enough of a food source to live on. What’s worse is that some supplements will not allow the healthy bacteria to survive past your stomach acid. As with all supplements, it’s important to consult with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any conditions that would be affected by a new health regimen.

When choosing a supplement, ask your local health food store in Eau Claire, WI for suggestions. You might wish to focus your attention on getting enough probiotics and prebiotics in your regular diet instead.

For the best health-oriented food and products in the Eau Claire area, visit Mother Nature’s Food. Our staff is happy to help you find the food or supplements you need for great health.

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