We’ve heard a lot about probiotics and the many health benefits that come along with their regular use. Now it’s time to dive into prebiotics. What are they? How are they different from the famous probiotic and where can we find them? Since the names make it confusing enough, it’s important to note that they are both very different.
We learned previously that probiotics are the actual live bacteria that is created naturally through the process of fermentation in foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and can also be taken in pill form. Prebiotics, on the other hand, aren’t fermented until they reach the large colon. The prebiotic fiber is found in the non-digestible part of foods such as onions, garlic, bananas and apple skin, and it makes its way through the small intestine. During the process, the prebiotic bacteria feeds bacteria colonies found in probiotics, helping to multiply the number of beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems that are associated with reduced risk of disease and all around better health.
Prebiotics are mostly found in foods that are high in fiber. Oatmeal, asparagus, barley, and wheat bread are all high in prebiotics which benefit both digestion and regularity in bowel movements. The good news is that like probiotics, a supplement can be taken for prebiotics. According to research, the best prebiotics are those that contain two types of fiber derived from the chicory root, inulin and oligofructose, which is a subset of inulin. So, as you can see, if you are consuming a decent amount of fiber, you will likely be consuming a decent amount of prebiotic fiber. To simplify, the recommended intake of dietary fiber is 25-38 grams, with 5-20 of those grams being prebiotic fiber.
While it’s important to ingest both probiotics and prebiotics, it’s essential to understand that probiotics are only effective if you take them while they are alive. The downside is that they can be killed by stomach acid, heat, or time. One of the perks of prebiotics is that prebiotic fiber is not affected by digestive juices, time or heat, and its main purpose is to nourish the good bacteria, inhibiting the growth of unwanted microbes. Prebiotin fiber can be taken in a white powder form that easily dissolves in drinks or can be served on food.
So, now that we’ve dissected the ins and outs of pro and prebiotics, you are aware of the importance of taking them regularly and preferably at the same time every day. This establishes a healthy routine that your body will thank you for.
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