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We’ve all heard of probiotics, but what about the new kids on the block; prebiotics? Stay tuned, because prebiotics are about to revolutionise the way you do gut health.

Probiotics vs Prebiotics: What’s the Difference?

 

Probiotics are ‘Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’, according to the World Health Organisation.

Prebiotics have been defined as ‘a nondigestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon’.

In a nutshell, probiotics are the good gut bugs that keep us healthy, and prebiotics are the food for those bacteria.

 

Why Prebiotics Are So Important For Us

 

Prebiotics are the food that our probiotics eat. The right probiotic bacteria need the right prebiotic foods for them, to keep them happy and help them grow.

If we eat foods that do not contain the right prebiotics for our gut bugs to eat, then our good gut bugs starve. This means they can eventually start to die off and drastically reduce their population inside us. The flow-on effects for this can be far-reaching and can affect every aspect of our health.

 

Will Prebiotics Alone Change My Gut Flora Balance?

 

Different prebiotics fuel different bacteria for different effects.

What is astounding is that yes, if you made no other alterations to your diet and didn’t take probiotics, you can still alter the entire microbiome if you use the right prebiotics!

 

What are Prebiotics Made Of?

 

Prebiotics can be fibres, sugars or polyphenols (the naturally-occurring chemicals in fruits and vegetables that give them their vibrant colours).

There are three main kinds of prebiotics:

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS): this prebiotic occurs in garlic, asparagus, chicory, whole wheat and barley, leeks, bananas and onions. It’s also known as “inulin”.

Galactooligosaccharides (GOS): This prebiotic occurs in lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans.

Lactulose: This prebiotic is derived from the sugar Lactose which is present in yoghurt, cheese, milk and other dairy products. My preferred source is kefir!

Eat the rainbow and you will also ensure you get your quota of polyphenols to supercharge your prebiotic trifecta!

 

What If I Get Gas From These Foods?

 

If you’re eating prebiotic foods and you’re getting a reaction (bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, etc), this is a sign that you need a bit of work done on your gut to make it able to tolerate prebiotic fibres. You are likely experiencing an imbalance of “good” and “bad” gut flora.

If we’re having more prebiotics than our gut bacteria can eat, the excess prebiotic can cause problems within the bowel due to lack of processing by our bacteria. It is wise to start small with prebiotic foods and work your way up slowly with your consumption.

 

What Benefits Will I See With Prebiotics?

 

There are so many benefits to using prebiotics to change your gut flora:

  • You can reduce your risk of traveller’s diarrhoea when holidaying overseas
  • You can achieve a healthy weight
  • You can ensure you sleep better
  • You can absorb all your nutrients more effectively
  • You can enhance your immune function
  • You can reduce your anxiety
  • You can control your IBS symptoms
  • You can restore your gut after antibiotics
  • You can potentially avoid needing antibiotics at all!

 

Use Prebiotics Like A Pro

 

If you’re looking for guidance on how to use these powerful little gut-feeders to best effect, you can book in for a FREE 15-Minute Gut Health Assessment with me! We’ll talk about where you’re at now with your gut health, as well as where you want to go.

Let’s work together to build the microbiome you want!

 

Lauren Booth

BHSc (Nat)

Naturopath

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