Your body is a living thing, but did you know you have other living things inside your body? That’s right, your body is full of bacteria and other tiny microorganisms. Some are bad bacteria, like germs, but many are good. These good microorganisms are probiotics. They live in your gut and help digest food and fight off bad bacteria.
Probiotics can be found in certain fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, kefir, kombucha, kimchee, tempeh, sauerkraut, pickles, and sourdough bread. Probiotics can also be taken as supplements, of which there are many varieties.
But what about prebiotics? What are they and what is the difference between pre and probiotic? Prebiotics are not living organisms, they’re a kind of plant fiber, most often found in complex carbohydrates. Foods that contain prebiotics include bananas, oatmeal, asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions, beans, berries, and legumes. They’re more difficult for your body to process, so they act as food for the good bacteria in your gut.
Therefore, the difference between pre and probiotic is that one helps the other to grow. Prebiotics promote probiotics and allow them to flourish, resulting in a number of health benefits. Let’s examine some of the reasons probiotics are a good idea to start taking.
1. Probiotics Are Useful When Taking Antibiotics
When a doctor prescribes you antibiotics, they’re trying to kill the bad bacteria in your body. But as antibiotics are doing that, they are also killing the good bacteria in your gut. That imbalance can lead to diarrhea. Taking probiotics while on antibiotics will help lessen the symptoms of diarrhea and restore the balance in your digestive system. Probiotics also help with diarrhea issues even when not taking antibiotics.
2. Probiotics Boost Your Immune System
Probiotics raise the production of your body’s natural antibodies and lower the number of harmful bacteria. Taking prebiotics and probiotics together, with the difference between pre and probiotic being one feeds the other, allows the probiotic to do its work clearing out bad bacteria. The result is a stronger immune system, which could mean fewer colds and illnesses each year.
More research is needed, but studies are starting to show that probiotics can have a positive effect on eczema. People with eczema experience dry, red, itchy skin, which is an over-reaction to something triggering the immune system. It is more common in children and the symptoms tend to lessen as people age. By balancing the bacteria in the digestive system, probiotics reduce inflammation and ease the suffering of children and adults with eczema.
3. Probiotics May Be Beneficial To Your Mental Health
Ongoing studies are looking into how the brain and the gut are linked through the nervous system and the digestive system. This means when the bacteria in your gut are balanced, it may lead to an overall better mood. Probiotics have been used to treat anxiety, depression, autism, OCD, and memory problems.
4. Probiotics Can Help With Digestive Disorders
For those suffering from digestive disorders, probiotics can be useful. By getting rid of harmful bacteria, they can reduce inflammation in the gut, benefiting those with irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. Probiotics can also lower inflammation in people with milk or dairy allergies.
5. Probiotics Can Aid In Weight Loss
By helping with digestion, probiotics prevent your body from absorbing dietary fat. Instead of storing the fat, it is sent out of the body in the feces. Probiotics also help you feel fuller for a longer amount of time, as well as help you burn more calories. This results in lower body weight, especially weight in the belly.
6. Probiotics Can Lower the Risk Of Heart Conditions
In the gut, probiotics help break down bile, which is made of cholesterol. Once it’s broken down, it can’t get reabsorbed into the blood and the body’s bad cholesterol is lowered. Probiotics help lower blood pressure as well.
The Benefits Of Probiotics Don’t Stop There
These are only a few of the ways probiotics have been shown to be helpful in dealing with issues in the body. They have positive effects on the immune system, mental health, and weight loss, and have been known to help people who are taking antibiotics, suffer from digestive disorders, or are at high risk for heart conditions.
Prebiotics are just as useful as probiotics, but the difference between pre and probiotics is that one is a living microorganism and the other is not. Prebiotics are ingested and travel to the gut, where they provide energy for probiotics to clear out other harmful bacteria. Both are present in several types of food or available as supplements.
Studies are ongoing, but the positive effects of probiotics are trending upward. The popularity of daily probiotic use is rising and people are finding out just how valuable it can be.