Probiotics and prebiotics are not the same thing. They are sometimes confused, or not clearly stated what benefits each product provides. However, both probiotics and prebiotics are vital for day to day health.
They help improve digestive functions and strengthen the immune system to fight infections along with several other types of diseases.
We are sure that you will find this information useful, and that you’ll be able to put this advice into practice. So let’s get started, shall we?
Probiotics and prebiotics: they are not the same
I’m sure that you are more than used to seeing commercials on TV for different types of yogurts that enrich “good bacteria.” This refers to probiotics, like the classic plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or miso soup. They all help strengthen bacterial flora.
So what are prebiotics then? Don’t they provide good bacteria as well? Are they digestive microorganisms? Well…almost… Here’s some more information:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that, when administered in appropriate amounts, produce a beneficial effect on health.
- They are intestinal bacteria that help stimulate digestive juices and natural enzymes, necessary for correct digestion. It’s always a good idea to consume organic probiotics, or those found in their natural state.
- It might be a little scary to think of your digestive system as “colonized” by all sorts of bacteria. But this is known as intestinal microbiota, and not only is it vital to health, but it is also very sensitive to any type of foods you eat, as well as to stress, some diseases, and a lot of different medicines.
- These microorganisms also play an immune system role in the intestinal mucosa. They prevent pathogens, or harmful microorganisms, from growing and developing.
- Consuming probiotics, like fermented milk products, helps protect against lots of diseases. Let’s discuss the term “fermented,” though. Natural milk can oftentimes be more toxic than beneficial for the intestines because it can inflame them if the individual suffers from an intolerance.
- Prebiotics are a type of carbohydrate that acts as an underlying layer to probiotics. They are components that the intestines cannot digest, but they act as a structural base that provides strength to these living organisms that protect us against harmful agents.
- They are intended to stimulate the immune system, promoting the development of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, while also preventing the growth of pathogens.
- Prebiotics help absorb some minerals, like calcium and magnesium.
- They help reduce gas and promote intestinal flow.
- They fight constipation and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
The best probiotics to consume daily
- Kefir is fermented cow or goat’s milk. It tastes acidic and has a good texture, thanks to the fermentation process which reduces as much of the original sugars in the milk as possible.
- Kefir can be consumed as a liquid or in granules, and it is highly recommended for breakfast.
- It is one of the richest foods in living microorganisms capable of strengthening and caring for intestinal health.
- If kefir is consumed regularly, it will eliminate pathogenic bacteria which populate in the intestines, oftentimes leading to gastroenteritis.
- One could say that after kefir, sauerkraut is the second most beneficial food for intestinal bacteria.
- Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, rich in lactobacillus or bifidubacterium.
- Sauerkraut improves intestinal bacteria, reestablishes pH levels in the small intestine, protects digestion, and allows us to better absorb nutrients.
- Fermented cabbage is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C and minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Other foods with probiotics
- Greek yogurt
- Miso soup
- Dark chocolate
The best daily prebiotic foods
Not only are artichokes super healthy for the liver, but they are also one of the best prebiotic foods around. They contain between 3% and 20% inulin, one of the most common prebiotics.
The second richest food in prebiotic components like inulin is chicory root. You can find it in health food stores to be included in meals, or prepared as a natural infusion.
Garlic contains roughly 15% inulin. So how about drinking a glass of water every morning with fresh garlic juice? Your health will thank you for it!
Onions contain between 5% and 8% inulin, and they can be eaten raw or cooked.
Leeks provide between 3% and 10% inulin, and are perfect for improving intestinal microflora health.
Wheat germ is another prebiotic food that can be included in your diet. It provides 5% of these types of substances.
If consumed cooked, and always in moderation (so as to prevent weight gain), this will provide you with 5% prebiotics.
If you like bananas, eat them whenever you like. They only provide .5% of inulin, but combined with the aforementioned foods, it will help stimulate intestinal bacteria to make you healthy. It’s worth it!