People are a lot more conscious of what they eat these days. Gone are the days when you would buy something and just hope it was good for you. These days, information on everything is online, and it is so easily accessible. One of the things that you may have heard a lot about lately is prebiotics and probiotics.
What are probiotics? What are prebiotics? And no, it’s not the same thing spelt differently. While these two may be as different as night and day, their importance to gut health and overall health cannot be denied. Read on and find out why.
These are live bacteria that are found in a variety of food products, supplements, and skincare products. They are immensely beneficial to the body, and they are taken specifically for the benefits that they offer users. Most of these microorganisms are quite similar to the ones that reside naturally in the gut, and they simulate the same functions. They can be used topically for the treatment of skin concerns where the skin’s microbiome has been compromised or orally. Probiotics can be found in foods such as some yogurts, fermented foods and dietary probiotics supplements. They are incredibly crucial to the gut and your overall digestive system. While microorganisms are usually associated with disease and infection, these bacteria can be referred to as “good bacteria” since the health of the gut depends a great deal on them as opposed to the harmful bacteria that are actually bad for you and are responsible for ill-health. So, how helpful are these beneficial probiotics?
Types of Probiotics
Bifidobacteria are bacteria that live naturally in the gut, and they can be grown outside the body and administered as a supplement or topical. They are essential to gut and overall health as they help the body break down foods, take in nutrients, and help manage the population of harmful bacteria in the gut.
Lactobacillus is another good form of bacteria that occurs naturally in the digestive tract, the urinary system, and the genital system. They constitute a significant part of the lactic acid bacteria. They produce lactic acid, which increases the rate of mineral absorption and acts as muscle fuel.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
The gut hosts a variety of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics help keep the balance between these good and bad bacteria, thereby preventing the bad bacteria from colonising the gut. An influx of harmful bacteria could result in a ton of digestive issues, but probiotics help keep them in check, thus maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria.
Research has found that probiotics are champions at boosting the body’s immune function. A good number of good bacteria will help stave off antibiotic-associated diarrhea, will improve the body’s resilience to infections, and enhance the digestion of lactose. Probiotics will also reduce the risk of eczema and colic in infants as well.
Studies have also found that probiotics may help in weight and glycemic control. Preliminary evidence suggests that these friendly bacteria inhibit the absorption of fat, thereby increasing the amount of fat that’s excreted from the body. Some probiotics have even been found to reduce appetite.
There has also been preliminary evidence proving that probiotics may have an impact on mental health, by helping to reduce the risk of anxiety and depression.
Prebiotics are fibres that sustain probiotics. Prebiotics are fibres that the body is unable to digest, and as these fibres pass through the gut, they stimulate the growth of “good bacteria” that are crucial to the health of the gut by providing sustenance for them. They include fructans and galactooligosaccharides (GOS).
Health Benefits of Prebiotics
Prebiotics help to stimulate the growth of “good bacteria” such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria are especially helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and other such conditions. They help to maintain vaginal health and help to manage harmful bacteria by preventing them from colonising the gut.
They also boost the body’s immune system. Proinflammation cytokines are harmful to the body, promoting the occurrence of inflammatory diseases that have been linked to different conditions such as osteoarthritis and cancer. Prebiotics work against these cytokines, thus reducing the body’s likelihood of infection.
Prebiotics have also proved efficient at preventing and helping in the management of allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, atopic disorders, and food-related allergies.
There you have it, folks. What’s the take-home? Well, it’s pretty simple. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that reside in different parts of your body, and they boost a variety of body functions. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are what these good bacteria eat. Having healthy amounts of these two in your gut and diet will go a long way in ensuring good health. The two complement each other, so there is no reason to choose one over the other.
Healthy skin requires a healthy gut, so it is for this reason that we have a full range of gut supporting supplements and wholefood powders with probiotics and prebiotics. Our probiotic skin care also addresses multiple skin concerns that often start with a compromised skin microbiome.
Book in for an assessment with one of our skin therapists to discuss which options are most suitable for your skin concerns.