In this newfangled, often tortuous field of food supplements, some people confuse probiotics with prebiotics and vice-versa, or think of both as one and the same. While that may not be very far from the truth, probiotics and prebiotics are not identical. Probiotics are the bacteria that reside in the intestines to help digest the ingested food, while prebiotics are the food for these bacteria. So they are associated but not related. Perhaps explanations will help.
The digestive tract of all animals and humans contain microflora (microscopic plants) that help digest the food once it reaches the intestines or make them into waste matter. These microflora consist primarily of bacteria and yeasts that live together harmoniously at normal micro-environmental conditions. But when this condition is modified under certain circumstances and the beneficial microorganisms are reduced in number, an imbalance occurs and we get sick. Problems in the colon may develop, skin disorders could erupt, suddenly we are allergic to ordinary substances, feel tired often, and are effected in many other ways..
Taking probiotics would commonly solve this problem, as it should restore the balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microflora. Thus the normal functioning of the intestinal tract will resume, and the body will respond positively to the elimination of the malaise. ‘Bad’ bacteria such as the Clostridium difficile pathogen that thrives during and right after extended antibiotic ingestion, or the Giardia species that causes persistent diarrhea, are reduced to normal levels or forced out of the intestinal environment by the addition of more ‘good’ bacteria via the probiotics.
However, there are cases where the nutrient requirements of the probiotic bacteria introduced into the intestines are insufficient, maybe as after-effect of medical treatment or too-rapid elimination of intestinal contents, i.e., antibiotics and diarrhea, respectively. The probiotic bacteria may reproduce slowly, not at all, or some may even die off, so that the remaining bacteria’s effects may be delayed until they are of adequate quantities. Thus taking prebiotics will allow the probiotics to grow rapidly and colonize the intestine for quicker recovery. In other words, the probiotics may sometimes need feeding themselves just like other organisms.
But what exactly are prebiotics? They may be characterized as the nutrients for the probiotic bacteria. They are really fructo-oligosaccharides also called as synbiotics, short-chain molecules of fructose sugar. They are generally insoluble by stomach acids and digestive juices, and therefore pass through the digestive system relatively unscathed until they reach the part where bacteria mostly resides, the small and large intestines. Thus the ingestion of prebiotics and probiotics combined will ensure the maximization of benefits they provide, particularly after suffering ailments where the probiotics may have been affected negatively.
Not only do probiotics benefit the digestive system. Studies have also indicated that having the correct bacterial balance in the intestines also corrects the balance in the mouth, skin and genital areas. The entire body positively gains with the use of prebiotics and probiotics through correcting the balance, maintaining it, and preventing pathogens from establishing themselves again in the body systems.
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If so, you may be one of the many people who are confused by the nearly identical terms. While the only spelling difference is one letter, the fact that one is a food or yogurt and one is a bacteria, is only the beginning of the differences between these two powerful sources of digestive and overall health maintenance.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the main characteristics of the two wonderful pro-health weapons in the probiotic vs prebiotic treatment plan.
First off, the fact that you are attempting to improve your help for whatever reason should be applauded.
Take this minute to pat yourself on the back. Any and every effort you make in even the smallest measure is the beginning of a new you and a healthier, happier person you desire to be.
Since you are concerned about the differences between probiotic vs prebiotic measures in regulating your digestive health, you may already have a basic knowledge of the digestive system.
But just in case, here’s a quick primer.
Very simply stated, as far as a probiotic vs prebiotic definition is concerned, probiotics are actually live bacteria contained in yogurt and other pills and dairy products.
Since they are live they must be kept alive to combat the bad bacteria in your body, once they are dead, they are ineffective.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are actually specific plant fibers contained in supplements containing the wonderful kiwi and other plants which beneficially feed good bacteria which is currently in your colon or large bowel.
These plant fibers are not digested, and you can think of them as a fertilizer which grows good bacteria.
Because prebiotics are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time, they continually help your good bacteria battle the bad bacteria in your digestive tract.
Since probiotics are food in the form of yogurt or dairy products, once they are consumed, they must be replaced.
While they do serve a function in digestive tract health, multiple doses are required and this is the main reason prebiotic treatments are easier to use and longer lasting in the probiotic vs prebiotic contest.
Just as your core that physical trainers refer to, basically the abdominal area, is so important in the overall strength and health of your entire outer body, your internal core, or digestive tract, is equally important to your overall internal health.
I learned when I went to a doctor a couple of years ago for some gastrointestinal problems I was having that over 75% of all disease in humans starts in the digestive tract. To say that it is important to address probiotic vs prebiotic treatments is an understatement.
Join Barbara Allan on her fermentation experimentation journey! Probiotics play an important role in healing arthritis because they help to re-populate the stomach and intestines with healthy bacteria. In this video, Barbara Allan shows many non-dairy probiotic supplement options you can make at home. Sauerkraut, kimchi and orangina are just a few of the delicious probiotics she explains. For more information visit: www.conqueringarthritis.com Video Rating: 5 / 5
Over the last years, probiotics and prebiotics have gained scientific recognition as protective and useful agents that help regulate the micro-environment of our body. Digestive microbes are collectively known as gut flora, make up about three to five pounds of our total weight and total approximately 100 trillion. Mostly developed from milk, uncooked fruits and vegetables, these bacteria include many different types of microbes. Some of these can make us sick, but some of them are extremely valuable for our health keeping our immune system strong and intact.
The mounting awareness of the correlation between nutrition and health has led to an escalating demand for food products that promote health beyond providing basic nutrition. Probiotics and prebiotics are components contained in or added to foods, which yield high beneficial effect to our health associated to their interactions with the gastrointestinal tract (GI).
The central theory of probiotics is that our body is a host to microorganisms, usually bacteria, viruses and yeasts, which are vital to our health. When administered in sufficient amounts, these microbes are valuable to the host by improving the beneficial microbial population, which is, otherwise diminished by the use of antibiotics. Known as “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria”, probiotics are similar to the natural bacteria that our digestive system produces and travel through the digestive tract to our intestine.
Probiotics are typically concerned with the small intestine. Their typical function is to help during the digestive process by facilitating the absorption of minerals and nutrients.
This kind of bacteria is typically contained in foods such as yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, sauerkraut and some soy beverages, but also in dietary supplements such as capsules, powders and tablets.
The beneficial bacteria are vital to our health. Based on a wide number of medical experiments and relative articles, research shows that the benefits of probiotics relate to (1) prevention or treatment of diarrhea, (2) prevention or treatment of urinary tract or female genital tract, (3) prevention or treatment of pouchitis (4) treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, (5) decrease of recurrence of bladder cancer, (6) prevention of eczema in children and (7) prevention of colic in children. In addition, probiotics have anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial effects, contribute to the decrease of triglyceride levels and stabilize blood glucose levels.
Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not bacteria. They are non-digestible food components, typically oligosaccharides, which are not absorbed in the digestive tract. Because they avoid digestion, they reach the colon and are metabolized by the beneficial members of the original microbiota.
Prebiotics are typically concerned with feeding the “good bacteria” that already exist in the colon. Often, the gastric acid can destroy many of the probiotics already existing there, resulting in probiotic deficiency. By stimulating the yeasts in the digestive tract, prebiotics increase the number and the activity of probiotics in the large intestine and colon thus promoting digestive health.
Prebiotic carbohydrates are naturally contained in fruits, legumes and whole grains such as bananas, berries, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, garlic, artichokes, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, leeks, bread, cereals, yogurt, whole grain, wheat, oatmeal, flaxseed, and baby milk. However, they can also be added to a broader selection of foods in the form of supplements. On average, human body needs 5g of prebiotics in addition to a regular diet so that immune system is protected and energy is produced. Either we eat foods that contain prebiotics or we take prebiotic supplements is a good practice to ensure overall wellness.
The beneficial effects of prebiotics are numerous. Scientific research has shown that prebiotics contribute to the (1) increased levels of “good bacteria”, (2) reduced levels of bad bacteria, (3) increased absorption of minerals such as calcium, (4) prevention or management of diarrhea, (5) relief from constipation, (6) provision of daily energy requirements up to 10%, and (7) increased bioavailability of minerals.
When we are healthy, our micro-environment works perfectly and contains colonies of bacteria and organisms that co-exist in harmony and balance without harming us and without our body working to defend against the organisms as it does when we have an infection. The “good bacteria” promote good digestion thus improving metabolism and making us feel healthy. The mouth, the skin, the intestinal tract and the genital organs are the primary locations of colonization and the composition of each location can affect the types of microorganisms living on another location.
When our micro-environment and the fine balance of our body get disrupted, fatigue, sugar craving and frequent fungal infections are some of the symptoms that require medical treatment. This happens because the healthy micro-organisms are drastically reduced and the pathogenic organisms replace them thus lowering our immune system.
When pathogenic organisms multiply and occupy a big part of our micro-environment, the risk of developing allergies, colon problems, skin infections and immune system problems increases.
International market is becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits of probiotics and prebiotics and their individual roles in health preservation. Both components are available in almost every product and, as they become increasingly popular, more and more uses are going to be introduced by the health industry.
Keeping our micro-environment healthy is important towards the prevention of the numerous unwanted effects that can occur when the balance of our system gets disrupted.
Prebiotics coupled with probiotics are able to balance the bacteria that live within the human bodys digestive system, to enable a thriving environment and the best digestive health possible this combination can be so beneficial that it is best to take prebiotics supplements and probiotic supplements.
Prebiotics are natural food sources that are non-digestible, making their way through the digestive system into the colon, where they will provide the necessary food needed by the good bacteria to be able to grow and thrive properly and they do this while providing no benefits to the harmful bacteria that is also found.
Probiotics on the other hand are the good bacteria found in different types of food. When probiotics are consumed, beneficial bacteria is added in the digestive system. The most common strains of probiotics include Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli. When prebiotics and probiotics are mixed together, they result in what is called synbiotics.
Prebiotics are a food source for the productive growth of bacteria, feeding probiotics and helping them to grow. They contain the dietary fibers Fructooligosaccharides or FOS and Inulin, which are the natural sugars that one can get from kiwifruit, bananas, onions, soybeans, leeks, some types of whole grains, and asparagus, among others chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes are the foods with the highest prebiotics content.
But getting prebiotics from foods only can be a problem because the foods dont really contain enough to provide the maximum benefits, and some of the most beneficial content may be in parts of the foods like the stems or skin that you arent going to eat making prebiotics supplements the most effective way to get your prebiotics.
Probiotics are good bacteria that are like what is already found in your colon. Due to circumstances like poor diet, illness, or the need to have taken antibiotics it may be important to add to more probiotics to your naturally found good bacteria.
Probiotics are not found in any foods, they must be manmade through a fermentation process. Yogurt is the best known probiotics, with other fermented foods like different soy products and sauerkraut also containing them.
You really want to be careful though when adding probiotics through foods, because you really dont know what you will be getting in terms of quantity or type of bacteria. There are no standards or requirements for this, and it can become very misleading.
For instance, so many people eat yogurt for its probiotics benefits but the yogurt doesnt even have to include live cultures, and if it has been pasteurized almost assuredly doesnt. As well, so much of the yogurt products have a lot of sugar, which is known to be harmful to the good bacteria.
So, like taking prebiotics supplements to get your prebiotics take a probiotics supplement for your probiotics, and be able to know that you are effectively maximizing their benefits.
Large number of micro-organisms live on various sections of human body (skin, mouth and gastrointestinal tracts) that are exposed to the outside environment. These are known as commensal microbes have associated with humans. They are greatly interdependent with them. The highest concentration of commensal organisms believed to be in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that has above 400m2 surface area (this makes up the second largest surface area of the body). The GI tract can harbour high extent of flora (>500 various bacterial species) among which some are beneficial, e.g. stimulating and supporting the host from invading bacteria and viruses and assisting digestion.
A research about germ free animals has implied that microbial colonization has essential (health) roles for humans. However microbes may occasionally develop a pathogenic relationship with a host that can result in occurring disease or even death of the host.
Microbial metabolites may have mutagenic or carcinogenic activity. As a result cancer can develop during the long period of exposure, Therefore understanding the influence of colonizing microbes in addition to learning desired factors to encourage the positive and inhibit the negative activities of commensal attacking microbes. The probiotic abstraction has been an important issue. They are known as live micro-organisms involving a health influence on the host when consumed in adequate amount (Guarner and Schaafsma 1998). In other words, Probiotics are the foods for the beneficial bacteria. They can be added to the diet to help the beneficial bacteria grow and survive the digestive mechanism.
Prebiotics are known as nondigestible food ingredients that can beneficially influence the host byselectively stimulating the growth or /and activity of a certain number of bacteria in the colon. In fact, they are the food for the friendly bacteria. They may be added to the diet to provide the situation for effective bacteria to grow and survive in the digestive mechanism.
Probiotics aim to generate a useful effect on the host by administration of live micro-organisms such as those in traditional yoghurt and other fermented foods or in powders, tablets, liquid suspensions and lyophilised in capsules.
Probiotics have the ability to inhibit intestinal bacterial enzymes involved in the synthesis of colonic carcinogens. They have proved to be effective on modulation of immune function, humoral, cellular and non-specific immunity.
Some advantages of probiotics over conventional therapy can include virtually low cost, and the fact that probiotics are not expected to increase the incidence of antibiotic resistance and the mechanisms in which probiotics may suppress pathogens, so reducing the extent of resistance against the probiotic.
Prebiotics may be more efficient than probiotics in obtaining colonic bacterial adaptation and also affecting lactose intolerance. However, both probiotics and prebiotics may finally have beneficial effects on colonic disease.
Prebiotic foods generally have certain absorption, fibre contribution, gut integrity, immune function and cholesterol control. Some prebiotics are consumed for the treatment of constipation and hepatic encephalopathy.
Prebiotics can protect against some intestinal pathogens and may be helpful in some inflammatory bowel disease. They can have some anticarcinogenic influences. The market trends and biological potential of both probiotics and prebiotics are considerable. The growing demands of natural alternatives over conventional medicine are expected to improve the prebiotic market. Americans are constantly recognising that their low-fibre diet could be the main cause for the growing occurrence of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and coronary vascular diseases.
While there is a greater awareness that gut health translates to overall health, most Americans are unaware of the potential benefits offered by prebiotics.
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Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics – What’s Really Growing in Your Food!
Probiotics have been gaining in public attention and commercial success over the last few years. Products like Dannon’s Activia yogurt in the US and Unilever’s Latta margarine in Germany showcase some of the potential health benefits from probiotics. One excellent definition of a probiotic comes from a paper published by researcher Roy Fuller in 1989. He characterized a probiotic as “a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance.” What that means in simple terms is that probiotic foods help to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria within your intestinal tract. In addition to providing benefits specific to each strain of probiotic bacteria, an increase in numbers of helpful bacteria may also generally decrease the population of harmful bacteria in your gut.
While probiotics as a class are generally advantageous to digestion and health, it’s important to note that each genus, species, and strain of probiotic bacteria can often lend its own specific effects to the body. While the evidence for many probiotic effects lacks bulletproof scientific confidence, many are supported by well designed studies. It is worth taking a look at the results of just a few of the multitudinous studies linking the consumption of probiotic bacteria to health benefits. For those of you not used to scientific notation, the name of the bacteria is in italics.
Lactobacillus casei Shirota – lower recurrence of bladder cancer.
L. acidophilus and B. infantis – reduced rates of overall mortality and necrotizing enterocolitis in infants.
L. rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 for prevention and L. reuteri SD2222 for treatment – acute diarrhea caused by rotavirus.
Saccharomyces boulardii – reduced diarrhea in travelers and prevention of diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile resulting from antibiotic treatment.
Mix of lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and streptococcus species – prevent relapse of inflammatory bowel disease symptoms.
B. lactis HN019 and L. rhamnosus HN001 – enhanced immunity in the elderly.
As you can see from the results of these studies, probiotics may play a role in cancer prevention, immunity, and the prevention and treatment of various infections. However, it’s important to realize that there are many delivery systems for probiotic organisms and, depending upon the species and method of transit, not all (or none) of the helpful bacteria may survive to colonize the gut.
For those that do make the trip successfully, a technology complementary to probiotics has developed to aid their growth. Prebiotics are food ingredients that are not digested by humans but that can be utilized by probiotic bacteria to spur their growth and aid their survival in the digestive tract. They also can provide the building blocks used by bacteria to synthesize compounds beneficial to the host human. Prebiotics generally take the form of carbohydrates and are often also classified as soluble fibers. Popular prebiotics found in many food products include various types of oligosaccharides as well as inulin. An interesting facet of prebiotic function is that the area of the digestive tract in which the prebiotic nourishes its target bacteria is dependent upon the chemical chain length of the prebiotic. Short chain prebiotics are fermented more quickly, allowing them to feed bacteria inhabiting the primary areas of the digestive tract. Longer chain prebiotics ferment more slowly and are consumed by bacteria living further along in the colon. So-called “full-spectrum” prebiotics are comprised of compounds of many different chain lengths and are able to nourish the entire colon.
A final category of food product that is undergoing growth at the current time is the synbiotic. Synbiotic foods contain both probiotic bacteria as well as prebiotic nutrients. The idea is to get both the organism and its food in one shot. Combining the live bacteria with nutrition to support it may help it to survive the sometimes fatal process of colonizing the gut. While it’s a great idea, always be mindful when choosing synbiotics to ensure that both the bacteria and prebiotics are supplied at a level that has been shown to be beneficial. As with all supplements, unscrupulous companies often include only miniscule amounts of expensive compounds simply for labeling and marketing claims. Do your homework and make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
Rob Bent is the founder of Nutrition Perfected in Brooklyn, NY. We provide performance nutrition counseling to athletes as well as regular Joes and Janes. We specialize in maximizing fat loss, muscle gain, and athletic performance using efficient and pragmatic nutritional strategies and techniques. Let us help you perform to your highest potential!