Prebiotic Nutritional Supplements health According to a Dietitian 2024
You are what you eat. Or more accurately, you are what you feed the billions of little creatures that live in your intestines.
The lining of the intestine, like all surfaces of the body, is covered in microscopic creatures, mostly bacteria. These organisms create a micro-ecosystem called the microbiome. And although we do not realize that it is there, it plays a very important role in your health and can even affect your mood and behavior.
Not surprisingly, what you feed your microbiome can have the biggest impact on its health. And the healthier you are, the healthier you are. The key to a healthy microbiome is nurturing a balance between the nearly 1,000 different species of bacteria in your gut.
There are two ways to maintain this balance: helping the microbes that are already there to grow by feeding them the foods they like (prebiotics) and adding live microbes directly to your system (probiotics).
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act as fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine.
Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates, such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbohydrates are not digestible by the body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for bacteria and other microbes.
The list of prebiotic foods is long, from asparagus to yams. A quick internet search will yield dozens of examples, as will Consultation with a registered dietitian.
Today, the list of prebiotic supplements could be even longer, but they usually contain a complex carbohydrate like fiber. Supplement companies market products for specific conditions, such as bone health and weight management, and claim that their ingredients enhance the growth of specific types of bacteria.
Probiotics are different in that they contain living organisms, generally specific strains of bacteria that add directly to the healthy microbe population in the gut.
Like prebiotics, you can take probiotics both through food and from supplements. Probably the most common probiotic food is yogurt.
Yogurt is obtained by fermenting the milk with different bacteria that remain in the final product. Other bacteria-fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, are also good sources of probiotics.
Probiotic supplements also contain living organisms. A single dose can include a particular strain of microbes or a mixture of microbes. As with prebiotic supplements, probiotic supplement companies market products for specific conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
A registered dietitian can help you analyze food sources for prebiotics and probiotics.
Always remember to
One thing to understand about supplements is that there are so many types. For example, one type of bacteria that is commonly used is lactobacillus. But there are more than 120 species of lactobacilli, and at least a dozen of them are used as probiotics.
What’s more, there are several other types of bacteria, each containing dozens of species, resulting in an impressive array of probiotics available. And even when choosing a type of bacteria, the amount in the supplement can vary between brands.
When taking a probiotic, research the condition you want to treat and choose the probiotic based on that condition. Also, keep in mind that while a probiotic may show promise in treating a condition, the research is likely still in its early stages.
Although the supplement may have improved a condition in a few people and in a very limited circumstance, it may not be as effective in real-world situations. As always, when considering taking a supplement, talk to your doctor first.
The 19 Best Prebiotic Foods You Should Eat
- Chicory root. Chicory root comes from a flowering plant in the dandelion family
- Dlion greens. Dandelions are a family of flowering plants, and their greens can be cooked or consumed raw …
- Jerusalem artichoke. …
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Should I take a prebiotic?
As a dietary fiber, they help the microorganisms in our intestines grow, and they’re often taken to maximize a probiotic’s benefits. You don’t need to take a prebiotic for probiotics to work, but it can give the live bacteria a boost.
What are prebiotic supplements?
Prebiotic supplements support gut health by giving bacteria the fuel they need. Prebiotics are plant extracts, fiber-rich compounds, and other natural ingredients that feed the bacteria in your digestive tract. Many people take probiotics and prebiotics daily for digestive health.
Is it better to take probiotics or prebiotics?
The benefits of prebiotics have links to the benefits of probiotics. Prebiotics may support a healthy gut, offering better digestive health, fewer antibiotic-related health problems, and other benefits. There is less research on prebiotics than on probiotics.
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