Your wellbeing: Prebiotics versus Probiotics

Prebiotics are substances used by the bacteria in your gut to feed on. More and more evidence is showing the benefit of these bacteria – they support your immune system, they play a role in mental health, they assist with digestion of foods and they play a role in weight management.

So it is therefore important that these foods are included in your diet to provide support to these amazing creatures that play such an essential role to your wellbeing. It is not necessary to take a prebiotic supplement – nature has provided all that you need. The bacteria need substrate to feed off, so in addition to the prebiotics, a good range of vegetables is also essential.  As the bacteria break down and digest the prebiotic foods for you, they produce a substance called butyrate, that helps with the integrity of your intestines (i.e. keeps your gut healthy). When you have a healthy gut lining, this is another protection from invaders.

There are lots of prebiotic foods, but here are some easy sources to include in your diet. Now some of these, admittedly, may cause/contribute to bloating, but don’t exclude them without being absolutely sure.

Probiotics on the other hand, ADD bacteria into the gut to ensure that you have a good diversity. So, both the prebiotic AND the probiotic foods have a role to play in optimising your health.  Having diversity is what really helps signal to the immune system that not all bacteria are bad.  In fact gut bacteria effectively teach your immune system from the moment you are born, about how it should react. The bacteria also signal the brain and influence chemicals in the brain.  It is for this reason that they play a role in mood regulation.

Diversity of the bacteria is key, so this is another reason why it is important to include a range of foods in your diet and to be cautious about following restrictive diets without the advice of a trained dietitian.

As with all dietary requirements – don’t put pressure on yourself. Just look for simple ways to include these foods in your diet where you can.

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