Did someone ever advise you to have a small cup of yogurt or curd with lunch? Well, it’s for your benefit. Yogurt, curd, or any fermented food, for that matter, contains probiotics, which are great for our health. But what are probiotics anyway? And why do prebiotics and probiotics make the best combo for your gut health? In this article, we answer all your questions and more, so keep reading till the end. 

The Gut Microbiota 

What comes to mind when you hear the words bacteria, fungus, or virus? Had flashbacks of the pandemic? Quite scary, right? But did you know that there are about 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, and fungi residing in your body? These are friendly bacteria that are known to boost your metabolism, improve digestion, and strengthen the immune system. 

The colonies of these bacteria are called gut microbiota or microbiota diversity. It refers to the variety of species of bacteria that live inside your gut. It’s important to have more than a few strains of bacteria in your gut, evenly spread throughout the gastrointestinal tract. 

What Role does the Gut Microflora play in your Body?

  • Metabolic Function: Gut bacteria help with metabolic functions like the synthesis of vitamin K and parts of vitamin B. It helps digest things that were passed on through the GI tract without being broken down. 
  • Prevents Microbial Infection: The mucus membrane of your GI tract is capable of protecting your organs from any harmful microbes. So what about your gut flora? Does the mucosal immune system act upon these microbes too? 

Nature has everything figured out. The gut mucosal immune system works meticulously to improve the presence of good gut bacteria and eliminate the bad ones. This antibacterial activity is very strong in the large intestine, where there is a consistent layer of mucus, however, in the small intestine, it is the gut microflora that produces the antimicrobial protein to prevent infections. 

  • Immunomodulation: The immune system undergoes some changes as a response to a pathogen suppressing it. Since a majority of the immune system is actually located in your GI tract, the gut microbes contribute to the gut immunomodulation of the innate and adaptive immune systems. 

Now that you have a fair idea about gut flora, it’s time to understand what prebiotics and probiotics are and how they help you maintain your gut health. 

What are Prebiotics and how do they Improve Gut Health?

The microbes inside your gut are living organisms that require food to nourish themselves. Prebiotics include special plant fibers that work towards helping healthy bacteria grow in your gut. This makes your digestive system work better. Having more prebiotics, which includes dietary fiber can help you keep your existing gut bacteria happy and healthy. 

Three common types of prebiotics are fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and trans-galacto-oligosaccharides. These prebiotics are metabolized, and as a byproduct, your body gets certain short-chain fatty acids that help carry out crucial functions in the body. These short-chain fatty acids are also efficient at regulating the pH levels of the colon. 

How to Ensure Proper Intake of Prebiotics Every Day?

You probably don’t know this, but prebiotics are present in a lot of food items that you have every day. For example, 

  • Beet
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Wheat
  • Honey
  • Banana
  • Tomato
  • Soybean
  • Cow’s milk
  • Peas and beans 
  • Seaweeds 

Ideal Daily Intake : 

According to the ICMR, the daily diet of an adult should contain at least 40g of dietary fiber (based on a 2000 Kcal diet). This should be sufficient to improve gut performance and alleviate digestive issues.

Potential Benefits of Prebiotics  

  • Eases symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Better absorption of minerals 
  • Helps manage weight by keeping you full for a long time 

What are Probiotics and how do they Improve Gut Health?

Probiotics are microorganisms that live in your gut and help with metabolism, immune response, and preventing infections. In general terms, we call them good bacteria. 

At some point, your body will have both good and bad bacteria. The good gut bacteria help remove the bad bacteria while also helping with other crucial tasks. 

So if there are probiotics in our bodies, then why do we need to consume more? Not having enough good gut bacteria makes it easy for the bad bacteria to survive in your body. Remember when we talked about microbiota diversity? Consuming probiotics ensures that there is a balance in the composition of the gut flora and enough good bacteria to keep infections at bay. 

Where are these Probiotics present in our Bodies? 

Probiotics are present in your gastrointestinal tract, which starts from the point of ingestion (the mouth) and ends at the point of excretion (the anus). Besides the GI tract, they are also situated in the lungs, vagina, urinary tract, and skin. 

How to Ensure Proper Intake of Probiotics Every Day?

Most fermented food items do contain probiotics. If you are trying to add good bacteria to your gut, the following foods can be included in your diet:

  • Yogurt 
  • Tempeh 
  • Kimchi
  • Miso 
  • Kefir 

Ideal Daily Intake 

We cannot measure probiotics in grams. There is a particular unit called a CFU, or colony-forming unit. It is a measure to find the number of probiotics present in a given sample. 10–20 CFU is an ideal amount. 

It can be really hard to measure how many CFUs of probiotics you have in a day; in this case, supplements with just the right amount of probiotics help. 

Potential Benefits of Probiotics 

  • Help balance the friendly bacteria in your digestive system.
  • Probiotics can help prevent and treat diarrhea.
  • May aid in the treatment of symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, stress, and memory loss.
  • Helps reduce the symptoms of digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis, IBS, and necrotizing enterocolitis.

Types of Probiotic Bacteria and their Benefits 

Lactobacillus Casei: Fights symptoms of IBS.

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus: Protects against gut infections and diseases.

Lactobacillus Acidophilus: Provides relief from abdominal cramps, gas, and diarrhea.

Streptococcus Thermophilus: Improves immune health.

Bifidobacterium Lactis: Decreases the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Bifidobacterium Bifidum: Prevents ulcerative colitis.

Why Taking Prebiotics and Probiotics Together is the Best Way to Improve Gut Health

Having prebiotics and probiotics together gives you a double advantage. Prebiotics nourish the existing bacteria in your body, thus empowering them, and probiotics add more good bacteria to maintain diversity and balance in the gut. 

To ensure you get the benefits of both, you can either change your diet plan or use prebiotics and probiotic supplements that’ll ensure you get the right amount of prebiotics and probiotics every day without altering your diet too much. Probiotics and prebiotics supplements are also known as synbiotics. While you can take prebiotic and probiotic supplements separately, it is advisable to take one synbiotic. This is because the prebiotic has been carefully selected according to the included probiotic. Additionally, the overconsumption of prebiotic and probiotic supplements separately might cause side effects like gas or stomach cramps.

When you take a synbiotic supplement, you help more probiotic bacteria survive the journey through your digestive tract in addition to ensuring that the beneficial bacteria reach the gut. The highly acidic environment in your stomach can kill many bacteria cells before they reach their destination, but prebiotics can help repair and multiply them to ensure a significant population survives.

Wrapping Up

Bacteria are usually seen in a negative light, but most people don’t know that our bodies also contain good bacteria that carry out many crucial functions. These bacteria are called probiotics, while prebiotics gives them the nutrients needed to survive. A healthy gut usually leads to a healthy body. That is why taking care of your gut is essential. Prebiotics and probiotics supplements are an excellent way to care for your gut.

Syndicated press content is not written by ED Times


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