What Prebiotics Do
Prebiotics are plant fibers that our body can’t digest, so they serve as food for probiotics – bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms that live in our body. Just like probiotics, prebiotics help support helpful bacteria in our gut and improve our overall health.
When prebiotics get to our lower digestive tract, they basically act as fertilizers that help the healthy bacteria grow. If we didn’t have them in our organism, the good bacteria would suffer, as would our digestive health.
Benefits of prebiotics
Prebiotics are closely connected to probiotics and their benefits are tied together. Prebiotics may be helpful with maintaining a better digestive health, supporting a healthy gut, and having fewer antibiotic-related issues.
However, fewer studies have been conducted on prebiotics than on probiotics, which is why many people aren’t so sure whether or not they should use them, and how. It is still not completely clear how much probiotics really affect our health and how much they strengthen the benefits of probiotics.
Still, some research shows that prebiotics may be helpful to your body by:
- Supporting the probiotic growth of gut bacteria
- Enhancing metabolism and digestion
- Improving calcium absorption
- Helping body process carbohydrates
- Changing the rate at which blood sugar raises affected by some foods
- Improving bone density
- Affecting brain health
Some studies are also trying to deduce whether these fibers can help manage irritable bow syndrome and similar gut diseases. They are also interested in whether they can help control obesity.
Keep in mind that this area is still not fully researched while there is no evidence that taking prebiotics and probiotics together is harmful, you should still talk to your doctor about it, especially if you have a serious illness or a chronic disease.
Prebiotics are very common in many different foods – fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, so there is really no need to take prebiotic supplements. Instead, you should just increase your intake of:
• Green vegetables
• Legumes (peas and beans)
Also, there are some products that have added probiotics, such as bread, yogurt, cereal, some cookies, as well as baby formula. Speaking of babies, they can also get prebiotics from their mother’s milk.
By the way, when you are shopping for products that contain probiotics, they usually won’t contain the word “prebiotic” on the label. Instead, you should look for one of these terms: inulin, oligofructose, chicory fiber, galactooligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides.
It is very important to pay attention to the way you use prebiotics and to always consult your doctor about it. Try to get them from whole foods, because they also contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. While some experts say that you should intake at least 5 grams of prebiotics every day, also pay attention because too much can lead to bloating and gas. Let your gut get used to them by starting out with smaller amounts. You can take them every day and at the same time with probiotics.
All in all…What do Prebiotics do?
Prebiotics are plant fibers that our body cannot digest, and they serve as a sort of fertilizer for the healthy bacteria in our bodies. While not much research has been conducted about prebiotics, it is clear that they are beneficial for our bodies. In combination with probiotics, they can help you maintain a healthy gut flora and prevent gut problems, or at least make them easier.
Unlike probiotics, prebiotics aren’t affected by stomach acid, heat, or time, and the fermentation process doesn’t depend on the individual that is taking them. Still, be careful about how much you take and definitely make sure to talk to your physician first.