Taking probiotic supplements can help improve your general health and immunity in particular. It’s a fact proven by studies. However, you must be careful not to mix pro- and prebiotics. Both are good for your digestion and wellbeing, but in very different ways. You need to understand how they work, to ensure you get the maximum benefits from these supplements.
Benefits of Taking Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics are bacteria that inhabit your gut and essentially ensure it remains healthy. The presence of these bacteria affects your abilities to absorb nutrients and fight off harmful bacteria. Some recent studies also tie gut microflora health to a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
Probiotic bacteria ‘renew’ and maintain themselves naturally. At least, they should do this, but unhealthy diet, stress, and especially antibiotics destroy them too fast. To help these bacteria replenish themselves naturally, you should consume large amounts of dairy or start taking probiotic supplements. With your gastrointestinal microflora healthy, you should enjoy:
- Stronger immunity
- Higher resistance to stress
- Improved resistance to allergens
- Healthier skin
- Healthy digestion
The problem with getting probiotics from dairy products is that these foods are not very good for you in general. They are usually high in fats and low in nutrients. They are also hard to digest and the number of lactose-intolerant people has been growing every year. Therefore, you will only get a limited amount of bacteria from these foods. The majority of those will burn in the stomach acid.
Taking probiotic supplements, on the other hand, provides you with a huge number (over 5 billion per capsule) of bacteria. They don’t have any associated digestion issues, and are considered completely safe.
Benefits of Taking Prebiotic Supplements
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are not living bacteria. Instead, they are a kind of fiber that feeds those essential microorganisms. In simple terms, think of taking probiotic supplements as filling your garden with seeds. Prebiotic supplements are the fertilizer you’ll use in that garden.
As they are a variety of fiber, all natural fiber-rich foods provide you with some amount of prebiotics. It’s one of the reasons to why they are so good for digestion. However, the majority of products contain only small amounts. The best food sources of prebiotics are:
- Jerusalem artichokes (only this particular variety!)
In essence, the benefits you get from prebiotics are the same as you get from taking probiotic supplements.
Probiotics Vs. Prebiotics: Which Is More Important?
The most important thing to understand is that despite their different roles, probiotics and prebiotics cannot exist without each other. With no ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, your immunity won’t be able to function. Remember that 80% of the human immune system is located inside the gut.
Without immunity, you’ll be vulnerable to the damage from pollution, infections, and stress. This will prevent your ability to regenerate probiotic bacteria naturally, and you’ll get locked in a vicious cycle.
With no prebiotics, probiotic bacteria that support your immunity will have nothing to feed on. Therefore, they won’t be able to regenerate and literally stay alive. This will return you to the cycle mentioned above.
The good news is that while taking probiotic supplements is the best way to restore bacteria in your gut, you can get prebiotics from food. Maintaining a fiber-rich diet with lots of oats, artichokes, and bananas will do the trick. Unlike probiotic bacteria, prebiotic fiber doesn’t get destroyed by your stomach acid. Therefore, you get the maximum benefits simply from eating foods that contain probiotics.
If you consider taking probiotic supplements, consult a healthcare professional first. Also, you must ensure that you take a high-quality product that really contains what it claims on the label.