What are prebiotics? How are they different from probiotics? We hear about both but it’s not always clear how they differ.
Probiotics introduce microorganisms into the gut. Many people take probiotic supplements, but you can also eat things like fermented foods to introduce “good” bacteria into your system. I wrote a blog post a while ago about the value of probiotic foods. The purpose of probiotics is to add certain bacteria into our systems.
Prebiotics serve a related but different function. They provide food for the microorganisms we’re trying to encourage to be in our system. Prebiotics are basically the food that bacteria eat to help them flourish and proliferate. If you’re taking probiotics, making sure you eat prebiotics might help those bacteria you’re introducing into your system survive and flourish.
Consume prebiotics to improve the balance of these microorganisms in your gut. Our microbiome is filled with a wide variety of microorganisms. The prebiotics help the ones that we want to encourage to stick around.
When healthy bacteria break down prebiotics, the bacteria generates energy, which increases their odds of survival. Also, the by-products produced by the bacteria are helpful to us.
Eating a diet high in fiber supports the health of the intestines. The prebiotic fiber improves our digestion, supports the immune system, and helps our bodies absorb nutrients.
Fiber can also help you feel full for longer after meals. This can promote a healthy weight. Fiber also helps regulate metabolism.
Curious about how to increase the prebiotics you’re consuming? Here’s a list of foods that contain prebiotics.
What are Prebiotics?
- Apples with the skin
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Whole grain barley
- Whole grain rye
- Whole grain wheat
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
Try adding these foods to your meals and see what happens. A word of caution. Sometimes it helps to increase fiber consumption slowly. Adding fiber too quickly can cause digestive issues.
Let me know if you try adding more of these foods to your diet and if you notice any differences in how you feel.