Probiotics and prebiotics. What are they and why are they important?
You’ve probably heard people talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria and that we want to have more ‘good’ bacteria because this has a positive effect on your health. I’ll bet you may also have a conceptual idea that probiotics will help you, and perhaps you’ve seen little bottles of probiotics advertised as the saviour of your health. Today I want to let you know why this all matters, so that you can make the best choices for your health.
Good Vs Bad Bacteria
Probiotic foods are foods that naturally contain live microorganisms like bacteria or yeasts. They are often referred to as “functional foods” as they provide nutritional benefits beyond basic nutritional needs. Think of these as providing your body with additional healthful bacteria.
Some of the most common probiotic foods includes:
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that are not digested in the small intestine, but instead reaches the large intestine where they serve as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria. So, while probiotics provide additional bacteria, prebiotics feed the bacteria that are already there and help promote the growth and activity of specific types of bacteria that are considered beneficial for health.
5 Important things your guy bacteria do for you
1) Kill bugs and hostile bacteria
these can cause unpleasant symptoms or disease – like the ones that cause food poisoning or stomach ulcers.
2) Boost your immunity
60% of your immunity is in your gut and the immune tissue in your digestive system is very sensitive to bacterial activity. The good bacteria also encourage the body to make a particular kind of antibody that stops you getting sick.
3) Improve digestion
Some bacteria help you break down particular foods and even help with the muscular contractions that move food through your system – thus keeping you regular..
4) Make vitamins & help you absort nutrients better
Your gut bacteria are responsible for making many B vitamins, and these same bacteria help you absorb minerals in the food you eat better.
5) Protect against disease
Some bacteria produce enzymes that turn the fibre you eat into short chain fatty acids (SCFA). This is interesting because these SCFAs can help protect against heart diseases by regulating cholesterol and having a positive impact on fats in the blood. A particular type of SCFA called butyrate has been shown to be protective against cancer.