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Doctors Blog: Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics and Prebiotics: What’s the Difference?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. Visit The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) to learn more. For more information, contact us today or schedule an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 7510 North Forest Drive North Charleston, SC 29420.

Probiotics and Prebiotics: What's the Difference in Charleston, SC
Probiotics and Prebiotics: What's the Difference in Charleston, SC

Table of Contents:

Probiotics and prebiotics: What’s the difference?
Why is gut bacteria beneficial?
How will food affect the gut microbiota?
Which foods are prebiotic?
Which foods are probiotic?
Should I take probiotic supplements to stay healthy?

Probiotic foods naturally contain useful bacteria. Several readily available foods, like yogurt, naturally contain beneficial bacteria. On the other hand, prebiotic foods provide nutrients to the bacterium that support healthy digestion and immune performance. Keeping your gut bacterium balanced is vital for several aspects of health. It is recommended to eat many prebiotic and probiotic foods and promote the ideal balance between sensible and dangerous gut bacteria. This article aims to explain the various aspects of probiotic food.

Probiotics and prebiotics: What’s the difference?

• Probiotics – These are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements and provide various health benefits.
• Prebiotics – These substances are derived from carbs (mostly fibers) that humans cannot digest. The probiotic bacteria in your gut consume these fibers.

Why is gut bacteria beneficial?

Gut bacteria in your digestive tract can safeguard you against harmful bacteria and fungi. A 2013 study on gut bacteria confirms that multiple varieties of this good bacteria can help your immune system function, alleviate depression symptoms, help treat obesity, and much more. Some of your gut bacteria can also form vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids, which are the primary nutrient source of the cells lining your colon. They create a strong barrier against damaging substances, viruses, and bacteria.

How will food affect the gut microbiota?

Your food affects your gut microbiota in the following ways:

• The foods you eat have a critical role in balancing your gut bacteria
• A diet high in sugar and fats diet can adversely affect gut bacteria, leading to complications like insulin resistance
• Feeding bad gut bacteria might cause them to grow faster
• Chemical residues and antibiotics might also disrupt the balance of your gut bacteria. If taken out during childhood and adolescence, antibiotics can permanently change certain forms of bacteria
• Also, foods treated with pesticides could adversely affect the gut bacterium

Which foods are prebiotic?

Prebiotic foods consist of food items that are high in fiber. These include legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, garlic, leeks, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, etc.

Benefits of Prebiotic Foods

The primary benefits of prebiotics are:

• Support digestive function, immune function, bone health, and healthy inflammatory responses
• Reduce the risks of autoimmune diseases and gut infections
• Balance your metabolism and hormones
• Boost your mood
• Relieve stress
• Impact your cholesterol levels and weight loss

Which foods are probiotic?

Several probiotic foods naturally contain useful bacteria, e.g., yogurt. Good quality plain yogurt with live cultures can be an amazing addition to your diet if you want to include beneficial bacteria in your diet. Other food items like Kimchi, Kombucha Tea, unpasteurized pickles and pickled vegetables, kefir (dairy and non-dairy), etc., contain probiotic bacteria.

Should I take probiotic supplements to stay healthy?

Probiotic supplements can be pills, powders, or liquids that contain live useful bacteria or yeast. They’re extremely popular, easily available, and many of them are affordable. Probiotic supplements are designed to deliver specific species of bacterium to the human gut.

However, not all probiotic supplements are of similar quality or contain equal amounts of bacteria. Keeping your gut bacteria balanced is important for many aspects of health. Discuss these options with your medical provider to ensure that you are taking the correct type of prebiotics. Remember that certain medical conditions might prevent you from taking them.

Best Probiotic Food You Should Eat to Stay Healthy

Probiotic products should have the genus Bifid bacterium, Saccharomyces Boulardii, or Lactobacillus. Sometimes you may have to look for a more specific one, as each genus of bacteria includes numerous strains that give different results. This includes foods like yogurt, Kefir (a yogurt-like beverage), Kombucha (fermented black tea), Sauerkraut (refrigerated, not shelf-stable), Kimchi, Tempeh, and Miso. These foods release healthy bacteria.

Best Probiotic Food and Ways to Improve Your Gut Health for Better Digestion:

• Eat more whole grains, nuts, veggies, beans, and fresh fruits
• Eat fermented foods and more dark chocolate and foods with polyphenols
• Limit artificial sweeteners
• Reduce stress and get enough sleep
• Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily
• Exercise regularly

If you are looking for expert functional medicine treatment near you or want to learn more about which best prebiotic foods are for you, then call us or schedule an appointment today. We serve patients from Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, North Charleston SC, Ladson SC, Hanahan SC, James Island SC, John’s Island SC, Daniel Island SC, all of South Carolina, Nationally, and Internationally. Patients routinely fly into Charleston to be evaluated by COEM and to enjoy this beautiful city which is a Condé Nast and Travel and Leisure Top Domestic and International Tourist Destination.