Probiotics, Prebiotics and Your Health
For years we’ve been hearing about two important additions to our diet – fiber and probiotics. But rarely in the same sentence. Fiber has been touted as good for constipation, lowering cholesterol, aiding in weight loss by helping us feel full longer, stabilizing blood sugar, and a handful of other amazing things.
And probiotics on the other hand have long been known for curing what ails you in the belly – whether it be IBS, diarrhea, and recently their benefits are beginning to be discovered to go far beyond what was ever imagined. Studies are finding that good gut bacteria, probiotics, may help with everything from inflammation, to auto-immune disease, and even depression. Pretty incredible, right?
What is even more incredible is that we so rarely hear about how fiber and probiotics work together. Even though fiber does not play an active role in our gut ecology, such as probiotics do, certain fiber, like wheat-dextrin based fiber, will act as a PREbiotic. Prebiotics are actually food for good bacteria. Gut flora is made up of good and bad bacteria – get it out of whack and you’ll have problems. Bad bacteria feeds off things such as simple sugars and processed foods. Good bacteria (probiotics) feed off the prebiotics found in the food we eat that contain certain fibers and proteins, or certain fiber supplements.
Simply put, the more “good food” you provide for your good bacteria, the less room there will be for the bad stuff, and your health will thrive. And although all prebiotics are fiber, not all fiber is prebiotic which is why it’s important to enlist the guidance of a functional medicine practitioner or nutritionist, such as Dr. Kim Bruno, when determining how to increase your prebiotic intake.