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Nutrition

What The Heck Are Prebiotics? (And Why You Should Take Them)

Our stomachs are incredibly important, and we’re not just talking about how toned your abs may be.

You undoubtedly will have heard of probiotics when living a healthy lifestyle. But have you heard of prebiotics? Here is our go-to guide on prebiotics and how to incorporate them into your healthy and balanced lifestyle:

  1. What are prebiotics?
  2. What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
  3. How prebiotics work with probiotics
  4. Where to find prebiotics
  5. Benefits of prebiotics
  6. Possible side effects of prebiotics

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are part of many healthy foods. They are undigested in the stomach and small intestine. When they reach the large colon, they begin to ferment. This is massively beneficial to your digestive system as a whole.

What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria that can be taken in pill or food form. They are also created by the fermentation process in the small colon.
Prebiotics are the materials from foods that ferment and create some probiotics. They are sometimes known as non-digestible fiber.

How prebiotics work with probiotics

Simply put, prebiotics creates the environment in which probiotics thrive. The two work together to create great gut health as well as a whole host of every day and long-term benefits.

Where to find prebiotics

Prebiotics are found in banana, artichoke, onions and garlic. If you are unsure that you are getting prebiotics in beneficial amounts, you can buy them as supplements.

Benefits of prebiotics

There are many benefits of prebiotics. Ensuring good levels of prebiotics in the body can help you physically and mentally.

  • Can help with weight loss/maintenance

Prebiotics and probiotics are linked to maintaining a healthy diet. By the prebiotic level encouraging a healthy amount of probiotics, you are allowing the body to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the food you are eating. This means your body feels more satisfied by the food you eat, and you will require less during the day.

  • Enhances immune system

Prebiotics help the body absorb all the nutrients from the food you eat. The more vitamins and minerals you get in the body, the greater it will be at combatting infection and issues.

A healthy digestive system also has a knock-on effect on the whole body. It leaves extra focus and energy from the body to ensure all areas and organs are working in the most efficient way possible.

  • Improve the health of your gut

Prebiotics help to keep your gut flora in excellent shape. This means that your large colon and digestive system as a whole stay in good condition. Probiotics are often marketed for their benefits to your gut, particularly in yoghurts and supplements. Prebiotics ensure that probiotics have the right conditions to flourish and benefit your gut.

  • Can lower inflammation

Good gut flora as a result of prebiotics can help the body avoid inflammation. By keeping the digestive tract effective and smooth running, inflammation is kept to a minimum. Even allergy sufferers, such as those that struggle with dairy allergies, find that ingesting good levels of prebiotics can help alleviate symptoms.

  • Reduced risk of heart disease

Prebiotics could reduce your risk of developing heart disease. They discourage bad bacteria and encourage good, which has an overall positive effect on the body. Prebiotics also increases the metabolism of lipids in the body, which can make a massive difference to those with heart disease. Controlling lipid metabolism in the body is one of the key strategies used by doctors to prevent and reduce cases of coronary heart disease. So in encouraging your body to do this naturally, you’ll be doing yourself a huge health favor.

  • Hormone regulation

Studies show that the gut is a key processing plant for hormones. Having a healthy gut flora ensures that your body is processing these hormones effectively. It allows them to reduce hormones that are unhelpful, and recycle or produce the ones you need.

Testosterone, estrogen, Oxytocin and cortisol can all be affected by your gut and prebiotics. This, in turn, can affect your mood, stress levels and overall wellness. Good hormone balance often creates a positive and productive outlook.

Additionally, regulation of hormones testosterone and estrogen can really help your skin. Oil imbalances in your skin are often a result of too high or low levels of a certain hormone in the body. In balancing this out, you may find your skin becomes a lot clearer and healthy looking.

Possible side effects of prebiotics

A prebiotic imbalance can involve diarrhoea, bloating, gas and gastroesophageal reflux issues. Some people increasing their prebiotic intake also report an increase in thirst as their body adjusts to their improved digestive system.

Side effects are dependent on personal circumstances and intake level. For example, someone with an existing digestive or colon issue should contact a doctor to check increasing your levels of prebiotics are going to be a beneficial step.

Take home message

Prebiotics are a very important part of a healthy diet. By giving your gut a boost in working effectively, you can create improvements across the rest of the body – both inside and out! If you feel you could benefit from extra prebiotics, why not try recipes with the foods that supply nondigestive fiber.

Alternatively, give prebiotic supplements a go! If you have any pre-existing digestive conditions or concerns, make sure you consult your doctor before making any changes.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.


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