Have you read it correctly? Yes, we are talking about Prebiotics and not Probiotics. While they sound very similar and are often confused, Prebiotics and Probiotics are not the same. So what is the difference between the two?
Probiotic introduces good bacteria into the gut. It helps keep our digestive system healthy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. They are naturally found in cultured or fermented foods such as yogurt and other dairy products. Prebiotic on the other hand is a plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria in the gut.
Now when we know the difference between the two, let’s have a look at some of the amazing health benefits of Prebiotics:
1. Improved Digestion: Prebiotics stimulate the growth of probiotics also known as the beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics act like food for probiotics and balances the harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. This improves overall digestion leading to other health benefits too. The advantage of having good bacteria in the gut is that these bacteria use the fiber from the foods that you eat and use it well. Prebiotics and probiotics treat many digestive problems like diarrhoea, intestinal infections, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis and leaky gut syndrome.
2. Better Weight Loss: By improving your digestive system, prebiotics may also help you in achieving sustainable weight loss. This is because fibrous plant foods are slow to digest and make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Fiber also helps in balancing your blood sugar levels by preventing your body from releasing excess insulin.
3. Stronger Immunity: Nearly 70% of your immune system is governed by what you are eating. Sadly, many lifestyle factors in today’s time deplete the natural stores of good bacteria in your gut such as frequent antibiotic use, chronic stress, refined sugar and low fiber diets. This is when prebiotics plays its role. Adding prebiotic foods to your diet can help replenish your body’s store of probiotics, and contribute to a stronger immune system.
4. Lowers Inflammation: Inflammation is the root cause of disease and prebiotics help in reducing it. People eating a high-fiber diet and consuming good amounts of prebiotics are generally in good health. It has been seen that prebiotics and probiotics also help in issues of type – 2 diabetes and obesity as they bring about an improvement in the metabolic process.
5. Reduced Risk For Heart Disease: A sufficient intake of prebiotics can reduce free radicals which trigger inflammation and lowers insulin resistance. Prebiotics help the body to prevent Ischemic heart diseases. It also prevents autoimmune disorders like arthritis. Electrolyte levels and minerals like potassium and sodium are responsible for controlling the blood pressure and the prebiotics assists the body in this function.
6. Maintains Bone Health: Prebiotics help in the absorption of minerals in the body like magnesium, iron and calcium. All these are important for stronger bones and for preventing fractures or osteoporosis. In a study, ingesting just 8 grams of prebiotics in a day was shown to have a major effect on the absorption of calcium in the body which in turn led to an increase in the bone density.
7. Improves Mood: Mood-related disorders like anxiety or depression are linked to your gut health. Research has proved that your mood and the hormonal balances in your body is strongly linked to the bacterial health in your gut. The gut helps to absorb and properly metabolize nutrients that we get from the food we eat. This ultimately is used to support neurotransmitter functions like serotonin that control our mood and also our stress levels.
The best natural sources of prebiotics include,
i) Raw or cooked onions
ii) Raw or fermented asparagus
iii) Under-ripe bananas
iv) Raw garlic
v) Raw honey
vii) Home-made hummus
Although there isn’t a specific recommendation, it may be helpful if you to aim to get the recommended amount of prebiotics in a day, which is 25 g per day for women and 38 g per day for men.
So, start from today. Include prebiotics in your diet and keep several diseases at bay.