Prebiotics Versus Probiotics – A Gut Feeling
Trust your gut instinct/gut feeling.
Got a gut feeling? Our stomachs are usually trying to tell us something. From rumbling when we're hungry, feeling queasy when we're not quite right, or giving us that funny flutter of butterflies; they don’t call it the second brain for nothing, you know. Taking care of our gut is about more than just instinct - and that’s where the magic of pro and prebiotics come in.
Did you know that the gut is lined with over 100 million nerve cells? Our brain and our gut communicate at a superfast speed, thanks to the vagus nerve (the key bridge between our gut to our brain), which is the control of our ‘rest and digest’ system (the one that chills you out!).
And, because this connection is so closely linked, our gut actually affects how we feel emotionally as well as physically. Inside this incredible and well-oiled machine is an array of ‘friendly bacteria’. Busy little bacteria whose sole job is to take care of our gut. However, the impact of busy lives, excess stress, alcohol, poor diet, and antibiotics all takes its toll and can upset the natural balance of our gut and how effective it is at doing its job.
The nerve signals that our gut produces affect our mood and our behaviour even more than our brain does. But how much attention do we really pay to what's happening on the inside?
Prebiotics Vs Probiotics
Gut health is a hot topic right now and pre and probiotics are definitely giving us food for thought! Let’s break it down on a microscopic level and look at what each biotic actually does. What's the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics - are the live bacteria or cultures that add to the already busy population of good gut bacteria (trillions of them!) that lives in your digestive tract (or gut) and are most densely found in your large intestine;
Prebiotics - are a sources of food for the good gut bacteria, such as the special fibre found in fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and seeds. It also refers to herbs and spices that are beneficial to the health of the good bacteria including keeping the bad bacteria in check.
Essentially, probiotics help your bacteria grow in number and the prebiotics are the food and energy the pros need to do their job!
Still with us?!
You Are What You Eat
It’s the truth! Being aware of what you eat and making simple changes to your diet can have a big impact on your overall health. Every morsel you eat affects the natural balance of your gut. Whilst it’s comforting, and sometimes essential, to have a piece of cake, a slice of pizza or a juicy steak, too much and too often can start to make you feel unwell. Too much sugar or high-fat in your diet can actually start to change the way the bacteria in your stomach works and can lead to digestive problems. This good bacteria is responsible for keeping everything in good working order. Those feelings of overindulging are your body's way of saying that you’ve quite simply had a gut full.
Want to take better care of your tummy? You’ll be pleased to know that lots of foods naturally contain pre and probiotics, and the chances are you’re already eating plenty of them!
- Live Yoghurt, ideally sugar-free.
- Fermented foods such as:
- Pickled vegetables
- Kombucha tea
- Even sourdough bread!
Prebiotic Food Examples
- Apples, Berries and Bananas
- Cocoa and Chicory
- Onions, Garlic and Leeks
- Green veggies
- Legumes, beans and peas
- Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds
Want to keep your whole body and mind in good working order? By incorporating pre and probiotic foods into your daily diet, you can help to ensure that your gut flora:
- Helps to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food properly
- Improves your overall digestive health
- Helps to regulate blood sugar balance
- Helps regulate a healthy immune system
- Helps to optimise mood and serotonin levels
- Helps regulate communication and control throughout your whole nervous system
So when it comes to a happy, healthy tummy, there’s no need to slog your guts out! A little kimchi or yoghurt, a nice variety of fresh veggies, and/or a probiotic supplement everyday can all help pave the way to good gut health!