Prebiotics and Probiotics

What is the difference between the two and which one should I be taking?


Most people are now aware of Probiotics however, Prebiotics are still a bit of a mystery to most. Your gut lining is home to Trillions of live bacteria which if it stays in balance helps keep us healthy and happy.



Role of Probiotics


This combination of live bacteria is known as the gut microbiome. Probiotics are the live microorganisms that once consumed help keep a fine balance between the bad and the good bacteria. Probiotics help support the body's immune system by stimulating immune cells that are needed to fight off infections and also support the overall gut health. They can help with Constipation, Traveller's Diarrhea, C-diff and other gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS and IBD.


How does the gut microbiome get compromised?

Being on antibiotics is the number one reason most people end up having an imbalance. The more times you end up on antibiotics the worse it gets. As research shows that it can take up to five years to recover from just one round of antibiotics!


A compromised gut microbiome can manifest in many ways. It could simply mean that you get sick frequently or often feel bloated. It can also show up on your skin as in acne outbreaks or eczema and Psoriasis. The imbalance of the good and the bad bacteria can also lead to malabsorption of nutrients and it can also affect the mood as well!



Where can you get Probiotics from?


Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, yogurt and of course they can also be taken in a supplement form. Just make sure to read the labels carefully when purchasing foods with added probiotics. Sometimes the added flavouring cancels out the good stuff (probiotics).


What are Prebiotics


Prebiotics are generally found in fibre-rich fruits and vegetables. Our body is not able to break down fibre, however, the microbiome in our gut feasts on the fibre we consume. Basically, the fibre we consume now becomes food for the already residing bacteria in our gut. The gut microbiomes feed and get nourishment from the prebiotic food which helps them multiply and then which ultimately

helps to keep us healthier.







Where do I get prebiotics from?


Prebiotics are found in fibre-rich vegetables and fruits. Some of the foods that contain prebiotics are asparagus, artichokes, green bananas, raw onions, raw garlic, beans and legumes and even grains.


Which one should I be taking Prebiotics or Probiotics?


The best thing to do would be to take both of them together. Adding prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods to your diet is one way to make sure you ensure you are getting the benefit of both. Taking a quality prebiotic and probiotic supplement is another way to ensure you are getting the right amount of probiotics and prebiotics, especially if you have a hard time adding the above foods into your regime or if you find yourself having to take antibiotics or simply need that extra support.


There are many different brands of prebiotics and probiotics on the market. Some of the probiotics are designed to be kept in the fridge while others are shelf-stable. Most refrigerated probiotics are usually dairy-based. In case you are lactose intolerant then you may want to stay away from those. There are many amazing vegan and vegetarian-friendly brands of probiotics available as well.


One thing to keep in mind when selecting probiotics is potency, and if they need to be kept in the fridge or not. Refrigerated probiotics have live bacteria that need to be kept at a cooler temperature away from direct heat. The shelf-stable probiotics are usually freeze-dried and once the capsule or tablet gets to the right pH environment they will become active.


Always store probiotics in their original packaging and away from heat. Many quality probiotics can be purchased from health food stores across Canada and some are available online as well.



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As always this is for information purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose any conditions. Please consult with your primary health care practitioner if you are taking any medications or are undergoing any treatments.