You’ve probably seen the word probiotic proudly plastered on the sides of yogurt containers, chocolate bars, pickle jars, and plenty of other foods at your local grocery store. Probiotics are essential to healthy nutrient absorption and food digestion, and have recently skyrocketed in popularity, taking over supermarket shelves everywhere. That’s because probiotics are live microorganisms containing bacteria that help your digestive system function properly. But despite the hype, not all probiotics are created equal, and just because a food label claims to contain probiotics doesn’t mean it actually works.
What is a prebiotic and what does it do?
The most common strain of probiotic is lactobacillus, which changes the acidity in your gut and prevents the growth of harmful germs. However, probiotics are extremely delicate and can be easily destroyed by heat and stomach acid before they’ve even been absorbed – rendering them completely ineffective. That’s where prebiotics come in – probiotics’ vital wingman.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that pass directly through your digestive system and serve as food for the probiotic bacteria. Prebiotics naturally occur in certain fiber-rich foods, including artichokes, whole grains, soybeans, and bananas. Your body doesn’t digest these plant fibers; instead it delivers them intact to your gut to nourish and fertilize the probiotic bacteria in your large bowel and colon, keeping your intestines healthy. Since probiotics are ineffective unless they remain live inside your body, they need a food source to survive – meaning, without prebiotics to sustain them, they’re useless.
How do probiotics and prebiotics work together?
When prebiotics and probiotics work together they form a synbiotic. Prebiotics nourish probiotics, and in turn, the probiotics are encouraged to work more effectively and efficiently inside your gut. According to the American Dietetic Association, when consumed together, prebiotics and probiotics enhance immune function, improve digestion, decrease the incidence of intestinal infections, and reduce allergic responses within your body. Together, they’ve also been shown to positively affect mental health, reducing instances of both anxiety and stress.
These are all reasons that make it important to choose a probiotic that also contains prebiotics - and even better - organic prebiotics. Probiotics like this one contain no artificial ingredients or GMO’s and include the prebiotic organic jerusalem artichoke. In summary, consuming a synbiotic combination of both prebiotics and probiotics is a great way to assist in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and effectively promoting your overall gut-health.