Keeping your stomach’s microbiome in check ensures that your gastrointestinal tract doesn’t cause any upsets as you work, sleep, and eat. Inside your stomach, you have a microbiome of bacteria called the gut microbiota. There is a difference between prebiotics and probiotics, and it is crucial to understand the difference before you begin adding either to your lifestyle.
Beneficial Gut Bacteria
Within your digestive tract live trillions of different types of good bacteria. These little bacteria break down everything you eat and drink to make life easier for your intestines. Not only does good bacteria break down nutrients as they travel through your digestive system, but it also improves your immune system and fights off sickness.
The food you choose to digest also affects your gut microbiota. Of course, this makes sense. Foods with high sugar and fat negatively impact your gut’s bacteria and can even cause insulin resistance. This is especially dangerous to those with diabetes.
Counterintuitively, we treat produce with pesticides which may negatively affect our gut bacteria, although more research is needed to confirm this fully. Let’s take a look at the difference between prebiotics and probiotics.
Many foods contain prebiotics. Although we cannot digest prebiotics, our microbiota can break down the bacteria and ensure that we get all the benefits of prebiotics. Food high in prebiotic content include:
Prebiotics are not easily digestible by our bodies, but our gut can do the heavy lifting for us. Are you getting the right foods in your diet?
Fermentation. That’s the key to probiotics. When food ferments, it grows lots of good bacteria. Probiotics naturally contain helpful bacteria that support the immune system and digestive tract. Here are a few examples:
- Greek yogurt
- Unpasteurized pickled foods
If you can’t access probiotic-filled food regularly, probiotic supplements are an option. These pills, powders, or liquids contain helpful bacteria. Many over-the-counter probiotics never make it to your large intestine because your stomach acid breaks them down, so be sure to do some research before buying.
Always check with your doctor before starting probiotics. There are different bacterial strains and formulas. Find out what is right for you. Moreover, if you have SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, your symptoms can worsen when taking probiotics. Always talk to your health provider.