Gut Health 101: What are Prebiotics and Probiotics?

As we become more health conscious, we’re constantly being thrown so much information and it changes everyday! So, we’re here to help explain prebiotics and probiotics. What the heck are they and do we even need them? Or is this another fad?

No prebiotics and probiotics aren’t a fad. And yes, you need them.

Prebiotics

Gut.Three small bowls, an avocado, and 1 half peeled banana. There is a single hand holding a blueberry with their thumb and index finger.
Some of the most common fruits and vegetables are considered a prebiotic!

Prebiotics are non-digestible substances (fiber) which feed the good bacteria in your gut. So, high-fiber foods like avocados, oats, berries, and chia seeds are a prebiotic. But when you’re having a busy day and forget to fuel your gut, there are supplements like Naturlax to keep you moving and grooving! 

“I have bacteria in my gut?”

Yes, you and everyone else do! In fact, we have more bacterial cells than human cells. Crazy, right?!

The good bacteria play a vital role in our health. They’re responsible for things digestion, mood, and even mental health. So, it’s important to always nourish the good bacteria in your gut with prebiotics. 

Probiotics

Prebiotic. On a yellow background, there are 4 small bowls. One filled with cheese, another with chopped pickles, third with sauerkraut, and the fourth with yogurt. There is also a clear glass of red kombucha tea. The same hand is in the shit holding a cube of cheese between the thumb and index finger.
Fermented vegetables, yogurt, sauerkraut, and cheese are all considered probiotics.

There is a significant difference between the two. Probiotics are the helper, live bacteria which fight off bacterial infections and support the immune system. Foods like fermented vegetables, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea all contain probiotics! But if you ever find yourself in a pinch, there are probiotic supplements that can help.

So, prebiotics are kind of like the fuel for good bacteria. Probiotics are the good live bacteria. Both we need for a diverse microbiome. 

“Wait, what’s a gut microbiome and why does it need to be diverse?”

Well, remember earlier when we said we have more bacterial cells than human cells? Your body is filled with trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that make up your microbiome. Since our gut microbiome is responsible for our immune system, it needs diverse good bacteria to help fight off invasive bad bacteria. Therefore, the more diverse bacteria you have, the better the microbiome is at fighting off infections. 

Here’s How You Can Improve Your Gut Health

Although diversifying our gut microbiome may sound complex, it’s actually quite simple.

First, we recommend consuming more high-fiber/prebiotic foods. And don’t forget to mix it up a little. If you are used to oatmeal, try adding chia seeds and flax seeds into your diet. Your gut loves variety! 

Second, an easy tip to diversifying your gut is by eating fruits and vegetables according to the season. This way, you’re eating a lot of different fruits and vegetables than you usually would. 

You can easily do this by shopping for fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market. This is because farmers markets typically grow and sell produce by the season. Also, this supports small businesses and reduces waste and pollutants! 

On average, food travels over 1,000 miles from the point of production to the retail store.[iii] In contrast, many farmers markets only allow vendors to sell food produced within 200 miles. Some markets only have food grown within 50 miles.”

You’re doing good for you, the farmers, and the planet. It’s a win, win, win! 

Third, eating more probiotic foods! Next time you see a bottle of kombucha tea, give it a try! You can even include pickled vegetables into your salads, sandwiches, and meals! You can easily add in probiotic supplements into your daily routine.

Fourth, movement! You can read all about how movement is great for your gut health here

Lastly, do your best to get plenty of rest. Sleeping puts your body into a “rest-and-digest” state. 

It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety and improve the feeling of relaxation.”

Factors like being stressed can affect your gut health and digestive system. But by making sure to get plenty of rest, your body is able to reduce anxiety and feel relaxed. 

Just to review: prebiotics and probiotics are two different things but both are essential for a healthy gut.

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