My previous post was all about ‘Good Bacteria‘ and the role they play in maintaining a healthy life. Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome. Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer.
So it’s understood that good health begins in the gut while poor gut function, due to an imbalance of gut bacteria, can lay us open to digestive disorders and a host of other health problems.
So how can we make our Gut to stay healthy ?
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
Answer is Try out Probiotic, Prebiotic and Synbiotics
The health benefits imparted by probiotics and prebiotics as well as synbiotics have been the subject of extensive research in the past few decades. These food supplements termed as functional foods have been demonstrated to alter, modify and reinstate the pre-existing intestinal flora. Functional foods also provide the body with required amount of vitamins, fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
The term Probiotics is derived from a Greek word meaning “for life”. Probiotics have been defined as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. The concept of probiotics evolved at the turn of the 20th century from a hypothesis first proposed by Nobel Prize winning Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff.
- Provide a natural defense or immune system for body
- Prevent growth of harmful bacteria
- Strengthen immune system towards allergies and other autoimmune diseases
- Help body to produce vitamins
- Support healthy digestion
- Increase defecation and reduce constipation
- Help control the illness-causing bacteria in intestinal tract
- Reduce cholesterol level
- Reduce blood pressure
- Improve body’s absorption of minerals, especially calcium
- Decrease dental-caries-causing microbes in mouth
- Prevent diarrhea after having treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent diarrhea caused by virus or Salmonella
- Manage the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Reduce amounts of cancer-causing substances in your intestine
Yogurt is the most common source of probiotics
Miso, Cheese, Kefir , Sauerkraut, Pickles, Chocolate, Tofu, Tempeh
Prebiotics are mostly fibers that are non-digestible food ingredients. Prebiotics promote the growth and proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. The health-promoting bacteria most commonly augmented by prebiotics include those of the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacter, which tend to limit the presence of harmful bacteria.
Examples of prebiotics include mannanoligosaccharides, lactose, galactogluco-mannans, oligofructose, and inulin.
Benefits of Prebiotics:
- Stimulate the immune system
- Inhibit pathogen growth
- Lower blood ammonia
- Increase of calcium and magnesium absorption
- Stronger bones, increase bone density
- Enhance and strengthen immune system
- Reduce blood triglyceride levels
- Reduce the prevalence and duration of diarrhea
- Promote satiety and weight loss thus preventing obesity
- Herbs – chicory root, burdock root and dandelion root
- Fruits – such as apples, bananas
- Sweet vegetables – such as onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes
- Raw apple cider vinegar
Probiotics + Prebiotics = Synbiotics
Combinations of probiotics and prebiotics can result in additive or synergistic effects on gastrointestinal function.
Fermented foods are a source of probiotics, and the prebiotic foods are the source of soluble fiber
A synbiotic has been defined as “a mixture of prebiotics and probiotics that beneficially affects the host by improving the survival and implantation of live microbial dietary supplements in the gastrointestinal tract, by selectively stimulating the growth and activating the metabolism of one or a limited number of health-promoting bacteria, and thus improving host welfare
The probiotic strains used in synbiotic formulations include Lacbobacilli, Bifidobacteria spp, S. boulardii, B. coagulans etc., while the major prebiotics used comprise of oligosaccharides like fructooligosaccharide (FOS), GOS and xyloseoligosaccharide (XOS), inulin, prebiotics from natural sources like chicory and yacon roots, etc.
Increase levels of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria and balance gut microbiota
Improve liver function in cirrhotic patients
Improve immunomodulating ability
Prevention of bacterial translocation and
Reduce incidences of nosocomial infections in surgical patients
- Yogurt, or kefir and honey
- Yogurt, or kefir and honey and acacia gum
- Beans, (legumes), and pickles
- Yogurt, sour cream, or kefir with garlic
- Feta cheese and onions
- Yogurt with oats
- Greens sauté with garlic and sour cream
- Kombucha with Chia seeds
- Kombucha with acacia gum
- Yogurt, or kefir, with acacia gum and honey
- Yogurt, or kefir, with chia seeds, acacia gum and honey
Word of Caution:
The efficacy and safety of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics has not been studied completely, and there’s little data on how safe they are for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.