A Closer Look at Pre & Probiotic

May 13, 2011
We put so much effort in sanitizing everything around us, it may seem quite surprising when you find out that our intestine can contain over a trillion of bacterias actually supporting our immune system and providing valuable health benefits. Therefore, while we protect ourselves from the outer environment, it is very important to understand the role of these bacterias in our gut and strong immune health, and we that is why we need to find out what these probiotics and prebiotics are. While the name may sound familiar, they are not the same.
                Most recently "probiotics" has become a buzz word in the United States especially from yogurt companies drawing great interest in terms of gut and immune health.
Probiotics are "friendly" or "good" bacteria that can improve or change the bacteria balance in the gut by regulating the growth of bad bacteria. It overall improves the digestive health. Besides yogurt, other sources of probiotics are: 
  • aged cheese such as cheddar, swiss, colby 
  • cottage cheese 
  • miso-a thick paste made from fermented soybeans, barley or rice malt (used in Japanese cooking) 
  • sauerkraut-fermented cabbage
  • tempeh-fermented soybeans into cake form (good protein source for vegetarians) 
  • kefir-fermented milk drink (an option for lactose intolerant)
There are many types of probiotics such as lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and some yeasts like Sachhoramyces boulardii and they all have different effects. Therefore, there is no set dosage on how  much probiotics you should eat. 

Even though prebiotics are not commonly labeled on food products, they are equally important for us. Prebiotics do not digest in our intestine but they ferment and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacterias that are already present in our colon. They are found commonly in carbohydrate food sources such as banana, legumes, onions, barley, flax. 
      Since both pre and probiotics are necessary to maintain our gut health, we should include both pre and probiotics together to be most effective.