Sep 30, 2023
Prebiotic Vs Probiotic - What's The Difference?
'The gut microbiota' and its critical role are currently a popular topic. Over 100 trillion microbial cells reside in the diverse community that calls our digestive tract home. According to some estimates, the human colon contains 1010–1012 living bacteria per gram. The stomach, small intestine, and large intestine's resident microbial communities are essential for preserving gut health, producing energy, and regulating human physiology, metabolism, nutrition, and immunological function. The large intestine is home to the majority of these microorganisms, which are primarily anaerobes.
Gut dysbiosis (imbalance or disruption of the microbial community) can be brought on by the modern stressful lifestyle, eating meals rich in sugar, unhealthy fats, poor in fibre, using antibiotics, and getting insufficient sleep. An imbalance in gut bacteria can impair the digestive system's regular operation, deplete the intestine's energy supply, and make the connections between intestinal cells more permeable. An irritable bowel syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weakened immune system, mental health condition, reduced nutritional absorption, and metabolic imbalance are just a few of the illnesses that can be brought on by gut dysbiosis.
So how can the microbiome be controlled? Prebiotics and Probiotics are two dietary components with a special ability to influence the microbiome.
WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?
Prebiotics are characterized by research as non-digestible food components (plant fibres) that have a beneficial effect on the host by promoting the growth and activity of one or specific bacteria in the colon, hence enhancing the host's health.
WHAT QUALIFIES A NUTRIENT AS A PREBIOTIC?
The nutrient must be consumed exclusively by healthy bacteria and result in host health benefits in order to be considered a prebiotic.It should not be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and should be resistant to the acidic pH of the stomach. It can be fermented by intestinal microbiota and can specifically stimulate the growth and activity of the microbiota in the gut.
HOW DOES PREBIOTICS INFLUENCE THE GUT MICROBIOME?
The three major prebiotics groups known to have positive effects on people are fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosachharides (GOS), and transgalactooligosaccharides (TOS).
Prebiotics are composed of tiny building blocks strung together by chemical bonds. Humans don’t have the enzymes to break up these bonds, hence the undigested fiber gets down to the colon and serves as a food source for bacteria.
Beneficial bacteria, particularly those belonging to Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes phyla, ferment the prebiotics and obtain their survival energy from degrading indigestible binds of prebiotics. During the fermentation process, the good bacteria metabolize the carbohydrates, converting them into short-chain fatty acids – acetate, propionate, and butyrate.
Once produced, short-chain fatty acids are readily used up by colon cells and are transported across the gut epithelium into the bloodstream.
Acetate accounts to the highest amount of short-chain fatty acid produced in the gut, it is implicated in cardio-metabolic health, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
Butyrate serves as the primary energy source for intestinal epithelial cells, promotes regulatory T cells in the colon, and inhibits inflammatory cytokine production.
Propionate is thought to lower lipogenesis, and serum cholesterol levels, promotes smooth muscle contractions, has a positive role in the immune system, and in the prevention of asthma and allergies.
WHICH FOODS OFFER PREBIOTICS?
Asparagus, onion, garlic, wheat, barley, tomato, rye, soybean, banana, legumes, leeks, oats, cocoa, and flaxseeds are all prebiotic-rich foods.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS?
- Prebiotics can highly modify the composition and function of beneficial gut microbiota. They contribute to the production of short-chain fatty acids, which promote healthy gut lining and enhance gut barrier function.
- Optimize digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disorders
- Support healthy immune system
- Support healthy weight and metabolism
- Can lower LDL levels, reduce triglycerides and improve markers of cardiovascular health
- May have a positive impact on mood, stress response, and cognitive function
- Lowers risk of allergies
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are live gut-friendly bacteria that can confer health benefits to the host.
WHICH FOODS OFFER PROBIOTICS?
Yogurt, cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, buttermilk, kombucha, tempeh, plant-based fermented products.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
- Improve intestinal microbial balance
- Improve lactose intolerance
- Help enhance the immune system
- Help decrease LDL cholesterol,
- Have a positive effect on skin health
- May help rejuvenate skin
- May reduce the risk of bowel disease