Prebiotics, Probiotics & The Gut Microbiome
Our digestive system contains millions of micro-organisms or bacteria, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’, this is known as the gut microbiome.
Our microbiome starts in the womb, how it continues to develop can depend on genetics, parental health, vaginal or caesarean birth, breast or bottle-fed, stress, illness and lifestyle choices such as poor diet, alcohol consumption, smoking etc. Furthermore, each microbiome develops differently and is unique to each person. A positive balance of good bacteria in the gut will support digestion, nutrient absorption, the immune system, brain function, mood, metabolism and skin conditions. Having a balanced gut microbiome also supports functions of the liver and cardiovascular system among many other bodily functions. While it is important to support the gut microbiome with foods that are rich in probiotics…prebiotics are also important.
What are prebiotics?
In short, prebiotics are food for probiotics. Prebiotic foods contain indigestible fibre or resistant starch. Having a range of prebiotic foods alongside probiotic foods will stimulate and grow the good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotic foods include artichokes, legumes, bananas, grapefruit, leek and many other fruits, vegetables and grains. In a healthy person, consuming a diet high in fruit and vegetables and including foods rich in probiotics can be enough to keep their gut microbiome healthy and functioning well.
If someone has a poor diet, suffers from illness or stress, has taken/taking medications including antibiotics, has digestive issues, skin conditions or other inflammatory conditions, they may benefit from taking a pre and probiotic supplement. These supplements contain many more probiotics in a small concentrated dose then food based probiotics and can give a boost of good bacteria in a short space of time. This is particularly useful after taking antibiotic medications or for specific conditions including eczema, IBS and traveller’s diarrhea. As research advances, it has shown specific strains of probiotics or combinations of probiotics to be more beneficial for specific conditions.
Here are some that we use and recommend:
- Eden Health Foods Ultimate Biotic– 228 serves
- NuFerm Organic 20/12 Blend – 60 serves
- FloraMax Probiotic – $39.65 – 60 capsules
- Healthy Essentials Probiotic 10 – 60 capsules
We suggest that you speak to our qualified instore naturopaths about what supplements may be suitable for you. There are a range of pre and probiotic combinations on the market today. For more information on gut health click here
Don’t forget to check out our tasty Prebiotic Tray Bake recipe
By Amy Gilbert – Naturopath
Share this post with your friends