The difference between prebiotics and probiotics

SupplyLife founder Ricky Singh, who specialises in food intolerance and allergy testing, talks gut health and tummy triggers

Gut health is more vital than ever with 70% of the immune system coming from the gut and an increase in viruses. Learning how our gut functions is essential to understanding how it impacts our whole body.

SupplyLife founder Ricky Singh

Research shows that when we come down with a virus, whether the cold, or some other type of illness, we’re all turning to orange juice and other fruits that are antioxidants.

The truth is at this point our immune system is weak and we may have poor gut health. If we want to reduce the chances of getting sick again- it’s time to make smarter food choices.

This could mean reducing processed foods or refined sugars and focusing on consuming foods as a whole, making vegetables a priority, as that’s what carries the real nutrients and fibers that your gut requires.

This could also help reduce the feeling of being bloated which often leads to the gut not working efficiently, which reduces the absorption of nutrients.

Making simple changes like switching up cereal to a homemade smoothie for breakfast, changing bread for rice or potatoes, and adding vegetables to your plate can make a huge impact, physically and mentally.

So what’s the difference between prebiotic and probiotic?

Prebiotics and probiotics both play an important role in good gut health and each have slightly different ways of working to achieve this. To break it down further, probiotics are living strains of bacteria also known as “good bacteria” which are found in your gut and digestive system. Whereas prebiotics are made up of plant fiber which stimulates the growth of the “good bacteria” that is already there.

Why your body needs it

You may have heard of the term good gut bacteria promotes good gut health, but you also need to understand that bacteria needs to be feed to help the growth, if you’re having a well balanced diet that contains vegetables and good complex carbohydrates like potatoes, millet, oat etc then you are providing your gut with bifidobacteria, which help promote the growth of multiple types of good bacteria in the gut.

This is where we can optimise this process by consuming a probiotic. You may think having a dairy based yoghurt or kefir might do the trick but you need to focus on how many different strains of live cultures of bacteria are in the probiotic you consume, as the more live cultures means your gut has multiple good bacterias which help aids digestion and gut health.

You should aim for around 15 live strains as a benchmark with around 10 to 15 billion CFU’s but please do bear in mind that if you are dairy intolerant then you should look to consume a vegetarian or a vegan form so it’s more accepted in the gut.

Home testing kits can tell a lot about your gut

Top prebiotic and probiotic foods to eat

Keep in mind that prebiotics and probiotics are easily found in the food we eat, so there’s no need to take supplements unless you’re advised to do so by your doctor. All you need to do is incorporate more prebiotics and probiotics throughout your day and to reduce high-sugar and high-fat foods that can contribute to bad bacteria rather than the good bacteria in your gut.

Below is a list of some recommended food you can try to improve your gut health:

Probiotic food:

Yogurt (non dairy plain yogurt containing live cultures)

Fermented foods such as:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha tea
  • Kefir (nondairy)
  • Unpasteurised pickled vegetables
  • Unpasteurised vegetables
  • Miso soup
  • Sauerkraut

Remember to keep your probiotics cold by storing them in the fridge as warm weather can kill them.

Prebiotic food:

Prebiotics are types of fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Although our bodies cannot digest them they serve as good food for probiotics.

  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Milet
  • Oats
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks

Many gastrointestinal problems begin in your gut due to the lack of “good bacteria” which can cause inflammation and other health issues such as bloating, feeling lethargic and experiencing skin problems.

This is why it’s important to ensure you are giving your body enough prebiotics and probiotics. But, you may also be suffering from food intolerance without knowing, and this can also inhibit how your gut works so make sure you’re eating the right foods and avoid food that contains high levels of fat sugar.

If you’re looking for specific food that is ideal for you, then it may be wise to take a food intolerance test where you can discover specific foods that are accepted in your gut and do not trigger an immune response.

Ricky Singh is the founder of SupplyLife, a UK based food intolerance and allergy testing company which provides over 200 popular foods tests. Launched in 2019, SupplyLife provides medically approved food intolerance and allergy tests to thousands in the UK. The company was developed after four years’ intensive years of research and in depth testing in a renowned medical standard lab in order to produce the most accurate food intolerance results globally.

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Lynda Hamilton Parker is a Scottish PR expert and independent publisher

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