Prebiotics are quite different from probiotics, but they work in tandem with probiotics to have a synergistic effect. For this reason, prebiotics and probiotics are known as synbiotics.
While probiotics are live microbes, prebiotics are a type of insoluble fiber which probiotic organisms use as food. When you take prebiotics, you supply the probiotics you ingest with nutrients they need in order to thrive. These fiber sources (inulin and oligosaccharides) pass through the human stomach and small intestine without being broken down. When they reach the colon, they are fermented, producing short-chain fatty acids which are then consumed by the beneficial microbes which have set up house there.
Prebiotics are found naturally in the following foods:
– Bamboo shoots
– Sugarcane juice
– Sugar beet
Since the probiotics rely on the prebiotics for food, prebiotics must be taken prior to the probiotics.
Experts are now stating that by taking prebiotics, individuals can treat constipation and irritable bowel disease, immune deficiencies, and even prevent and treat different types of cancer. Other research has proven that consuming prebiotic-containing foods increases calcium absorption and bone mineral density in adolescents as well as post-menopausal women. Other studies suggest that probiotics can promote healthy body weight and optimize energy homeostasis.
Conclusion? It’s a great idea to incorporate either prebiotic supplements or prebiotic-containing foods in your daily regimen, along with probiotics, to ensure optimal gut health, support immunity, and protect against a myriad of disease processes.