Probiotics and prebiotics are not the same. They are sometimes mixed together, or it is not clear what benefits each of the products provides. However, both probiotics and prebiotics are essential for our daily health.
They help improve digestive functions and strengthen the immune system to fight infections in addition to many other types of diseases.
We are confident that you will find this information useful and that you will be able to apply this advice in practice. So let’s get started!
Probiotics and prebiotics: they are not the same
I’m sure you are more than used to watching commercials on TV for different types of yogurt that are enriched with “good bacteria”. This refers to probiotics, which are found in the classic yogurt natural, kefir, sauerkraut or miso soup. They all help to strengthen the bacterial flora.
So what are prebiotics? Do they not also produce good bacteria? Are they microorganisms in the digestive tract? Well… almost… Here is a little more information:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as living microorganisms that, when used in the right amounts, have a beneficial effect on health.
- They are intestinal bacteria that help stimulate digestive juices and natural enzymes, which are necessary for proper digestion. It is always wise to eat organic probiotics, or what is found in a natural state.
- It may be a little scary to think that your digestive system is “colonized” by all sorts of bacteria. But this is known as an intestinal microbiota, and not only is it essential for health, but it is also very sensitive to any type of food you eat, as well as stress, some diseases and many different medications.
- These microorganisms may also play a role in the immune system of the intestinal mucosa. They prevent pathogens or harmful microorganisms from growing and developing.
- Consumption of probiotics, as in fermented milk products, helps protect against many diseases. But let’s discuss the term “fermented”. Natural milk can often be more toxic than beneficial to the intestines because it can make them inflamed if the individual suffers from an intolerance.
- Prebiotics are a type of carbohydrate that acts as an underlying layer for probiotics. They are substances that the intestines cannot digest, but they act as a structural base that gives strength to these living organisms that protect us from harmful substances.
- They are intended to stimulate the immune system and promote the development of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, while preventing the growth of pathogens.
- Prebiotics help absorb some minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
- They help reduce intestinal gas and promote intestinal flow.
- They fight constipation and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The best probiotic foods to consume daily
- Kefir is fermented cow’s or goat’s milk. It tastes sour and has a good texture thanks to the fermentation process that reduces as much of the original sugars in the milk as possible.
- Kefir can be ingested as a liquid, and it is highly recommended for breakfast.
- It is one of the foods richest in living microorganisms that is able to strengthen and safeguard intestinal health.
- If kefir is consumed regularly, it will eliminate pathogenic bacteria found in the intestines, which often leads to gastroenteritis.
- It can be said that after kefir, sauerkraut is the next most beneficial food for intestinal bacteria.
- Sauerkraut is a fermented sauerkraut, rich in lactobacillus or bifidubacterium.
- Sauerkraut improves intestinal bacteria, restores the pH level in the small intestine, protects digestion, and makes it easier for us to absorb nutrients.
- Fermented cabbage is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Other foods with probiotics
- Greek yogurt
- Miso soup
- Dark chocolate
The best prebiotic foods to consume daily
Artichokes are not only very healthy for the liver, but they are also one of the best prebiotic foods available. They contain between 3% and 20% inulin, one of the most common prebiotics.
The second richest food with prebiotic substances such as inulin is ski root. You can find it in well-stocked stores to include it in meals or prepare it as a tea.
Garlic contains around 15% inulin, so how about drinking a glass of water every morning with fresh garlic juice? Your health will thank you for it!
Onions contain between 5% and 8% inulin, and they can be eaten raw or fried.
Leeks contain between 3% and 10% inulin, and are perfect for improving the intestinal microflora health.
Wheat sprouts are another prebiotic food that can be included in your diet. They provide 5% of this type of substance.
If eaten fried, and always in moderation (also to prevent weight gain), this will give you 5% prebiotics.
If you like bananas, eat them whenever you want. They provide only 0.5% inulin, but combined with the previously mentioned foods, they will help stimulate the intestinal bacteria to make you healthy. It’s worth it!