WHAT IS A PREBIOTIC ? :
Prebiotics are specialised plant fibres that nourish the good bacteria already in our bowel acting as a kind of “fertiliser” encouraging growth and activity. Unlike Probiotics they are not in danger of being destroyed.
WHAT IS A PROBIOTIC ? :
Probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut and some Doctors suggest taking them when we are taking antibiotics or have had a serious illness in an attempt to maintain a healthy balance in the bowels. The human gut contains millions of bacteria which play an important role in keeping us healthy. An imbalance can occur when there are more “bad” bacteria than “good” bacteria. Probiotics are delicate and can be destroyed by heat and stomach acid so it is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
PREBIOTIC OR PROBIOTIC - WHICH ONE SHALL I TAKE ? :
Both Prebiotics and Probiotics can benefit our health however, probiotics can have a difficult time getting from the mouth to the large intestine without being damaged – it may be more efficient to take supplements rather than relying purely on your diet. Prebiotics on the other hand are not digested by the human body but are instead digested by the existing gut bacteria. Prebiotics are sometimes discouraged for people with IBS because they are not fully digested and may sit in the colon, ferment and possibly increase symptoms of gas and bloating – you may want to discuss with your doctor or other health care professional.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE AND HOW ARE THEY BENEFICIAL TO MY HEALTH ? :
Probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut whereas Prebiotics provide nourishment for the existing bacterial in the gut. Probiotics stick to the lining of the gut and can improve digestion, help reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, boost the immune system and even boost our mood. There have been encouraging results from studies to suggest they could help with the symptoms of IBS and more work is being done on this. Many doctors suggest taking a course of probiotics if you have been on antibiotics because as well as killing the bacteria causing your infection they can interfere with your essential gut bacteria and cause AAD (antibiotic associated diarrhoea). Probiotics may also help symptoms of infective diarrhoea such as a clostridium difficile infection
CAN YOU TAKE PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS AT THE SAME TIME ? :
Yes you can take Probiotics and Prebiotics at the same time as they do not negatively interact and it makes perfect sense to take both as they work well together - in fact Symbiotics combine the two, providing a culture of viable bacteria on an appropriate natural food they can ferment.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS ? :
Probiotics are found in natural yogurt,olives, sauerkraut,kefir,miso soup, pickles, kimchi and tempeh. Prebiotics are founds in foods such as onions, leeks, artichokes, asparagus, garlic and soybeans.
CAN YOU TAKE PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS IF ON MEDICATION ? :
Yes there are no known interaction with medications. Probiotics are not recommended for people with serious illnesses such as Pancreatitis, gastric bleeding or if you are immuno-suppressed due to chemotherapy, HIV or similar. Pregnant and breastfeeding ladies should check with their doctor.
WILL TAKING A PREBIOTIC OR PROBIOTIC HELP MY IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) ? :
There have been promising results from various studies over the years and NICE guidelines (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) suggest taking them for a period of four weeks to see if they help. You may also want to try different brands to see which suits your need best as they vary. More work is being done on this as not everyone experiences any benefit which is, as yet unexplained.