What are probiotics and prebiotics

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With 80 percent of your immune system residing in your gut, the state of your gut helps determine how you feel, physically and mentally.  When your gut bacteria are properly in balance and your gut is happy, you have a thriving population of beneficial bacteria supporting your immune system. Your immune systems may have blind spots and that your immune response doesn’t recognise certain bugs or the bugs have sneaky evasion strategies.  But a lifestyle that ensures your defenses are as good as they get is as simple as eating more pro and prebiotics and live in a symbiotic relationship with your gut bacteria

What is a probiotic?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health and your digestive system. Your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural enzymes and processes that keep your digestive organs functioning properly. Probiotics help move food through your gut:

  • When you lose “good” bacteria in your body (like after you take antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them.
  • They help balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep your body working as it should.

Probiotics help your immune system and your mood. Your mood and even your hormonal balance are affected by the state of the bacterial inhabitants living inside of your body. Your gut helps to absorb and metabolize nutrients from the foods you eat that ultimately are used to support neurotransmitter functions that create the hormones (like serotonin) that control your mood and help reduce stress. Perhaps the final straw in triggering a mood-related disorder might be a series of misfiring neurotransmitters in parts of the brain that control fear and other emotions. These transmissions partly depend on the health of the microbiome (or gut flora), so when the balance of gut bacteria isn’t working right, other biological pathways including hormonal, immunological or neuronal won’t work right either.

Probiotic foods include:

    • Proper yoghurt – goats or Greek
    • Kefir
    • Sauerkraut
    • Miso Soup
    • Pickles
    • Tempeh
    • Kimchi
    • Kombucha tea 
    1. Kefir is fermented milk made by using kefir grains containing beneficial yeast as well as probiotic bacteria and helps gastrointestinal problems and digestion, it is apparently great for weight loss, and a good source of calcium and protein as well as improving your response to stress & anxiety, it boosts your immune system, improves digestion, provides energy and supports detoxification.   

Processed probiotic products

Yakult and other processed probiotic products are probiotic dairy products made by fermenting a mixture of skimmed milk the big selling point is it rich in probiotics and low in fat, which generally means high in sugar. The bad bacteria in your gut loves sugar it breeds on sugar. So even though Yakult, Actimel, and Benecol make the following health claims:

      1. –    Free From Artificial Flavours
      2. –    Free From Colours
      3. –    Free From Preservatives
      4. –    Contains vitamin D & vitamin B6, which contribute to the function of your immune system
      5. –   Vitamin B6 also contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

The probiotic benefits are negated because of the amount of sugar they contain. Fruit sugar (otherwise known as fructose) is added to these products as a natural sweetener.  Plus the vitamins have been ‘added’, they are not natural.  In the same way that fortified cereals have added vitamins and minerals, everything is stripped away and then vitamins, or in this case, fructose and bacteria are added back in to make the products seem healthy. ‘Fructose’ is the ‘sugar’ added to these drinks. Fructose likes to attach itself to the amino acid called Tryptophan.  When fructose is removed from the body, when it is flushed out it takes with it the attached amino acid, Tryptophan.  The unfortunate thing for your body is that Tryptophan helps to make a valuable hormone.  It helps to make the happy hormone Serotonin.   When the excess sugar is removed from the body it takes Tryptophan with it and you are unable to make the happy hormone, resulting in anxiety and even depression.   Don’t miss: why gut bacteria make you feel fat

What is a prebiotic?

Prebiotics are plant fibres that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in your large intestine. While probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut, prebiotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria that’s already there.  Prebiotics help your good bacteria to grow and improve the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. Increased bacteria benefits your health your overall well-being, and improves the connection from your stomach to your brain. Research suggests that prebiotics are responsible for supporting your immune system, relieving depression and helping to prevent obesity as well as lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Other benefits of consuming prebiotics include:

–    healthier cholesterol levels

–    better gut health

–    improved digestion

–    lower your stress response

–    better hormonal balance

–    higher immune function

–    lower risk for obesity and weight gain

–   lower inflammation and autoimmune reactions

Prebiotic foods include:

  • Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apple, flaxseeds, seaweed.

The list looks easy enough to add to your diet, however, the caveat is raw is best.   Raw onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus how does that sound?

Your success depends on starting a small, new routine. A routine habit that will ease the strain.


Gorgeous is your journey of discovery

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Gorgeous Graduate Caroline NURSE and mummy of three 14th July 2017



10 responses to “What are probiotics and prebiotics”

  1. Ruth says:

    Very interesting article. Thanks for explaining the difference between pre and pro biotics. I’m inspired to give Kefir a go – it’s all Clarry and Susan have been talking about in the Archers recently!!

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  3. Brenda says:

    I have live kefir grains which keep multiplying so if anyone at the Cheriton Bishop classes want some then let me know.

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