What are Probiotics and Prebiotics?

By October 30, 2012Digestive Health

Over four hundred species of bacteria weighing almost four pounds inhabit the digestive tracts of healthy humans. Some of these thousands of billions of bacteria and can cause disease while many are friendly and have established symbiotic mutual relationship with us.

Probiotics are foods and supplements containing friendly beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy intestinal flora necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of food.  Prebiotics are foods and supplements containing the nutrients that these bacteria need to grow and thrive. The key probiotic bacteria are bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. The key prebiotic nutrients are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and inulin (a fiber).

Food sources of prebiotic nutrients include chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic, asparagus and bananas. Food sources of probiotic bacteria are fermented foods as yoghurt, kefir (fermented milk), miso (fermented soy paste), tempeh (soybean cakes), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).

Benefits of probiotcs:

  1. Manufacture B vitamins (biotin, B3, B5, B6, folic acid and B 12) and vitamin K
  2. Secrete lactase enzyme to break down lactose in milk
  3. Produce lactic acid improving the digestibility of foods
  4. Enhance bowel function and elimination
  5. Natural antibiotic against unfriendly bacteria, viruses and yeast as candida
  6. Act as anticancer factor by inhibiting bacteria that convert nitrates into nitrites
  7. Oppose putrefactive bacteria associated with a meat- rich diet
  8. Help eliminate bad breath
  9. Protect against the negative effects of radiation and pollutants
  10. Prevent skin problems as acne and skin infections
  11. Reduce the blood levels of cholesterol (by breaking down bile in the colon inhibiting its reabsorption into the blood)
  12. Optimize sex hormone levels, enhancing fertility
  13. Documented usefulness in the therapy of diarrhea,  allergies, eczema, psoriases, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder infections, vaginitis and autoimmune disesases as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis

Inhibitors of friendly bacteria:

  1. High sugar, refined foods, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
  2. Antibiotcs, steroids and birth control pills
  3. X ray irradiation and chlorine

Probiotic bacteria must be consumed everyday to be effective as they cannot implant in the gastrointestinal tract and leave the body quite readily. It is recommended to include probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet regularly to counteract the many adverse conditions we are subjected to (stress, inadequate diet and pollution). Supplements contain much greater amounts of probiotic bacteria and are recommended after antibiotic use and to treat certain health conditions.

If you need further help with your nutrition and diet call us at 416 876 4634 to book your appointment or sign up today for a FREE phone Clarity Session with holistic nutritionist Dr Maha Nasr to discuss your concerns and see how we can help you.

Maha Nasr

About Maha Nasr

Maha Nasr, MD (Egy.), PhD, R.H.N., CPCC-founder and owner of Healthy U Turn-is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a strong medical background. In 2016, she was nominated for the first annual holistic nutrition award – “Trail Blazer Award” – for exceptional work in the holistic nutrition industry within Canada. Maha is passionate about empowering highly-driven and successful women who struggle with resistant weight loss and underlying hormonal or digestive imbalances . She helps them to eat the right way for their specific needs, so that they can finally overcome their challenges and effortlessly maintain a healthy and fit body for life, without deprivation or struggle. Find out more about her approach and how she can help at www.healthyuturn.com

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