What’s the Deal With Prebiotics and Probiotics?
There is a lot of confusion about why we take pre and probiotics, which one do we take, do they have to be refrigerated and so on and so on. I have been asked these questions time and again, so I decided to go to my favorite resources and provide you with some answers to this mind-boggling question. Remember though, you are what you eat and if you need pre or probiotics because of gut issues, you also have to change your diet. Supplements alone will not help if you keep putting bad foods into your body.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics help with gut issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas and irregular stools. Prebiotics are found in plant fibers that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut. Think of it like a fertilizer for your good bacteria. If you frequently have these symptoms or any type of digestive health problems, you should try a prebiotic. Some examples of good prebiotics are:
- Bananas – Green
- Green vegetables
- Legumes (peas and beans)
If you eat these foods make sure they are organic and washed well. Some issues with relying solely on the food as a prebiotic source are they can have mold growth (oats for example) and may not provide enough of the prebiotic you need for your gut health. I’ll give you some prebiotic options below.
Why Prebiotics Work
Your gut microbiome is made up of a variety of good and bad bacteria. We always want the good to out way the bad bacteria in our gut. This is where prebiotics can be helpful. Prebiotics are able to pass through the stomach and small intestines undigested and make it all the way to colon. This is where the prebiotics are digested, fueling the good bacteria and kicking out the bad bacteria. Additionally, resistant starch (an excellent prebiotic) increases fermentation and the production of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. These acids lower the pH of our bowel, making it an unfriendly environment for parasites and bad bacteria. Prebiotics have also been found to increase the integrity of the colon’s health so much that it aids in numerous health benefits.
What Are the Health Benefits of Prebiotics?
1. Helps with digestive issues such as Diverticulitis, Diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, Colitis, and even Colorectal cancer.
2. Improves insulin resistance with Type 2 diabetes
3. Improves sleep
4. Reduces cravings for junk food by increasing satiety
Prebiotics are generally more durable than probiotic supplements as many probiotics cannot survive stomach acid or heat. The Probiotics I will recommend later do not fall into this category, but many do.
Which Prebiotic Should I Take?
You can take prebiotics in a supplement format or as a Resistant Starch.
The Supplement Brand I recommend is:
Bullet Proof Inner Fuel – this is quick and easy and can be mixed with any liquid or added to smoothies. This does have partially hydrated guar gum which is not to be confused with guar gum itself. They are processed very differently by the body and partially hydrated guar gum has been found to grow probiotic bacteria to balance out the gut microflora.
Resistant Starch is another inexpensive way to go.
Resistant starch works because it functions like a soluble, fermentable fiber. It goes through your stomach and small intestine undigested, allowing it to reach your colon where it feeds your friendly gut bacteria. Some examples of Resistance starch are:
Type 1: Is found in grains, seeds and legumes and resists digestion because it’s bound within the fibrous cell walls.
Type 2: Is found in some starchy foods, including raw potatoes and green (unripe) bananas.
Type 3: Is formed when certain starchy foods, including potatoes and rice, are cooked and then cooled. The cooling turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches via retrogradation
Type 4: Is man-made and formed via a chemical process.
I would stick with type 1 and 2 to get the most benefits from your prebiotic.
Start with one tablespoon of raw potato starch a day and slowly increase the dose to 4 tablespoons over a 4-week period depending on how it makes you feel. You will not need any more than 4 tablespoons a day. If you feel bloated and gassy after 4-6 weeks you may need to switch to a different resistant starch such as raw green bananas. Start with a ¼ of a banana and work up to a half and see if it helps. It does take a while to get use to, so push through as best you can. Remember you can always try the bullet proof supplement if this does not work.
If you continue to have bloating and gas, you may have underlying gut issues that needs to be addressed.
When we take antibiotics or eaten commercial raised meats you may need more than a prebiotic to get your gut healthy.
PCI Wellness offer excellent tests to help identify issues you may be having. Contact your physician or naturopath for more help in this area.
Prebiotics are said by some to be better than probiotics because probiotics die off in the stomach and/or small intestines. The probiotics below do not die off when they come into contact with stomach acid or heat, that is why they are highly recommended. I think it is important to take both until you achieve ultimate health in your digestive system.
Why Take a Probiotic?
Probiotics are helpful in restoring good bacteria in our guts. Signs you need a probiotic are bloating, frequent gas, more than 10-15 times a day of belching or farting, abdominal pain, constipation, or loose stools. If you have taken loads of antibiotics in your lifetime, then a probiotic is a must as the antibiotics kill off good and bad bacteria equally. Often what happens is the bad bacteria begin out number the good and you begin to see significant changes in your gut health which can lead to other chronic diseases.
What Do Probiotics Do?
Probiotics help colonize good bacteria in the gut which in turn will help chase away the bad bacteria. To simplify what happens, good probiotics deliver live, colony forming units, to the intestines. These include Lactobacillus strains which work predominately in the small intestine and Bifidobacterium strains which are more active in the large intestine. When these strains reach the intestines, the colony forming units begin multiplying, pushing out bad bacteria and making it more difficult for them to survive.
What is a Good Brand of Probiotic?
I have worked with Emma Lane for years now and learned so much about gut health. She spends countless hours researching high quality supplements, so if she recommends it, you can believe it is high quality. Her website is www.energizemindbody.com for more information. The brands she recommends are:
Other brands may serve the same purpose, but they could be loaded with fillers and are not cultivated in a way that they survive stomach acids, so beware. Further, they could be made in a commercial plant with high contaminants on the machinery such a bacteria, mold and other allergens which can be harmful to the gut.
Which Probiotic Do I Take?
If you have taken Antibiotics start taking a Kirkman probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii at the same time or directly after. It is best taken in between antibiotic doses as it will have a better chance to help keep the normal flora up in the gut.
The Kirkman S. boulardii is a unique probiotic that survives gastric acidity, is not adversely affected or inhibited by antibiotics and does not alter or adversely affect the normal flora in the bowel. For this reason, “friendly” probiotic organisms (including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) can be taken at the same time as S. boulardii. Start with 3-4 weeks of S. boulardii and then switch to one of the probiotics below. It is important to consult with a physician if you are taking other supplements before taking S. boulardii
If you have general gut symptoms such as bloating, gas and bowel issues, try one of these:
Be sure to read about each probiotic as each person may need a different strain. I use the 11 strain for my gut issues. If you use the 11 strain and have adverse effects, switch to a 10 strain or less.
Dosing? Over Dosing?
I would follow the manufacturers guidelines or your physician’s. It is important to start off slow with a mild dose, say half of what is recommended, in the beginning. I suggest take them first thing in the morning or before bed, away from food. You could also take them prior to a meal if this does not agree with your body. Everyone reacts differently so be sure to listen to your body and how you feel. If you have excessive gas or loose stools, you are taking too much and need to back off at least half a dose. I frequently rotate off probiotics after 2-3 months and see how I feel. Try that and if you start to have symptoms again, it may be time to look at your diet. If your diet is clean, go back on probiotics for another 2-3 months and see how you feel.
Should my kids take probiotics?
If your child is experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of gut issues such as bloating, excessive gas, constipation or loose stools, and abdominal pain, then yes they need to take them as well and take a product made for children. Kirkman and Custom Probiotics have those products as well.