Prebiotic or Probiotic? They Work Together

If you’ve been reading this blog, you likely already know the “pros” of probiotics: that probiotics stimulate the growth of microorganism colonies in our bodies that are “good” or helpful, as compared antibiotics that destroy or limit the growth of microorganisms that are “bad” or cause harm.

You probably also know that the National Institutes of Health says that probiotics, (like those in Florajen) can:

  • Help to maintain a desirable or beneficial community of microorganisms in your system.
  • Stabilize the digestive and vaginal tracts’ barriers against undesirable microorganisms or produce substances that inhibit “bad” microorganisms’ growth.
  • Help the community of microorganisms in the body return to normal after being disturbed, for example, by use of antibiotics or by an illness.
  • Outcompete undesirable microorganisms.
  • Stimulate immune response.

But do you realize that the microorganisms or “good bacteria” in the human gut also need to eat?

They do… and the foods they like to eat are called prebiotics.

Prebiotics, according to the Columbia University Medical Center, are the substances our “good” bacteria need in order to grow, thrive and maintain balance. Prebiotics are found in fiber we ingest but can’t actually digest (think roughage) and many experts, including those at The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences,  believe that by feeding our beneficial bacteria better, we can benefit our health.

Prebiotics’ potential benefits are still being studied but so far range from helping to prevent obesity, to reducing allergy symptoms and eczema. Indeed, according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics as well as Columbia University prebiotics can:

  1. Improve calcium absorption (for stronger bones)
  2. Modify blood sugar increases after eating (with positive effects related to diabetes)
  3. Help to feed the cells lining the lower digestive tract (increasing stool frequency and potentially aiding cancer prevention.)

Sounds like some good reasons to boost pre’s for our pro’s. And you don’t need to eat a lot to do it — the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics recommends just 5 grams of prebiotics per day for improved gut health.

To get there, try eating more foods containing the right types of fiber, including:

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries and other berries
  • Chicory root
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
  • Leeks
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds (like chia seeds)
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Soy beans
  • Spinach
  • Whole wheat foods

Prebiotics can also be found added to the following foods:

  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Cookies/biscuits
  • Drinks
  • Infant formula
  • Yogurt

But the word “prebiotic” isn’t often used on food labels (yet). So, if you’re looking to feed your microbiome, search ingredient lists for the following terms indicating prebiotics:

  • Acacia gum
  • Arabinose
  • Chicory fiber
  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Inulin
  • Lactulose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Oligofructose (OF)
  • Wheat dextrin

 

So now you know how to eat more prebiotics to benefit the microorganisms in your system.

But to boost those microorganism colonies in the first place, you may need to add a probiotic to your routine. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions and remember, Florajen Probiotics contain the same “good” bacteria that occur naturally in healthy people including:

Lactobacillus acidophilus: Good for overall intestinal health and helps regulate the digestive and vaginal environments. Evidence suggests acidophilus might also play a role in reducing the number and severity of respiratory infections children experience. 1

Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Often used to help prevent and ease gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea, to stimulate immune responses, and to prevent certain allergic symptoms. 2

Bifidobacterium: Known to produce critical components to keep the intestinal lining healthy. Reported to also have anti-allergy effects, to help reduce harmful bacteria, and to improve the intestinal environment.3 Additionally believed to help the immune system develop appropriately in children; studies have found a lack of Bifidobacteria in children with food allergies.4

 

  1. Acidophilus. Mayo Clinic Website https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-acidophilus/art-20361967. Accessed June 5, 2018.
  2. Segers ME, Lebeer S. Towards a better understanding of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG – host interactions. Microbial Cell Factories. 2014;13(Suppl 1):S7. doi:10.1186/1475-2859-13-S1-S7.
  3. Sugahara H, et al. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longumalters gut luminal metabolism through modification of the gut microbial community. Scientific Reports5, Article number: 13548 (2015)
  4. Kirjavaninen et al. Aberrant composition of gut microbiota of allergic infants. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2001;32;1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1773282/
    Bjorksten et al. The intestinal microflora in allergic Estonian and Swedish infants. 
    Clin Exp Allergy. 1999;29:342.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.