Many people overlook prebiotics in their diet. Defined as indigestible fiber that promotes the reproduction and activity of beneficial bacteria and fungi, they play an important role in health and wellness.
Prebiotics vs Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
It’s a common assumption that prebiotics are the same as probiotics. The truth, however, is that prebiotics complement and improve the beneficial effects of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria created through fermentation whereas prebiotics consists of fibrous plant matter from fruits and vegetables that supports probiotics.
Stronger Immune System
One of the health benefits of prebiotics is a stronger immune system. When consumed, they work harmoniously with the body’s good bacteria so that it can fight off illness-causing microorganisms. According to one study, people who consume prebiotic-rich foods on a regular basis are less likely to become infected with influenza than their counterparts who omit this substance from their diet.
Prebiotics also support a healthy digestive system. When bad bacteria and fungi in the gut remain unchecked, they will quickly spread and wreak havoc on the digestive system. This often leads to digestive problems like gas, bloating, heartburn, stomach cramps, constipation and nausea. Prebiotics protect against digestive distress by assisting probiotics in neutralizing bad microorganisms in the gut.
A health benefit of prebiotics that’s often overlooked is stronger bones. Bone strength is heavily influenced by the mineral calcium. But it’s not the amount of calcium a person consumes that will affect his or her bone strength; it’s the amount that’s absorbed by his or her body. Research has shown that prebiotics improve the absorption of many nutrients, including calcium. Therefore, prebiotics promote strong, healthy bones while protecting against diseases like osteoporosis in the process.
Improved Heart Health
Finally, prebiotics promote a healthy heart by reducing bodily inflammation and lowering blood triglyceride levels. This allows blood to flow throughout the body with greater ease, thus reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. There’s also some belief that prebiotics can lower stress levels, which may also have a positive impact on heart health.
While prebiotics offer a wide range of health benefits, they should be consumed in conjunction with probiotics. Prebiotics act as food for probiotics, stimulating their activity and encouraging reproduction so that they can neutralize harmful microorganisms in the body more effectively.