PREBIOTICS, PROBIOTICS AND ANTIBIOTICS
WHAT DO THEY ALL MEAN?
If you haven’t noticed, health and wellness circles are a little obsessed with the gut (us included), and by your gut, we mean breaking the taboo on your poo!
Sorry if we’ve grossed you out, but don’t stop reading. This hasn’t always been the case though. Current research is only scrapping the surface to understanding the broader understanding of our tummies. Just as important and as complex as our brain and our heart, 25 year-old German microbiology student, Giulia Enders is educating people the world over with her book Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, about the beauty of our intestines and the ‘masterly performance’ that is defecation.
Because this sh*t is important! You get our drift…
Prebiotics are food ingredients that escape digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract and stimulate the growth of selective gut flora (the good bacteria!), such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the colon.
Think roughage! Leek, onion, garlic, chicory, carrot, asparagus and artichokes are some examples, which feed our intestinal flora. Just like a garden, our good bacteria, (also known as probiotics), are vibrant flowers that need healthy and vitamin rich soil (which are prebiotics) to grow and prevent weeds from flourishing.
Prebiotics are a source of food for probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut. By nature, they do not stimulate the growth of bad bacteria or other pathogens so the more prebiotics in your diet, the better!
Probiotics are live bacteria that keep your gut healthy. The word probiotic is derived from the Greek term biotikos, which is literally translates to mean for life – something that affirms life and health! This good bacteria generates or unleashes vitamins, helps you to digest and absorb your food and protects you from illness.
You can also source probiotics in foods like yoghurt kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.
In her book, Giulia goes on to explain: “We should feed them [probiotics] well so they can populate as much of our large intestine as possible. Pasta and bread made of white flour on factory production lines are not enough. We need to include real roughage, made of real dietary fibre in vegetables and fruit … Our bacteria will like it, and they will thank us with their good services.”
Remember, a healthy gut = healthy you!
Antibiotics are used to prevent and treat infections caused by pathogenic bacteria (the bad ones), but while doing this, the antibiotics kill ALL bacteria in your body – both the good and the bad. The word antibiotic is also derived from the Greek term biotikos and is translated to mean against life. While being one of modern day medicine’s most important developments for severe infections that harm the body, antibiotics are often prescribed and used for common colds and other sicknesses that don’t require their potency. Think back to that beautiful garden in your belly. Antibiotics kill the flowers and all the rich nourishing vitamins and nutrients in the soil. What does that mean? It means your body has to start growing your gut garden all over again! As a result, your immune system is weakened, and ironically, you are more susceptible to the common cold.
Now, go load up on prebiotics and probiotics, and only take antibiotics for infections, or as your doctor prescribes.