Probiotics and Prebiotics: Your Guide to a Healthy Gut

By Amatul Ameen | 10th Feb 2023

Probiotics and Prebiotics: Your Guide to a Healthy Gut

What are Probiotics & Prebiotics?

Probiotics- Probiotics are supplements which contain live microorganisms. They are gut-friendly and are efficient if consumed in requisite amounts.

Prebiotics- Prebiotics, as the name suggests, are food for organisms already present inside the gut. Prebiotics has become increasingly popular than before.

What do probiotics do to your gut & health?

The gut has a variety of microflora (microorganisms) that are essential for good gut health. The gut microflora is disturbed when exposed to diseases, disorders, and antibiotics.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that restore or replenish the good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are present in fermented foods which we eat in our daily life. They help in the treatment of diseases and in maintaining a healthy gut.

What do prebiotics do to your gut & health?

Prebiotics are a source of nutrition for the gut microflora. Prebiotics helps thrive good bacteria inside the gut by giving them food. They are mainly present in vegetables, cereals, fruits, etc. They help in improving gut health.

Why do we have to eat probiotics and prebiotics?

There has been a sea change in the type of food consumed in the Indian Diet. A notable shift from traditional food types to fast-food or convenience food types has been observed. People have replaced their diet, including dosa, idly, and yoghurt, with sandwiches, burgers, etc. Apart from this, a sedentary life has contributed to lifestyle-related disorders. The change in diet and lifestyle has led to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Therefore, consuming probiotics and prebiotics is necessary to prevent and manage lifestyle changes. Future research is mostly aimed at solving chronic conditions of gut microflora health.

What are Probiotic foods?

Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics. The bacteria found in these probiotic foods are lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria strains. Many traditional and popular probiotic foods are consumed all over India and foreign countries. These probiotics include:

  1. Idly 
  2. Dosa
  3. Dahi
  4. Dhokla
  5. Bhatura
  6. Kadi

Some very region-wise, specific probiotic-rich food items are:

Region Food
North India Kanji
South IndiaMor kuzhambu, kallappam,ambali
North-East India Sauerkraut, khalpi, kinema, tungrymbai, gundruk

Traditional probiotics which are popular throughout the world include yoghurts, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha. They are popular in American, European and Asian markets. In India, probiotics are consumed, including ice creams, yoghurts, and drinks. 

What are Prebiotic foods?

The prebiotics which is consumed in our daily life includes:

  1. Milk
  2. Cereals like wheat, barley, and wild black rice
  3. Pulses like black & green grams
  4. Vegetables like cabbage, plantain, banana (varieties of banana are Nendran, sugandi, and robusta), beetroot, and sweet potato
  5. Fruits like apples, jack fruit, blue-black berries, and custard apples

Besides, other prebiotics consumed daily in various foods are onion, ginger, and garlic.

Amazing Facts- Probiotics & Prebiotics

There is a unique trend in Probiotics & prebiotics consumption across age, gender, education, and socio-economic class.

  • Sex and age influence the awareness level of using probiotics. Females are more aware of probiotics than males.
  • The awareness level is directly related to being health conscious. Income and educational level influence awareness level. 
  • High-income and middle-income groups tend to consume more probiotics than lower-income group people.
  • Adult & older people eat more prebiotic food than young people
  • Prebiotic food consumption is higher than probiotic food consumption, as prebiotic food is easy to add during daily cooking.

What is the difference between probiotics & prebiotics?

  1. Prebiotics are the feed or substrate for the gut microflora or naturally present microorganisms inside the stomach. In contrast, probiotics are the live microorganisms directly present in our fermented food. 
  1. Probiotics are generally fermented foods, while prebiotics is found in raw vegetables, fruits, cereals, and pulses
  1. Many types of probiotic food are currently being marketed, but prebiotic food is yet to catch up in the market
  1. Probiotics knowledge and popularity is growing fast in comparison to knowledge on prebiotics

Quorum sensing (communication between bacteria)

Autoinducer molecules are like chemical signals which help in communication between bacteria; this whole phenomenon is called “quorum sensing”. Quorum sensing helps in controlling the effects of bad bacteria.

Use of probiotics

1. Probiotics for oral problems

Probiotics have been widely studied for their preventive action in diarrhoea. Clostridium difficile is one of the pathogens responsible for diarrhoea. Probiotics have proven helpful in the infections and recurrent infections caused by clostridium difficile. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is used in the treatment of diarrhoea. They are used in infants for the prevention of rotavirus infections and any diseases which are already present.

2. Probiotics for lactose intolerance

Probiotics like L-acidophilus and Lactobacillus Delbrueckii are used for lactose intolerance as they can hydrolyse and enhance lactose absorption.

Irritable and inflammatory bowel syndrome are some gut diseases that can be treated with probiotics. The specific mechanisms of action have been studied in detail to show the action of probiotics on these diseases.

3. Probiotics in urogenital and vaginal health

Various species of lactobacillus present in the vagina help maintain good vagina health. Lactobacilli prevent the attack of pathogens in the vagina region, which is very susceptible to infections.  Lactobacillus acidophilus produces hydrogen peroxide and hypothiocyanite, which prevents infections by L.albicans.

4. Probiotics in food and skin allergies

Imbalance between clostridium and bifidobacterium can lead to allergies. Enzymes created from L. casei degrade amino acids and produce molecules that prevent lymphocyte production, reducing allergies.

Use of Prebiotics

1. Prebiotics as laxatives

Lactulose- it’s a pharmaceutical compound to treat constipation. Lactulose undergoes rapid fermentation to give Short Chain Fatty Acids and hydrogen, which induces peristalsis.

2. Prebiotics in Hepatic encephalopathy

Lactulose is the first line of treatment in hepatic encephalopathy.  Due to liver dysfunction, ammonia accumulates in the body and affects the CNS. Lactulose limits ammonia production and absorbs excess ammonia from the intestine lumen.

3. Prebiotics in colorectal cancer

Prebiotics plays a role in preventing colorectal cancer. Cancer occurs due to the secretion of carcinogens by some harmful bacteria. Prebiotics alter the gut microflora by increasing the number of lactobacilli or bifidobacteria in the colon.

4. Prebiotics in blood glucose

Prebiotics can alter ‌glucose and insulin serum levels well. Fructans, lactulose, and galacto oligosaccharides reduce the available glucose in the bloodstream. Prebiotics also prevent blood glucose elevation in the bloodstream after meals.

Conclusion

Probiotics are widely ‌used worldwide and are gaining more popularity over time. But prebiotics, on the other hand, is less popular. But, both classes of compounds have a long heritage to them. Their benefits are already established. So the current use of probiotics and prebiotics is only a step towards renewing its benefits in more ways. Look for some most popular probiotics on Truemeds to start with. Avail teleconsultation from our expert doctors on our online pharmacy when you place an order for medicines, or you can also download our Truemeds app to do the same. Get branded as well as generic medicines by uploading your prescription on Truemeds. When placing an order for medicines online, you may save more money by selecting alternative or generic medicine advised by Truemed’s expert doctors. And also, save up to 72% on your purchase and get free home delivery pan India.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to only take a probiotic or only take a prebiotic?

It is good to take both prebiotics and probiotics for the benefits they both offer.

What are the best probiotic supplements?

Zeebon probiotic suspension
Atogla Probio

Disclaimer Truemeds’ sole intention is to ensure that customers have access to information that is accurate & trustworthy. However, the information here should not be used directly and it cannot act as a substitute for the advice of a doctor. The information provided is only to stay informed. The information on side effects, drug interactions or warnings, and alerts are not exhaustive. Please consult your doctor for the right advice on diseases & medication information.

References

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