The benefits of probiotics and prebiotics

Trifles can be of great importance: for example, probiotic bacteria that live in your intestines. Learn how to improve the internal environment to strengthen health and improve efficiency!

Author: Jeremy Partle, Master of Science, a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that the next fundamental chapter in the study of the health and functioning of the human body will be, and the answer can surprise you: belly! And I'm not talking about the fat layer on the waist, although you will soon see that it is also relevant.

Studies have shown that bacteria living in the digestive tract have a great impact on health and physical performance. It is important to understand that this is a relatively new topic for scientific research. Mass factors that affect the quantitative and qualitative composition of the biocenosis of the intestine, we are not able to control. But the key factor is in our power – it's a diet.

Based on the data available to us, the plan of action aimed at improving the gastrointestinal tract, should include the intake of both probiotics and substances known as "prebiotics." It's time to find out where to get them, and why it's important.

Why are useful bacteria important?

Probiotics are tiny living organisms, for example, bacteria and yeast that live inside our intestines. However, not all representatives of microflora are related to probiotics. Prefix "pro" is appropriated to those microorganisms that are useful for health.

Right now in your body, their huge number – think about 100 trillions, not just millions or billions. Some species dominate, for example, lactobacillus and bifidobacteria – the most common representatives of intestinal flora. Probiotic organisms can be found in many fermented foods, for example, in yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, aged cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombuchi. Food supplements are another popular way to increase the intake of probiotics.

Between the diet, microorganisms and intestines there is a very personal and intricate connection. Although for people as a whole a similar composition of the microbiotic nucleus is characteristic, each person has distinctive features of the intestinal biocenosis, which are determined by genetics, lifestyle, diet and the environment.

When the bowel is not going well, a predisposing condition, known as "dysbiosis", arises. In this case, potentially harmful bacteria or their strains begin to dominate beneficial microorganisms. Dietary dysbacteriosis is recognized as a factor that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases, Crohn's disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis.

How exactly intestinal bacteria affect the metabolism and biochemical homeostasis of the body is not known for certain, but there is no doubt that such a relationship exists. For example, in people with metabolic syndrome, glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity are improved after intestinal microorganisms are transplanted from healthy donors.

Regardless of the reasons that encourage you to improve the health of the intestine, the main task should be to improve the ratio of beneficial and harmful microorganisms. When this happens, you will notice an improvement in your health that will include:

  1. Increased tolerance to lactose in people with intolerance.

There are also promising and continuing studies demonstrating the relationship of intestinal health with various areas, from mental activity to emotional state, but most of these works are in the early stages.

So, how to help good guys and reduce the impact of bad guys? Start with increasing the number of good guys due to foods and food additives. And then give the probiotics the food they love.

To thrive and be healthy, probiotics need to constantly get enough food. It's about prebiotics, or dietary fiber. Prebiotics are indigestible food components that act as a food for probiotics. In other words, you can not digest them, but bacteria in your intestines can. (Yes, "can not digest" means that they can provoke the formation of gases.) But with the time this side effect will pass.)

The picture of a bacterial buffet in your intestines may seem difficult to understand, but the benefits of increased prebiotic intake will be more than real. It includes:

  1. Improving the assimilation of trace elements and increasing bone mineral density.

Some prebiotics are found in natural products, for example, in chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, many fruits and vegetables, especially in root crops and leaves. Seeds, for example, flax seeds and chia seeds, and some nuts (in particular those with skin) also contain prebiotics. Have you ever taken seed husks to improve bowel function? Yes, it also contains dietary fiber.

Simply put, increase the amount of vegetable fiber at the expense of all possible sources – it will generally be a great idea – and you will get more prebiotics in your diet. But this can be a real test, because in many foods, fiber is very small. This is why people often seek help from nutritional supplements. The most popular additives with prebiotics contain inulin, insoluble corn fibers and potato starch.

How to get the most from pre- and probiotics

When it comes to dosing probiotics, there are no unambiguous recommendations. Dosage largely depends on the product itself and the bacterial strain used. You will find that supplements contain a variety of strains in amounts ranging from a billion CFU (colony forming units) to 50 billion.

Usually probiotics should contain several billion microorganisms in order to increase the probability of beneficial effect. Although many multivitamin complexes today contain probiotics, their dosages are often minimal, so it is worth considering about taking a separate drug with probiotics. Since you are trying to increase the overall population of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, most of the probiotics are recommended to be taken several times a day.

With regard to prebiotics, the dose varies from 2 to 20 grams per day. How much you take depends on the composition of the supplement, your reaction to its intake and the desired effect. Remember, prebiotics are not digested, like fiber. Too high doses can cause a sensation of bloating. Begin at the lower end of the range and gradually increase the dosage.

1. Is it necessary to take probiotics on an empty stomach?

Some additives with probiotics are advised to be taken with food. Others – even with similar or identical ingredients – are recommended to drink on an empty stomach. On the Internet you will find arguments in favor of both options, and they concern the chances of bacteria to survive in the acidic environment of the stomach and get to the intestine unharmed.

Obviously, science can not yet give an unambiguous answer to this question, so take probiotics as written in the recommendations on the package, and not as you like.

2. Do I need to keep probiotics in the refrigerator?

Many probiotic bacteria are sensitive to heat and moisture. Heating can kill them, and high humidity can lead to premature "activation" of bacteria in the capsule, after which they will quickly die due to a deficiency of nutrients.

Ideally, you should store supplements as described in the instructions on the label. Some supplements contain frozen and dried bacteria in capsules and tablets that do not require a cold chain, but if you are not sure, keep them in the refrigerator.

Many products rich in probiotics contain sufficient quantities of beneficial bacteria. In others, they are much smaller, and given the marketing insanity around the term "probiotics" it's hard to say who is who. And we will speak directly, products with a high content of probiotics often have a specific taste and are not cheap. A hot kimchi or yogurt for breakfast is a great idea. And to drink kombuchi every day is expensive and not for everyone.

The advantage of the additives is that they can give an impressive amount of bacteria and do not require you to radically change the taste habits. In short, if possible, eat fermented foods and try to increase the share of dietary fiber in your diet. But based on the available information, which we have much less than it will be, say, in five years, another good idea will be an increase in the population of beneficial bacteria due to the intake of food additives.

I began to drink kefir every day when I started going to sports. The coach advised not to eat later than for 4 hours before sleep. And I want to eat something, so I asked what you can satisfy your hunger. She advised me kefir – but not more than 1 cup, room temperature and, of course, without sugar and buns. store I do not like the taste, so I began to do it myself – buy low-fat homemade milk, and a brew for kefir from bakzdrav. Why do I make bacteria? Without them, it turns out just kislyak, but I hate it.


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