Probiotics and Prebiotics: Gut Healing Superstars
Probiotics and prebiotics supplements are hot items these days in the holistic health community. And if you’ve been dealing with gut conditions like SIBO or IBS or an autoimmune disease, you’re probably at least familiar with these products.
Even though probiotics and prebiotics sound very similar, these are two completely different supplements that work to improve your gut and overall health in two very different ways.
Both probiotics and prebiotics can be amazing tools in your gut healing tool box, if you know when and why to use them.
Fully understanding how each of these supplements worked and the differences between them was a big turning point in my health. I was able to better utilize these powerful gut healing tools to help bring my entire body, not just my gut, back into balance.
So if you’re unsure about probiotics, prebiotics, or both, and how you can use them to heal your gut and regain your health, this is the blog post for you.
In this post you’ll learn:
What are probiotics and prebiotics
What are the benefits of using each of these supplements
What are the different types of probiotics and prebiotics available
Who should use these supplements
Who should avoid them
And the probiotic and prebiotic supplements that I used to achieve the healthiest gut I’ve had in years (and get a 15% off coupon to try them yourself!)
Ready to learn all you need to know about probiotics and prebiotics? Let’s go!
What are Probiotics?
A probiotic is defined as being a live beneficial bacteria or yeast that has adapted to survive and live in the human gastrointestinal system.
In order to be called a probiotic, this bacteria or yeast also must provide significant health benefits to the host (that’s you!).
One major misconception about probiotics is that they don’t actually colonize the gut.
Probiotics mainly work to modulate your gut bacteria, meaning they provide a good environment for the good guys, and help to kick out the bad guys. And those benefits only stick around while you’re taking the probiotic supplement.
So, if you’re struggling with a bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, or other gut imbalance, getting on a good probiotic for an extended period of time is a great way to help supplement your other healing protocols. (Keep reading to learn about the probiotic I use and swear by!)
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that cannot be digested by our gut, but CAN be digested by our gut bacteria.
This means that these fibers, mostly found in plant foods, will pass through our intestines intact and serve as food for our gut bugs.
While we don’t, our gut bacteria do have the proper enzymes to digest, and actually ferment, these prebiotic fibers. And fed gut bacteria are happy gut bacteria.
If our gut bugs don’t get enough of these fermentable, prebiotic fibers, they’ll die out and our gut health can suffer.
If you’ve ever gotten a little bloated and gassy after eating certain fibrous foods, it’s because you’re feeding your gut bugs! A small price to pay for happy, thriving gut bacteria.
Benefits of Using Probiotic Supplements
The benefits of using probiotic supplements extends far beyond just improving your gut health.
Although, gut health is definitely one of the areas that can see pretty immediate benefit from starting a probiotic supplement.
Many people report that after using a probiotic for a few days their bowel movements are more regular, they’re less gassy and bloated, and they feel like they’re digesting their food better.
These are all some of the great gut supporting side effects of a probiotic’s ability to help modulate our gut bacteria population.
This means that when taken regularly, probiotics can help to increase the numbers of beneficial bacteria in your gut, all while crowding out the pathogenic bacteria that are residing there.
One surprising benefit of using probiotics is that they can help improve immune function. This is the case because, believe it or not, 70% of your immune system is actually housed in the lining of your gut!
Probiotics, when given in adequate amounts, can help to regulate the immune system.
This can be especially helpful if your immune system is depressed (you’re getting sick all the time) or if it’s in hyperdrive (as it can be with many autoimmune conditions).
Probiotic supplements can help to bring your immune system back into balance, naturally.
Benefits of Using Prebiotic Supplements
Prebiotics serve as the fertilizer to our gut bacterial ecosystem. These supplements, or foods, help to improve the overall landscape of our gut microbiome.
When our gut bacteria are being fed sufficiently, they produce adequate amounts of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are simply byproducts of the bacterial fermentation of these prebiotic fibers.
These highly beneficial compounds produced by your gut bacteria actually fuel the cells of your digestive tract.
In short, prebiotics help to increase the levels of SCFAs in your gut, which in turn helps to maintain gut integrity and overall health.
Prebiotics help to support the beneficial bacteria already living in our gut. These fibers are our bacteria’s only means of surviving and thriving.
So including a prebiotic supplement or eating lots of prebiotic containing foods is the best way to support your gut bacteria so they can in turn support you!
Types of Probiotics
Probiotic supplements come in three main categories: lactic acid bacteria, beneficial yeast, and soil-based organisms.
Each of the probiotics in these categories is going to offer different benefits to you and your gut.
Lactic acid bacteria, as the name might suggest, produce lactic acid in your gut. These probiotics are great at helping to improve your bowel habits. And they can even go as far as help improve your intestinal mucosal lining, which helps prevent leaky gut.
Lactic acid bacteria are also great at helping you digest lactose. So if you think you might be lactose intolerant, trying out some of these probiotics could help.
Beneficial yeast probiotics are actually not bacteria, but yeast!
Outside the gut, beneficial yeast probiotics can even help support vaginal health and prevent recurring yeast infections.
And as always, if you’re dealing with any of these conditions, always check with a trusted medical professional before starting any probiotic supplements.
Finally, soil-based organisms are ones that are found and grown in soil, as you might have guessed.
Our soil used to be filled with these types of probiotics, but as society has evolved the soil has become a less reliable source of these beneficial bacteria to populate our guts.
Soil-based probiotics can do a host of great things for your gut and overall health. They’ve been shown to increase levels of beneficial bacteria already in your gut, help stimulate anti-inflammatory proteins, and even improve nasal congestion.
No matter the type of probiotic you choose to use, you’re bound to see a large variety of health benefits! Our gut is truly where health begins, and using probiotics is a great tool to have for your overall health and wellbeing.
Types of Prebiotics
While there are several different types of prebiotic supplements on the market, the differences between them is much less significant than the differences between the various types of probiotics.
The only real reason to try different types of prebiotic supplements is to find one that you tolerate well. There are very few side effects of taking prebiotics. But some people may experience a slight increase in bloating and gas when consuming certain types.
If that happens, no worries, you can either decrease your dose, or try a different type of prebiotic.
The types of prebiotics currently available are:
Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum (PHGG)
All of these prebiotics do generally the same thing: feed your good gut bacteria.
Some studies show that PHGG is the most well tolerated and effective type of prebiotic supplement. But, every body is unique. And the only way to determine which supplement works best for you is to try.
Who Should Use Probiotics and Prebiotics
While probiotics and prebiotics are going to be beneficial for most everyone, not everyone needs to take a supplement to improve their health.
Sometimes, just including more probiotic and prebiotic containing foods in your diet is enough. And an additional supplement, and the expense that goes along with it, isn’t necessary.
With that being said, here are some populations of people who could benefit from using a probiotic and prebiotic supplement:
If you have a bacterial imbalance (not enough good guys, for example)
If you have an overgrowth of pathogenic or commensal bacteria
If you’re suffering with non-specific gut symptoms like bloating, gas, irregular bowel movements, or acid reflux
If you’ve been to a GI doctor and they diagnosed you with IBS
These are just general categories of people who could potentially benefit from the use of probiotics and prebiotics. Each condition is unique, and the only person who can truly tell you if a probiotic or prebiotic could help your situation is your doctor.
Who Should Use Caution with Probiotics and Prebiotics
For some people who have SIBO or who have a history of SIBO, probiotics and prebiotics can exacerbate symptoms.
SIBO occurs when your gut bacteria move upwards into the small intestine, instead of just being located in the large intestine where they belong.
Your small intestine is where food is absorbed. So when you have gut bacteria in your small intestine, they tend to get to your food before you do. This is the cause of many of the unpleasant symptoms associated with SIBO like gas, bloating, and indigestion.
In people with SIBO, some probiotics and prebiotics can act as fuel to the bacterial overgrowth fire, and make symptoms worse.
But, there are studies that show using probiotics in conjunction with SIBO treatment can make help reduce symptoms of SIBO and IBS more than just treatment alone. So, like anything else, probiotic and prebiotic usage with SIBO is very individual.
And some people argue that using soil-based probiotics are best for SIBO sufferers. This is because soil-based organisms aren’t typically the ones contributing to the overgrowth, so supplementing with them shouldn’t cause a reaction.
People with autoimmune conditions should also use caution with probiotic and prebiotic supplements.
Autoimmune disease is essentially an overstimulation of the immune system. And sometimes adding probiotics or prebiotics to an already easily excited immune system is just too much.
In these cases, using these supplements can possible flare your autoimmune disease, making their drawbacks much greater than their potential benefits.
I do have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition, and have never had an issue taking probiotics or prebiotics. But again, everyone is different, and you should contact your doctor before starting on any of these supplements.
The Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplements I Recommend
I’ve been using probiotics and prebiotics for years in an attempt to improve my gut health and heal from SIBO, leaky gut, H pylori, and a host of other bacterial imbalances.
I swear I’ve tried almost every product on the market, and the most I felt that they did for me was… nothing.
I just didn’t feel any different. My gut still felt the same. I still got sick as much as I always had. It was almost like I was just throwing the money I spent on these pricey supplements down the toilet.
That was until I tried Just Thrive’s Probiotic and Prebiotic supplements! (Psst: you can get 15% off these supplements using code NINJA15 at checkout!)
I was immediately convinced of the potential of these supplements to work for me because of all the scientific research this brand had backing their effectiveness.
But it wasn’t until I had been using these supplements for about a year did I truly become a believer for life.
When I received the results of my latest GI-MAP stool test, I knew that the changes in my gut health and microbiome could largely be contributed to Just Thrive’s Probiotic and Prebiotic products.
Compared to a stool test I had taken a year before, prior to using these supplements every day, my levels of beneficial bacteria were way up, my pathogenic and potentially pathogenic bacteria were way down, and I had eliminated all of the autoimmune triggering bacteria in my gut!
It was amazing that these results were a living example of the effectiveness of this probiotic and prebiotic I had been religiously using.
I’ll let the Just Thrive products speak for themselves. So if you’re interested in learning more about the specific benefits of this brand of probiotics and prebiotics, click on the images below to learn more.
And if you want to try these all-star, gut healing supplements out for yourself, I have a coupon code just for you to help make the purchase a little easier!
I know how expensive supplements can be when you’re trying to heal your gut. But trust me when I say that probiotics and prebiotics are two of the most beneficial supplements you can add to your cabinet. And with Just Thrive, I can personally attest to the fact that your money will be well spent!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any experience with Just Thrive’s Probiotics or Prebiotics! And if you’re interested in trying them out for yourself, don’t forget your 15% off code, NINJA15!
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