Health Benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics
Scott, a 10-Day Detox participant wants to know, what are the best prebiotics and probiotics to take and how to keep his gut healthy.
The health of the trillions of bugs in our gut (which outnumber your cells 10 to 1) is one of the biggest things that impacts our wellbeing. We have to learn how to tend the flora of our internal gardens (our gut) by being selective of what we eat and how we live. We must feed the good bugs and avoid gut-busting habits—like eating too much sugar and starch or consuming too much alcohol or allowing stress to wreak havoc (yes, your gut bacteria are eavesdropping on your thoughts).
I see so many patients in my office who are suffering from uncomfortable and disabling symptoms like bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Often these are signs of irritable bowel syndrome, which have become a very real problem. Did you know that 60 million people (20 percent of Americans) have an irritable bowel? And even if you don't have gut symptoms, so many other diseases are affected by the health of your gut flora—including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, allergic diseases like asthma and eczema and even depression, ADD and autism!
Basically, the microbial ecosystem in the gut has to be healthy for you to be healthy. When your gut bacteria are out of balance, it makes you sick. Among all that gut bacteria, there are good guys, bad guys and very bad guys. When you have too many bad guys and not enough good guys, this becomes a problem.
This is why supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics is so very important.
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics
Probiotics provide beneficial bacteria that colonize the GI tract with optimal amounts and types of bacteria to protect against inflammation and support immunity and healthy digestive function. In cases where someone is dealing with yeast overgrowth or a histamine intolerance and who wants to avoid fermented foods, a probiotic supplement might be the best choice. I typically prefer pills or powder form because this is the easiest and most effective way to introduce probiotics. Here is a list of my favorite brands. And one particular product that I like is VSL#3—a super high potency probiotic. Each dose contains 450 billion live beneficial bacteria. Start slowly on this and build up.
Now, prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber that helps feed the good bugs in your gut. Prebiotics include foods like onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, dandelion greens, jicama and resistant starch. Be sure to include these natural gut health supporters as much as possible.
Prebiotics and probiotics are great; however, there are a ton of other things we should be doing to get our guts healthy. I highly recommend reading my blog, How to Fix Your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight.