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    Pre- and Probiotics: What Are They and What Do They Do?

    Posted by: Quieta Bail Naturopath (BHSc)

    Pre- and Probiotics: What Are They and What Do They Do?

    It is estimated that there are almost the same, if not more, microbial cells in the human body than there are human cells. Everyone knows the importance of diet! Although, with so much talk about the body’s microbiome, you also must consider what you’re feeding microbial cells as well. Moreover, it is important we feed the ‘good’ bacteria more than the ‘bad’ bacteria. It is an important balancing act. This is where pre-biotics and probiotics come in.


    Prebiotics are what feed the microbiome. It’s almost as though it is the fertilizer for a healthy microbiome to grow. So, what are they? Plants! More specifically, the special fibre within plants that are found in fruits & veggies. Basically, us and our human cells don’t digest these fibres – they pass through our digestive system. Therefore, it’s all for the microbiome and becomes food for bacteria and other microbes.

    Overall, prebiotics encourage the growth of our good bacteria, and can reduce the levels of bad bacteria (aka. Pathogenic). But there are more benefits to just feeding our bacteria! When the bacteria metabolise these fibres they are fermented. They then release compounds such as butyrate and acetate, which are anti-inflammatory and great for gut and immune health.

    Also, if you’re not feeding your bacteria with prebiotics they may not survive. The bacteria may then look to feed on protein within your gut which can cause inflammation. Fibre is also a great addition to the diet to improve digestion in general.

    Types of Prebiotics

    • Apples
    • Artichoke
    • Sweet potato
    • Oats
    • Mushroom
    • Garlic
    • Artichoke
    • Legumes
    • Barley


    Probiotics are a supplement of live organisms – bacteria (the good kind!). Usually, they contain specific strains of bacteria that aim to repopulate and balance the microbiome of the gut. They act by maintaining pH level, deterring ‘bad’ bacteria from colonising and produce those compounds previously mentioned.

    Some of the most popular strains of probiotics include Lactobacillus spp. and Bifidobacterium spp., and have many benefits beyond the gut. Some research has found probiotic supplements to be helpful in skin conditions, allergies and immune dysregulation.

    A great way to incorporate probiotics into your day-to-day is to increase probiotic rich foods. This is pretty much anything fermented and includes:

    • Yoghurt (both plant based and dairy)
    • Saurkraut & Kimchi
    • Tempeh
    • Kombucha
    • Kefir

    If food isn’t as easy as you’d like it to be. You can always find a multi-strained probiotic that can help to balance the microbiome. My personal favourite is the Probioform liquid probiotic. Probioform is designed to deliver the maximum availability of live bacteria directly to your intestines. It easily absorbs into the intestinal wall, providing the full benefits of probiotics almost immediately. Make sure you’re including pre- and probiotics into your diet daily for maximum benefit.

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