Prebiotic & Probiotic supplements – What are the differences?

A prebiotic is a fiber that the human body is unable to digest. Its purpose is to act as a source of food for microscopic organisms of yeast and bacteria called probiotics. Both prebiotics and probiotics help the body to build and maintain a healthy group of microorganisms and bacteria that work to aid digestion and support the gut.

What are the benefits of taking prebiotic supplements?

It is believed that prebiotics help to support overall gut health by reducing antibiotic related health problems, and improving digestive health. However, there has been little research into just how true this is. Because of this, the extent to which prebiotic supplements work is not fully clear.

Some of the research that has been done does indicate that the benefits to ingesting prebiotics include changing the rate at which the body processed carbohydrates, improving the absorption of calcium, supporting gut bacteria growth, and enhancing the metabolism and digestion.

What are the benefits of taking probiotic supplements?

Although the research on how probiotics tablets may benefit the human body is inconclusive, it does suggest positive effects in the following areas:

· Mental health – A recent medical trial found it to be the case that probiotics reduce the symptoms of depression. This may be due to the fact that there is a link between brain health and gut health. However, more research is required to fully confirm these findings.

· General health – Research suggests that probiotics may be beneficial in reducing gestational diabetes, eczema, the need for antibiotics, colds, pneumonia, and vaginal infections. However, further research is required to fully confirm these findings.

· Digestive health – There are lots of studies that show how probiotics help to improve the health of the digestive system. One study found that probiotics were fundamental in reducing diarrhea by as much as 60 percent in those individuals taking antibiotics. Another found that preterm infants could reduce their risk of contracting the life threatening necrotizing enterocolitis by taking probiotics.

· Gastrointestinal health – Clinical trials show that those individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) saw their symptoms improve from taking probiotic tablets. However, extra research is required to fully confirm which strain of probiotic is best at alleviating the symptoms.

Who should take prebiotic & probiotic supplements?

Those individuals who have a healthy and varied diet that consists of plenty of whole grains, fruits, fermented foods, and vegetables should be consuming sufficient amounts of prebiotics & probiotics and have no need to take these supplements. However, the average diet in the United States is lacking in many of the prebiotics & probiotics that occur naturally, and so they may be required supplementing this using either chewables or capsules. Dietary prebiotic & probiotic supplements are available for consumption by children.

As is always the case with any type of food supplement, a licensed healthcare practitioner should be consulted prior to its consumption. This is especially true for anyone with either a compromised immune system or any other underlying illness.

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