Importance of Prebiotics and Probiotics For a Healthy Gut

Importance of Prebiotics and Probiotics For a Healthy Gut


By now, you must know, and if you’re reading this, that a healthy lifestyle consists of regular exercise and movement, eating fruit and vegetables, as the main part of your diet, a good night’s sleep and staying hydrated. All of these are the cornerstones of health. All of your life style choices affect your all-important gut microbiome, which are all the microbes that live in your digestive system, and are a key to both physical and mental health.

Your diet has the biggest influence on your gut health. Diets high in fibre, unsaturated fatty acids (found in fish and nuts), and polyphenols (chemicals found in plants) all promote a healthy gut. And of course, a diet high in saturated fats, additives and sugar can harm your gut health. It’s obvious to avoid consuming a lot of ultra-processed foods. Think ready meals, packaged meat products, fast foods and most take aways are just a few. 

The additives in ultra-processed foods can cause intestinal inflammation and something called a leaky gut.  Read the labels and look out for lecithin, guar or xanthan gum, and mono-diglycerides. These additives are also common in protein supplements, so read the labels before you buy.

This is where prebiotics and probiotics become important, they supply the healthy gut bacteria that you need to consume to create a healthy microbiome.

It’s really hard to avoid foods that are ultra-processed, but try to limit your intake, whilst upping your consumption of prebiotic and probiotic foods. Ultra-processed foods are addictive, so it can be a challenge to cut back, especially with children and teenagers.

Dietary fibre is a good example of a prebiotic, which can stimulate the growth of good bacteria.  It’s the main food source of your gut microbes, so it’s really important to consume enough if you want your microbiome to flourish.

Most prebiotics come from plant foods, so getting a high diversity of plants into your diet will certainly help to keep your gut healthy. The latest guild lines recommend including at least 30 plant species in your diet weekly. Sounds hard, but tasty fruit, berries, a high content dark chocolate and even good quality coffee count too - not the instant stuff. Learn to love those fruits and vegetables.  They are so good for you!

Probiotics, which are the bacteria and yeasts also needed for a healthy gut are easily consumed by choosing fermented foods. Think un-sweetened yoghurts, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, kimchi, fermented soy products such as miso or tempeh. You can take supplements, but if you must, choose a high-quality probiotic, such as the ‘Synerbio ‘Range from Viridian- Nutrition. Fermented foods are the way to go and can be just as effective and less costly. They not only support the healthy balance of your gut bacteria, but can provide a good source of fibre, vitamins and other nutrients. In the short term a good supplement can be the answer.

Leaving about 12 hours over night to digest your food (intermittent fasting) can help your gut to repair and also help reduce any inflammation in your gut.

Medication and the microbiome

Some prescribed medications can also affect your gut health. Antibiotics are can be detrimental to your gut microbiome. Many are ‘broad spectrum’ and not only kill off harmful bacteria (which we want them to do) but the important ones too, that keep our gut healthy.  This can result in many gastrointestinal problems, but also a decrease in our natural immunity, especially after prolonged use. 

Increasing your intake of prebiotics and probiotics after antibiotics can help and I recommend taking ‘Synerbio Saccharomyces Boulardi’ ‘(a short course after antibiotics) which can help replenish the loss of your good microbiome.

Always check with your doctor before taking a probiotic supplement in case it may not be suitable alongside any treatment you are receiving. 



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