If the word ‘probiotics’ makes you think of a yogurt commercial, you’re not alone. We all know they’re good for us but does anyone actually know why? The term alone makes you feel like you’re back in freshman bio...Awkward.
So what is a probiotic? And what, for heaven’s sake, is a prebiotic? They’re not geological periods, for starters. And while they may sound like two sides of the same coin they’re actually pretty different. Read on to find out what makes these weird words so important!
Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers found in whole grains, chicory root (which we source the inulin from in the Sweetkick Sugar Control Mints), asparagus, apples and a number of other fruits and veggies. Probiotics, on the other hand, are a living bacteria, often consumed through foods and beverages like yogurt and kombucha.
The Mayo Clinic explains that probiotics improve microflora (good bacteria in the body) while prebiotics serve as food for the microflora. Prebiotics benefit the microorganisms that live inside your gut. They help these microorganisms, also known as your gut microflora, flourish and effectively carry out their basic functions such as aiding digestion and nutrient absorption.
Scientists often use a garden metaphor to explain the relationship between the two: Probiotics are the flowers planted inside of a garden while prebiotics are the fertilizer, water, and soil the garden needs to blossom.
So How Does This Relate To Weight Loss?
A high-sugar and high-fat diet can negatively influence your gut microflora and allow harmful bacteria to proliferate.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that harmful bacteria may cause you to absorb more calories than you would if your microflora was balanced. Worst, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut has been shown to result in disease.
The good news is that prebiotics have been shown to increase levels of gut bacteria associated with the prevention of obesity and diabetes. A recent study found the inclusion of prebiotic fiber could decrease inflammation and improve weight loss in patients. Talk about a win-win!
If all this talk of microbiomes and floras has you mentally checking out, we get it! The science behind good health can often feel overwhelming and the terminology isn’t exactly appetizing.
But before you call it a day and go back to binge watching Love Island, it’s important to understand that gut health is essential to overall health.
Now that people are starting to realize the connection between microflora and overall health, a number of new products aimed at gut health are hitting the market. The term often used for this trend is ‘microbiome hacking;’ we dare you to say that five times fast.
Although the science on prebiotics is relatively new, prebiotics are popping up in a lot of different sectors (prebiotic skin care and at-home tests to measure which good bacteria you’re lacking, for starters).
And while we’re not ones to blindly follow the trends, we are the ones that follow balance, which is exactly what prebiotics provide.