It seems that every person I come across takes a prebiotic or a probiotic. Whether they need them or not! Now, don’t get me wrong – prebiotics and or probiotics can help a lot, but they are not always necessary, neither are they always useful.
Prebiotics can be beneficial as they can selectively stimulate the growth and or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, therefore – improve your health. Prebiotics are available as a supplement, though foods such as onions, garlic, bananas, artichokes, and apple skins all contain good levels of prebiotics, for me this is a preferential source of prebiotics; foods.
Prebiotics are non digestable fibres, so your body uses them to make good bacteria. However, if you have a fructose malabsorption issue you will not do very well on prebiotics from a supplement or food source as most of them are high fructose.
Probiotics are live microorganisms – that when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Most people think that probiotics help to build up your good gut bacteria, they actually don’t.
When you take a probiotic, it travels through your intestine, the same way as food does – your body can feel better as the levels of good bacteria are there as you have ingested them but they do not stay there, you poo them out! They are transient, as food is.
One of the reasons some people may feel better when they take probiotics is because they are deficient in certain good bacteria’s that are contained in the probiotic they are taking. If this is the case then, yay! Stay on the probiotic as it is doing some good, but work on your gut health at the same time so that your gut can start to produce its own good bacteria, that is much more beneficial for you.
If you start to take a probiotic and it makes no difference to your digestive health, then stop taking it. Because, you either have enough of the good bacteria already, or the probiotic is the wrong one for you. This in itself is a whole other issue, I prefer to run a stool analysis for patients to get a good understanding of actually how much good bacteria they have or have not – before I supplement. This is not always going to happen, but it is the gold standard when it comes to probiotics.
Other things I keep in mind when prescribing probiotics, is research. Does the probiotic show good results for that particular health problem? I carry many probiotics here at The Good Gut Girl, and I use each particular probiotic for a reason.
An analogy I like to use is this; if you wanted to get a rescue animal (which is a lovely thing to do if you are able to) and you lived in a one bedroom unit, for example. Then you went along to the pound and asked them for an animal. They said “OK here is a dog that really needs a new home”, the dog that they bring out is a great Dane, Hmmmm, that is not going to work well! A great Dane in a one bedroom unit?
Your gut is the same if you go to a health food store and buy a probiotic, is it the right one for you? Is it compatible with your life?