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prebiotics and probiotics for gut health

When a Pre-biotic is Better than a Probiotic for Gut Health

digestion nutrition

You’ve probably heard of PRO-biotics before.  

Probiotics are a supplement or food that contains the bacteria naturally found in your gut.  After taking antibiotics or if your digestive system needs a little extra help, someone might recommend you take them.  Probiotic foods are fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and pickles. 

These bacteria help your digestive system uptake and transport nutrients; synthesize vitamins K, B12 and biotin; enhance your immune function; and help with intestinal transit.   

Your intestines naturally also have a small amount of “bad” bacteria as well.  But the “good guys” keep them in check.  That is:  if everything is healthy.  

But, what in the heck is a PRE-biotic???

If you find that you are constantly needing to take PRO-biotics to stay well, chances are what you really need are PRE-biotics.

When you take antibiotics, the potentially harmful intestinal bugs (clostridium difficile, candida, and others) have a chance to multiply.  When they overgrow, inflammation happens.

These bacteria are “bad” because when their populations explodes, they start releasing toxins that make you sick. These toxins start deteriorating the cells that comprise the lining of your intestine. Then we get the beginning stages of ulcerative colitis, leaky gut, Crohn’s, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


To combat this, your MD gives you more antibiotics, but I’m sure you can see the logic in this. The underlying condition worsens!

If your house is on fire, you call the fire department, but after they put out the fire, you don’t call them back to rebuild your house. You’ll have nothing left!

Other reasons that the gut flora becomes "off" include:  

Now you need the construction crew.

I would take probiotics for at least 2 weeks after using antibiotics.

After that, the probiotics should be self-sustaining.  If not, you need more PRE-biotics.

Prebiotics are food for the probiotics.  

With a good amount of prebiotics, and a low-sugar diet, your bacteria flora will stay in check all by itself.  

Examples of prebiotics:

  • Pectin (apple skins and citrus fruits)
  • Beta-Glucans (oats, rye, and barley)
  • Arabinose (beans, peas)
  • Inulin (garlic, onion, chicory)

Prebiotics, or soluble fiber, helps keep the mucosal lining, well, mucous-y.  The mucous is where the intestinal bacteria hang out.  So a good mucousal lining helps support a healthy gut.  

Insoluble fiber, like those found in whole grains and vegetables, helps with intestinal health by providing bulk for the stool.  But without the mucous and good bacteria cultures, even an impressively formed poo will not pass.  

Gastro-Fiber by Standard Process is a prebiotic that I recommend quite often.  If you find that extra fiber makes you more gassy, give it about 1-2 weeks to calm down.  Your intestines and the flora there may just need some adjustment time. 

For more help on digestive health, make an appointment to come and see us.  Food allergies, gas, bloating, and IBS are very treat-able issues, you may just need a helping hand to figure out what’s going on inside!  

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