The idea of using bacteria to improve your health may seem odd, but it has been around since the early 1900s. However, not until just recently did people really begin to embrace the concept. Today, probiotic and prebiotic products are safe, effective, and widely used to treat and prevent gastrointestinal conditions.
Your body contains billions of bacteria that help you stay healthy. The largest population of bacteria can be found in your intestines. These beneficial bacteria help you digest food, and absorb nutrients. If the bacteria in your intestines is disrupted you may experience digestive difficulties and gastrointestinal symptoms. In order to re-establish healthy intestinal bacteria you can take probiotic or prebiotic supplements. While they sound similar and work in the same body system they are different.
Probiotics are generally live bacteria that live in your intestines. These microorganisms can positively impact your health. You can find probiotics in many food products, including yoghurt and sauerkraut. Probiotics can also be found in supplements. These supplements contain bacteria that are well-studied strains that have been specially prepared to survive the journey through the stomach into the intestines where they can grow.
Prebiotics are substances that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria—think of prebiotics as the food for probiotics. Prebiotics are non-living and mostly comprised of non-digestible carbohydrates from fruits and grains. Prebiotics can encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria already living in the body and also aid in the growth and maintenance of probiotics.