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Prebiotics aren’t live organisms—they’re actually fiber-like substances that help to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria.
When prebiotics and probiotics are taken together, the therapy is referred to as synbiotics. Prebiotic fiber occurs naturally in all kinds of plant species—particularly onions, garlic, and leeks. If you buy prebiotics or probiotics in supplement form, make sure they don’t contain any added sugars or artificial fillers. A quick summary: probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your body and offer a health benefit.
Northern Europeans frequently consume probiotics because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt and cheese. Legitimate researchers have proven that many different strains of bacteria, fungi, and yeasts can have a positive impact on your gastrointestinal tract.
Several supplements and yogurt drinks have been evaluated properly and found to be excellent aids to digestion.
That said, all the major brands suffer from the same deficiency: they employ a very limited variety of species of bacteria.
The wider the variety of fruits and vegetables, the healthier your assortment of gut bacteria will be. Jay is also the developer of WeightZone, a free algorithm that predicts a healthy zone of weight based on body stats, health history and exercise history. The views and opinions of guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Full Circle. Megan Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in applied human nutrition from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Probiotics, when taken in proper amounts, can have many beneficial effects on the body, such as improving lactose digestion and treating diarrhea, as well as preventing gastroenteritis and intestinal infections. Probiotics clearly have many beneficial effects on the body; however, it is possible to get too much of a good thing.
People with underlying health problems should consult a physician before taking probiotics. When you first start taking probiotics, you may experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, headaches or skin rashes.
If you’re looking to buy probiotics for the first time, you need to understand which strains have been associated with which health benefits. Bifidobacteria has been shown to improve IBS, dental cavities, glucose tolerance, and improve blood lipids.
Streptococcus thermophilus is said to increase lactase, which may help treat or prevent lactose intolerance, so this strain is of particular interest.
So, the jury’s still out on probiotics as to whether or not they’re a great thing for everyone. I usually try to eat yogurt at least twice a week to get the good bacteria,  but recently I have discovered Kefir.
Think of probiotics as your army of soldiers defending against attackers that want to make your body sick.
The bad bacteria like to feed on the sugar, alcohol, and processed foods that our common American diet is loaded with. Each day try to replace one processed or high sugar food or drink with a prebiotic food (such as almonds, banana, kiwifruit) or a probiotic food (such as yogurt or kefir). This entry was posted in Digestive Health, Healing Nutrients and tagged high fructose corn syrup, immune system, prebiotic foods, probiotic foods, sugar by Karen Marschel RDN LD CDE.
Disclaimer: Information and advice provided by Karen Marschel, RD LD CDE CLT and KM Nutrition Consulting, Inc.
Besides taking a multi vitamin and calcium, I have always recommended taking a probiotic supplement as well. It is also known to help clear skin infections, prevent tooth decay, periodontal disease and vaginal infections. I’ve tried many different brands of probiotics over the past 15 years and one probiotic from Enzymatic called Pearls has stood out from the rest. My recommendation for taking this product is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with a glass of water.
When ingested live, probiotics such as yeast and bacteria work to confer many positive health benefits to the host.
At first glance, yogurt, miso soup, and pickled foods seem to be very different products with very different health benefits, but you may be surprised to find that they all have one special health-bringing component: probiotics.
Probiotics are microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria which work within a system to break down food, facilitate the absorption of nutrients, and equalize chemical levels in the digestive tract and the vagina. A lot of current research is aimed at measuring the effects of probiotics in conjunction with other conditions. When the balance is disturbed, or when not enough friendly bacteria are present, food cannot be properly broken down. When food is not properly broken down into nutrients, the body cannot absorb them properly: In effect, one is starved of the healthful benefits of his or her diet. When probiotics are introduced into a system, they create a protective wall which lines the intestines, breaks down food into nutrients, and thus, promotes absorption. They interact with the system, balancing chemical levels, and working to make sure the intestines digest food efficiently and effectively. In order for these cultures to be effective, they must be live when ingesting and when working in the body. For this reason, eating foods rich in probiotics is often more effective than taking supplements. Since the pancreas is where many digestive enzymes are produced, any disruption, inflammation, or ailment having to do with the pancreas will negatively affect the balance of digestive enzymes in the body. In the case of aging, the body must work harder to rejuvenate cells and keep all systems working properly.
Likewise, when one undergoes chronic stress, the body’s systems prioritize the fight or flight mode as its main function, and therefore, the production of enzymes is stinted.
If you have any doubts about whether or not probiotics could improve your health, the most sure way to find out is to get your stool tested by your physician. Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most common of all probiotics ingested for health benefits. Bacteria of the lactic acid variety convert compounds such as lactose and sugars into lactic acid. This action balances chemical levels in the vagina and gastrointestinal tract, and research has shown that lactobacillus acidophilus also works as an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent in mice. It does have one downside: Lactobacillus acidophilus is also present in the mouth and it is often the culprit of cavities and tooth decay.
This lactic acid probiotic can be found in yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, beer, wine, cider, miso, kimchi, cocoa, kefir, and other fermented foods.
Much research has been and is being conducted on the many benefits of probiotics and how they interact with different conditions. Much data has been gathered to measure the function of probiotics in accordance with allergies.
When it comes to antibiotic-asdocaited diarrhea (or AAD), probiotics seem to be very effective. Since antibiotics generally (and especially in children) create an imbalance in the bacterial make-up of our digestive tract, decreased absorption occurs, and this results in diarrhea. Research shows that the ingestion of certain strains of probiotics may promote the tolerance of lactose for those who experience negative effects.
Preliminary studies have been conducted to test the ability of some strains of probiotics to reduce cholesterol.
Probiotics break down and mobilize certain components of our food (such as fat and nutrients) and this could mean that probiotics play a key role in how fat is processed and where it goes.

Some studies indicate that fermented milk containing strains of probiotics may result in modest declines in blood pressure. The increase of good bacteria — in most cases in the form of plasma-producing cells — decreases the incidence of respiratory tract infections as well.
When used in coordination with medical treatment, probiotics can positively affect Helicobacter pylori infections. Some strains of probiotics can positively mobilize the immune system, by promoting inflammatory and hypersensitivity responses. Studies show that harmful bacterial growth (incited by stress) is negated by the introduction of healthy probiotic bacteria.
Many types of probiotics appear to help people with irritable bowel syndrome, however exactly what probiotic is best depends on the specific case. Research strongly shows that probiotics lower the risk of NEC and mortality in premature infants.
Researchers have found that specific forms of probiotics (L rhamnosus 19070-2 and L reuteri DSM 122460) are effective in diminishing atopic dermatitis. Prebiotics are a particular form of dietary fiber which supports good bacteria already present in the gut. By creating an environment in which probiotics can truly thrive, prebiotics provide a dynamic set of health benefits.
Research shows that prebiotics can promote the absorption of calcium and other minerals, boost the immune system, balance bowel pH, reduce the risk of colon cancer, abate inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease, ease hypertension, and promote intestinal regularity.
Research shows that increased production of bacteria (for which prebiotics are responsible) increases the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). Some components of breast milk are believed to have probiotic qualities and could play an important role in promoting a healthy immune system for infants. VSL#3 is a product classified as a probiotic medical food which can provide similar health benefits as digesting foods rich in probiotics.
Probiotic medical foods including VSL #3 can contain billions of live bacteria in a single pill. The addition of this bacteria results in the formation of a barrier between the inner layer of the stomach and pathogens.
While VSL#3 and other supplements can promote colon and gut health, the pill is a huge boost in probiotics and a large variety of new compounds working in the system. The company claims no side effects come as a result of ingesting this pill, and this cocktail can work well for some, however some users report the dosage is a little too strong, resulting in further disruption of the gut and bad cases of gas. When trying this supplement, one should start with a very low dosage and measure the benefits and side effects carefully. Nutrients abound in the form of milk protein and polysaccharide as well as vitamins including A, B1, B2, B6, D, K2, folic acid, and nicotinic acid.
Tryptophan is also found in kefir and is responsible for the calming or sleepy effect one gets from drinking it.
Those sensitive to changes in diet may experience gas or mild bloating when introducing probiotics into their diet.
It can take awhile for the body to react to the chemical change which occurs, and those that are adding probiotics for the first time should do so slowly.
In some rare cases, the lactobacillus from supplements may grow too well in people whose immune systems are weakened. To be sure that intake of probiotics is right for one’s diet, one with a weakened immune system should consult a doctor. Some proponents claim that probiotics can help fight off allergic reactions as well, although research is inconclusive on this front. As with adults, children with weakened immune systems should consult a doctor before ingesting probiotics. Some research points to probiotics as a way to bluster both mother and baby’s immune system, help them avoid allergic reactions, treat eczema, and aid in digestion. One thing to keep in mind is that the introduction of probiotics to a system can through some chemicals into a new balance.
At times, this imbalance can cause vaginal infections, which are known to occasionally cause early labour. Although much research has been devoted to the matter of probiotics and weight loss, the jury still seems to be out.
The probiotic, lactobacillus rhamnosus, has performed well in trials where women took supplements to lose weight, however the study with men demonstrated little to no influence of the probiotic as far as the measurement of weight loss. One thing is clear: Thin people tend to have a different bacterial make up than heavy people. Like introducing any new food or habit into your diet, adding probiotics takes a little planning and can be helped by scheduling when exactly you will ingest your daily dose. To be effective, probiotics must be ingested as live cultures and these living organisms must survive the gastric acidity of the gut. For this reason, many claim that before breakfast may be the best time to get your probiotic kick.
One thing to keep in mind is that hot drinks are not good to mix with probiotics, as the temperature could kill the cultures. Many of these options include a strain of bacteria called lactobacillus which is derived from lactose. Prebiotics are essentially carbohydrates that your body can’t digest but which are still useful as feeding sources for beneficial bacteria. It is thought that combining a probiotic with a prebiotic that specifically feeds it, helps to keep the new bacteria in the body for longer. That’s remarkable, considering that the great majority of over-the-counter supplements do not work.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that stimulate the growth of probiotic organisms in the gut. Culturelle contains Lactobacillus GG; Align contains Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 (also marketed as Bifantis).
A healthy gut contains hundreds or even thousands of different species, and in general, more is better. Also, organic is better than commercially grown, but commercially grown produce is vastly better for your health than processed foods. After maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss for many years, he created a popular diet and fitness blog that makes wellness fun. WeightZone has replaced the standard BMI and is considered to be the most accurate healthy weight guide available online. She is currently working on becoming a Registered Dietitian and is a Certified Group Fitness Instructor with the Canada Games Centre. Probiotics are healthy bacteria in our gut that, when ingested, promote positive effects on the host. Recent studies have shown that replacing milk with yogurt that contains probiotics allows for better digestion and decreases diarrhea and other symptoms of intolerance in subjects with lactose intolerance. Knowing the side effects of probiotics can help you increase your awareness of what you should look for in a probiotic food supplement. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the safety of probiotics has not been thoroughly studied and more information is needed on how safe they are for children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems. There’s an interesting health dichotomy going on – antibiotics are the selling point of many cleaners, and bacterial supplements are increasing in popularity.
This is a strain that you find in a lot of yogurts (but if you don’t eat yogurt because you’re dairy-free like me, there are a lot of supplements that contain lactobacillus). I’ve taken probiotics religiously on and off, and am most diligent about them when taking antibiotics. The strain included is called Bacillus Coagulens BC30 and it’s supposed to have better bacteria survivability than other pills. It’s like a yogurt smoothie that taste’s a little sweet but still tart and has twice the live active cultures as my favorite yogurt!

Probiotics are fermented foods that resupply the good bacteria in your digestive tract.  Prebiotics are the foods that feed the good bacteria. The army has to have a supply of energy to stay strong and keep defending, right?  That fuel comes from the prebiotic foods. If we eat that way for too long we end up with more bad bacteria than good bacteria and we leave ourselves easy target for colds, flu and other illness and infection. The general guideline is to eat less sugar and processed foods and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Look at the ingredients and notice how many foods have sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners.
Besides all the obvious benefits to weight and diabetes regular physical activity also helps your immune system.
And as someone who always wants to look their best and feel their best, taking a probiotic daily seems like a very sensible thing to do. Grains and legumes are rather hard to break down, and sometimes they can cause or promote some of the conditions listed above.
Probiotic treatment could reduce the severity of this diarrhea by balancing out the chemicals of the digestive tract. Furthermore, by including good bacteria in one’s diet, the immune system is better-maintained and can react more quickly and efficiently to new infections. The production of SCFA is widely recognized as the main player in the aforementioned health benefits. It is a great way to gain the benefits of balancing the chemical ecosystems of the gut and the vagina. Because of this fermentation process, very little lactose remains in kefir, and this allows for people with lactose intolerance to enjoy kefir and its benefits.
This seems to suggest that if one can maintain a lifestyle of ingesting probiotics and maintaining a healthy chemical balance, that one will be at a more healthy weight. While it is probably a bad idea to use powder or swallow a pill with hot drinks, once the culture is ingested, it can most likely survive even if you follow up with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Although one would assume a connection with dairy, this bacteria exists even in the stomach and digestive tract of a person who does not eat dairy. Even when lactobacillus is formed on a dairy medium, a process of extraction occurs and no dairy is left in the final product. However, each has a very specific role to play in the body and each offers different benefits in terms of your health.
Probiotics are made up of strains of bacteria and yeast that scientists have studied and identified.
There, researchers studied the effects of prebiotics and probiotics on mothers who had recently given birth.
Probiotics may relieve many health problems; however, before you dash to the health food store or begin mainlining yogurt, you should learn what probiotics do, which brands are recommended by legitimate experts, which will treat different conditions, and (most important) what the hell are probiotics?
They are found in oats, wheat, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, soybeans, honey, and artichokes.
Synbiotics are foods that contain both prebiotics and probiotics and still taste good, which apparently is not impossible. However, probiotic foods have lagged in the United States while probiotic supplements have grown rapidly. Just be careful; if you go to your local health food store and purchase a beautifully labeled package of pills, you will have no way of knowing if the pills contain probiotics or cow pie.
The only studies that showed positive weight-loss results were small, short term projects sponsored by companies that sell probiotics–hardly an objective crowd.
The best way to encourage a diverse microbiota is… by eating your fruits and vegetables. Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli are probiotics that inhibit the growth of many disease-causing bacteria and help prevent several diseases. Other controlled studies on rats have shown that the administration of probiotics reduces the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
When taken in proper amounts, probiotics may enhance the immune system; however, in excess, they can overstimulate the immune system and cause problems with metabolism.
To allow your body to get used to fermented foods and drinks, you should start with a small amount of cultured vegetables such as half a cup, or no more than 2 ounces of probiotic liquid per day.
There’s a whole ecosystem going on in your gut, and everybody’s looking for ways to improve it. I’m not sure if I’ve found the perfect ones for me yet, but I have heard that each strain interacts with people in a different way, which makes sense. I know that doesn’t sound so pleasant but just go back to the picture in your mind of an army of good soldiers protecting you! The challenging part, as with all supplements, is to find a good quality probiotic, which often is kept refrigerated in the pharmacy. It’s very tiny, you can swallow it without water and it doesn’t need refrigeration (huge plus), therefore making it easy to travel with. Introducing friendly bacteria into a system helps to diversify and challenge the immune system in positive ways. These bacteria are usually chosen to be included in a probiotic product because they are able to survive the trip through your stomach and into your intestines. Most of these are good bacteria that help to break down foods like carbohydrates so that they can be used as a source of energy. When conducting a review of 37 clinical trials, the research team found that prenatal probiotics beneficially altered immune markers in breast milk, reduced vaginal infection rates, improved glucose metabolism, and reduced the incidence of gestational diabetes. Synbiotics, a combination of prebiotics and probiotics, are found in yogurt and kefir, fermented foods like pickles and some cheeses, and in some supplements. And even if they do have billions of probiotic beasties ready to populate your intestines, you don’t know if you are getting the strain you are looking for to treat your particular problem. Independent studies have shown that the bacterial strains under review did not help dieters. VSL#3 was specifically designed for the dietary management of ulcerative colitis, an ileal pouch, and irritable bowel syndrome.
As your body starts to get used to the probiotics, you can add half a serving of fermented vegetables, or an extra 2 ounces of probiotic liquid per day. Lately I’ve been taking two types of probiotics to help improve my digestion: Florajen3 which contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains.
I also look for the dairy-free ones, but are there certain things you need to make sure your probiotics don’t contain? Just remember that antibiotic medications kill the good guys too so after a round of antibiotics  you need to resupply with good probiotic foods or supplements.
This way the immune system can work in coordination with probiotics to interact with food and other allergy stimuli.
All these friendly bacteria also help your body to fight off infectious invaders and other harmful bacteria. Prenatal prebiotics, on the other hand, significantly increased beneficial intestinal bacteria. No adverse events were reported and all patients seemed to tolerate both probiotics and prebiotics well. The pills are supposed to help strengthen the immune system and improve digestion, but as of yet, it’s still too soon to tell if they’re having that much of a positive effect.
If you do your research and look for the product online, you can find a 30 day supply for $12, otherwise it’s sold from anywhere to $18-24 dollars at any natural food store.

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