Gut health 101: Prebiotics vs. probiotics

Two of the hottest buzzwords in digestive health are prebiotics and probiotics. We need both for a healthy, well-balanced gut.  

A poor diet (processed/fast food), stress, travel to foreign countries and use of pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics can deplete our gut microflora and throw it out of balance. 

Lack of enough prebiotics or probiotics can result in an unbalanced gut.  New scientific findings are linking the gut microbiome with the immune system and potentially mood. That’s because the gut, with the help of good bacteria, can create  the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. When the gut is out of balance, you don’t feel well.

Prebiotics and probiotics, which are present in a wide range of foods and supplements, can support our gut microflora and bring things back into balance. While they work in slightly different ways, both offer a wide range of health benefits.

Here’s how the magic happens 

  • Probiotics: Our guts have 100 trillion bacteria! We need to have healthy colonies of a variety of probiotics in our guts to support our digestive system, our immune system, and maybe even our mood. 

Probiotics can be found in various foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented bean paste (tempeh), sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and pickled vegetables. But while these foods provide a great base, it’s hard to measure how many active probiotics you’re actually consuming. Some live cultures in yogurt, for example, are highly unstable.  Chances are good that you’re not going to get enough to enjoy the full health benefits. 

  • Prebiotics: These non-digestible plant fibers nourish the good bacteria in your gut, helping them grow. Some prebiotics may also benefit a number of gastrointestinal disorders such as occasional constipation or diarrhea or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They can also be helpful in supporting weight management. 

Some of the best sources of prebiotics include beans, bananas, artichokes, onions, garlic, asparagus, whole grains and guar (a type of legume). Natural guar, available as a gluten-free soluble fiber called Sunfiber, doesn’t cause the excess gas and bloating we’ve come to associate with other fiber supplements. It can also help improve absorption of iron.

A daily dose of prebiotics and probiotics helps keep your insides happy and healthy.

Regular Girl makes this easy. Each serving of Regular Girl contains clinically proven prebiotic Sunfiber and active probiotics (Bifidobacterium lactis). The result? Wonderfully balanced intestinal health.

Add a serving of Regular Girl into a smoothie, protein shake or your morning juice. You’ll get five grams of prebiotic fiber and eight billion active probiotics. 

And remember, Regular Girl won’t affect the taste, odor or texture of your drink. So, you can be good to your belly without dissing your taste buds. 

See what dietitian Melissa Bradley told CBS-TV about prebiotics and probiotics.  And if you’re following a low FODMAP diet, read Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Derek Timm’s advice. 

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