Be Kind To Your GI tract: Understanding Prebiotics VS. Probiotics

You’ve seen them at the drugstore. Boxes and boxes of probiotics that make claims about helping all manner of the stomach, gastrointestinal issues from supporting digestive immunity to straightening out digestive issues. It’s all a bit confusing, but this discussion offers a primer on both:

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics naturally live in some foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, Kimchi, pickles and other dairy products, but they can also be prescribed or purchased in a pill form. People are often advised to take them to combat the gastrointestinal side effects of some medications such antibiotics. Some people also opt to take them as a daily supplement to replace the good bacteria in their digestive tracts that can disappear for a variety of reasons. Studies have shown that probiotics have the ability to combat some gastrointestinal disorders but must not forget about prebiotics, which also is very important.

What is a Prebiotic?

A prebiotic is classified as a specialized plant fiber that encourages the nourishment of good bacteria that is already in the digestive tract. While probiotics produce good bacteria back into the digestive system, probiotics are in a sense a fertilizer for the good bacteria that already resides there. Studies show that by using prebiotics to increase the good to bad ratio of bacteria has a positive effect on well-being including digestive function, brain function and more.

In short, here is a comparison of the two:

Probiotics:

  •      Control the growth of harmful strains of bacteria in the GI tract.
  •      Hundreds of available brands.
  •      Live in yogurt, fermented foods, and pills.
  •      Can be killed by stomach acid, heat, or time.
  •      Have been shown to induce remission of Ulcerative Colitis US when refractory to medication
  •      Reduce the frequency of diarrhea in patients with stable, active Crohn’s Disease (CD) however postoperative CD has not benefited

Prebiotics:

  •      A special form of non-digestible dietary fiber that helps grow the good bacteria in your GI tract.
  •      Comes in powder form or in some foods like bananas, oatmeal, asparagus, bran, psyllium husk, and more.
  •      Chicory Root has the highest density of prebiotics.
  •      Nourishes the good bacteria in the gut.
  •      Have been shown to be effective for some chronic GI disorders such as ulcerative colitis.

Can I use either one to replace medications for stomach disorders?

No, you should never stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor. Studies on both prebiotics and probiotics are very preliminary, but they may help alleviate some symptoms.

Can I take both probiotics and prebiotics?

Yes, it’s safe to take both at the same time, but it’s still advisable to speak to your doctor first before doing this.

Do things like soy and almond milk contain probiotics?

No, most of them do not contain probiotics.

When should I take prebiotics or probiotics?

Any time is a good time to try taking them to see if they make a difference to the functioning of your digestive system and support your general health.  Again, studies are still in the early stages, and our knowledge of the GI microflora is still in its infancy.  That being said, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence from patients that say they do help tremendously, and anticipation of clinical data is eagerly anticipated.

Who should not take probiotics?

Immunocompromised or critically people should, for the most part, avoid probiotics. Please check with your doctor as each case is unique.


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Probiotics Emerge as an Effective Cure Against ADHD

Both Western and Eastern medical practices have been teaching that your gut (Gastrointestinal Tract or GI) is essentially your second brain. “The Second Brain” published by Michael D. Gershone in October of 1998 provides substantial evidence that gut care is imperative in keeping humans healthy. Probiotics are a nutritional supplement that help keep the gut’s bacteria in balance, which in turn helps the human body to function properly.

Bad Bacteria in the GI Tract

According to DrMurray.com children with ADHD tend to have GI disturbances. In other words, the GI tract is not functioning as it should in a normal child. One of his studies finds that children who have lower levels of the good bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, have a higher level of bad bacteria that produces toxins. While on treatment with antibiotics, which eliminated the bad bacteria, ADHD behavior improved. This study indicates that probiotics, which also sufficiently decrease bad gut bacteria, may improve the behavior of children with ADHD.

Good Bacteria in The GI Tract

Livestrong.com also states the fact that individuals with ADHD often have higher amounts of bad bacteria in their gut as well as very little good bacteria. Higher amounts of bad bacteria allow the leakage of toxins that contribute to conditions like ADHD. Higher amounts of good bacteria, provided by probiotics, can lead to a decrease in ADHD symptoms.

Food Allergies and ADHD

According to Livestrong.com, many researchers believe that food allergies impact ADHD. While research has demonstrated that the behavior problems associated with ADHD can be reduced on a restricted diet, doctors recommend against doing this. Regular use of probiotics, however, have been shown effective in combating food allergies. One can easily make the conclusion that combating food allergies with probiotics will also lead to improved behavior for individuals with ADHD. As the probiotics remove the effects of the food allergies, the effects of food allergies on ADHD will be mitigated.

One Thing For Certain

Nutrition plays a powerful role in preventing diseases and treating all types of conditions. Keeping the gut’s bacteria in healthy balance will go a long way to ensure better health and reduced symptoms of ADHD. Probiotics are relatively side effect free, nutritional supplements that are affordable and readily available. They can be combined with nearly every treatment plan. As you see the benefits of taking probiotics, you can begin to reduce ADHD medication with your Physician’s Guidance.