7 Things You Should Know Before Taking Pre and Probiotics
Thirty years ago, you could take a quick multivitamin or daily gummy vitamin and call it good. The health industry has come a long way since then. From herbal extracts to enzymes to vitamins and supplements, there is nearly an unlimited amount to choose from.
One of the fastest growing markets is prebiotics and probiotics. Between 2007 and 2012, the use of probiotics by adults quadrupled, and has only grown more since. Studies have shown that some of the major health benefits attributed to probiotics include improvement of gastrointestinal microflora balance, enhancement of immune system, reduction of serum cholesterol, treatment of digestive issues and much more. Healing the gut and balancing microbe diversity in search of health benefits have become a huge trend in the health and wellness industry.
Whether it’s a prescription from your doctor or an over the counter probiotic, there are countless options. Before you rush out to buy pre and probiotics, you should probably learn a little more so you can make an informed decision and pick the probiotics that are right for your body.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What is the Difference?
Probiotics are microorganisms that are intended to have positive health benefits when consumed or applied to your body. Probiotics can be found in food or in dietary supplements.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that help stimulate the growth of your good gut bacteria. Sometimes probiotics have a hard time colonizing your gut. Prebiotics help fertilize them, almost like fertilizing your lawn for lush, green, healthy grass.
In a nutshell, probiotics provide humans with positive health benefits by helping improve gut health, while prebiotics essentially feed the probiotics to help them do their job. Bet you never knew there was so much going on inside your intestines!
Do I Need Probiotics?
Taking prebiotics and probiotics can help improve your gut health, which is tied to everything from your skin health and immune system to your digestive health and mental clarity. You know the old saying, “my body is a temple.” Probiotics will help you treat it as one!
If you already have a healthy gut, then it’s more of a pre-emptive thing. Creating and maintaining a healthy gut environment is important for everyone. Prebiotics and probiotics can help with that, and keep your body running like a well-oiled machine.
What are the Actual Benefits of Taking Probiotics?
While scientists are still learning about all the potential benefits of taking probiotics and prebiotics, they have been shown to help restore the balance in your gut. The microbes help you digest food, fight off harmful bacteria (not the good stuff!), and even help regulate the immune system which can help fight off harmful pathogens! Less colds during cold season? Yes please!
People also use probiotics to reduce occasional uncomfortable issues like gas, bloating and constipation. Doesn’t going to bed with a calm tummy and waking up feeling ready to start your day sound good?
How Long Does it Take for Probiotics to Work?
That all depends on the strain, how much you’re taking, what you’re taking it for, and your own body. Probiotics may help with a condition like diarrhea relatively fast compared to helping heal a gut that has been stripped down by antibiotics or years of general unhealthy behavior. But no matter the reason you are taking probiotics, it’s extremely important to take the type of probiotic that is right for you.
Should I Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?
Yes, you can absolutely take prebiotics and probiotics together. In fact, it is recommended. Like we mentioned above, the prebiotics feed the probiotics, so you get the most out of your probiotics.
How do I Know which Prebiotics and Probiotics to Take?
Given that this all depends on the current state of your health journey, and the makeup of your gut microbiome, selecting the most effective probiotic blend for you can be a daunting task.
Even doctor-prescribed probiotics may prove to be ineffective. The problem is that your gut microbiome contains over 8,000 strains of microbes. Probiotics typically only contain a handful of strains. That’s why you will often hear people say they took probiotics and they didn’t notice a difference. There is no one size fits all pre or probiotic (find out more).
Are there Risks and Side Effects to Taking Probiotics?
Probiotics have a long history of safe usage. However, it’s possible that taking the wrong kind can cause some discomfort, such as temporary gas, diarrhea or bloating. It’s also best to consult a physician if you are starting a probiotics regimen and have serious health issues.
But the most common issue with the over-the-counter prebiotics or probiotics is that they are not made for your particular gut microbiome and they won’t be effective. Some blends just don’t work for some people.
That’s why it’s so important to test, don’t guess, and find out which probiotics and prebiotics are the right for your unique biology, right now.
[Probiotics basic information]. (2019). National Center for Complementary and and Integrative Health.
Huey Shi, L. et al. (2016). [Probiotics properties and benefits]. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine.
[Questions about taking probiotics]. (2022). Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.