If you’re investigating how to support your gut health, you may come across the term ‘prebiotics’. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates, usually fibre, that feed certain types of bacteria in the gut, encouraging them to grow in volume. While all prebiotics are fibres, not all fibres are prebiotics!
Insoluble fibre is difficult for the body to process passing relatively intact through the digestive system. However, it can also fuel certain kinds of bacteria in the gut that we need!
There are trillions of microorganisms in the gut, known collectively as gut microbiota. What we put into the gut can change or alter the composition of the gut microbiome. The kinds of bacteria that prebiotic supplements target are ones that are particularly beneficial to the body, which we know as the ‘good bacteria’. These types of bacteria aid digestion and can enhance the absorption of useful vitamins and minerals.
Because they sound similar, prebiotics can sometimes be confused with probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria and microorganisms found throughout the body, which feed on prebiotics.
Helpfully, prebiotics can occur naturally in many foods and can be easily introduced into the diet. You’ll find varying amounts of them in some fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, onions and garlic, as well as in whole grains. You can also find them in more concentrated forms, such as nutritional supplements.
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