Pre/Probiotics & Gut Health
Probiotics are the "good" bacteria that live in the gut naturally and help the intestines break down food. Fermented food products such as kimchi, yogurt and sauerkraut contain natural probiotics.
Prebiotics act as food for these bacteria and are made of indigestible carbohydrates, for example inulin (found in bananas and asparagus). Other sources of prebiotics include onions, garlic & dals.
The use of prebiotics and probiotics together is called microbiome therapy. When a food source contains both prebiotics and probiotics, the combination is called a synbiotic. These include cheese, kefir, and certain types of yogurt.
Risks and side effects of prebiotics and probiotics
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) point out that the use of commercial prebiotics and probiotics is generally safe for healthy people. But there are rare instances where a healthy person becomes sick after ingesting certain types of bacteria contained in probiotics. Probiotics are not regulated according to “drug” standards by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that some of the live bacteria being used in probiotics hasn’t been evaluated according to strict safety measures. That’s something important to keep in mind when considering prebiotics and probiotics.
When you start a synbiotic regimen, there are some common side effects. Gas, constipation, loose stool, and loss of appetite sometimes happen, especially at the beginning of the regimen. Bloating and acid reflux have also been reported.
There is one side effect of probiotics that is known to be dangerous: having an allergic reaction to the bacteria that are being added to your body. If you break out in hives or experience extreme stomach pain after ingesting a prebiotic or probiotic, stop taking the supplement. Contact a doctor to determine if you’re having a reaction.
Sometimes probiotics are recommended for children that are taking antibiotics. But you should talk to your child’s doctor before you give probiotics to a child under the age of 12. Probiotics and prebiotics are also believed to be generally safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Get the all-clear from your doctor before beginning any new supplement during pregnancy and postpartum.
Every probiotic is different because of the variations in bacteria strains. Not all probiotics will work the same way for you, and not everyone needs to take a probiotic. If you are lactose intolerant, make sure you look for a dairy-free probiotic. If you have a yeast (Candida) overgrowth, you may want to be mindful of this and select a probiotic that doesn’t contain Candida.
People that are currently on antibiotic medication seem to benefit the most from a prebiotic and probiotic combination. The synbiotic effect helps combat the healthy bacteria that are being killed off while you take antibiotics."