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Prebiotics & Probiotics

Probiotics are live non-pathogenic microorganisms when ingested in sufficient quantities to improve microbial balance, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, they consist of Saccharomyces boulardii yeast or lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, and are regulated as dietary supplements and foods.

What are Prebiotics:-

Prebiotics are compounds in food or a form of dietary fiber that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which leads to a healthier digestive system. Some of these nutrients include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate. The most common example is in the gastrointestinal tract, where prebiotics can alter the composition of organisms in the gut microbiome, this makes your digestive system work better.

History of Prebiotics and probiotics:-

In 1995, Glenn Gibson and Marcel Roberfroid introduced the prebiotic concept.

Metchnikoff tried first to find out the possible effect of these microbes on human health.

Metchnikoff stated that “the dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes.”

Metchnikoff considered the lactobacilli as probiotics (“pro-bios,” conducive to life of the host as opposed to antibiotics); probiotics could have a positive influence on health and prevent aging

Mechanisms of Prebiotics: -

Fermentation is the main mechanism of action by which prebiotics are used by beneficial bacteria in the colon. Both Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are bacterial populations which use saccharolytic metabolism to break down substrates.

The metabolites of prebiotic fermentation also show anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory capabilities, suggesting an interesting role in the treatment of several pathological conditions.

Mechanisms of Probiotics: -

Probiotics exert their beneficial effects through various mechanisms, including lowering intestinal pH, decreasing colonization and invasion by pathogenic organisms, and modifying the host immune response. Probiotic benefits associated with one species or strain do not necessarily hold true for others.

Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. Good bacteria work to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance within your body, making you feel better. Good bacteria keeps you healthy by supporting your gut, immune function and controlling inflammation.

What are the most common types of prebiotics and probiotics ?

The most studied prebiotics

  • Galacto-oligosaccharide and
  • short- and long-chain fructans (Fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin)

Though there are many types of bacteria that can be considered probiotics, there are two specific types of bacteria that are common probiotics

  • Lactobacillus.
  • Bifidobacterium.

Difference between Prebiotic and Probiotics:-

Both prebiotics and probiotics are good for your gut, but they help in different ways.

Prebiotics are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria. They are carbs your body cannot digest. So, they go to your lower digestive tract, where they act like food to help the healthy bacteria grow.

Probiotics are live yeasts and good bacteria that live in your body and are good for your digestive system.

Eating balanced amounts of both probiotics and prebiotics can help ensure that you have the right balance of these bacteria to keep your gut microbiota healthy.

The gut bacteria, collectively referred to as the gut flora, or gut microbiota, perform many important functions in the body.

How pre and probiotics benefit you?

☞ Improves gut :-

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium are prominent probiotics of the intestine and they may help restore healthy gut flora by changing the composition of your gut bacteria or the metabolic activity of existing bacteria. The good bacteria crowd out the bad by limiting the growth and colony formation of harmful bacteria.

This aids in efficient digestion, absorption of nutrients preventing inflammation and other gut issues like bloating acidity, constipation etc

☞ Boosts immune system:-

Probiotics help improve immunity by stimulating the activity of immune cells which regulates immune responses by balancing pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines

☞ Prevents metabolic diseases:-

Metabolic diseases like heart issues, diabetes, thyroid, PCOD/PCOS, diabetic, the main the root cause of all these problems is the gut health. When there is an improved gut health, these issues can be prevented.

☞ Improved absorption of nutrients:-

Optimal digestion by favourable gut floura helps in efficient absorption of nutrients.

☞Beneficial for Arthritis:-

Probiotics reduces inflammation with the healthy gut which is beneficial for arthritis preventing them from joint pains.

☞ Supports people suffering from IBS/ (Irritable bowel syndrome ) / GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease):-

Dysbiotic intestinal microbiota is the major cause of inflammatory bowel disease/GERD and hence there has been pioneering research in developing new treatments which target the gut microflora. Prebiotics improve the gut mucosal barrier and modulate the microflora, and hence help in the prevention of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) & GERD. It has been postulated that prebiotics nourish the bowel wall, through the production of SCFAs, and are thus beneficial in Crohn's disease.

☞ Helps reduce cholesterol:-

Prebiotics are mainly attributed to the increased production of short-chain fatty acids . The SCFAs generated are absorbed in the portal vein and metabolized by the liver, resulting in the lowering of blood pressure.

Prebiotics are also involved in the absorption of fats and phospholipids in the lower intestine. This binding effect of prebiotics also leads to decreased levels of cholesterol. A decreased level of total cholesterol increases the clearance of LDL cholesterol and potentially reduces blood pressure.

☞ Helps prevent obesity:-

Gut microbiota is involved in the development of low-grade inflammation which disrupts the metabolism of glucose and the absorption of fats. These disruptions are distinctive features of obesity. Prebiotics improve the gut barrier integrity and reduce intestinal low-grade inflammation, thus ameliorating metabolic alterations and promoting weight loss.

Studies have linked prebiotics with an increased secretion of satiety promoting peptides - glucagon and a decreased production of ghrelin, a peptide which promotes appetite and adiposity. These combined effects of prebiotics may have therapeutic potential for obesity.

☞ Prevents constipation:-

Intestinal dysbiosis is a major cause of constipation. By stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics like bifidobacteria act as a viable option in relieving constipation. SCFA production by these bacteria play a pivotal role in modulation of intestinal motility by exerting a trophic effect on the epithelial cells. This ultimately leads to increased blood flow in the region and increased intestinal motility.

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