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Prebiotics and Probiotics: Ask The Experts

10th May 2021

10th May 2021

By Shivraj Bassi

If you’re someone that struggles with your gut health – whether that be bloating, digestion, abdominal pain or anything in between, you’re probably on the hunt for a natural and effective solution to your problems. Making a small change and introducing prebiotics and probiotics into your diet can be hugely beneficial to your health and minimise the appearance of those unwanted symptoms. 

To celebrate the launch of our new product, The Digest Capsules, we spoke to Nutritionists Drew Price and Kim Pearson, to get the complete low down on these supplements. We have constructed this nifty beginner guide to get you in the know. Our newly formulated product The Digest Capsules feature a powerful blend of healthy, research-backed ingredients to help you take control of your gut health.

But before we get into the expert advice with Drew and Kim, let’s go through the basics. 

Gut Health 101

Firstly, we can’t start talking about supplements without laying down the foundations around gut health – the key is to build a strong base. 

We can’t stress enough how important your gut is for your overall health. Drew echoed this, as “the gut – as far as the body goes – is the biggest surface area interacting with the outside world”. As a result, “the environment and what’s going on has profound consequences for many facets of health and function” – and he’s not wrong. 

The bacteria in your gut are an incredibly important aspect of your general health. They help with a lot of important functions and play a key part in the smooth running of your digestive system. Home to multiple million organisms, bacteria types and microbes, the happenings of your gut can probably be best described as organised chaos. Whilst the stomach’s main purpose is to aid digestion, this isn’t the only process that the gut takes care of. Inhaling nutrients and eliminating waste, your gut is in constant use and requires care just as much as your heart and brain. 

What are Prebiotics? A Quick Overview 

Prebiotics are most simply described as a plant fibre that makes your gut work better. Commonly found in carbohydrates, your body breaks down this fibre as we cannot digest it. Friendly bacteria in your gut digests this, as well as performing many other vital functions.

Examples of foods that contain prebiotics include bread, artichokes, cocoa, leeks, onions and bananas. 

Benefits of Prebiotics 

  • Enhanced Calcium Absorption 
  • Reduces Bloating
  • Reduces Constipation
  • Reduces Gas and Diarrhoea 

What are Probiotics? A Quick Overview

Probiotics are live bacteria that have the ability to restore your tummy’s natural bacterial balance to healthy levels, and the great news is they are easily integrated into your diet. These live bacteria can be found in both certain foods and fitness supplements. 

Many people choose to add these foods or supplements to their morning yoghurt – which is also a great and extremely popular example of a prebiotic. 

Benefits of Probiotics

Different strains of probiotics have been found to address a range of different health conditions – some of which may surprise you. Depending on the possible health symptom you want to address, it’s important to make sure you’re picking the right probiotic for you. 

The benefits of probiotics include a range of health and wellness wins, including: 

  • Prevents Uncomfortable Gut Symptoms 
  • Mental Health Benefits
  • Helps Keep A Healthy Heart
  • Keep Allergies Under Control
  • Boost Your Immune System
  • Protects You Against Infection 
  • Weight Loss Assistance

Now we’ve gone through the 4-1-1 surrounding all things Prebiotics and Probiotics, we wanted to get an expert opinion. We asked our Innermost team some of their burning questions surrounding this topic, so that we could get a better idea around how (and if) we should be integrating these supplements into our diets. Kim and Drew got back to us with their opinions, and we thought you’d be interested to hear what they had to say…

Ask The Experts: 

How do I know if I should be taking these supplements? 

    When discussing this popular question with the experts, Kim stated that it's worth taking prebiotics “if you have taken a course of antibiotics or if you struggle with digestive issues like bloating or other IBS symptoms”. 

    Drew agreed with this, but expanded slightly, explaining that it’s a great idea to take a look at your diet if you’re not sure. He advised us to look for the sources of fibre in your diet, and if you’re lacking particularly in this area, it might be time to consider taking probiotics. He also noted that “for most people, the addition of pre and probiotics are going to be of benefit” – but again, this is personal, and should be considered on an individual basis.

    If you’re still not convinced, Drew didn’t stop there. The nutritional whizz explained that “it’s difficult to overstate how profound the impact of these things may be, and currently research is looking at a huge number of areas”. If that’s not convinced you to pay more attention to your diet, we’re not sure what will.

    Are there any risks of taking prebiotics and/or probiotics?

      Drew was eager to reassure that whilst “we can be nervous about bacteria” there are many that we need for everyday functioning. This means “for most people the addition of pre and probiotics are going to be of benefit, often of great benefit for general health, however if you have specific issues involving damage to or disorders of the gut, specific immune system issues etc then they may not be advisable.”

      Do I need to consult with my doctor before taking these supplements?

      Both Kim and Drew were keen to state that it’s hard to give any blanket advice – as with all things when it comes to your health and wellbeing, advice should be sought on a very individual basis. Kim also added that “if you have a health condition or are taking regular medication prescribed by your doctor you should check with your GP before taking a new supplement”.

      Prebiotics vs. Probiotics – can I take them together?

        Both Kim and Drew agreed that both biotics can be taken together, providing that you are maintaining a healthy and varied diet. Amazing

        Lastly – what are your personal favourite food sources of these biotics?

          Kim’s probiotic favourites included sauerkraut, miso soup and coconut yoghurt, and her prebiotic go-to's are artichokes, asparagus, berries, garlic and onions. Drew, on the other hand, tends to opt for root vegetables and fruits for his prebiotic fix, and fermented food such as kimchi, yoghurt and kefir to maintain is probiotic levels. 

          A real mixed bag, then!

          Top Tips:

          • Always make sure to take prebiotics and probiotics with your substantial meal.
          • Drink a glass of water before taking your supplements.
          • Take these supplements for at least a month. 
          • Follow the correct supplement dosage on the label. 

          If you’re after some expert nutritional advice, get in touch with Drew or Kim. With years of expert experience and award-winning programmes, you’re in great hands.

          Summary

          Following our chats with both Kim and Drew, if we weren’t firmly convinced of the benefits of digestive supplements and taking care of our gut health – we are now. There are some great prebiotic benefits and the probiotic benefits are fab too. 

          If you're still struggling for some inspiration when it comes to great foods that are high in prebiotic and probiotic benefits, we've got some more below:

          • Miso
          • Kombucha
          • Pickles
          • Gouda 
          • Mozzarella
          • Garlic
          • Apples
          • Barley

          PS – We might be biased, but a daily digestive supplement like our shiny new product The Digest Capsules is a great way to make a small step everyday towards a healthy gut. Why not test it out?

          References 

          • Drew Price Nutrition. (2021). Drew Price Nutrition Consultancy. Click here.
          • Kau, A. L., Ahern, P. P., Griffin, N. W., Goodman, A. L., & Gordon, J. I. (2011). Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system. Nature, 474(7351), 327-336. Click here.
          • Kim Pearson Nutrition. (2021). Click here.
          • Quigley, E. M. (2013). Gut bacteria in health and disease. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 9(9), 560. Click here

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