The symbiotic balance created in the body by the combination of prebiotics and probiotics cannot be underestimated when it comes to overall health and well-being. Although probiotics are well known for improving digestion and gut health, few understand the supportive relationship between probiotics and prebiotics.
In this article, we explore the main differences between prebiotics and probiotics, how they work together, as well as their unique contributions to the digestive tract and vaginal health.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are tiny living microorganisms, often referred to as "good" or "beneficial" bacteria or yeast, that naturally reside in the digestive tract and vagina. In addition to maintaining gut health, and aiding in digestion, probiotics also boost the immune system and support vaginal health.
Naturally found in food such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and yogurt, probiotics are frequently taken in supplement form for more effective results.
The Key Functions of Probiotics for Digestive Health
Microbial Balance: Because the gut microbiome naturally contains both friendly and not-so-friendly bacteria, probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance by promoting the growth of good bacteria, which indirectly prevents the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Digestion Aide: When it comes to digestion, probiotics assist in breaking down food and turning it into useful energy that your body can absorb and use. For instance, probiotics produce enzymes that help break down complex carbohydrates, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients from food.
Digestive Health: Beneficial bacteria like probiotics aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients and promote proper digestion, thereby helping to alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive disorders.
Immune System Booster: Probiotics interact with immune cells in your gut, helping to enhance your immune system's ability to identify and respond to harmful bacteria.
Nutrient Producer: Some probiotic strains are capable of producing certain vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin K. These vitamins are essential for various bodily functions, including energy production and blood clotting.
What Are Prebiotics?
Unlike probiotics, which are live microorganisms, prebiotics are not living organisms. Instead, they are a type of dietary fiber that provide a favorable environment and nourishment for beneficial bacteria (probiotics) to grow.
Essentially, prebiotics act as a fuel for probiotics, promoting their growth and enhancing their effectiveness in supporting both gut & vaginal health.
Common sources of prebiotics include whole grains, bananas, apples, berries, garlic, leeks, asparagus, beans, lentils, and chickpeas, as well as almonds and flaxseeds.
That said, if suffering from digestive or vaginal conditions, it is recommended that prebiotics are taken in supplement form to provide regular and consistent nourishment for probiotics.
The Key Functions of Prebiotics For Digestive Health
Nourishment: Prebiotics provide sustenance to beneficial bacteria in the gut thereby promoting their growth and vitality, and reducing the risk of infections or digestive issues.
Digestion: Prebiotics aid in improving bowel regularity, preventing constipation, and supporting overall digestive well-being.
Microbial Diversity: By encouraging the growth of specific beneficial bacteria, prebiotics help to maintain a diverse microbial population in the gut, which is crucial for optimal digestion and immune function.
What Are the Main Differences Between Prebiotics vs Probiotics?
While prebiotics encourage the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria, probiotics are the beneficial bacteria themselves. Another difference is that prebiotics are non-living, non-digestible fibers, whereas probiotics are live microorganisms. The source of prebiotics and probiotics is also different.
For example, prebiotics are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, whereas probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods.
How Prebiotics and Probiotics Support Vaginal Health
While prebiotics and probiotics are primarily associated with gut health, they can also have a positive impact on vaginal health. The vaginal microbiome, much like the gut microbiota, consists of a delicate balance of various microorganisms that form a natural defense against infections and help to maintain overall vaginal wellness.
Probiotics, for example, ensure the adequate presence of “good” bacteria like lactobacilli in the vagina, and prebiotics provide nourishment for these good bacteria to grow. This helps to regulate a healthy vaginal environment.
Probiotics and prebiotics also play an important role in maintaining mildly acidic pH levels in the vagina to prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV), urinary tract infections (UTIs), and yeast infections.
In addition, taking probiotics and prebiotics is helpful to treat symptoms like itching, burning, or abnormal discharge associated with vaginal infections. A regular intake can also help to restore healthy vaginal pH levels after vaginal infections, hormonal fluctuations, or taking antibiotics for another condition.
Should Prebiotics and Probiotics Always Be Taken Together?
Prebiotics and probiotics do not necessarily have to be taken together, but they do complement one another and provide enhanced benefits when used in combination.
For example, Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women contain both prebiotics and probiotics to promote healthy vaginal pH levels, aid digestion, and prevent vaginal infections like BV and yeast infection from taking hold.
Designed as a delayed-release capsule, the prebiotics in Flora Bloom nourish the probiotics and help them to survive and work for longer. They also contain added cranberry and D-Mannose to support the urinary tract and prevent UTIs.
If you suffer from IBS, frequent constipation, recurring yeast infections, BV, or UTIs, speak with your healthcare provider about taking a regular probiotic/prebiotic combination like Flora Bloom.
The dynamic duo of prebiotics and probiotics can significantly improve the overall health and immunity of not only your digestive system but your vagina too. While probiotics are essentially the good bacteria needed for a balanced gut and vaginal microbiome, prebiotics are the nourishing fuel that encourages these friendly bacteria to grow.
If you suffer from digestive issues or frequent vaginal infections, consult with your doctor or healthcare professional about taking a regular prebiotic/probiotic combination like Flora Bloom from Intimate Rose.
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UCLA Health – If You Want to Boost Immunity Look to The Gut - https://www.uclahealth.org/news/want-to-boost-immunity-look-to-the-gut
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