What’s the difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics?

What’s the difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics?

Probiotics and prebiotics are hot subjects in the nutrition world right now. Despite their similarity in sound, the two perform distinct roles in your health. Probiotics are good bacteria, and prebiotics are the good bacteria’s nourishment.

But what are they exactly and how do they work?

Prebiotics are plant fibers that have been modified to act as prebiotics. They serve as fertilizers in the stomach, encouraging the growth of beneficial microorganisms.

Many fruits and vegetables include prebiotics, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates like fiber and resistant starch. Because these carbs can’t be digested by your body, they travel through your digestive system and become food for bacteria and other germs.

Foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include:

  • Beans
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Berries
  • Onions
  • Oats
  • Leeks


Probiotics differ from other supplements in that they include living organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria, that contribute to the population of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Probiotics, like prebiotics, can be consumed through food and supplements. Yogurt is probably the most popular probiotic food. Yogurt is manufactured by fermenting milk with microorganisms that are then left in the finished product. Probiotics can also be found in bacteria-fermented foods like:

  • Kombucha tea
  • Some types of pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut

Live organisms are also present in probiotic supplements. A single dosage may contain a single microbe strain or a mixture of microorganisms. Probiotic supplement companies, like prebiotic supplement companies, target specific ailments like irritable bowel syndrome.

Prebiotics and probiotics operate together. Prebiotics are living probiotics’ breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they can enhance gut health. Including health-promoting functional foods — such as those that include both prebiotics and probiotics — in your diet will help you become healthier.

Probiotics and prebiotics

My Journey With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Potential Causes and Remedies

My Journey With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Potential Causes and Remedies

About 6-8 years ago, I started seeing weird things happen with my digestive system out of nowhere, and I’ve been battling it ever since. I went to a Gastroenterologist (GI) doctor to rule out serious issues such as cancer, gluten sensitivity, or other diseases. I have always been one to also attempt to educate myself as much as I possibly can (without having medical training) and really put the effort in to take control of my health.

When no specific cause is found for digestive troubles, it is usually ruled as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That can be a relief in the sense that it isn’t serious, but it doesn’t take away the frustration that comes with not knowing how to actually treat it.

This is where my long journey started; the journey of understanding what the heck my gut is doing and why.

I had phases where I would eat primarily only fermented foods and take supplements such as licorice root (which has been used for reducing inflammation and injured mucous membranes in the gut) and aloe vera juice (inner fillet only) mixed with water, and of course, probiotics.

I will say that nowadays, the condition of my gut is better than it has ever been, but it is still problematic. I’m STILL trying to figure out what’s causing it. And with the research and trials I’ve done with my own body, I’d like to share with you what I know today, in hopes that it may help someone else.

My Symptoms

Before I start, I will note that I have the type of IBS that alternates with constipation and diarrhea. I feel bloated at nights, as it feels though my digestive system is just slower to process food and it all accumulates and produces bloating and gas, and I’m back to normal again in the mornings. IBS has also given me small hemorrhoids, which only a couple times during flare-ups have produced minimal amounts of blood in the stool. The way this all started though years ago was that my bowel habits simply changed. I didn’t really have constipation nor diarrhea, but my bowel movements were just larger. If I could describe it intuitively, it seemed like my gut was acting more spastically and sporadically, rather than steadily processing food and waste.

There was a short time after that where my gut would go CRAZY all of the sudden if I ate eggs. Something I had always eaten. I searched that online of course, and it said it was a common symptom of leaky gut syndrome. So, I attempted to try to do things that would repair a hypothetical leaky gut. These days, I can eat eggs again just fine.

Also important: There is a huge gut-brain connection, and I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, and petit mal epilepsy. I 100% completely believe that these are linked to my IBS.

What I’ve Found Helps Significantly

  • Working on keeping stress reduced on a daily basis. There is a significant link between mind state/moods and the gut. There is an app called “Nerva” which is aimed at hypnotherapy sessions for IBS relief, and it has helped a lot of people. I have not tried it fully myself as the app is a bit expensive, but I plan to at some point. If the idea of hypnotherapy weirds you out, it’s more just like a guided meditation.
  • Elimination diet for a few weeks. Keeping your foods super bland, eliminating all potential dietary triggers such as gluten, dairy, and so on, for a few weeks. The idea behind this is to discover what kinds of foods are triggering symptoms. I personally have not found definitive and super specific foods that cause it, as sometimes my symptoms come no matter what. But there are TYPES of foods I can identify that my gut does not like. Usually greasy, low-quality foods. But there were also times where veggies like raw broccoli or cauliflower were hard to digest.
  • Exercise. Even if just walking for 20 minutes. This keeps the digestive system moving.
  • Only taking antibiotics when absolutely needed. No longer taking Cipro for UTIs (extremely strong antibiotic) but opting for another. Taking probiotics 2 hours after each antibiotic taken.
  • Psyllium Husk. I mixed a tablespoon of this in with my smoothie nearly every day. You can’t taste it. Personally, this helps my constipation significantly and I took it regularly for months.
  • Oatmeal. It has never triggered my symptoms.

What I’ve Found May Very Likely Be Helping (But Hard To Tell How Much)

  • Daily probiotic intake. One thing I STRONGLY recommend is getting a gut health test. I took one from ThryveWhat this does is tell you what strains it identifies after you send in a stool sample. This then helped me narrow down what kinds of probiotics I should take. The results were actually right on, stating that based on my microbial makeup from what they could detect, I would be likely to experience anxiety, gas, and bloating.
  • HUM Nutrition – Flatter Me supplement. I think this has really helped me. Not only does it include all of the digestive enzymes to help break down protein, fats, carbs, fiber, and milk sugar, but it has an herbal blend of ginger root powder, fennel seed powder, and peppermint leaf powder which have shown promising results for those with digestive troubles.
  • Eliminating gluten (as it is a known gut irritant whether you’re allergic/sensitive to it or not) and dairy even if not lactose intolerant.
  • Low FODMAP Diet
  • Incorporated fermented foods such as kimchi
  • Being on antidepressants (believe it or not, Prozac and other similar drugs are sometimes prescribed for IBS). Mine were prescribed for anxiety, but they also could be helping my gut. Hard to tell.
  • Peppermint oil has lots of promising research behind it, but I don’t have enough personal experience with it yet.

What I Do Not Do

  • Rely on medications such as antacids or Pepto Bismol. This will, as you likely know, simply mask the symptoms but does nothing to treat IBS.
  • Ignore my diet and eat greasy, low-quality foods

In Summary

I feel that altering my diet and stress has absolutely been the most impactful on my symptoms. You don’t need to do elimination diets or the low FODMAP diet for more than a few weeks. Past that, eating diets rich in whole foods and cutting out the processed stuff has SIGNIFICANTLY helped.

That being said, I am still trying to figure out the real cause of my digestive issues. It is very possible that it is an issue that is genetic, and/or linked with my epilepsy or anxiety and depression. It feels like this is closer to the answer than something like too much antibiotic use, only because I have only had one course of amoxicillin in a number of years now, and my GI doctor mentioned if it were a gut dysbiosis issue, it should have resolved itself by this point.

IBS Remedies

Are you experiencing similar digestive issues and would like to share what has helped you? Please do, in the comments down below, or shoot me an email!

Exercising For Maximum Energy

Exercising For Maximum Energy

There are two main types of exercise. Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise. Let’s start with the first one.

Aerobic literally means with oxygen. Aerobic exercise has an important distinction; it burns fat as its main fuel. Can anyone find a use for this? Anaerobic means without oxygen. Anaerobic burns sugar as its main fuel.

Despite popular myth, exercise doesn’t have to be drastic to provide massive physiological benefits. Even light exercise will burn fat. Light exercise clears out lactic acid (a waste product in the body) and stimulates cells to regenerate.

aerobic exerciseTo ensure you’re exercising aerobically (burning fat) rather than exercising anaerobically, it’s important to ensure you do several things as you exercise. The most important is to breathe deeply as you exercise. Breathe in deeply into your stomach through your nose, hold it and then exhale hard through your mouth.

Secondly, make sure that you exercise at a level that’s comfortable. Exercise at a level of 7/10. You should still be able to carry on a conversation while you exercise. Do this for at least 45 minutes a day and notice your energy explode.

Do you think you don’t have time to do this? There is always time. Use some of the time you would have spent sleeping to replenish your body. I guarantee that you’ll need less sleep. Or, use the time in your lunch break to exercise. The increase in productivity will have you more on the ball, and save you time through the dramatic increase in productivity.

See, with the increased oxygen from aerobic exercise your brain speed and efficiency increases. Ride a bike, walk, swim or play sport. Rebounding (or cellularise as it’s now known) is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise around. If you have access to a rebounder, use it.

Use any break you have whilst working to engage in some form of movement and deep breathing.

Exercise also strongly benefits the heart. It literally makes it a larger and stronger organ. Deep breathing makes the lungs stronger and larger. Research is now linking exercise to helping benefit and prevent almost every type of disease or ailment. Movement of any joints promotes blood flow and creates energy. Sitting down all day actually robs the body of energy. If you sit down all day, it’s absolutely vital that you promote blood flow, circulation, energy, brain flow and the strength of your heart.

Phytonutrients and Your Diet!

Phytonutrients and Your Diet!

02E77460Research backing the benefits of plant-based diets continues to grow, especially with how great they seem to be in warding off disease, aiding in weight loss, and being packed full of necessary vitamins.

However, we still haven’t figured out much about why specifically phytonutrients (plant-based chemicals found in veggies as well as fruits, legumes, nuts, herbs, whole grains) are so good for us. Phytonutrients work in very specific ways in the body, and their biochemical functions are not easily understood.

We have found so far that phytonutrients play a few major roles in the body:

  • They are antioxidants
  • They can trigger positive gene expression (switching good ones “on” and bad ones “off)
  • They support specific body structures and functions

In general, phytonutrients seem to have a protective, immune-supporting and anti-inflammatory effect within the body.

Phytosterols are a type of phytonutrient common in foods such as broccoli, flax seeds, and almonds. Recent studies have shown that people who have developed stomach, lung, breast, and uterine cancer had lower phytosterol levels than those without cancer. Research has also shown that phytosterols seem to reduce the growth of breast and prostate cancer in animals.

Consume a Variety of Foods with Phytonutrients

Research has shown that it is best to consume phytonutrients in combinations. Rather than eating a large amount of one vegetable containing phytonutrients, it is better if you eat a wide variety (even if it is in smaller amounts).

To get a diversity of phytonutrients in your diet, think about foods across different colors. For example, if you start with a plate of raw veggies, try some red bell peppers, yellow cherry tomatoes, orange carrots, and purple cauliflower. Different foods within the same color family offer different phytonutrient benefits.

Cooking with Phytonutrients

Don’t forget that “certain plant compounds can be destroyed during cooking and other heat processing” (Susanne-Mertens-Talcott, PhD). Also, organic is usually the best if you can afford it, as organic foods are more likely to be able to develop their full phytonutrient potential without the issue of pesticides getting in the way.

Always try to get all of your phytonutrients and other supplements in food form first rather than pill form! The food form has much more complexity within it than the pill form and has a higher potential of having more of an effect in its whole form. And again with phytonutrients, keep in mind that it’s better to have a small amount of a wide variety of them, rather than consuming a lot of just one food item containing phytonutrients.

Information Source: “Full Spectrum Eating” by Sheila Mulrooney Eldred, Experience Life Magazine Jan 2015

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