The Roles of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Gut Health

The Roles of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Gut Health

You’ve probably heard the words “prebiotics” and “probiotics,” but what do they actually mean? 

In short, they’re compounds that can enhance your gut health and more. Some are found in foods, while others are provided through supplements — and they can be especially helpful if you’re dealing with digestive problems. 

Understanding the basics of prebiotics and probiotics may inspire you to start benefiting from them. 

Dr. Sreelatha Reddy and our team at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, diagnose and treat a range of digestive issues and provide guidance on ensuring gut health, especially if you’re living with a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Here, we explore the roles that prebiotics and probiotics can play in gut health. 

Roles of prebiotics and probiotics 

Your digestive tract contains what’s known as your gut microbiome, the term for combined genetic material, such as healthy bacteria known as probiotics, in your gut. Prebiotics are compounds in various foods that prompt the activity or growth of that healthy bacteria.

Many high-fiber foods contain prebiotics, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Probiotics are found in various foods, too, such as soy products, kefir, yogurt, and buttermilk. You can also take probiotics in supplement form.

Benefits of prebiotics and probiotics

In addition to helping your body create healthy bacteria, food sources with prebiotics often contain rich amounts of vital nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

And a high-fiber diet is linked with a broad range of health benefits, such as less constipation, improved overall digestion, and better cardiovascular health. 

Potential benefits of probiotics include:

Probiotics may also help improve your emotional health, by lowering levels of anxiety or depression. This is important from a gut health standpoint as well, given that IBS is linked with these conditions.

Getting the most from prebiotics and probiotics

If you’re struggling with IBS, Dr. Reddy may recommend probiotic supplements as part of your treatment plan, plus fiber supplements if you have difficulty eating enough prebiotic sources. On average, Americans only eat about 16 grams of the recommended 25-38 grams per day. 

Dr. Reddy can also recommend your ideal dosage of probiotics, which may range from 5 billion to 10 billion units per day. Some people experience loose stools when they first start taking probiotic supplements, which can be avoided by taking them at the end of a meal. 

To learn more about prebiotics, probiotics, and gut health or to get the care you need, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. today or request your appointment online.

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