Integrated medicine is all about the balance of mind, body and spirit. As I have discussed before, the importance of this balance remaining intact is a healthy gut. Often called “the second brain” our digestive system is the center of all that makes us healthy and heavily contributes to things going askew. A chain of events need to be in place for the gut to work properly, and prebiotics is an important link in that chain.
Within this balancing act is the essential healthy levels of bacteria, supported by probiotics. The benefits of probiotics are made even more efficient by prebiotics, the non-digestible fiber compounds that pass through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. remaining undigested while passing through the small intestine and then eventually reaching the colon, where they are then fermented by the gut microflora.
It is through this process where prebiotics become fuel for the good bacteria that lives in the gut. The prebiotics are feeding the probiotic, making them more efficient. Prebiotics do not interfere with what the probiotics do or block any medications you are taking, and it doesn’t even matter the order of ingestion of prebiotics and probiotics. Although their names are similar, probiotics and prebiotics are both independent workers in the gut chain.
Prebiotics also help balance the harmful bacteria and toxins living in the digestive tract by
producing short-chain fatty acids that help regulate electrolyte levels, sodium, magnesium, calcium and water needed for proper digestion. Lack of prebiotics can lead to problems like indigestion, inflammation, depressed immune functions, weight gain and chronic diseases.
Some major issues prebiotics can help with:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Bone loss and Osteoporosis
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- High cholesterol levels
- Hormonal imbalance
- inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Metabolic disorders linked to obesity and type-2 diabetes
- Mood-related disorders like anxiety or depression
- Urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections
It is also known that proper intake of prebiotics helps with weight management. Prebiotics have not only been shown to lower cortisol levels but taken with meals they can help people feel full.
The best natural sources of prebiotics are in raw foods, and include:
- Acacia gum
- Bananas (not yet ripened)
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Psyllium husk
- Wheat dextrin
Getting your prebiotics from whole foods is the best way, but supplementing is beneficial when you use pure sourced supplements.