The relationship between Probiotics and Prebiotics
Prebiotics are food that help influence and sustain probiotic growth, and are commonly found in food sources containing fibre or in the form of fibre-supplements such as acacia gum, psyllium husk, guar gum and chicory root/acacia gum. By contrast, probiotics are microorganisms which, “when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host”. The health benefits of a balanced gut environment are immense, including a stronger immune system, as well as improved digestion, mood and cognitive performance. Thus, the benefit of consuming prebiotics and probiotics on a regular basis is profound. They should be consumed on a regular basis, as they are both distinct and synergistic factors for promoting and optimizing our overall health.
How do Probiotics and Prebiotics Affect Our Health?
Our first exposure to probiotics happens at birth. Infants delivered through natural birth are inoculated with microorganisms residing in the vaginal tract, while those delivered by C-section are first exposed to microorganisms in the surrounding environment. Consequently, infants delivered through C -section have been found to have less strains of bacteria found in healthy children, and more strains of pathogenic microorganisms commonly found in hospitals. There are increasingly more studies finding that our early exposure to microorganisms can significantly affect our long-term health and increase our risk for certain diseases. Some of these bacterial strains stay with us for the rest of our lives ; collectively, these strains are known as “residential flora”. Conversely, some of these bacterial strains are not able to colonize the gut for a long period of time ; collectively, these bacterial strains are known as “transient flora”. The gut microenvironment is dynamic, influenced by factors such as diet composition, physical activity level, stress, exposure to antibiotics, additives and other xenobiotics (substances foreign to body’s ecological system). Therefore, we can directly influence our gut microbiota composition by deciding on what we consume, what we do and how our emotional response to stressors.
Our microbiota composition is unique, influenced and shaped by our genetics, as well as our habits and life experiences. Interestingly, studies which look at large categories of bacteria have shed light to the relationship between bacteria composition and aspects of our health. An insurmountable number of studies have found that there is a strong correlation between body weight and the type of microorganisms found in our gut. Specifically, lower BMI is associated with higher proportion of bacteroidetes, while higher BMI is associated with a higher proportion of firmicutes in both animal and human studies. Furthermore, modifying the fecal composition through fecal transplant (the transfer of feces into the gut of another organism) caused changes in body weight, demonstrating that there is a causal relationship between bacteria composition and weight gain. However, most people will not have to undergo fecal transplant. Instead, increasing prebiotic intake can have a similar and long-term effect in promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut. Studies with obese patients have shown that consuming prebiotic-rich foods have also helped shift the gut microbial composition to that of a typical, healthy individual. Thus, continually consuming quality sources of probiotics and prebiotics from foods or a supplement such as R’s Koso can help improve our health in our daily lives.
How to maintain a healthy gut microbiota
The most important aspect of maintaining a healthy gut is consuming a fibre rich diet on a regular basis. Ideally, this would mean adopting a healthy, prebiotic and probiotic rich diet everyday. Fibre is a source of prebiotics, found naturally with antioxidants, minerals and micronutrients in whole foods and grains. As processing removes much of the nutrients, it is best to consume unprocessed sources of fibre such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables rather than vegetable chips, bread, breakfast cereal. Furthermore, it is ideal to consume probiotics on a regular basis to ensure that our body is continually being replenished with health-promoting bacteria.
A study shows that supplementation of probiotics helped remodel the repopulation of gut microflora after the use of antibiotics. Also, supplementation of probiotics during the treatment of antibiotics is recommended to prevent and treat antibiotic associated diarrhea. The symptoms of the diarrhea, including a duration and frequency, in subjects who received probiotics was reduced in 25 hours. The another study showed that the incident of upper respiratory infection and flu like symptoms was reduced by the consumption of a probiotic drink containing 3 strains of bacteria (Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei 431®, and Lactobacillus fermentium PCC®) for 12 weeks. Furthermore, it was shown that the quality of life of the patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who took Saccharomyces boulardii for 4 weeks was improved.
Although most people recognize and understand the benefits of probiotics for gut health, many studies have shown that it strengthens the functioning of other important organs, such as our central detoxification organ – the liver. It was shown that people who took probiotics had a significantly better effect on non alcoholic fatty liver disease/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis by normalizing aspartate transaminase (AST), total-cholesterol. It is therefore important to take probiotics and prebiotics daily.
R’s KOSO provides a synergistic blend of prebiotic and probiotics. Furthermore, it also includes nutrients which have been created and/or made more bioavailable through fermentation of prebiotics which came from whole-food sources. Unlike some other probiotic supplements which may contain laboratory-grown blends of bacteria, R’s KOSO have been fermented through traditional and crafted Japanese fermentation techniques. It provides an immensely diverse array of bacteria which thrive synergistically, and which could settle into our gut’s unique composition of microorganisms. It is very important to choose probiotics and prebiotics supplements which contain a great diversity of microbiome because there are a tremendous kind of bacteria in our body and we do not know which type of bacteria is beneficial for our health. The prebiotics help create a hospitable gut terrain from which beneficial microorganisms (probiotics) can thrive. Thus, it is important that we include rich sources of prebiotics and probiotics into our diet on a daily basis through the supplementation of health-promoting pre and probiotics such as R’s KOSO. R’s KOSO is a source and both prebiotic and probiotic which should be consumed can be consumed intermittently (every couple of days). However, for optimal benefit, it would be ideal to consume it 1 to 3 times a day. The importance is to make consumption of prebiotics and probiotic rich foods on a continual basis. We can achieve it easily by incorporating R’s KOSO into everyday life.