There is a surge in the number of lifestyle disorders in India. Probiotics can help in reducing the incidence of metabolic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or obesity. Lactobacillus is a widely used probiotic and its consumption is also associated with increased mortality rate. Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This prevents the growth of pathogenic bacteria that are associated with the development of various diseases. According to the Transparency Market Research report, there has been a 10.5% increase in the demand for prebiotic products. Postbiotics are byproducts secreted as a result of microbial action. Postbiotics are shown to be beneficial against hypertension, obesity, cancer and inflammation in various research studies. Chemical byproducts of lactic acid have been found to have anti-tumour properties as well.

Nutrition Value

Foods (100 gms)Energy (kcal)Carbohydrate (gms)Protein (gms)Fat (gms)Fibre (gms)
Garlic (prebiotic)1403050.52
Yoghurt (probiotic)626520
Kefir (postbiotic)10010920

What Are Probiotics?

Live bacteria found in the intestinal tract would constitute probiotics. Yoghurt, Tempeh, Miso, Kombucha and Natto are some of the examples of probiotics. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the beneficial bacteria used in preparing such foods. Probiotics compete against pathogenic bacteria by releasing substances like lactic acid or acetic acid. This would prevent the growth of pathogenic organisms.

Benefits Of Probiotics

1. Improves Your Digestive System

Pathogenic bacteria in the gut can promote stomach distress and induce digestive issues. Probiotics promote the growth of good microbes and prevent the proliferation of pathogens. Probiotics can also reduce the distress associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Crohn’s disease.

2. Anticholesterolemic Property

Probiotics can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and also help in reducing blood pressure. Probiotics can also induce the breakdown of bile and help reduce cholesterol levels. 

3. Anti-Obesogenic Property

Probiotics help in weight management through various mechanisms. Probiotics can reduce fat absorption or help in the elimination of fat through stools.

4. Improves Mental Health

A review-based study found probiotics to be effective against mental disorders, autism, depression and anxiety. 

What Are Prebiotics?

Compounds in foods that initiate beneficial fungi or bacterial activity would constitute prebiotics. Bananas, onions, asparagus, leeks and garlic are examples of prebiotics. Prebiotics can act as foods for beneficial bacteria in your gut, which can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Benefits Of Prebiotics

1. Enhances Calcium Absorption

In human models, prebiotics were shown to improve calcium absorption in the intestines. Prebiotics reduce the activity of osteoclasts that are involved in breaking down bones. Prebiotics can also increase the activity of osteoblasts that are involved in bone formation.

2. Reduces Constipation

Prebiotics help improves the consistency of stools and can also improve the frequency of bowel movements. Prebiotics can also help reduce bloating. 

3. Maintains Gut Health

Prebiotics act as food for microorganisms. This helps in the growth of beneficial bacteria and helps in the maintenance of gut immunity.

4. Beneficial Against Colorectal Cancer

Prebiotics can alter the state of microflora. This can help in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Prebiotics produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) which could play a major role in cancer prevention.

What Are Postbiotics?

Prebiotics act as food for microorganisms. These microorganisms secrete chemical compounds after consuming this fibre which is termed postbiotics. Postbiotics are waste products of microbial activity. Bacteriocins, organic compounds, carbonic products and certain enzymes are examples of postbiotics. Foods that can increase production of post biotics in the gut include pickles, buttermilk, certain types of cheeses, tempeh and miso. 

Benefits Of Postbiotics

1. Improves Insulin Sensitivity

A postbiotic compound called muramyl dipeptide helps in improving insulin sensitivity and lowers blood glucose levels. Postbiotics can also be beneficial for prediabetic patients.

2. Prevents Growth Of Pathogens

Postbiotics can help prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria and also reduce the infestation of infectious bacteria.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Property

Individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can benefit from Postbiotics as postbiotics help in reducing inflammation. Postbiotics can also help reduce infections caused by Salmonella.

Key Takeaways

  1. Individuals suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should avoid consuming prebiotics.
  2. Individuals suffering from or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) should also avoid consuming prebiotics.
  3. Excess consumption of prebiotics can increase the risk of bloating or stomach discomfort. Consume in small doses and increase gradually or consume it naturally from foods.
  4. It would be better to consult a healthcare professional before consuming a prebiotic, probiotic or postbiotic supplement.
  5. Athletes or individuals involved in sports who have a sensitive digestive system should take care before consuming a postbiotic supplement.
  6. Medications can reduce the efficacy of prebiotics. Hence, consume it 2 hours before consuming medications.
  7. Prebiotics can be taken on an empty stomach. Our stomach acids do not contain enzymes to break down fibre.
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