What is a Prebiotic and Why Might Prebiotics Be More Important Than Probiotics?
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Probiotics have taken a stage up front and center over the past few years as our scientific community have built the bridge to immune health and our microbiome. What the research community is finding is prebiotics are just as important to our microbiome health as probiotics, if not more so.
Why is this?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that make up about 85% of our gut microbiome which; when manufactured outside of the body for supplements are extremely fragile and delicate. The active levels of these 'live' microorganism can be killed if exposed to heat, unless they are processed and encapsulated to be heat resistant and or refrigerated throughout the A-Z production process, including transportation to the consumer.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are food sources for Probiotics, and do not require refrigeration.
This refrigeration characteristic is a definitive reason why prebiotics may be more important than probiotics to the desired end result of increasing the gut microbiome level of microorganisms.
Many probiotics are in consumable forms as capsules, powders, yogurt and beverages. The best consumer protocol for ingesting the highest amounts of live probiotics to reach the GI microbiome is to verify the refrigeration of the probiotic products from the manufacturer to the consumer.
The best Prebiotics we can eat are fibers, which help balance cholesterol and glucose levels, support bowel functions and most importantly feed the microorganisms that make up the microbiome. These fibers can be found in numerous food sources to include, oats, apples, asparagus, bananas however, researchers are finding acacia fiber is one of the best prebiotics we can ingest. Acacia fiber is also called acacia gum or gum arabic and is derived from the Acacia senegal tree native to Africa.
Leading athlete nutrition expert Dr Stacy Sims recently commented in Triathlete Magazine the importance of creating an optimized gastrointestinal bacteria zone because of the health implications for endurance athletes. A GI that is not balanced results in inflammation to all areas of the body. Proper nutritiion is critical to maintain a balance of good bacteria.
This philosophy carries over to mainstream society since proper nutrition is key for weekend warriors, and the elite athlete.
Prebiotic Benefits for gut health include:
More Gut Probiotics:
Researchers have found that in one study after 4 weeks of a daily dose of gum arabic resulted in significantly higher numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (1)
Prebiotics are influential with glucose absorption, insulin regulation ultimately playing a role in weight management. A female focused study with 60 women ingesting gum arabic for six weeks decreased their body fat percentage by 2% and BMI. (2)
Leaky Gut Support:
Prebiotics help increasing the short chain fatty acids, to include butyrate(3), which act as a barrier to leaky gut and supports the junction gaps.(4)
HydraMag® Magnesium contains the beneficial prebiotic gum acacia to elevate the health of your microbiome and ultimately your immune health.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
(1) Calame, W., Weseler, A. R., Viebke, C., Flynn, C., & Siemensma, A. D. (2008). Gum arabic establishes prebiotic functionality in healthy human volunteers in a dose-dependent manner. British Journal of Nutrition,100(06), 1269. doi:10.1017/s0007114508981447
(2) Babiker, R., Merghani, T. H., Elmusharaf, K., Badi, R. M., Lang, F., & Saeed, A. M. (2012). Effects of gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial. Nutrition Journal,11(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-111
(3) Michel, C., Kravtchenko, T., David, A., Gueneau, S., Kozlowski, F., & Cherbut, C. (1998). In Vitroprebiotic effects of Acacia gums onto the human intestinal microbiota depends on both botanical origin and environmental pH. Anaerobe,4(6), 257-266. doi:10.1006/anae.1998.0178
(4) Vanhook, A. M. (2015). Butyrate benefits the intestinal barrier. Science Signaling, 8(378). doi:10.1126/scisignal.aac6198