Probiotics: live microbes + assist in vitamin production, while prebiotics: encourage microbial growth (fibers) + assist in vitamin production. Simply put: prebiotics are food or fertilizers that probiotics feed on. They can both uniquely alter our gut microbiome.
Live microorganisms that offer a health benefit, like enhance GI-tract's ability to absorb nutrients. They naturally live in our bodies. It's important to note: not all foods are probiotic. To be considered a "probiotic" food, the bacteria that survive the food-processing step need to be the kind of bacteria considered beneficial to human health. Foods like kimchi (week 11's word!) and sauerkraut are good examples.
A primary component of probiotics is their ability to produce a low pH environment (low pH = MORE acidic). The production of low pH environments within the body inhibits the establishment and growth of pathogens/bad guys in these areas.
- nourish the cells that line your gut
- can reduce risk of cancers by controlling free-radical cells (i.e.: trouble making cells)
- have transport hormones appropriately, which - as know from week 8's word - are our body's MVP's
- fuel our immune system
Veggies, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are delicacies for these probiotic microorganisms.
THE GUT MICROBIOME - PHYSICAL & MENTAL EFFECTS
Everything we put into our bodies (from intangibles, like information, or tangibles, like food) has a direct impact on our physical health - and visa versa.
PHYSICAL: The gut microbiome affects how we absorb (or don't absorb!) foods and nutrients from those foods, while also assisting our immune system in fighting off invasive bacteria.
MENTAL: Researchers are discovering that the microbial gut bacteria living in our digestive tract may affect regulate brain function, including mental health (source). The microbes and probiotics living in our GI-tract (i.e.: the small intestine) appear to be in almost constant communication with the brain directly by affecting nerve signals and indirectly through chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream. CRAZY. For example, microbiologist Jack Gilbert says the feeling of “sadness” or “depression” is often associated with gastrointestinal disorders, digestive issues, and other physiological bodily “reactions” (source).