Probiotics, fibre and prebiotics can help support gut health. But what are they? We’ve gathered everything you need to know about digestive health, nutrition and probiotics in this toolkit.
Peruse through the full toolkit or jump to the information you are looking for by clicking below:
- Nutrition, the Gut Microbiota and Immune Function
- Probiotics vs Prebiotics
- Probiotics vs Fermented Foods
- Dietary Fibre vs Prebiotics
- The Connection Between Gut, Mood & Behaviour
- Functional Foods
- Do all Fermented Foods contain Probiotics?
Nutrition, the Gut Microbiota and Immune Function
Good nutrition is important for proper gut microbiota and immune function. A healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle can support our immune system, whereas a poor diet can compromise the immune system, leading to greater susceptibility to infections.1,2 Having a diverse diet consisting of a variety of foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs for a healthy immune system.
Probiotics vs Prebiotics
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”3 In simple terms, probiotics are “good bugs” or “good microbes” that improve certain aspects of our health.
Prebiotics are defined as “substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.”4 In other words, they are food for our gut microbiota.
Probiotics vs Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are foods or beverages that are produced by controlled microbial growth.5 They include things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and miso, to name a few!
But did you know that not all fermented foods contain probiotics?
Dietary Fibre vs Prebiotics
Fibre describes plant material that your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike fats, proteins or carbohydrates which your body breaks down and absorbs, fibres pass through and remain relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon on its way out of your body. In other words, fibre binds with your body’s waste products, helping it move through the proper channels! There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, and both have different benefits for our health.
The Connection Between Gut, Mood and Behaviour
Do you ever wonder why you sometimes experience “butterflies” in your stomach when doing something exciting, or have a “gut feeling” about a particular scenario? This is because our gut microbiota, i.e. the community of microorganisms living in the gut, does much more than just aid in digestion, immunity and metabolic functioning – it is a crucial connection to our brain and potentially our mood! Yes, the brain and the gut “talk” to each other – but maybe not in the way you think.
Consuming “functional foods” has become a trendy approach that people consider when it comes to improving their diet and health. Did you know that probiotic foods can be considered functional foods because they provide health benefits beyond their traditional nutritional function?
Do all Fermented Foods contain Probiotics?
Even if they contain live cultures, very few fermented foods contain microbes that meet the definition of a probiotic. With the rising popularity of probiotics, you may be asking yourself how to include them in your diet. We are here to help you define the difference between the two with a simple side by side comparison.
This content was made possible due to an unrestricted educational grant from Activia.
- Wu D et al. Nutritional modulation of immune function: analysis of evidence, mechanisms, and clinical relevance. Front Immunol 2019;9:3160.
- Statovci D et al. The impact of Western diet and nutrients on the microbiota and immune response at mucosal interfaces. Front Immunol 2017;8:838.
- Hill C et al. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014;11(8):506-514.
- Gibson GR et al. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017;14(8):491-502.
- Dimidi E et al. Fermented foods: Definitions and characteristics, impact on the gut microbiota and effects on gastrointestinal health and disease. Nutrients 2019;11(8):1806.