PREBIOTICS: FOOD TO FUEL YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

PREBIOTICS: FOOD TO FUEL YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Written by Jackie Elnahar, Attorney and Registered Dietitian
You know and love probiotics, but you can become the full picture of health by adding prebiotics to your regimen, too. 

Science-backed evidence has proved time and time again that the microbiome is the center of our wellbeing. That means supporting it with proper, functional nutrition is more important than ever. Fueling your body with supportive nutrients means you’ll start uncovering genuine health benefits--like improved digestion, brighter complexions, and better mental wellbeing, too. 

Probiotics have held a long tenure in our personal home healthcare rituals. Whether yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, supplement capsules, or some combination of each are your vehicle of choice for delivering this microbiome-booster to your system, probiotics have most likely been a pillar of your healthcare routine for some time. 

But as with any good story, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. And if probiotics are the happy ending, then prebiotics are the foundation blocks for a better, brighter, healthier future. Here’s why you need them, and why they’re essential to the framework of your overall health. 


DEFINING PREBIOTICS

 

HOW THEY DIFFER FROM PROBIOTICS

Probiotics are the actual bacteria ingested in the form of supplement or foods. The important part of probiotics is getting many beneficial strains; each strain has been shown to have an impact in creating a diverse array of bacteria that can benefit our bodies.

 

Prebiotics are simple in their role, but important in that they are the food for the beneficial bacteria. You can take many probiotics, but to maintain the good probiotic bacteria and its growth in your microbiome, prebiotics need to be ingested to cultivate that growth and to get the benefits of the probiotics. You can achieve proper prebiotic intake by choosing a well-balanced, plant-rich diet. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF CARING FOR THE MICROBIOME

The science is clearer than ever before--prebiotics and probiotics are an essential way to care for our microbiome. 

The microbiome and its effect on the immune system is well documented in that it centers around cytokine expression. If we were to  simplify it, the immune system is like an army, and cytokine is the commander sending signals. The right cell signaling provides the right immune response and controls the inflammation response. This is an important part of the process since proper inflammatory response is key to a healthy immune system. Prebiotics help provide an optimal response time underactive or overactive.

Prebiotics and probiotics focus on how healthy bacteria essentially make the immune system smarter by promoting the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines, while reducing the expressions of proinflammatory cytokines*.

Overactive immune systems or inflammation can wreak havoc on the body. This makes keeping the microbiome in checkone of the most proactive things we can do for optimal immune health. The benefits of the digestive system are also clear in digestive regularity, better nutrient absorption, and preventing the overgrowth of harmful organisms in the digestive system. You can’t go wrong with adding quality probiotics and probiotics to your diet!


INCORPORATING PREBIOTICS INTO YOUR CURRENT DIET

Prebiotics, which feed the probiotic good bacteria, are essential to great health and that coveted glow. (You know that glow of vibrancy--the living proof of giving your body what it needs to do its job optimally.) After all, our bodies were designed perfectly;we just need to give it the right nutrients and prebiotics for a healthy microbiome and a healthy life. 

*Journal of Medical Microbiology Immunology (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27704207)

 

Jackie Elnahar

Jackie Elnahar is an attorney and registered dietitian. She founded TelaDietitian, the premier telehealth solution for medical nutrition therapy consultations, which was acquired by Teladoc Health, NYSE: TDOC. As a registered dietitian, Elnahar specializes in weight loss and disease prevention, management, and reversal. She has helped many clients fulfill their health and wellness goals and achieve a long-term solution through a realistic and results-oriented approach that has changed lives. Jackie is a nutrition writer for Everyday Health and has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Glamour, Women's Health, Reader's Digest, Huffington Post, Dr. Oz, Today, Shape, among others. 

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