Prebiotics and Probiotics? What is the Difference?

Dairy produce

I admit.

This was a new concept for me.

I mean, food in and food out.  Right?  

Well, when our family entered the land of gluten-free and then grain-free, my gut went wrong.  It was a subtle kind of thing, at first.  Then, it seemed to manifest itself into stiffness and pain in my feet and then into my back.  My always agile body, which never had a day in my life with anything major wrong with me, went, well, wrong.  I couldn’t figure it out until my special needs son ended up with similar problems.

Isn’t that always the case?  

What we put up with as parents, we won’t address quite as fast as we do in our children, especially when the same symptoms show up in them.   I realized it was time for action when that happened.  

Is was then that I learned about prebiotics and probiotics.

You see, when you eat a low carbohydrate diet, you are removing prebiotics from your diet.  What are prebiotics, you say?  Well, prebiotics are the carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics, and are found in various plant foods.  Some of them also provide the bulk fiber we need to pass stools easily. 

What are probitotics?  Probiotics are fermented foods such as yogurt, keifer, fermented veggies, miso soup, soft cheeses, such as Gouda, and even kambucha.  If you are lactose intolerant, or just do not digest milk well (a very common problem with autistic children), you can also purchase coconut or even soy yogurts and cheeses.  I have never made either of these at home, but I have had good results with cow’s milk yogurt in the crockpot, and okay results with goat yogurt.  

Both must work together to promote good digestion in our bodies.  

You can also take a good probiotic supplement, if you prefer this over food to promote good gut health.  Prebiotics are insoluable fibers, meaning they are plant foods that do not dissolve in water.  Because of this, it helps to form a softer stool, which is easier to pass, of course.  

You can include bananas, whole grains, honey, garlic, yams, leeks, jicama, asparagus, oatmeal, legumes, and agave to the list of prebiotics, as well as milk sugars, or lactose, which is a newer discovery.  Even breast milk contains the proper form of insoluable fiber—God’s design for babies. Obviously, if you are lactose intolerant, this creates a bigger problem.  

So, is it any wonder that we humans actually think we can redesign our own insoluable fiber through pre-made foods?  Natural and organic is definitely better, and we cannot forget our prebiotics if we want good digestion, and consequently better absorption of nutrients.  

So, the two work hand in hand.

You cannot have good digestion, without both prebiotics and probiotics, nor can you properly absorb the nutrients you need in your digestive tract—a must.  

So, what if you have to eat a grain-free diet?

I would say, as a mom, make sure you eat both pre and probiotics, and take a supplement if you have to.  There are chewable kid probiotics you can purchase at a health food store, usually in the refrigerated section.  One of the things that can become a problem when we shift from a standard diet to a special diet is that we end up supplementing to make up for the lack of nutrients we were getting.  But, if the goal is good health, then it is worth it, don’t you think?

If gluten really is a problem for your body, or your child’s body, then make sure your family is still digesting nutrients properly.  Becoming the poop police really does help you, and now, my son will even point out his changes in poop.  As we found out, one issue can lead to another, and keeping a nutrient-dense diet along with good supplements does help.  

But, all of the good nutrition in the world will go to waste if your digestion is poor—a common problem in autistic children.  Yes, we should eat real food, but we must balance that with proper digestion.  

Here is a good crockpot yogurt and yogurt cheese recipe.

So, eat your meat and vegetables, but make sure you have your prebiotics and probiotics on the side;-)  

 

Blessing to you and your family~Kim

 

Resources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065,  http://gicare.com/for-physicians/on-good-health/prebiotics/, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/probiotics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge