Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Symbiotics for a Happy Gut

This month, we are highlighting digestive health and its vital role in our well-being. The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. In this article, we will explore the importance of beneficial microorganisms within the digestive tract, the types you need, and how to obtain them through your diet. Additionally, we will delve into the essential role of LRA testing and supplementation in supporting healthy digestion. 

Probiotics

Your digestive system contains more than 40 trillion (!) microbes, including healthy bacteria, that peacefully coexist in your body and make up your microbiome—a community of microorganisms working together to promote your well-being. This “good” bacteria helps you to digest food, combat harmful bacteria, function optimally, and maintain balance.

“Probiotics” consist of a collection of healthy bacteria that have been grown and fermented (in the case of food products), or additionally concentrated and blended into a powder for use in dietary supplements. Consuming sufficient probiotic foods can help control inflammation, aid digestion, prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, produce vital vitamins, and protect the gut lining. To incorporate more probiotics into your diet, consider adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, pickles, tempeh, miso, and yogurt.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics serve as nourishment for the microorganisms residing in your gut.They are typically high-fiber foods or polyphenols that travel through the digestive system unscathed.  Once they reach the colon, these prebiotics go through a process of metabolism and fermentation by the gut microorganisms, generating diverse short-chain fatty acids that provide energy to colon cells, support mucus production, and assist in inflammation regulation and immune function. Prebiotics offer a large and diverse range of benefits including:

  • Regulation of bowel movements.
  • Production of neurotransmitters that facilitate communication between the gut and brain.
  • Stimulation of hormone production related to appetite control and regulation.
  • Support for bone mineralization and improved absorption of calcium and phosphorus, leading to improved bone density.
  • Improvement of immune system functionality.
  • Improvement of the body’s anti-inflammatory response.
  • Promotion of the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduction in the presence of harmful bacteria that may be associated with disease.

To incorporate prebiotics into your diet, consider trying the following foods:

  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cocoa

One interesting item of note: cooking and food preparation methods can affect the quality and quantity of prebiotics available. As an example, a study on Chinese yam found that different cooking methods affected polysaccharide (fiber) contents. They found that steaming and boiling the yams did retain their prebiotic activity, however.  In most cases, consuming produce raw will maximize health benefits.

Symbiotics

Getting a healthy mixture of both probiotics and prebiotics is essential for a well-functioning digestive tract.  “Symbiotics” are also helpful. Glutamine is an amino acid that acts as a primary fuel for the intestinal tract, muscles, brain, and liver. It helps maintain intestinal barrier function, modulate inflammation, and regulate the stress response. In conjunction with probiotics, glutamine supplementation has been shown to reduce intestinal inflammation, support the gut microbiome, and maintain gut wall integrity. Glutamine-rich foods include red cabbage, seafood, legumes, nuts, beans, dark leafy greens, eggs, and other plant and animal proteins.

Supplementation

We don’t often get all of the prebiotics, probiotics, symbiotics and digestive health promoters that we need from diet alone. Supplementation can provide additional support to optimize digestion and overall gut function.

Talk to your healthcare professional about the supplements that may be best for you. We really like the PERQUE line of products, as they are formulated with no binders or fillers, and have the highest quality ingredients available.

PERQUE DigestivAide™ Herbal Bitters can boost saliva production and kick-start the digestive process for starches and fats.* These herbs also stimulate the release of gastric juices, hormones, and enzymes, facilitating effective food breakdown.

PERQUE L-Histidine Guard™ is a good source of stomach acid protons to further support stomach acid production and antioxidant benefit.*

PERQUE Digesta Guard Forté 10™ is our favorite probiotic supplement with 10 beneficial probiotic strains to benefit digestion and help ward off harmful bacteria.*

For a prebiotic supplement, PERQUE Regularity Guard™ contains a unique combination of unprocessed fibers and synergistic ingredients to help nurture the healthy digestion-promoting bugs in the digestive system.*

We mentioned symbiotics earlier. PERQUE Endura/PAK Guard™ contains a unique combination of L-glutamine and pyridoxal alpha-ketoglutarate (PAK). PAK naturally recycles L-glutamine, so the body can use it over and over again to support digestive system health.*

LRA Testing

Another thing to consider when working to improve your digestive health is that you may experience delayed allergies, reactivity, or intolerance to certain foods and chemicals you ingest. Consulting with your healthcare provider regarding LRA by ELISA/ACT® tests can assist in identifying hidden sensitivities to a large range of foods and environmental substances. LRA testing measures the delayed hypersensitivity reactions that occur hours or even days after exposure to a particular substance, making them challenging to identify without specialized testing. Consider our All Inclusive 512 Panel which tests for foods, environmental chemicals, molds, food additives/preservatives, food colors, toxic minerals and metals, dander, hair and feathers, therapeutic herbs, therapeutic foods, and medications. Another great option is the Comprehensive 317 Panel. By targeting hidden sensitivities, LRA testing provides valuable insight for those seeking to improve their digestive health and overall well-being.

Once sensitivities are identified, you can work with your healthcare provider or a qualified nutritionist to develop a personalized dietary plan that eliminates or reduces exposure to the specific substances causing issues to help help alleviate symptoms, promote gut healing, and restore balance to your digestive system.

In conclusion, prioritizing digestive health through the incorporation of prebiotic and probiotic foods, dietary supplements, and LRA testing can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. Taking proactive steps toward digestive wellness will lead you to a happier and healthier life. Happy digestive health month!

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.