The Weston A. Price Way

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

Some of us only recently began to feel comfortable discussing things like, 'probiotics'. We heard it a little here, a bit there, and eventually came to understand it had something to do with yogurt and intestines, although maybe not in that order...

But we did figure one thing out for sure...They're good for us!

Then, we started hearing a word so slightly different that some of us thought, "Probiotics, Prebiotics...Humph...some one's just trying to throw us off...they must be the same thing." And honestly, references made to both did include gut talk, so...yeah, must be the same thing.

But just in case the wondering still tickles the back of your brain every time you see the newer TV ads or glance at the prebiotic pill promotions...your ticklish brain may be grateful to know, that yes, there is a difference.

Pretty simple, too...Probiotics are what we, so far, talk about on this site. Good Bacteria. This is the stuff we work so hard to cultivate in our lacto-fermented foods. It's living and breathing. So very good, in fact, that God made sure we all got some of it in our intestines from the get-go. And he made sure we'd get plenty more of it in Mommy's raw milk, and as time progressed, the unadulterated milk of other animals as well. He even gave man the idea of fermentation. Do I know how? You know I don't, but everything good comes from God, so I know the idea had to come from him!

Unfortunately, antibiotics, environmental toxins, and medications like NSAIDS and a host of others, kill off those good gut bacteria. And in our "safe", (facade), world of pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization and sanitization...we don't get probiotics back into our systems very easily. So, our bodies succumb to grody illnesses like IBS and anything related to a lowered immune system because our first line of defense is broken. Over time, what seems little, grows into big and bigger still health problems...if we don't take steps to re-establish the beneficial colonies of good bacteria living in our intestinal tract. Yogurt has gotten many accolades for this and it is a fine effort, but there are better efforts like dairy kefir made quite simply from unpasteurized milk and living kefir cultures. NOW, you're packing a whopping 9x MORE probiotic power in your dairy punch!

Prebiotics help probiotics by acting like good kitchen scraps heaped upon the compost pile. In other words, they feed our good bacteria. There are some items of food we don't include in compost, like meats and fats. They don't add that much nourishment to the compost, they draw flies, and they cause it to smell disagreeable. (If you know me and this site, you know I am not saying here that meat and certain fats are bad for you...they are indeed, very good if grass-fed.) In the same way, prebiotics aren't just anything tossed in to help the gut. But you don't have to take a pill, (as so many suggest), to get them, either. In fact, although we haven't discussed them specifically as prebiotics, they have been discussed...because they are quite simply, fiber.

This type of fiber isn't digested by our bodies, however. Instead, when prebiotics reach the intestines, they make for a fine lunch for the good colonized 'probies' living there. Get it? Prebiotics are probiotic food.

Every time we've talked about grains, fruits and veggies, we've talked about foods containing prebiotics. Honey's another one...and we all need just one more excuse to consume that, don't we?

Probiotics continues to be the greater challenge, so we ferment and culture and grow our little lovelies so we can tuck them away into our intestines. But the average Joe needn't be too concerned with prebiotics as long as he is consuming plenty of healthy grains and produce.

Those with highly compromised intestines, however, may want to consider a season of adding prebiotics and probiotics in pill or powder form to the diet in order to get the gut up to speed, then continue along the more natural route of foods as your source. If you are on high doses of antibiotics, are taking chemo...or recovering from chemo, steroids, or any of a host of medications that can compromise immunity due to compromised gut health, this might be the course of action to take. But don't take my surmising as prescription...Please dig into some research, ask others who have been 'in your boat' and come through and talk to your natureopathic doctor or medical doctor if this is you.

Now tell me...You really were wondering about this probiotic-prebiotic thing, weren't you? 
(Okay, Okay...I was.)

So, as always, eat well, move around a bit, get around other like-minded beings, be full of and stand on your faith in the healing provided by the true 'Lover of our Souls'...because this will take us beyond the limits of physical foods, herbs and medicines. And well. Yes, Laugh! He made laughter. Yes, Cry! He made tears, too. Yes, Love! He is the author of all things loving and lovely. Yes, BE in whatever way God provides for you in this season, BE that to the fullest. All the while remembering, he always knows what he's doing even if we don't have a clue. So, in the name of Jesus and all he has provided for our health through his created world and the deep cuts he took in our behalf for no other reason than his magnificent love for us...BE healed.

Today, just sign me,
"GUT-sy Lady" ;0)

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