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Prebiotics and Probiotics…What is a Prebiotic vs Probiotic?

prebiotics and probiotics

Despite sounding very similar, prebiotics and probiotics are quite different and play different roles in the gut microbiome. So what is a prebiotic vs probiotic?

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotic definition: “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.” (1)

This essentially means that the definition of a prebiotic fiber is anything that bacteria living in your gut (or elsewhere) can use to thrive. When these beneficial bacteria thrive, they help you, their host, thrive as well. Thus, prebiotics, by way of helping your good gut bacteria thrive, “confer a health benefit” to you.

Prebiotics provide health benefits by helping your healthy gut bacteria do what they’re supposed to do — produce beneficial compounds like short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), strengthen your gut integrity, and push out bad bacteria.

Prebiotics are most often non-digestible fibers, but more recent research shows that prebiotics can also be things like polyphenols (a type of antioxidant).

Types of Prebiotic Supplements

The most common prebiotic supplements you’ll find include:

  • Inulin
  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG)

That said,

Why Probiotic “Strains” Are Important & The Best Probiotic Strains on the Market

best probiotic strain

Did you know that the strain of a probiotic determines its effect? And that most probiotic supplements don’t tell you what strain they contain? In order to take the best probiotic for you, you need to understand which strain will give you the benefits you’re looking for.

What is a Probiotic?

No doubt you’ve heard all the hype about probiotics.

“Probiotics will heal your gut!”

“Probiotics will prevent food sensitivities!”

“Probiotics treat IBS!”

…among others.

There’s a million claims out there and a million more probiotic supplements to buy. So how do you know what the best probiotic supplement is?

Before we jump into that, let’s quickly define probiotics:

Probiotics, at their most basic definition, are “live microorganisms which when consumed in adequate amounts as part of food confer a health benefit on the host” (according to the World Health Organization).

What is a Probiotic Strain?

Probiotic strains are where things get a bit more complicated.

You see, most of us are used to seeing probiotic names listed on labels with two parts to the name.

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The Best Probiotic for BV: BV Treatment Over the Counter That Works

best probiotics for bv - bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be an incredibly frustrating condition to live with. More often than not, it’s something that women deal with for months or years, with little help from their doctors. Luckily, using probiotics for BV can make treating this condition much easier! In this article, I’ll go over exactly what bacterial vaginosis is, the typical BV treatment, how to address recurring BV, and how probiotics for bacterial vaginosis can help.

In doing research for this post, I came across so many stories from women all over the Internet and it really broke my heart to read them. Women who experienced extreme pain during sex, said they were embarrassed to have any sexual contact, were constantly thinking about how “fishy” they smelled, or worried if they would ever find someone who could love them. There were many women who told their stories of living with BV for years, and could not find a solution.

So this article is dedicated to you — I hope it helps you find relief.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that I receive compensation when you buy from these vendors.

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Top 3 Best Prebiotic Supplements: Feeding Your Good Gut Bacteria

prebiotics

You hear a lot about probiotics these days, but what about prebiotics? What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics and should you be consuming both? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about prebiotics and I’ll let you know about the top 3 best prebiotic supplements.

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics were first defined in 1995 as “non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria already resident in the colon.” (1)

That definition has been tweaked throughout the years and the latest update to the definition (decided on by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP)) is as follows: a prebiotic is “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.” (2)

But let’s put this in plain English, shall we?

A prebiotic “feeds” your healthy bacteria and, as a result, benefits you and your body. Prebiotics can be found in both foods (typically high-fiber foods) and supplements.

While “classic” prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides still fit this new definition,

Top 100 High Polyphenol Foods: The Best Foods for a Healthy Microbiome

polyphenols foods

One of the best things you can do for better gut health is to eat a diverse diet full of high polyphenol foods.

If you’re a pretty healthy eater and consume lots of plant matter, you might be surprised to learn that you’re already eating quite a bit of high polyphenol foods. Even so, you can always strategically increase your polyphenol intake for even more health benefits.

In this article, we’ll discuss the high polyphenol diet: what it is, how to implement it, and the massive benefits you can expect once you implement this easy, delicious diet.

Let’s jump in!

What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, are naturally-occurring compounds found in plants that benefit the human body in a myriad of ways. (1) Polyphenols include things like the flavanols in chocolate, anthocyanins elderberry and currants, stillbenes in wine, and lignans in flaxseed.

Polyphenols may improve microbial balance in the gut microbiome, regulate blood sugar, and improve your heart health, among other benefits.

You’ve probably heard the term “antioxidant” before, but perhaps not “polyphenol.” While polyphenols are an important sub-category of antioxidants, they haven’t received the attention that antioxidants have gotten in the last few years in the health sphere.

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The Role of Gut Bacteria in Fertility and Estrogen Dominance

high estrogen levels fertility

I’ve talked before about the importance of optimizing your gut health before getting pregnant in order to promote a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.

But what about getting pregnant in the first place… Can your gut bacteria play a role in your estrogen production and fertility?

The science suggests that it very well might!

To understand why let’s take a closer look at infertility and one of its common causes: estrogen dominance.

What is Infertility?

When you hear the term “infertility,” you likely think of a person or a couple that cannot and will never be able to have children. In the medical world, however, infertility does not refer to a permanent state at all.

A diagnosis of infertility simply means that you have not been able to get pregnant after a year of normal, unprotected sex (1).

It’s actually a diagnosis that is far more common than you might realize. According to recent statistics, between 7% and 15.5% of American women experience infertility in any given year, and the majority of women (51.8%) meet the criteria for infertility at least once during their menstruating years (2).

What Probiotics to Take While You’re On Antibiotics

What Probiotics to Take While You're On Antibiotics

In this article, you’ll learn how probiotics can prevent some of the negative side effects of antibiotics and keep your gut healthy. You’ll discover the best probiotic supplements on the market for antibiotic-associated diarrhea and other digestive problems, as well as what probiotic foods to eat. 

What are Antibiotics?
What are Antibiotics Used For?

Antibiotics are a class of drugs that kill bacteria. They are used for harmful infections in or on the body. Common antibiotics include clindamycin and amoxicillin, though there are many different types of antibiotics on the market.

How Do Antibiotics Work?

Antibiotics work by either directly killing bacteria or preventing them from replicating or reproducing, thus dwindling bacteria numbers over time.

Antibiotic drugs only kill off bacterial infections in the body, which means that they aren’t useful for illnesses like the common cold or the flu, for example, because these are viral illnesses.

Side Effects of Antibiotics

Unfortunately, antibiotics are associated with a few side effects. These include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Clostridium difficile infection
  • Altering the Microbiome
  • Antibiotic Resistance

Digestive Problems

The most common side effects of antibiotics are digestive problems.

How To Heal Your Gut After Antibiotics

How To Heal Your Gut After Antibiotics

Now that you’ve learned what probiotics to take while you’re antibiotics, you’re probably concerned with what you should do after you’ve finished your course.

Antibiotics take a toll on our microbiome, destroying lots of our good bacteria and causing overgrowth of others like yeasts. This imbalance of gut bacteria is called dysbiosis. So how do we fix it?

Probiotics After Antibiotics

There is some recent research suggesting that probiotic consumption after antibiotic treatment may delay your microbiome from returning to its normal state, so if you’re not experiencing any digestive complaints after finishing your course of antibiotics, I recommend focusing mostly on prebiotics (see below) as opposed to probiotics.

If, however, you’re struggling with some post-antibiotic digestive woes, you may want to try a probiotic in addition to the other suggestions in this article. If you already began taking probiotics during your course of antibiotics, you can continue that probiotic for a month or two after finishing up your course.

Take a Probiotic Supplement

If you weren’t taking a probiotic during your antibiotic course, you can choose one of the below (which I recommended in my previous article):

  • Saccharomyces boulardii biocodex (now called Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM I-745) is found in the Florastor brand probiotic and helps to prevent C.diff infections (5) and even helps those who tend to have recurrent C.diff infections.

Why I Don’t Take a Diet-First Approach to Healing Gut Issues

You might assume that, as a dietitian who works with those with digestive problems and gut microbiome imbalances like SIBO and dysbiosis, I spend the majority of my time counseling my clients on diets like the low-FODMAP diet, SCD diet, GAPS, or any other number of restrictive dieting approaches out there.

Want the truth?

I spend the majority of my time talking to my clients about things other than the types of foods they’re eating. We talk antimicrobial herbs, stress reduction, sleep, exercise, calorie intake…but specific food choices? We don’t spend much time on those beyond general healthy eating concepts.

In my 7 years of working with digestive health clients, I’ve found that taking a diet-first approach to fixing microbial imbalance in the gut is the wrong move.

Here’s why.

Restrictive Diets Don’t Address the Real Problem

If you have gut issues like SIBO or dysbiosis, heavily restricting your diet doesn’t solve the problem. I’ve written about this concept specifically in regards to a low-FODMAP diet before, but it applies to practically every other restrictive dietary approach out there. The only exception to the “rule” would be the elemental diet (which I don’t even consider to be a “diet” per se;

Probiotics: An In-Depth Guide & The Best Probiotic Supplements on the Market

probiotic

Probiotics have thundered onto the health and wellness stage — you hear about them everywhere now.  With claims running the gamut from “probiotics heal your gut” to “probiotics prevent cancer,” it seems as though they are just about a cure for everything.

But, do they actually do what they claim to? Or are these claims just another way to convince you to buy expensive supplements?

In this article I’m going to answer all of your pressing questions about probiotics. From the very basics of what probiotics are, through the details of probiotic strains, to the ways probiotics work at the molecular level; everything you need to know about this burgeoning field, you’ll find right here.

What are Probiotics?

Alright, first thing’s first. What are probiotics, exactly?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics, probiotics are defined as: “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” (1)

…And what, exactly, does that mean?

Well, basically, it means a probiotic is any species of bacteria,