Prebiotics vs Probiotics are terms you may hear quite often but are not sure exactly what they refer to or how they differ. Basically these “biotics” help with a healthy Microbiome or gut bacteria. This microbiome is like your second brain and has a huge impact on overall health.
Prebiotics act as a sort of gut fertilizer; they are essentially fiber or non-digestible carbohydrates that nourish healthy microorganisms – probiotics. To populate your gut with healthy microbes you need a variety of fibers and prebiotics in your diet. Most whole grains, nuts seeds, a variety of fruit and vegetables are going to give you a wide spectrum of healthy fiber and prebiotics. It is important to have a variety to reproduce good bacteria to larger colonies as there are so many different varieties of microbes.
When it comes to probiotics, we tend to hear a lot about yogurt. Although yogurt is great, an even better source is known as Kefir. Kefir grains contain up to 61 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making them a very rich and diverse probiotic source. They differ in that yogurt is the fermentation of bacteria in milk, and kefir is a combination of bacteria and yeast fermentations. The combination of bacteria and yeast is called “kefir grain.” Kefir grains are not typical grains, such as wheat or rice, and do not contain gluten. Milk is combined with the kefir grains and stored in a warm area to “culture,” producing the kefir beverage.
Kefir has been consumed for 1000’s of years within it’s origins of the Caucasus mountains in the former Soviet Union. The drink was fermented naturally in bags made of animals hides. It was for many centuries a closely-guarded secret to the Northern Caucasus region. The people there are renowned for their longevity, with the highest proportions of centenarians in the world. It is still a dietary staple in the region.
Fights against Infection
Probiotics protect against infections, and Lactobacillus a type of probiotic, is unique to Kefir. In studies this probiotic has demonstrated it can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter pylori and E. coli
Cancer prevention and tumor reduction
Other probiotics in Kefir have showed be effective is reduction of tumor growth by stimulating immune system. In one study kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared to only 14% for yogurt. Also, with cancer and back to the microbiome, nutrient components in fermented foods called “naturally fortified functional nutrients” reduce cancer risk because they help maintain a healthy microbiome! https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17887934/
Probiotics restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut. This is why they are highly effective at treating many forms of diarrhea. On a personal note, I can attest to this as on 2 different areas where people can commonly experience Diarrhea – Mexico and Nicaragua. I faithfully took my probiotics after every meal in both these regions and was the only one not affected by the “Montezuma’s Revenge.”
What’s more, ample evidence suggests that probiotics and probiotic foods can alleviate many digestive problems as IBS, ulcers caused by H. pylori infection and many others.
Low in lactose
Some may be worried if they are lactose sensitive or even intolerant that they won’t be able to have kefir. First of all, kefir is very low in lactose because of the Latic acid bacteria in them turns lactose in lactic acid making it much less than milk. Secondly there are kefir that are 100% lactose-free containing coconut water, fruit juice or other non-dairy beverages.
You can buy from a store (best organic) or make your own at home. Just google how to make homemade kefir – it’s quite simple.
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