What are probiotics and prebiotics and why are they needed?

Sharing is caring!


If there are more harmful bacteria than beneficial ones, our microflora weakens and becomes vulnerable. To maintain balance, a person needs probiotics and prebiotics.

Almost two kilograms of our weight are bacteria. They live on the skin, mucous membranes and in the intestines, live with us for a long time and bring significant benefits to the body. If there are more harmful bacteria than beneficial ones (for example, when taking antibiotics), our microflora weakens and becomes vulnerable. To maintain balance, a person needs probiotics and prebiotics.


Probiotics are live, harmless microorganisms that, in adequate amounts, have a beneficial effect on human health.

Probiotics are considered only those bacteria that have proven effective in clinical trials and provide significant health benefits. If you receive probiotics with food or with the help of drugs, the composition and biological activity of the protective intestinal microflora improves.

Probiotics include several types of bacteria, such as lactobacillus Lactobacillus, bifidobacterium Bifidobacterium and others. In addition to bacteria that help digest nutrients, this group includes the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus subtillis, which act as a police force in the intestines, destroying pathogenic and opportunistic organisms.


Prebiotics are dietary fibers that cannot be digested by our body’s enzymes, but it is these fibers that are food for the “good” bacteria that inhabit the intestines. That is, prebiotics are a medium for the growth of probiotics.

If you regularly eat food rich in dietary fiber, the growth, composition and biological activity of the protective intestinal microflora will improve.

The combination of probiotics and prebiotics is called synbiotics.

Why do we need to feed bacteria and worry so much about them?

The Benefits of Gut Microflora

The intestinal flora has many functions:

  • Protects the digestive tract from unwanted bacteria, fungi and harmful nutrients.
  • Synthesizes vitamins (K, B12, B1, B2) and certain fatty acids. Vitamins are absorbed into the blood through the wall of the large intestine, and short-chain fatty acids provide energy to the epithelial cells of the intestine.
  • Accelerates the absorption of magnesium, calcium and iron. The intestinal microflora regulates absorption, motility and energy supply of the colon and the body as a whole.
  • Responsible for mood and sleep quality. A growing body of research suggests that even these measures of our quality of life depend on bacteria.

There is increasing scientific evidence that there is a link between autoimmune diseases and gut dysbiosis. This is primarily due to pro-inflammatory compounds that can be synthesized by pathogenic microorganisms when the microbial balance is disturbed. Such properties are possessed, for example, by the bacterium Enterococcus gallinarium, which, when accidentally migrating from the intestine to other organs, can cause local inflammation in them, leading to an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

How does food affect the intestinal microflora?

Everything that enters the digestive tract affects the life of our microbial communities. Food plays an important role in balancing good and bad gut bacteria.

For example, a diet high in sugar and fat negatively impacts gut bacteria, allowing harmful species to flourish. If you regularly “feed” such microorganisms, they begin to grow faster and displace the normal intestinal flora. What’s more, bad bacteria can stimulate appetite, “forcing” us to consume more calories.

And if you eat dietary fiber (long-chain carbohydrates, such as fiber), the number of good bacteria will increase. It is worth remembering that taking antibiotics leads to the death of not only harmful, but also beneficial bacteria.

What foods are rich in probiotics?

Many probiotic products contain beneficial bacteria in their natural form. These include:

Lactic acid products – kefir, fermented baked milk, yogurt and other products rich in lactobacilli. The very first source of probiotics, proposed by the biologist Mechnikov, was curdled milk.

Fermented products obtained from the fermentation of vegetables. For example, sauerkraut, kimchi cabbage, unpasteurized pickles, and pickled vegetables. In addition to probiotic bacteria, such food contains many dietary prebiotic fibers to feed beneficial microflora, which makes such food synbiotic.

However, it is important to remember that all the beneficial properties of such food are preserved only if it has not been thermally processed – during pasteurization, all microorganisms are destroyed, including the necessary probiotic ones.

If you want ones in form of drugs – pay attention to Probiotics Australia items.

What are probiotic dietary supplements?

Probiotic preparations include a variety of dosage forms (tablets, capsules, liquids) containing live probiotic bacteria. Basically, these drugs include lactobacilli (Lactobacillus) and / or bifidobactheria (Bifidobacterium).

Such drugs are widely distributed, they can be found in pharmacies and in stores of dietary supplements. But it is important to remember that these drugs are very different in composition and action, so if you think that your body needs such support, be sure to consult a specialist. It should also be remembered that these supplements do not include beneficial prebiotics.

Like any drug, these drugs have a number of contraindications:

  • should not be used by children and adults with serious illnesses or disorders of the immune system, since intervention in a system that is very unstable in these diseases can lead to the development of fungal infections of the digestive tract;
  • such drugs are contraindicated in people with bacterial overgrowth syndrome.