How prebiotics & probiotics support your second brain - the gut!
Before delving into the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, we need to understand the importance of gut health and how it both directly and indirectly supports our bodies’ systems so that they run efficiently.
In the human body, the lining of the gut is covered with over 1000 different species of bacteria. All of these bacteria together are referred to as the microbiome and overall it weighs anywhere from 2-5 pounds (that’s nearly the weight of the human brain!).
As these bacteria (probiotics) are living organisms, they also need healthy food to thrive...which is where prebiotics come in.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that cannot be digested by the body.
When the fiber passes through the digestive system, it is stored in the large intestine and fermented there by the good bacteria. The prebiotic fibers are a source of nourishment for these “good” bacteria that exist naturally. They break down food, absorb its nutrients and convert them to energy. In addition to providing sustenance to your good bacteria, it helps ferment food faster that reduces the chance of constipation.
Prebiotics can be consumed in the form of food or supplements. Prebiotics are naturally found in bananas, apples, beans, honey, oats, and mushrooms.
what are probiotics?
Probiotics are “good bacteria” that contain live organisms that can repopulate healthy microbiomes in the gut, thus suppressing the bad bacteria.
Probiotics enter the gut and, by rapidly growing in quantity, will start to crowd out the “bad” bacteria, as they both compete for their food sources and space to live -- basically, it’s Good V Bad. As part of the probiotics’ digestion of its own, certain acids that discourage pathogen growth are released, which continues to support good bacteria growth over bad.
Like prebiotics, probiotics can also be taken in the form of food or supplements. Yogurt, beets, cottage cheese, and kombucha, and essentially any fermented foods are probiotic-rich.
what is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
It’s all in the suffix!
Pre is the Latin suffix for before.
Pro is the Latin suffix for for.
Biotic means life.
Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that enhance the overall gut health by adding more healthy microbes.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that the body itself can’t digest, that provide nourishment to the probiotics (good bacteria).
Together, prebiotics and probiotics can enhance the performance of the digestive system, which overall impacts other support systems in the body.
When these supplements (or food) consistently become part of routine, they help improve digestion process, boost the immune system by keeping out bad bacteria, balance hormonal health, improve skin health, contribute to weight loss, and even support emotional and mental health, since many neurotransmitters are created and/or regulated in the gut!
taking care of the second brain and its enteric nervous system
The brain's operating system is the CNS, or central nervous system, and it turns out at the the gut has its own system - the ENS, or enteric nervous system. The ENS is actually able to facilitate gastrointestinal behavior completely independently of the CNS (which is why you don't have to think about digesting the food you've just consumed), but there is a feedback loop via the gut-brain axis.
Negative changes in the microbiome may in turn affect the brain and behavior. Studies have suggested that inflammatory cytokines, defensive molecules the gut produced during infection, can disrupt brain neurochemistry and make people more vulnerable to anxiety and depression!
It has been said that our gut is “second brain” and we’re all about brain health at Mushroom Design!
There are 5 mushrooms - all of which are found in our mushroom blend -- that are prebiotics. These mushrooms contain enzymes that work as dietary fibers for the gut microbiome and overall health.
- Turkey tail:fully packed with fibrous nutrients that encourage the growth of good bacteria, which in turn crowd out unfriendly bacteria improving overall gut health.
- Lion’s ManeThrough its antioxidant property, lion’s mane decreases inflammation and improves the immune system. Its healing nature balances the nervous system and reduces the effects of depression, anxiety and mental fatigue.
- Reishi: has a high fiber content, which supports the gut’s good bacteria that absorb nutrients and convert them to energy. This leads to smooth digestion and reduces the risk of constipation. It also reverses gut imbalance due to poor diet or stress.
- Shiitake: acts as a bacteria balancer in the gut. It is an immune system supporter and has the ability to strengthen the lining of the gut that improves immunity against external pathogens, too.
- Chaga: full of antioxidant, chaga works as a friendly tonic to improve gut health by fighting against free radicals. It calms down the immune system and promotes growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Please note: if you have any kidney issues, consult a physician before consuming chaga.
the bottom biotic line:
Gut health is important as it overall impacts the health of the whole body and our mood. Adding prebiotics and probiotics to our routine is an effective way to promote a healthier gut.
Before incorporating these supplements in your diet, it is advised to consult with your health care provider. Mushrooms have been proven to be a superfood with both immune boosting and prebiotic properties. They are readily available and well worth adding to your diet to promote a healthy gut and healthier life -- to make it easier, you can just take Mushroom Design daily!