Pre, Pro & Post-biotics - What’s the fuss about?

Probiotics

Let’s begin with probiotic. The official definition of Probiotic given by WHO is “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”. In other words, the microorganisms need to be alive when taken at high enough dosage that will produce benefits to us. If these tiny microbes are not beneficial for us, they are not considered Probiotic. There are a handful of well-researched bacterial strains to date. These include Lactobacillus acidophilus (lactic acid bacteria), Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus casei (a.k.a ABC you see on yoghurt packaging).

For decades, probiotics have been used to improve gut health. But recently, the world has become more aware of the link between gut health and immune system and mental health. In the gut, 70-80% of our immune cells are located there. They work alongside gut microbiomes forming a barrier against foreign pathogens. There are now many documented evidence of gut-brain connection as a result of probiotic activities.

Probiotics

Prebiotics

There’s no official definition of prebiotics. The universally agreed definition of prebiotic amongst scientists is “a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”. This means any substance that our tiny microbiome can consume or use to form the surrounding environment (think of prebiotic as a brick/wood for probiotic’s house!). Different probiotics use different prebiotics depending on their preference. As can be seen in yoghurt, Bifidobacteria thrive in lactose sugar environment while Lactobacilli like both dairy and non-dairy sugar environment (such as our Emma & Tom’s Water Kefir!).

There are many substances that fit the definition of prebiotic. Here are the most-well researched prebiotics:

  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) found in Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, chicory root, inulin, garlic and onions;
  • Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) found in beans, legumes and dairy;
  • Acacia fibre from Acacia gum tree;
  • Glucomannan from Konjac root;
  • Lactulose found in dairy;
  • Partially hydrolysed guar gum found in guar bean;
  • Polydextrose; and
  • Xylooligosaccharides found in oats

Postbiotics

After utilising prebiotics, probiotics produce “postbiotics”, substances that are beneficial for the human host. These include short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), microbial fractions, functional proteins, organic acids and extracellular polysaccharides (EPS). There are numerous studies showing positive interaction between postbiotics and host immune system. For instance, Lactobacillus

 strains were found to inhibit harmful pathogens. Postbiotic butyrates have been found to enhance our gut barrier forming a strong fence and in turn strengthen our immune system

The bottom line is we need to feed our body with both prebiotics and probiotics. Ingestion of probiotics alone will not be sustainable. We need to feed our army with different prebiotics for them to thrive and build a good-bacteria community. Emma & Tom’s Probiotic+Prebiotic Juice range contains a combination of Lactobacillus casei strain 431 and Prebiotics Acacia Fibre and Chicory Inulin Fibre that support good digestion, immunity, and a thriving gut microbiome. Each serve of 250ml contains minimum of 1 billion probiotics and 4 grams of fibre.

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