Probiotics and probiotic foods have become trendy buzzwords, and many people now realize that probiotic bacteria have a decisive influence on our health. But what exactly do these microorganisms do in our intestines, and how is this important for our well-being - physically and mentally? There is even a connection between the types of bacteria and weight gain or loss. All these connections and importance of different bacteria strains in our intestines are explained in more detail in this Supz article. It is limited here in the text to microorganisms in relation to the human intestine, that the topic would otherwise go beyond the scope.
Probiotics and prebiotics - what is the difference?
The term probiotics is initially limited to a preparation of living microorganisms that have a health benefit for the host in which they are used (1). In this case, for example, it is preparations with intestinal bacteria for humans, which colonize the intestines and thus support the human organism. Here in the article, the term is used more generally and also serves as a synonym for good intestinal bacteria - even if this is not technically 100% correct. In contrast to probiotics are the so-called antibiotics, which are substituted to kill pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria in the intestine and other places in the body. However, in the process, some of the health-promoting bacteria are always destroyed as well.
Antibiotics ultimately have an inhibitory effect on the metabolism of the bacteria they attack, thus making them they are not necessarily living organisms themselves, but may be made up of synthetic substances or natural toxins (2). These are mostly used as medicinal preparations. By the way, antibiotics are used far too often by orthodox physicians in the blue. If any pathogenic agents in the body are assumed, they are often simply prescribed, even if it is not even certain that a bacterial infection is causative.
Many patients do not know that antibiotics have no effect against viruses, fungi and other causes. Thus, with often the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, part of the important microbiome is destroyed, on the other hand, the pathogen is not eliminated at the same time. This leads to problems with the intestine and the immune system.
Natural antibiotics as a supplement or alternative
There are also more natural substances that have an antibiotic effect, these are less aggressive and do not destroy the good intestinal bacteria at the same time. In case of strong acute infections, these are of course not always sufficient, but they are well suited as prophylaxis: garlic, virgin coconut oil, ginger and many other foods contain certain plant substances that can achieve this effect in the oral mucosa and in the intestine.
Prebiotics are indigestible food fibres (also known as dietary fibres) that have a positive effect on the intestinal flora and the organism. They can be colloquially named as the food for the good intestinal bacteria in connection with the intestinal bacteria or probiotics. Prebiotic foods have many other positive effects on the intestinal mucosa, blood sugar levels and general digestion.
A short excursion into plant and nutritional science …
… helps here for the understanding: Dietary fibre is the colloquial word for cellulose. Cellulose is a polysaccharide from plants, a simpler word for it would be plant starch, i.e. the storage form of sugar in plants. It therefore belongs to the carbohydrates. However, cellulose cannot be broken down by the human intestine, so the sugar it contains hardly reaches our bloodstream, if at all. Fibre, dietary fibre, cellulose, and prebiotics can therefore be equated here, they all summarize the type of carbohydrate that plants store but can hardly be broken down by the human intestine. They are essential for the survival of our good intestinal bacteria (which will be described in more detail below), which are contained in probiotic foods, among others, and they can exert their protective effect on our immune system and our intestinal mucosa. If prebiotic foods are missing from our diet, eventually, this will become a problem for our intestines.
These prebiotic foods promote healthy gut bacteria.
Recommended prebiotic foods are primarily vegetables, nuts, seeds and isolated specific fibre such as inulin, acacia fibre or psyllium husks. Whole fruits also contain fibre, which can feed our gut bacteria and keep probiotics alive. Not only to keep blood sugar stable, but also to take in enough prebiotics, fruit juices are a very poor choice.
However, one to two whole fruits daily (e.g., an apple and a banana) should not be exceeded either because of the sugar content. Vegetables can be eaten in much higher amounts, as they contain hardly any sugar. Berry fruit is also highly recommended, it has a low sugar content and a lot of fibre in relation to the carbohydrates that can be absorbed by humans. So, berries are also one of the favoured prebiotic foods.
One myth that unfortunately still persists is that whole grains are super for the gut and rich in fibre.
However, this is only partly true and the disadvantages of the cereal outweigh the desired effect: Cereals containing gluten are one of the main problems for the intestinal mucosa and can lead to leaky gut syndrome in the medium or long term if they are consumed constantly and at the same time a diet low in vegetables and protein. In particular, wheat is to be regarded here as the strongest issue. Unfortunately, it is not true that whole grains are better because it is precisely in the husk of the grain that most of the plant's anti-nutrients are found, as these are supposed to protect it from predators.
The fibre content of whole grains is somewhat higher than that of white flour products, but compared to foods that are significantly higher in fibre, it is still not too low.
An exception among grains is oats, which have few problematic antinutrients but at least just under 10 g of fibre to about 60 g of carbohydrate (per 100 g). Oats are here as recommended prebiotic food.
Pre- and probiotics for weight loss? What's in it?
Those who normally eat a lot of wheat flour products and empty carbohydrates (low-fibre carbohydrates such as pasta and co.) can support weight loss, or body fat reduction, through a more prebiotic diet and probiotic foods due to different modes of action with:
Instead of eating a plate of wheat pasta with cheese, one could eat two fried eggs, a few potatoes and a large portion of vegetables. The pasta plate would namely shoot the blood sugar up and short time by its sinking due to a high insulin distribution, later tiredness and hot hunger attacks release. As a result, more is automatically eaten than the body needs.
On the other hand, the intestine is irritated and insufficiently supplied with probiotic fibre, which supports the probiotics in the intestine, triggers a faster feeling of satiety, contributes to the formation of the intestinal mucosa and thus triggers the right signals in the body to eat the proper things at the next meal.
So, a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, and berries can be a good way to lose weight.
Furthermore, the specific use of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, coconut, kefir and with specific prebiotics, such as acacia fibre and psyllium husks helps the intestines to work healthily and thus the body to release the right hormones for a feeling of satiety and happiness. After taking antibiotics, the intake of probiotics and prebiotics is imperative. Supz's Plantz Protein Plus is the perfect product for this, as it contains various probiotics such as lactobacilli, prebiotics in the form of psyllium husk and acacia fibre, and enzymes that aid in digestion.
What are the intestinal bacteria? Good vs. bad
Bacteria in the oral mucosa and intestines can belong to the beneficial, neutral or harmful category. The "good" intestinal bacteria, i.e. the beneficial bacteria, are essential for maintaining our health and the function of our hormone and immune system. The "bad" pathogenic bacteria - if they gain the upper hand - can trigger symptoms and diseases that are very far-reaching. The "neutral" intestinal bacteria coexist with the good and bad ones in a symbiosis, but some of them can develop into pathogens under certain conditions. This happens predominantly when there are too few "good" ones such as lactic acid bacteria, which are contained in probiotic foods, among other things.
The problem can, of course, be combated with a probiotic, but a change in lifestyle and especially diet is almost more important.
If you only put their predator food in the house that is fully occupied by predators, it is also of no use to put the "good guys" in the house that is already damaged. First, the house should be cleaned up and repaired, then the "good" intestinal bacteria – i.e. probiotics - should be introduced. After that, probiotic and prebiotic foods should continue to be on the menu; otherwise, the predators will soon be at it again.
As already mentioned, the good intestinal bacteria include lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria and Lactococci, which still have numerous sub-strains, are particularly important for a healthy microbiome in the intestine: the lactic acid bacteria ensure an intact immune system, promote healthy skin and mucous membranes and have an important influence on neurotransmitter release, especially on the signals that give us feelings of happiness. Lactic acid bacteria are also the probiotics that people with a western, modern diet lack. This is primarily because too few probiotic foods containing lactic acid bacteria are consumed. Overconsumption of sugar (glucose) unfortunately causes these probiotic bacteria to suffer. They also lack the important prebiotic foods, or the dietary fibres that serve as food for the lactic acid bacteria.
Using probiotics correctly for the gut and for weight loss
The microbiome relies on a regular consumption of probiotic foods. The Bio an irritable bowel syndrome, a mixture of probiotics is an important supplement, but other intestinal diseases and depression are also linked to a diet poor in probiotic foods. This makes the supplementation of probiotics usually an unavoidable step because for the first effect, the probiotic foods in the diet are usually not enough in case of a severe deficiency. Even after stopping antibiotics, the microbiome is in a strong imbalance, so that the intake of probiotics is absolutely necessary. Probiotic bacteria are - as already mentioned above - contained in Plantz Protein Plus from Supz. The product is therefore wonderfully suitable in the aforementioned
If you have digestive problems, you should definitely consume many prebiotic foods first, but also probiotic foods. By the way: This can initially lead to a bloated belly, as the intestines first have to adjust to the new substances, but this should no longer be a problem in the medium term. You can definitely improve the intestinal flora with probiotic foods and lots of dietary fibre.
Build up your intestinal flora - this is how probiotic foods help you to do it
There are many probiotic foods that should be part of your regular diet. Especially those that contain lots of lactic acid bacteria should be consumed frequently: Fresh sauerkraut and kimchi and other fermented cabbage contain high numbers of various of these probiotic bacteria. They are among the absolute top probiotic foods. However, it is important that these products come from the refrigerated section and not from the ordinary shelf. Unfortunately, for this longer shelf life, probiotic products are pasteurised and the heat destroys some of the lactic acid bacteria. The same applies to heating/cooking at home, so these probiotic foods should definitely be eaten raw.
Other probiotic foods include kefir, cheese, yoghurt, butter, and buttermilk - but caution is advised with dairy products in general: Cow's milk products in particular can also be causative for leaky gut syndrome and a damaged intestinal mucosa.
Butter is usually not a problem, but sheep's, goat's and buffalo milk products are much better tolerated by most people. Meanwhile, coconut kefir is also available in selected organic markets; it contains many good lactic acid bacteria and is also one of the very compatible probiotic foods.
Conclusion on probiotic foods & probiotics
Probiotic foods are often missing from today's diets, which can lead to unwanted weight gain, skin and intestinal problems, an immune system that is not intact, cravings and mood swings. Probiotic bacteria are important for maintaining a healthy digestive and immune system, which are ultimately crucial for our health and a good quality of life. Probiotics can be taken additionally via supplements, but should also be part of the daily diet as probiotic foods. The same applies to prebiotic foods: fibre in the form of vegetables, soft fruits, one to two sweeter fruits daily, nuts, oatmeal and seeds keep the probiotic bacteria alive. These are found in probiotic foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, or other fermented products.
(1) Doccheck Flexikon: Probiotika [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Probiotika; 14.01.2023]
(2) Doccheck Flexikon: Antibiotika [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Antibiotika; 16.01.2023]