You've probably heard about the importance of probiotics countless times. And it's true! Taking a good probiotic is a great idea for everyone, especially those with an MTHFR variant. However, are you aware of the importance of a prebiotic as well? In this post, I'll give a quick breakdown of the differences between a probiotic and a prebiotic, as well as how each can benefit you.
Intestinal permeability (also fondly referred to as "leaky gut syndrome") is a huge problem in our modern society. Leaky gut syndrome occurs when our gut lining becomes compromised. When this happens, it's theorized that toxins can pass into the bloodstream. This eventually leads to a whole host of problems, ranging from food sensitivities to autoimmune diseases.
There are many factors that contribute to the development of leaky gut syndrome, including overuse of antibiotics, processed foods, alcohol consumption, and stress. Those with an MTHFR variant are also at a higher risk of developing this condition due to a variety of factors connected to poor methylation.
Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome can include:
Bloating, gas, cramping after meals
Chronic diarrhea and/or constipation
Eczema and/or acne
The development of autoimmune disease
While there are many tools that can help to heal your gut lining, having a healthy and diverse gut flora is of utmost importance. Gut flora refers to the trillions of bacteria that live in your intestines. Not all bacteria is bad! In fact, it's of utmost importance to have lots of "friendly" bacteria living there. That will help your body in so many ways, including having healthy digestion, a strong immune system, and even fighting depression and anxiety.
Our gut floras can become imbalanced for many reasons. This is referred to as gut dysbiosis. In other words, "bad" bacteria are now running the show. Some contributing factors include being born via c-section, being bottle fed as a baby, overuse of antibiotics, an unhealthy diet, excessive sugar consumption, and too much stress. However, all is not lost. That's where probiotics and prebiotics come to the rescue.
Probiotic refers to the healthy bacteria that the gut needs to thrive. You can receive these live cultures through a supplement or through food sources. Most of us are familiar with probiotics and their importance. A probiotic supplement is beneficial to take every day, but is of critical importance after completing an antibiotic. Seeking Health offers several excellent probiotic products.
Probiotic Food Sources: Kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, miso, tempeh, apple cider vinegar
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are not as well-known but equally important! Think of prebiotics as food for probiotics. More specifically, they are a type of fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria provided in the probiotic, in order to help them to grow, thrive, and multiply. While probiotics are actually live bacterial cultures, prebiotics are like their "Miracle Grow!" Prebiotics can also be acquired through supplementation and food sources. Check out Seeking Health's prebiotic supplement product.
Prebiotic Food Sources: Garlic, onion, asparagus, leeks, dandelion greens, chicory root, apples, bananas
I recommend making an effort to incorporate both food sources into your diet, even if you utilize supplementation. Although I believe in the power of supplementation, nothing can replace the healing benefits of a healthy diet! Healing leaky gut syndrome can be a long process, but addressing probiotics and probiotics is a great place to start. We cover how to restore gut health in detail in Hey MTHFR Academy.
To take a deeper, guided dive into how to thrive with an MTHFR variant, check out Hey MTHFR Academy. This 16-week online course will give you the tools you need to harness the power of epigenetics and befriend your MTHFR gene.