Probiotics Vs. Prebiotics (And Why a MTHFR Needs Both)

You've probably heard about the importance of probiotics countless times. And it's true! Taking a good probiotic is so healthy for everyone, and especially those with the MTHFR mutation. However, are you aware of the importance of a prebiotic as well? In this post, I'll give a simple 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 and leads to a whole host of problems, ranging from food sensitivities to autoimmune diseases. There are many factors that contribute to leaky gut syndrome, including overuse of antibiotics, processed foods, alcohol consumption, and stress. Of course, those with the MTHFR mutation are at a higher risk of developing this intestinal permeability.

While there are many things that can help to heal your gut, having a healthy 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. This means that "bad" bacteria is running the show. Some contributing factors include being born via c-section, being bottle fed as a baby, use of antibiotics, an unhealthy diet, excessive sugar consumption, and stress. You may have gut dysbiosis if you experience gastrointestinal distress after eating, food sensitivities, fatigue, headaches, skin rashes, anxiety and/or depression, or poor immunity. That's where probiotics and prebiotics come to the rescue.

Probiotics: A probiotic is a supplement that provides the body with healthy bacteria to bring the gut flora into balance. Most of us are familiar with probiotics and their importance. A probiotic is beneficial to take every day, but is of critical importance after completing an antibiotic.

Probiotic Food Sources: Kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, miso, tempeh, apple cider vinegar

Prebiotics: A prebiotic supplement is a type of fiber that "feeds" the healthy bacteria provided in the probiotic, in order to help them to grow, thrive, and multiply. Think of a prebiotic as the gift that keeps on giving!

Prebiotic Food Sources: Garlic, onion, asparagus, leeks, dandelion greens, chicory root, apples, bananas

So there you have it. If a probiotic is like the plants in your garden, a prebiotic is like Miracle Grow! I recommend making an effort to incorporate both food sources in your diet, as well as supplementation. There are supplements out there that offer both probiotics and prebiotics, all in one product, if you want to simplify.

Were you aware of the importance of both probiotics and prebiotics? Have you suffered from leaky gut syndrome and/or gut dysbiosis? Tell us about it!

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