Written by Aspen Anderson, Director of Retailer and Consumer Relations
It seems more and more these days, you hear the words ‘probiotic’ and ‘prebiotic’. You may have a vague idea of what they mean, and that they are healthy for you or your pet, but do you know why they matter so much?
First, let’s explain the difference between pre- and pro-biotics. Pre-biotics are, essentially, a type of fiber that feeds the healthy gut bacteria (probiotics) in our digestive tract. So the Prebiotics are the fuel, and the probiotics are the car, if you will. Prebiotics are generally fibrous materials that do not digest in the stomach, but pass undigested to the gut, where probiotics feed on them and use them for fuel. Inulins are one of the most important pre-biotics, and one of the few that meet the leading expert’s definition of the most complete form of prebiotics. Derived from Chicory Root, Steve’s Real Food contains inulins, a supplement that feeds the good bacteria in the gut.
Probiotics, the healthy bacteria in your gut, keep your digestive system in check, balancing bad bacteria, promoting good digestion, and performing crucial functions that are just beginning to be understood. Thousands of strains have been discovered, and more are being discovered every year. Thus far the balance of gut bacteria and positive probiotics have been linked to either contributing to or helping alleviate symptoms from IBS, allergies, lactose intolerance, immunity, anxiety, colic, constipation, cavities, eczema, and more. Problems as far reaching from mental illness and Chrone’s disease are currently being evaluated to see how probiotics can lead to new treatment options.
For pets and humans alike, our high-carb, high sugar, and high dairy, processed diets leave our digestive systems in a state of chronic inflammation. The number of diseases that can be linked to inflammation are numerous as well – ADD, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dental issues, cancer, thyroid issues, obesity, and more. Eating processed, high carb foods causes irritation in the stomach lining, which weakens the intestinal lining, allowing more toxins, yeast, etc. to pass through. As this trend continues, the cell’s ability to process them becomes overloaded and worn out. After years our pets’ bodies being stressed by the food they eat, they are left with a weakened immune system and a broken digestive system. There are dozens of diseases that have been proven to have inflammation at the root. Unfortunately, Western medicine focuses on suppressing the immune response to reduce inflammation, rather than addressing the causes of inflammation themselves.
Inflammation and probiotics are closely tied, because inflammation begins in the gut, and that is where treatment begins, as well. If the bacteria in our gut is out of balance, inflammation can run rampant. Certain strains of probiotics can strengthen the gut barrier, lower inflammatory response, balance our pH levels, enhance mineral absorption, and neutralize harmful bacteria in our gut that can lead to illness and produce toxins. Probiotics can also help make other minerals and nutrients more bio-available, increasing our body’s ability to absorb important building blocks for good health.
Prebiotics can be found in more than just chicory root, though this is the best source of them. Fibrous foods are the best sources, and it is most bioavailable when raw. Things like Garlic, Dandelion Greens, Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Wheat Bran, and Bananas are all great sources of prebiotics.
Probiotics can be found most readily in fermented foods – pickled vegetables, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt. Our goat milk yogurt contains 6 strains of wonderfully healthy bacteria:
- Lactobacillus Delbrueckii
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus
- Streptocccus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium Lactis
Raw Goat Milk (unpasteurized, like the goat milk in all our products) is another wonderful source of probiotics, and while federal regulations make raw milk illegal, the health benefits are numerous for those who can find and purchase it from local farmers. Those that can access it enjoy over 200 strains of probiotics that are naturally occurring, and important prebiotics that feed and keep the probiotics going. Add in the digestive enzymes found in raw food, and you have incredible building blocks to promote good gut and digestive health.