Probiotics are naturally occurring and helpful bacteria that make up the "gut flora" found inside the digestive tract. Microbiologists have found between 300 and 400 different forms of said "good" bacteria inside the digestive system, and they work together to stave off any form of pathogen invasion. They also aid in keeping the immune system in check, maintaining the gut's stability, and helping nourish the body through amino acid, mineral, and vitamin absorption. Very literally, probiotic means "for life." It's actually quite beautiful within that context, especially considering the clinical manner in which probiotics are often spoken about; the disparity is even more apparent in light of how many of our routine habits put the health of our natural gut flora at risk.
Prebiotics are dietary fibers that cannot be digested, and probiotic forms of bacteria utilize them as fuel in order to grow and even proliferate. Prebiotics are made up of inactive organic material, and their primary function is to provide nourishment to the "good" bacteria that lines your gut. The term wasn't defined until 1995, so our understanding of prebiotics is still relatively young. Even so, innumerable studies have taken place that showcase just how important it is that an adequate degree of prebiotic intake be maintained. Doing so helps in a variety of manners, such as improving regularity of bowel movements, bolstering appetite and weight regulation, strengthening the immune system, and maximizing the absorption of useful minerals.
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