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What Does Synbiotic Mean?

By Tyler Woodward

Synbiotics are believed to be the latest and greatest innovation in the world of digestive health. Synbiotic means ‘together with life’, and are a combination of of both prebiotics and probiotics designed to work synergistically to enhance their effectiveness. 

What Are Prebiotics?:

What Are Prebiotics

Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that help to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut microbiome. A prebiotic can be defined as a compound that is resistant to digestion through the human digestive system. Prebiotics must be able to resist degradation from our stomach acid and the digestive enzymes we produce, so they can make it into the colon. Once the prebiotics make it into the colon they can be fermented by the bacteria   that naturally exist in the large intestine into short-chain fatty acids. 

Although prebiotics are found naturally in our foods they are typically in too small of quantities to have significant effects in the digestive tract. For this reason most prebiotics are synthetically manufactured to produce a high enough quantity to have biological effects. There are a number of different types of prebiotics including:

  1. Inulin
  2. Resistant Starch
  3. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)
  4. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
  5. Trans-galacto-oligosaccharides (TGOS)
  6. Xylooligosaccharides (XOS)
  7. Isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMOS)

Current research appears to show that the various types of prebiotic fibers are digested by different types of bacteria in the large intestine and therefore exert a number of different effects in the body. For example, galacto-oligosaccharides stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacillus bacteria, both of which have antimicrobial effects, helping to destroy “bad” or pathogenic bacteria in the intestine. Other types of prebiotics help to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon.

Prebiotics have also been shown to have some unique benefits including:

What Are Probiotics?:

What Are Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that help to improve the composition of the gut microbiome through either killing harmful bacteria or repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria.  The most beneficial probiotics generally function through lowering the pH of the lower intestine which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. Some of the most common families of probiotics are:

  • Lactobacilli
  • Bifidobacteria
  • Acidophilus
  • Enterococcus
  • Saccharomyces
  • Steptococcus

Probiotics have also been shown to have some unique benefits including:

  • May Improve Overall Digestive Health † - One of the most sought after benefits from probiotics is the improvement in digestion, motility and nutrient absorption and probiotics seem to deliver. Probiotics have repeatedly been shown to decrease transit time, improve gut motility, and can help to alleviate constipation. 
  • May Beneficially Alter The Gut Microbiome † - Although data is conflicting there is some evidence to suggest that probiotic bacteria are able to favorably change the composition of the bacteria in your gut, meaning more “good bacteria” in your gut. This may also help to increase the amount of nutrients absorbed during digestion.
  • Increased Production Of Short-Chain Fatty Acids † - When undigested food particles reach the bacteria of the large intestine they’re often able to ferment them into short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids that are produced including: butyric, acetic and propionic acid are known to have very beneficial effects including anti-microbial

Synbiotics:

Synbiotics

Synbiotics are believed to be the best of both worlds and combine both prebiotics with probiotics in order to maximize their effectiveness. The combination of the prebiotic fibers providing fuel for the probiotic bacteria to ferment seems to significantly increase the effectiveness of both. One study found that a synbiotic drastically increased HDL cholesterol levels, the “good” cholesterol” improving the ratio of LDL:HDL cholesterol. Another study found similar results, but through directly lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol. Other studies have found:

Utilizing this potent combination seems to be the best way to maximize the effectiveness of both prebiotics and probiotics which is why we recommend our Gut Health Stack.

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