What are prebiotic supplements?
Prebiotic supplements complement a healthy diet to stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Gut health is hugely important for all of us, but particularly for athletes looking to maximise physical output and boost their immune systems. Even non-professional athletes take prebiotics to improve their health – but not all supplements are good quality.
Like anything in this world, finding high-quality products to boost your health can be difficult. People often make the mistake of choosing quantity over quality, and as a result don’t receive the benefits they hoped for.
Supplements such as U ULTRA Immunity are ideal for athletes because they contain clinically-proven prebiotics – chicory inulin and beta glucans – in clinically-trialled doses that are easily absorbed for maximum effect.
Prebiotics vs probiotics: What's the difference?
It's easy to get confused between prebiotics and probiotics – and while they are both great for your digestive system there is a simple and important differentiation between the two.
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts that you consume through food like yoghurt, fermented foods (such as kimchi) and probiotic supplementation. People take probiotics to boost the good bacteria in their gut.
Prebiotics are components found in food that stimulate the growth activity of selected microorganisms, acting effectively like fertiliser to get your gut's healthy bacteria working better. Prebiotics usually contain helpful fibres such as beta glucans and chicory inulin, and can be found in fruits, vegetables and supplements that contain prebiotic fibre.
In short: prebiotics help your gut’s probiotics.
What do prebiotic supplements do?
Because prebiotics act as a stimulant for good bacteria in your gut, there are wide-ranging benefits of taking prebiotic supplements alongside a healthy diet. Your gastrointestinal tract is home to millions of bacteria – both good and bad – that feast on the food you eat and help break it down. Your body extracts nutrients, fibres, fats and more from your food.
While this process provides your body with the energy and substance to keep active, prebiotics also improve your gut health and immunity. That’s because all that bacteria in your intestinal tract helps the body activate T-cells that fight unwanted infections.
Prebiotic fibre is a big component in many foods and elite-level supplements that nourishes the good bacteria in your gut, and thus primes your body for a better immune defence.
Other great sources of prebiotics include:
Are prebiotic supplements good for you?
There are many scientifically proven benefits to taking prebiotic supplements alongside a healthy, balanced diet. A recent study in the peer-reviewed journal Current Developments in Nutrition found eight prominent health benefits to prebiotics that 'promote digestive health', including:
Increases in good bacteria Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli
Increases in calcium absorption to help combat osteoporosis
Decreases in harmful bacteria populations
Decreases in allergy risk
Effects on gut barrier permeability
Prebiotics were also found to enhance the immune system, provide allergy-protective effects (particularly against eczema), and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Indeed, as the journal states: "Increasing the bioavailability and absorption of calcium with the intake of prebiotics is a critical target for healthy bone structure."
Do prebiotic supplements work?
Prebiotic supplements work alongside a balanced and healthy diet. Prebiotics are proven to be good for gut health and immunity, but the benefits depend on the quality of your supplements.
Low-quality supplements don’t feature the required levels of ingredients such as beta glucans and chicory inulin required to substantially benefit from taking them. However, a high-quality, plant based supplement like U ULTRA Immunity is proven to enhance your gut health and immunity response.
How prebiotic supplements support gut health and immunity: Conclusion
There are many ways to improve your immunity – from a healthy diet and good sleeping patterns to vaccines. Prebiotic supplements form part of your overall physical wellbeing by nourishing and stimulating the probiotics in your gut that support your immune response.
This leads to an improved gut health that has wider benefits of combating disease such as diabetes and helping to keep you in better overall physical condition.