The benefits of probiotics and prebiotics during pregnancy

Probiotics are live micro-organisms that have similar components to the good bacteria that resides in the intestines. When consumed, they help maintain an appropriate balance between the billions of good and bad bacteria found in the colon. Probiotics are also known as friendly bacteria because they keep the digestive system healthy and prevent the bad or harmful bacteria from spreading. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are indigestible food components that feed the probiotics and good bacteria and help them flourish.

Probiotics and prebiotics can be consumed naturally or via supplements and they are generally considered safe during pregnancy as systemic absorption by the body is extremely rare.

Are there benefits of consuming probiotics and prebiotics during pregnancy?

Some studies show that probiotics can help boost mom’s immune system, improve the maternal intestinal composition of microbiota, provide relief for gastrointestinal discomfort, prevent or treat colitis and maybe even bacterial vaginosis. Although there is still research needed as to what strain of probiotics is the most beneficial for each person, consuming a healthy balance of probiotics definitely helps protect the intestinal flora.

Other studies suggest that consumption of probiotics could reduce the possibility of babies developing eczema and gastrointestinal problems. They might also allow the good bacteria residing in the vagina to thrive and, therefore, help your baby develop a healthy immune system when born. There is still not enough evidence to make these claims, but ongoing research seems promising.

Natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics

Before you go out and buy some probiotic supplements, consider adding natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics to your diet. Here are some examples:

Probiotics
• Live cultured yogurt
• Kefir
• High quality dark chocolate (YUM!)
• Miso
• Kombucha tea
• Pickles

Prebiotics
• Bananas
• Asparagus
• Oats
• Soy beans
• Garlic
• Onions
• Artichokes

In conclusion, even if consuming probiotics and prebiotics do not have a direct benefit for the baby they’ll help keep your digestive system healthy. There is no harm in taking these supplements, just make sure to talk to your doctor beforehand.

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