Pre and Probiotics: A Brief Summary

Pre and Probiotics: A Brief Summary

Prebiotics and probiotics are powerful tools in regulating health. But if you feed a fresh, whole food the chances are you won’t need to supplement the food with pre and probiotics. Fetching Foods functions as a prebiotic and probiotic, as do most thoughtfully designed raw diets.

Did you know that most of your immune system is in the gut?   That means gut health is tightly linked to our overall health.  Humans have more bacterial cells—a lot more—than human cells. Bacteria live on the skin, in the nose and ears, and, most of all, in the gut.  The same for our pets.  We need to care for these bacteria because they help us live healthy lives.

“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The immune system is inside your body, and the bacteria are outside your body.” And yet they interact. For example, certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut. “That’s what we’re trying to understand—what are the types of antibodies being made, and how is the body trying to control the interaction between ourselves and bacteria on the outside?”

The complex community of bacteria and other microorganisms in your pet’s gut is called the microbiome. These bacteria all function together and they work just like any other organ. In fact, scientists call the microbiome “the forgotten organ.” Each microbiome is unique to each animal, like a fingerprint. That’s because every pet and human is exposed to a unique environment and diet creating a unique farm of gut bacteria.

What Are Prebiotics?
The easiest way to think of a prebiotic is it’s food for your microbiome.  Feed it the right things and the biome will be healthy and flourish.  Feed it poorly and the biome will be off, causing any number of issues because the wrong bacteria will grow, throwing off a healthy balance in the bacteria population.  Fiber’s good, sugar is bad.

Prebiotics are soluble, indigestible fiber contained in some foods. Not all fiber acts as a prebiotic. That’s because there are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.

When we talk about prebiotic fibers, we mean soluble fibers.  In the Just Cat, Premium Cat products we use psyllium husk which is a soluble fiber, or a prebiotic.  In the Only Dog products we use plant matter, like dandelion greens, which soluble fiber.

Feeding prebiotics to your pet feeds the probiotics in her gut. Prebiotics help grow, restore and maintain healthy gut flora which support your pet’s immune system. So that’s why you need to make sure you feed prebiotics to get the most out of any probiotic and the help the microbiome stay healthy.

What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live organisms that provide health benefits. These good bacteria are found in your pet’s gut, in whole, fresh foods, fermented foods and in supplements. 

Beneficial bacteria have a few key jobs in your pet’s body. They help:

  • Promote overall gut health
  • Digest food
  • Produce key vitamins (including vitamin K and B vitamins)
  • Produce serotonin and influence mood
  • Reduce the gut pH
  • Crowd out harmful bacteria
  • Produce enzymes
  • Produce fatty acids that discourage the growth of harmful bacteria
  • Support the immune system

Basically, nature’s approach to food safety is to keep a balance of microbes in the environment, the source of the food (protein and vegetable) and in the intestine. In a balanced ecosystem, all bacteria, including pathogenic (bad) bacteria actually play role in health and wellness. 

Take E.coli for example. Escherichia coli is usually labelled as a “bad” or pathogenic bacteria but it’s important to note E.coli is commonly found in the environment and gut of most animals and is completely normal in balanced amounts. There are hundreds of strains of E.coli and only a few of them are harmful. Some of them have even been shown to be useful as probiotics by reducing harmful strains of e. coli. Another study showed that certain strains were even able to inhibit the growth of malignant skin and bowel cancers!

Factors that may disturb the microbiome include poor diet, the use of antibiotics and other medications, underlying metabolic diseases, exposure to environmental toxins and even emotional stress. Animals that fall into one or all of these categories are good candidates for probiotic support along with any corrections their diet may need. 

Additionally, when we destroy the microbes in our homes through rigorous sanitation and don’t include foods with microbes in our diets, we are compromising our ability to populate our internal microbiome. This results in an increased risk of becoming ill from pathogenic bacteria, which now can run rampant in the absence of healthy bacteria.

Small changes to the species of bacteria living in your pet’s gut can have a noticeable impact on their host.  Large bacteria populations mean bacterial shifts will have a smaller impact on your dog’s or cat’s health. 

The difference is, when you whole feed fresh food like Fetching Foods, the food contains beneficial bacteria and is supporting your pets gut health so that the pathogenic bacteria doesn’t become a problem.  It is a probiotic and a food.  Healthy bacteria crowd out harmful bacteria.  Fetching Foods acts as a pre and probiotic by supplying food for a healthy gut and bringing healthy bacteria to the gut.  Your pet’s gut will grow bacteria that’s aligned to the food you feed.  That’s one reason why some dogs and cats need to transition from one food to another — they need time to grow the right flora and adapt to the new food.

Dogs and cats that are fed a raw diet do not usually need additional probiotic supplementation because a raw diet already contains the probiotics and vital enzymes the digestive system needs.  The probiotic in the food creates the flora best suited to digesting the food being eaten.  After all, your bacteria is what you eat.

Roberfroid M,  et al. Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits. Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug;104 Suppl 2:S1-63.

Holscher HD. Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut Microbes. 2017 Mar 4;8(2):172-184.

Roberfroid M,  et al. Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits. Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug;104 Suppl 2:S1-63.

Gut health is critical
Gut health is critical
Gut health is critical
Gut health is critical
Gut health is critical
Gut health is critical
Gut health is critical

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