Why Probiotics and Prebiotics Are Good for Your "Second Brain"
By Barbara Koltuska-Haskin, Ph.D.

Probiotics and prebiotics can help keep you healthy.

Probiotics are the “good bacteria” in our gut. Our gut health depends on the amount and diversity of “good bacteria,” essential for the proper working of our intestines and the entire body. Good bacteria in our gut fights the “bad bacteria” that gets there and this is why we can stay healthy. When we age or have medical problems, especially if we have to take antibiotics, the amount of good bacteria diminishes and the amount of bad bacteria tends to rise, which can cause more health problems. Therefore, we need to supplement the good bacteria in our intestinal system with probiotics.

You can do this by eating probiotic foods which are certain types of food that contain live microorganisms (“good bacteria”) that support digestive health and keep our gut healthy, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kambucha and/or other drinks. You can also buy probiotics in the form of a pill in every health food store and in most grocery stores. Make sure the pill has a variety of good bacteria strains and that the bacteria is present in each capsule or pill up to the end of the expiration date. Remember to always read the labels before you buy anything you want to eat or drink and always talk to your doctor about taking any kind of supplements, especially if you are taking prescription medications.

What are prebiotics?

Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

Image by Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

Prebiotics are not the same as probiotics. In addition to taking probiotics to increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut, we also need to eat prebiotics (special plant fiber) that are in fermented food because prebiotics are the best food for our good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics make the good bacteria healthy and happy and this also increases the overall health of the host of the gut, which is you and me. All health food stores now sell fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers and other vegetables, but pickles are easy to prepare at home for a much lower price, take almost no time and they’re delicious. There are many pickled food recipes on the internet, so you can find out some you may like and experiment with them.

Why probiotics and prebiotics are good for the “second brain”?

Your brain is a miraculous part of your body. Much contemporary research proves that brain functioning can be improved at any age and in most circumstances if done in the right way. Proper nutrition is essential for your body, brain and your well-being. Research data indicates that our gut produces more than 90 percent of serotonin, the “feel good” substance in your brain, much more than our brain produces (Yano, J.M. et al. 2015). That’s why it’s sometimes called “the second brain.” Your gut’s health is also essential for your immune system. Therefore, in my opinion, brain health needs to start with gut health. All dietary fiber is good for your gut bacteria. Therefore, in addition to probiotics and prebiotics, remember to eat plenty of greens, vegetables, and legumes.


About the Author

Barbara Koltuska-Haskin, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist in private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico with over 30 years of clinical experience, and the author of How My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding It Better and Keeping It Healthy. Her book has won 2 International Book Awards and 5 National Book Awards.

Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin has received her first foreign translation. How My Brain Works was recently translated into Polish and published in Poland.


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