When it comes to the overall well-being of our bodies, gut health takes the top spot. Commonly referred to as the "second brain" due to its intricate connection to the brain, our gut plays a vital role in maintaining the healthy and flowing state of our bodies.
We often hear about the benefits of taking probiotics and prebiotics to support our gut health, but with so many recommendations on the market, it can be easy to get confused about which ones to take, when to take them, and how to choose the ones that best fit our body’s needs.
It could all be a lot simpler if we knew the functions and the role each played in our body, so maybe it’s time we break down the do’s, don’ts, and how’s of taking probiotics vs. prebiotics so you can always trust and care for your gut.
WHAT DOES THE GUT DO?
The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These microorganisms help break down food, produce essential vitamins and nutrients, and protect the gut from harmful pathogens. When the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is disrupted, it can lead to a variety of health issues, including digestive problems, autoimmune disorders, and even mental health issues.
Research has linked gut health to immune function since a healthy gut microbiome helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections. Gut health has also been linked to mental health — since the gut and the brain are so closely connected, the gut microbiome can produce neurotransmitters that impact mood and behavior. Meaning, a well-balanced gut can equal a well-balanced you.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS?
While probiotics and prebiotics may sound similar, they have distinct roles in promoting gut health.
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest. These natural compounds are commonly found in foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like resistant starch and fiber. Prebiotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut, promoting their growth and overall health. By feeding these beneficial microorganisms, prebiotics help keep the gut microbiome in balance and support optimal digestive and immune health.
On the other hand, probiotics are live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, that are beneficial to the gut microbiome. Consider these to be the good bacteria that live in the gut (or your gut’s best friend). These beneficial microorganisms can help promote healthy digestion, boost immune function, and even influence your overall wellness. Probiotics work by maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. By supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria, probiotics help keep the gut microbiome in check and support optimal immune function and normal inflammation response.
BEST FOOD TO FIND PREBIOTICS:
- Legumes, beans, and peas
- Dandelion greens
BEST FOOD TO FIND PROBIOTICS:
- Yogurt (with live and active cultures)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Aged cheeses
PROBIOTICS VS. PREBIOTICS: WHICH IS BETTER?
It’s not so much that one is better than the other, but rather that incorporating both prebiotics and probiotics into your diet through food and supplements can help the two work in harmony with each other.
Prebiotics function as nourishment for the good bacteria in your gut, while probiotics are the actual bacteria themselves. When consumed in either supplement or food form, prebiotics and probiotics work hand in hand to promote a healthy gut.
So, is it possible to consume prebiotics and probiotics simultaneously? Absolutely! You can find them as a combined supplement. While probiotics are capable of functioning independently, incorporating prebiotics may enhance their effectiveness, but prebiotics alone may not provide significant benefits.
TRY THESE SUPPLEMENTS:
Culturelle Pro Strength Daily Probiotics
Garden of Life Probiotics for Women
Love Wellness Good Girl Probiotics
Rae Pre + Probiotic Dietary Supplement Capsules for Gut Health
HUM Nutrition Gut Instinct Probiotic Supplement
With the right combination of prebiotics and probiotics, you’ll be on your way to smoother digestion, a stronger gut, and boosted immune system in no time.
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Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
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