— Because Someone Had To Tell You

So what exactly are prebiotics, and does your body need them?

FOX

In a world of convenience foods and sedentary jobs, we constantly work to make sure we live healthy lives. We all dream of the magic diet and exercise formula that promises health, great skin, energy, and longevity. But now, scientists recommend we also use prebiotics to help us sleep and manage stress.

But what exactly is a prebiotic?

According to Science Daily, prebiotics are non-digestible fibers found in many plant sources, like oatmeal, onions, asparagus, legumes, and artichokes. Certain bacteria feed on these non-digestible fibers, and those bacteria can be good for our overall health.

But prebiotics should not be confused with probiotics, the good bacteria found in fermented foods.

Prebiotics and probiotics work together to promote a healthy gut. Prebiotics stimulate the activity and growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, a.k.a. probiotics. So the two work together to make a healthy gut. And while both are great for your health, prebiotic foods have some very specific benefits that we didn’t even realize.

Prebiotics help us sleep better and manage our stressful lives.

We all know we could use something to help us deal with our busy, fast-paced culture. According to a study from the University of Colorado Boulder, adding prebiotics to your diet can help aid in sleep, including sleep after a stressful incident. In the study, rats were given either regular food or food that included prebiotics. The rats that ingested prebiotics got more non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep, a very restorative kind of sleep, than the group without the supplement.

The authors of the study wrote, “Given that sufficient NREM sleep and proper nutrition can impact brain development and function and that sleep problems are common in early life, it is possible that a diet rich in prebiotics started in early life could help improve sleep, support the gut microbiota and promote optimal brain/psychological health.”

In the same study, scientists found that after the rats had been exposed to a stressor, the ones that ate the prebiotic-containing food spent more time in REM sleep, which is the type of sleep critical to recovering from stress. Basically, these powerful compounds help your body get the sleep it needs, which can, in turn, help you recover from stress.

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