Research continues to show that the health of our gut (microbiome) reaches far beyond what we ever thought.
The health of our gut is linked to just about every function in the body. If you want to improve your gut health, or maintain the good gut health that you may already have, there are two things you need to do.
- Consume probiotic foods
- Consume prebiotic foods
So what exactly are probiotics and prebiotics and why are they so important to your health? Well, let’s take a look at that together and clear up the confusion.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are micro-organisms (good bacteria) that live in our gut and are related either directly or indirectly to pretty much every function in our body… especially digestion.
In fact, bacteria outnumber the cells in our bodies by 10 to 1… so it’s really important to keep a healthy balance between the good bacteria and the not so good ones.
It’s quite amazing that such tiny bacteria can influence how we feel, think and protect our health.
Did you know?
We have two types of bacteria strains in our gut: Residential and Transient bacteria.
Residential bacteria strains are the bacteria that live in our gut naturally (that are native to us) and it’s important to have them re-populate to ensure optimal health.
Transient strains of bacteria pass through us (from probiotics or the probiotic rich foods we eat), but while they are there, they help the gut do its work and help keep us healthy.
Probiotics have a TON of benefits for us including:
- Strengthening your immune system (80% of the immune system is located in the gut tissue)
- Improve digestion
- Produces certain vitamins like B12
- Improve nutrient absorption
- Help produce hormones
- Increase energy levels and mood
- Improve skin
- Maintain an optimal metabolism
- Aid in weight loss
- And so much more
Some examples of probiotic foods are:
- Traditional yogurt
- Raw apple cider vinegar (with mother)
- True aged balsamic vinegar
Tip: In order to retain the beneficial organisms from fermented foods, as well as the enzymes these foods contain, it is important to not heat them past a temperature of 118 degrees F (48 C).
What are Pre-biotics?
Prebiotics are types of fibre like – inulin, resistant starch, GOS and FOS that help feed our good bacteria.
Prebiotics are basically non-digestible fibers that pass through our digestive system undigested because our bodies can’t fully break them down.
Prebiotics literally become the FOOD for the good bacteria that live within your gut! How cool is that!
You know how important “good bacteria” is for your body, so it’s important to keep them nourished and healthy so they can do their jobs and keep us healthy!
Prebiotics also help us feed and increase our residential bacteria.
Getting some prebiotic and probiotic foods into our diet on a regular basis is the key to optimal health, and fortunately that is quite easy to do.
Some examples of prebiotic foods are:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Citrus fruits
- Raw cacao
The list of prebiotic foods is going to expand as research continues to discover more and more foods containing elements that are prebiotic. It could turn out that all whole foods have some prebiotic benefit, but we don’t know that just yet.
What else do prebiotics do?
Prebiotics are not just food for our good gut bacteria. They also enhance the absorption of calcium and magnesium and are involved in appetite regulation as well as lipid metabolism.
As research continues, it is fascinating to learn how these simple substances in food, together with our good bacteria, are involved in a complex relationship to help keep us healthy.
For optimal benefit, probiotic and prebiotic foods are best consumed together, creating what is now being called “symbiotic” foods. This is easier than it may sound and can actually be allot of fun.
Consuming prebiotics with probiotics can be as simple as mixing banana slices into your yogurt, or serving sauerkraut with a meal that contains garlic and onions. Maybe this is why we traditionally constructed meals as we did? What do you think?
Let us know in the comments if you regularly consume probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Helping you make sense of it all
Want extra support for creating healthy habits?
I know it can seem overwhelming and confusing when you are starting out on your health journey, but it all starts with making small changes and knowing where to turn when you need a little guidance.
Would you like some guidance in setting realistic and attainable health goals?
If you are ready to make some changes regarding your health and don’t know where to start, I am here to help!
Click here and book a 30 Minute Free Coaching Call.
We can discuss your health concerns, health goals and some simple strategies and you can determine if a holistic approach is right for you.
- Inulin-Type Fructans: Functional Food Ingredients1,2 Marcel B. Roberfroid, 2007 American Society for Nutrition
- Health effects of probiotics and prebiotics A literature review on human studies, Henrik Andersson, Nils-Georg Asp, Åke Bruce, Stefan Roos, Torkel Wadström, Agnes E. Wold, Food and Nutrition Research, Vol 45, 2001
- Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: approaches for modulating the microbial ecology of the gut 1,2M David Collins and Glenn R Gibson, 1999 American Society for Clinical Nutrition
- Lowbush Wild Blueberries have the Potential to Modify Gut Microbiota and Xenobiotic Metabolism in the Rat Colon
- Alison Lacombe,Robert W. Li,Dorothy Klimis-Zacas,Aleksandra S. Kristo, Shravani Tadepalli,Emily Krauss, Ryan Young,Vivian C. H. Wu mail Published: June 28, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.006749
- A Systematic Screening of Total Antioxidants in Dietary Plants1, Bente L. Halvorsen et al, Institute for Nutrition Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo; Akershus University College, Bekkestua, Norway; †Agricultural University of Norway, Ås, Norway; and the ‡Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
- Current knowledge of the health benefits and disadvantages of wine consumption, John F. Tomera, Trends in Food Science & Technology – TRENDS FOOD SCI TECHNOL 01/1999; 10(4):129-138. DOI: 10.1016/S0924-2244(99)00035-7