Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier Gut
You may have heard of prebiotics and probiotics, but do you know what they are? There has been nutrition research that has linked functional components of food to improvements in health – and prebiotics and probiotics are two of those components. Although these are often available in supplement form, it is not necessary to use any pills or potions to incorporate them into your diet. They can actually be found in many common foods.
Research continues to investigate the effectiveness, safety, and the levels needed to obtain health benefits. But what is known now shows they can be a positive addition to your diet and can yield many benefits for your health.
Prebiotics – the fuel for probiotics
Prebiotics are the naturally occurring, non-digestible parts of foods that are linked to the growth of the good bacteria in the gut. Simply put, they are fuel for probiotics. Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides. You know, those things! But instead of trying to pronounce or look up those lengthy words, you can easily include more prebiotics into your day by eating foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, artichokes, beans, and whole grain foods.
Probiotics – the “good” gut bacteria
Probiotics are the “good” bacteria like those naturally found in your gut. These live active cultures help to change or repopulate intestinal bacteria in order to rebalance gut flora. Probiotics have been linked to boosting immunity and has been used in treating irritable bowel syndrome. They can be found in fermented dairy foods like yogurt, kefir, or aged cheeses, which contain the bifidobacteria and lactobacilli strains of live cultures. Fermented non-dairy foods also contain helpful live cultures. These foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.
The Dynamic Duo
Since prebiotics are fuel for probiotics, they are best eaten together so they can work synergistically to boost your health. Products that combine them together are called synbiotics. On the menu, this means you can eat food pairings like yogurt topped with a sliced banana or stir-fried asparagus and tempeh.
Get a prebiotic and probiotic boost from this Broccoli-and-Kraut Slaw recipe from Cooking Light.