Did you know that the bacteria that lives in our body outnumbers our body’s cells 10 to 1? These bacteria are known as your “microbiome.” Most of these microorganisms are found in your digestive tract, and they are essential for your overall health. Research links this beneficial gut bacteria to improved digestion, weight loss, enhanced immune function, and a lower risk of many chronic diseases. A balanced microbiome fights inflammation and keeps your immune system working in tip top shape. This gut balance starts with probiotics and prebiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that replenish our microbiome with healthy cultures while helping to control the growth of harmful bacteria in our gut. Probiotics may reduce the risk of infections and illness, and are thought to play a role in preventing and treating certain diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. There are many different types of probiotics, but the most common are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Although they are available as supplements, these live bacteria are found in many foods including yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses. Make sure to look for the “live and active cultures” seal on yogurt and kefir packages. You can also find probiotics in fermented foods like tempeh, miso, pickled foods, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
How about prebiotics?
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Also known as “functional fibers” or “fermentable fibers,” they include inulin, oligofructose, resistant starch and beta-glucan. Prebiotic fibers are found in artichokes, asparagus, whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, and soybeans.
Probiotics and prebiotics work in synergy to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Probiotics are the good bacteria while prebiotics are the good bacteria promoters. Your gut needs both of them to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Serve up some gut-health at your table with these symbiotic probiotic-prebiotic pairings.
Probiotic + Prebiotic = A Health Gut
- Yogurt + sliced bananas
- Kefir + kiwifruit smoothie
- Tempeh + artichokes
- Miso soup + asparagus
- Kimchi + quinoa
- Sauerkraut + barley
- Swiss cheese + whole grain crackers
- Yogurt dressing + spinach salad