Have you heard about probiotics and prebiotics? Do you know someone taking probiotics or eating yogurt because they heard it was good for them? Probiotics is a more common word than prebiotics, however, both are beneficial to improving our gut health. Nutrition research is ongoing in this area to determine the effectiveness and safety of these food components. The health benefits of currently available probiotics and prebiotics have not been conclusively proved. So be aware of dietary supplements and always check with your medical doctor before taking them for safety reasons.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are mostly high fiber foods that feed and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut. That’s right. Not all bacteria are “bad.” The role of prebiotics is to improve the balance of these microorganisms which may lead to a healthier digestive system.
Prebiotics to eat now!
As I mentioned before prebiotics are typically foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables. Here are 10 prebiotics to start stocking your pantry and refrigerator with:
5. Jerusalem Artichokes
6. Dandelion greens
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to maintain or improve the “good” bacteria in your body. Probiotics are in foods and dietary supplements. Not all probiotics are the same. Different strains vary in the ways it affects our bodies. There’s promising evidence this “good” bacteria may help prevent or treat a variety of diseases especially abdominal related issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea.
Probiotics to eat now!
To get more probiotics in your daily meals seek out fermented dairy foods which contain live cultures (for example, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). Here are a few you may already have at home.
1. Aged cheeses (gouda, parmesan, gruyere)
2. Yogurt (Activia, Yoplait Original, Stonyfield)
Lactose intolerant? There are non-dairy foods which also have beneficial cultures. A few examples:
6. Cultured non-dairy yogurts
In the United States, dietary supplements do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do and most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements. Different bacterial strains in our body vary in its effectiveness. There’s no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you’re taking them for. Health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so please consult a health care practitioner, including a registered dietitian nutritionist, familiar with probiotics to discuss your options. As always, inform your primary care medical doctor of all the dietary supplements you are taking.