Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
In this instance we are talking about gut health, what the difference is between probiotics and prebiotics, how they benefit us and how we can obtain them from our diet.
Probiotics: these are the good live gut bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. They provide numerous health benefits that we will cover later.
Prebiotics: these substances are obtained mostly from non-digestible plant fibre. The probiotic bacteria in our guts eat this plant fibre.
Collectively the gut bacteria known as gut flora or microbiota perform many important functions in the body so eating balanced amounts of both probiotics and prebiotics help ensure that we keep our gut microbiota healthy.
The good bacteria in our digestive tract help protect us from harmful bacteria and fungi, reducing inflammation, aiding our immune system, improving depression, helping addressing obesity, forming Vitamin K and helping reduce the risk of cancer amongst other health benefits.
Avoid buying expensive prebiotic supplements but instead make a change in your diet in order to boost your prebiotic and probiotic intake. But eating the wrong foods like high sugar and high fat foods can feed the bad bacteria in our gut and give them an advantage over the good bacteria. Excessive alcohol consumption also adversely affects our gut biome.
So what are the right sorts of food to support a healthy gut? Well eating the following foods that are good sources of non-digestible fibre will boost your prebiotics: oats, bananas, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, legumes, beans and peas.
There are also many probiotic foods that naturally contain helpful bacteria such as high quality plain yoghurt with live cultures. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, some pickles and pickled vegetables are other great sources. However if you are going to eat fermented foods for their probiotic benefits make sure they are not pasteurised as this process kills the bacteria.
Some of these foods can also be considered synbiotic because they contain both beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic source of fibre for the bacteria to feed on. Good examples of synbiotic foods are cheese, kefir and sauerkraut.
So, go with your gut!!