You’ve probably heard all the buzz on the benefits of “probiotics.” Whether it’s incorporating them as a supplement form into your diet, or naturally like with Kombucha or yogurt, probiotic foods get all the attention! Let’s not forget about their counterpart, prebiotic foods! Prebiotic foods play a big part in achieving a healthy gut, something that everyone should be working toward in order to keep you feeling good from the inside-out. When diving into the research behind it, gut bacteria plays an integral part in your overall immunity, as well as in metabolic functions, and even your mental health.
When it comes to your diet, there are a few important factors to consider when thinking about and understanding your gut health. First, the fact that your GI tract (aka your gut) is filled with bacteria that help you digest food and keep your intestines healthy means it’s super important to give it the love and attention it deserves. The second, is that your diet and lifestyle play a part in how well this system works internally. Foods that help keep your gut bacteria healthy can be divided into two categories – prebiotics and probiotics. They work in tandem to keep your gut healthy and happy – hence, why it’s so important to include both, while maintaining a balanced diet.
Prebiotic foods contain a specific type of fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut. This helps those bacteria produce nutrients for your colon and leads to a healthier digestive system.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are the LIVE bacteria found naturally in your gut, as well as in some foods and supplements (like yogurts, kefirs, and kombucha to name a few). Taking in probiotics, whether through foods or supplements, can support and even help out the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your GI tract.
Making sure you have a good, healthy balance of gut bacteria will help support your immune system and regulate inflammation throughout your body. Incorporating these pro- and prebiotic foods into your diet will help you maintain that gut bacteria balance you’re looking for.
- Apples – rich in pectin fiber
- Asparagus – rich in prebiotic fiber and antioxidants
- Garlic – great for flavoring foods and gives prebiotic benefits
- Onions – rich in inulin and fructooligosaccharides
- Banana – good source of fiber
- Oatmeal – rich in beta-glucan fiber
- Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
- Kombucha – a healthy fermented tea with fruit
- Pickles – fermented cucumbers
- Yogurt – fermented dairy or coconut milk
- Miso soup – fermented soups
- Kimchi – fermented vegetables
In this day and age, there are many things working against our good gut bacteria populations and damaging our digestive systems. Some of the biggest contributing factors & threats to your good gut health include highly processed diets, overconsumption of alcohol, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, and use of antibiotics and other medications. You can start making changes to your lifestyle so that each of these listed above becomes less of a problem for your gut health. A great place to start is to eat a good mix of probiotic and prebiotic foods will help keep your gut, mind and body in great shape.