Take charge of your gut health: the deal with probiotics and prebiotics

Each of us has a unique microbiome: a specific concentration of microorganisms within our bodies, and our guts have a specific population of microflora (AKA bacteria) which can be both harmful and beneficial to us. We can make sure the balance of good to bad bacteria stays in tact through the foods we eat and the healthy lifestyle practices we keep. One of the ways to do this is to eat foods rich in probiotics.

The study of all of the possible health benefits of the different strains of probiotics is still relatively new, but research suggests that probiotics do a lot to stimulate gut health and overall well-being. They help improve immune function, improve digestion, and prevent infection from harmful bacteria.

Probiotics also can help to prevent diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive problems, as well as some infections, such as vaginal infections and urinary tract infections. It is especially important to take probiotics when you are taking antibiotics, which disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can lead to cramping, indigestion, and bloating.

You can get probiotics through eating fermented foods and cultured foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. There are many different strains of probiotics, with different strains having different health benefits in the body. Since everyone has a unique microbiome and set of health needs, its best to consult with a doctor to find out what supplement and strains are best for you.

While probiotics are important, they aren’t the only cool kid on the block. Don’t forget about prebiotics too!

In essence, prebiotics are a type of soluble fiber, a plant fiber that attaches to cholesterol particles and carries them out of the bloodstream. In the gut, probiotics use prebiotics as fuel. Prebiotics are not digested in the small intestine, but instead reach the colon where they are fermented by the microflora.

Oligosaccharides, a specific type of fiber, are the best known prebiotics. Oligosaccharides include types of fiber such as inulin, oligofructose, and lactulose. Specific foods rich in these types of fiber are jicama, dandelion greens, avocado, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, bananas, oats, apples, and barley.

If you have any questions about how you can incorporate both prebiotic and probiotic foods into your diet, you can ask one of our doctors at any time to figure out which ones are best for you!

Author: Maggie Harriman

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