Probiotics and prebiotics. What’s the deal?

Are you someone who drinks kombucha and thinks: Yay! I’m drinking something healthy! Word on the street is that kombucha is a probiotic and that it’s good for me!


Or maybe you’re taking a probiotic supplement because you’ve heard it’s beneficial for your digestion and gut health.


But what exactly are probiotics?


Probiotics are living microorganisms that maintain and improve digestive health. They strengthen the good, beneficial bacteria found in your gut. They play a central role in health and disease because they’re involved in digestion, which directly impacts immune function.


But probiotics can’t work alone.


Introducing prebiotics!


Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut. And probiotics need prebiotics to flourish.


If you frequently experience diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or gas, and that’s just a start, these are signs your gut bacteria is imbalanced. Bringing it back into balance begins with probiotics and prebiotics.


Probiotics and prebiotics work together synergistically to enhance your digestion and improve your overall health.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 70-80% of your immune system is housed in your gut, your gastrointestinal tract.


If you’re not getting enough probiotics to support gut health, it can lead to digestive issues, skin conditions, candida, sugar cravings, food allergies and sensitivities, suppressed immunity, autoimmune conditions, anxiety, and depression.


Both nutrition and lifestyle factors, including chronic stress, poor sleep, antibiotic use, sugar and alcohol consumption can damage your gut bacteria.


But hear, hear! As always, there’s good news. You can incorporate a variety of probiotic foods into your diet to help boost your good gut bacteria.


Probiotic foods include:

  • Miso

  • Tempeh

  • Yogurt (look for organic, grass-fed varieties that are made from goat’s or sheep’s milk)

  • Fermented beverages like kombucha, kefir and kvass

  • Raw fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi

  • Cultured buttermilk

  • Raw apple cider vinegar

  • Cheese (raw and unpasteurized)

  • Brine-cured olives

Okay, so what are prebiotics again?


Basically, prebiotics serve as fertilizer for your gut's friendly bacteria.


Prebiotics are carbohydrates that our bodies are unable to digest. As a result, they ferment in our lower digestive tract where they act as a food source to grow healthy bacteria.


Prebiotics are found naturally in certain plants including:

  • Underripe bananas

  • Onions, garlic, leeks

  • Jerusalem artichoke

  • Dandelion greens

  • Jicama

  • Tigernuts (a vegetable tuber)

  • Chicory root (used in coffee substitutes)

  • Asparagus

  • Apples

In general, these foods eaten raw have more prebiotic fibers than when cooked.

What about supplements?


For most healthy people who eat a diverse diet, full of wholesome foods, it’s not necessary to take supplements. However, those with weakened immune systems or underlying health issues can benefit from a high-quality probiotic supplement to support gut health.


But I always recommend diet and lifestyle changes first.


You can easily crank up your intake of probiotic and prebiotic foods by making swaps in your diet:

  • Drink kombucha or kefir instead of soda or juice

  • Swap regular yogurt for probiotic yogurt

  • Add dandelion greens to your salad

  • Substitute raw, unpasteurized milk or cheese in place of regular dairy products

  • Add jicama to your list of crunchy veggies to eat with guacamole or in salads (P.S. jicama is yummy!)

In sum, probiotics are your beneficial gut bacteria and prebiotics are the fertilizer. You need both to thrive and bloom!


Cheers to your gut health!


Love, Your Wellness Coach,


Alyssa


P.S. If you are dealing digestive issues like heartburn, indigestion, gas, and bloating, be sure to read 9 signs you have hypochlorhydria.


P.P.S. Are you following me on Instagram yet? It's fun over there, come join me on IG!

December 8, 2020

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