If you turned on the tv in the last few years or been down the drug aisle at the grocery store, you’re probably aware of Probiotics. You’ve also probably heard how great they are for you- BUT- just what are they?
Let’s start here:
Probiotics- A microorganism introduced into the body for its beneficial qualities.
Prebiotics- A non-digestible food ingredient that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms (ie. Probiotics) in the intestines.
But what do they really do?
In our gut, good bacteria can replace bad bacteria and impact our overall health, metabolism, digestion, and body composition. Gut bacteria help support the immune system and HELP to ensure our immune system doesn’t get to cranky (think food sensitivities.) Our body is made up of ZILLIONS of cells. Take that times 10, and that’s how much bacteria our body contains! Some researchers suggest that the bacteria in our body plays nearly as big of a role as our liver- this means it’s extremely important to keep our gut health a healthy, functioning environment. Probiotics are anti-anti-inflammatory and getting a sufficient supply of them can help reduce abdominal pain, gas, bloating, reflux- even irritable bowel syndrome among many other symptoms and disorders.
How do I get probiotics? Most of the time, probiotics are created through fermentation. They can be found in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and bacterially cultured cheese. Fermentation not only increases good bacteria but also makes food more digestible- which is good for you as better digested food creates better energy.
With all of this talk about probiotics you’re probably wondering where do prebiotics come in to play? To keep it simple, prebiotics keep probiotics alive. Oats, rye, quinoa, wheat, onions, bananas, berries, flax, garlic, honey, and artichokes are all good sources of prebiotics.
How can I get more probiotics in my diet?
Ideally, through the food sources listed above, if possible. Aim for 1-2 servings of probiotic rich foods daily. If you need to supplement- a typical starting dose is 10 billion (live organisms). Take with food/drink and be sure to use a reputable brand. But of course, as always, be sure to consult with your physician.
If you are healthy, 2-3 servings of prebiotics daily is a good place to start. Again, if possible start with the food sources above if possible. Supplementing pre- and probiotics at the same time is usually a good idea.