Probiotics and Prebiotics

There is more and more evidence emerging regarding the importance of our gut microbiome and our general health and wellbeing. Scientific research has identified specific functional components of foods that may improve health, and prebiotics and probiotics are high on the list.

Though they are available as dietary supplements, there are also a variety of dietary sources where we can access them in our day to day intake.

Prebiotics: what are they and what do they do?

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible components of food that are linked to stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are "good" bacteria promoters. Prebiotics may enhance gastrointestinal health as well as potentially improve calcium absorption.

So where can you find prebiotics?

Prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), such as inulin, and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). In other words, include more bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods to your diet.

Probiotics: what are they and what do they do?

Probiotics are the "good" bacteria otherwise known as live cultures. This ‘good bacteria’ help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance out our gut microbiome. ‘Good bacteria’ has been proven to boost immunity and gastrointestinal health. Probiotics are often recommended in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Evidence shows some strains of these live cultures may aid in preventing specific allergy symptoms and reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Probiotics in Your Diet

To obtain more probiotics, enjoy fermented dairy foods like yogurt, kefir products, and aged cheeses, which all naturally contain live cultures, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Some non-dairy foods including kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and soy beverages, also contain beneficial live cultures.

Prebiotics and Probiotics the "ultimate duo"

Ultimately, prebiotics ("good" bacteria promoters) and probiotics ("good" bacteria) work together to restore and improve gastrointestinal health. Products that contain these in combination are called synbiotics. Therefore, enjoying bananas on top of yoghurt or stir-frying asparagus with tempeh is the ultimate combination for naturally improving your gut microbiome.

Prebiotics and probiotics are essential for good gut health. We are at an exciting time in research, with more evidence finding that the gut flora is responsible for more than just digestion. So watch this space.