When you think of bacteria, generally a bad connotation comes along with it, but contrary to popular belief, bacteria can actually be beneficial for our digestive health. What are known to be prebioticsand probiotics can be discovered in specific functional components of foods that can enhance the absorption of nutrients and the digestion of foods. So how exactly do these two substances work to strengthen our digestive health?
Prebiotics are found in non-digestible food ingredients. They are plant fibers that work as a promoter for the healthy bacteria that already exists naturally in the gut. In other words, prebiotics work to overpower the “bad” disease-causing bacteria. Since prebiotics are not digested in the body, these fibers are primarily used to promote the growth of the healthy bacteria and therefore, cannot be destroyed nor affected by heat or bacteria in the body. To incorporate more prebiotics in your diet, eating more fibrous foods such vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains will encourage the “good” bacteria to digest the prebiotics in order to improve gastrointestinal health and build up immunity. While prebiotics are the promoters of the “good” bacteria, the actual “good” bacteria itself would be known as the probiotics. This type of bacteria is already naturally present in the gut. Ultimately, prebiotics is the energy that the probiotics needs to build up and flourish. Probiotic bacteria must work to stay alive with the help of prebiotics because they can potentially be diminished within time or by heat. Foods that contain live active cultures are an excellent source of probiotics because the live cultures have the ability to enhance and balance the gut flora. The most common foods include traditional fermented dairy products like yogurt and cheese. For a more expanded variation of foods, miso paste, kefir, and sauerkraut are also recommended. Traditional fermented foods are beneficial as they are high in lactic-acid producing bacteria. These bacteria assist in fermenting the carbohydrates that our bodies are incapable of digesting. As a result, the gut is maintained at a stable acidic environment to keep the unhealthy bacteria from growing while the healthy bacteria continues to multiply. By following a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics, your body may increase in bone density by improving mineral absorption and you may also experience a strong immunity and an improvement in bowel regularity.
Prebiotic and probiotic supplements can easily be replaced by natural whole foods as these whole foods will supply the most efficient and pure ingredients for our bodies. Including prebiotics and probiotics together in a small snack can even be fast and simple. For instance, a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with nutty granola and fresh berries can provide both. It is important to take care of the gut because it holds the responsibility for establishing a healthy digestive system. When you have higher amounts of beneficial bacteria, you will be able to maintain a good gut health and importantly, strengthen your immunity. As a result, you will feel like a well-nourished, stronger version of your previous self, both mentally and physically.