Shari Duncan

Tag: probiotics

Prebiotics and Probiotics : How Important are they to your Health?

by on May.30, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Supplementation

Though not the same, prebiotics and probiotics complement one another and work together to improve overall health and wellness.

Improve your digestive health by ensuring a healthy colon.  Two buzz words in regards to digestive health are Prebiotics and Probiotics.  Prebiotics and Probiotics are bacteria that reside in your intestinal tract.  Both are essential to a healthy immune system and an important factor to overall good health.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria and other microbial organisms that naturally live in the digestive tract. Your body is home to trillions of these “friendly” beneficial microorganisms. Natural probiotic foods and quality probiotics supplements contain millions of good friendly bacteria that help make you healthier.

The “good” bacteria in your intestines manage 4 main jobs for you:

YOGURT: An excellent Probiotic food source

YOGURT: An excellent Probiotic food source

  • They help to digest your food,
  • Fight off disease-causing bacteria,
  • Make nutrients available for you to use,
  • And keep bowels moving at the perfect pace

These “friendly” bacteria contribute to better digestion and help protect you from “unfriendly” harmful bacteria that cause illness.

Many factors can disrupt your body’s natural probiotic balance, including:

  • Taking antibiotics,
  • A diet of processed, low fiber foods. Not getting enough fiber.
  • Ingesting environmental toxins,
  • Stress
  • And eating a diet high in refined bad carbohydrates.

When lifestyle or dietary factors reduce the beneficial bacteria in your body, harmful bacteria and yeast can flourish, greatly increasing the risk of diarrhea, vaginal yeast infections and many other health problems.

Some good food sources of probiotics are yogurt, cottage cheese,fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut, pickles,), sourdough bread and miso.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates available in thousands of different plant foods. Prebiotics do not get metabolized in the stomach or absorbed in the GI tract. Most importantly, prebiotics encourage the growth and increased activity of “good” bacteria within the intestines; thus, enhancing the effects of probiotics. Prebiotics nourish and strengthen probiotics. They should be consumed prior to or with probiotics.

The two most common prebiotics are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. The richest food source is bananas. Other prebiotic sources are:

Bananas & other fruits, veggies and garlic. All great Prebiotic food sources

Bananas & other fruits, veggies and garlic. All great Prebiotic food sources

  • Fruit
  • Garlic,
  • Barley,
  • Artichokes,
  • Soybeans,
  • Wheat and Sprouted Wheat
  • Onions and leeks.
  • Asparagus

Eating a combination of prebiotic and probiotic foods is important to keep beneficial bacteria thriving. When you eat prebiotic foods, you nourish the good bacteria in your body. By eating probiotic foods, you replace friendly bacteria that have been lost.

Here are a few of ideas to incorporate both prebiotics and probiotics into your diet:

  1. Add banana or berries (prebiotics) to unsweetened yogurt or kefir (probiotics) for breakfast or as a snack.
  2. Add prebiotic vegetables such as spinach and tomatoes to your salads. Make a yogurt based dressing to include those probiotics too.
  3. Feed the good bacteria in your gut by eating more asparagus or spinach. Sautée with garlic for a double dose of prebiotics

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