Prebiotics and Probiotics – How These Can Affect YOU

The majority of individuals have probably heard the words probiotics and prebiotics at some point or another. It might not be apparent what exactly they mean or what they can do for our bodies. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients found in food that helps to promote the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut. These have the ability to help improve gastrointestinal (GI) health and can even enhance calcium absorption. While prebiotics are not necessary to be healthy in general, they can offer help with digestion and protect you and your body from harmful bacteria. Some foods to keep a look out for that contain these prebiotics include:

–         Bananas

–         Onions

–         Garlic

–         Asparagus                              

–         Artichokes

–         Soy Beans

–         Whole-Wheat Foods

Probiotics, on the other hand, are “good” bacteria like the ones that grow in your gut. They help change and repopulate the gut bacteria in the intestine to balance out gut flora. By doing this, probiotics are known to increase immunity and overall health, especially GI health. Certain types of probiotics are also used in some instances to help prevent specific allergy symptoms, lower lactose intolerant symptoms, and are often used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Here are a couple food items to keep in mind when thinking about probiotics:

–         Yogurt

–         Aged Cheeses

–         Miso

–         Sauerkraut

–         Tempeh

–         Soy beverages

Pro and prebiotics work together as a synergistic team – “prebiotics are breakfast, lunch, and dinner for probiotics.” Some ideas to combine these two together in a meal include a banana and yogurt, or stir-fry asparagus with tempeh. While out in the grocery store shopping, pay attention to labels that have claims such as “promotes a healthy digestive system” – these items have a chance of being rich in pro or prebiotics. Making a little more effort to try and incorporate these two into your daily diet can provide some very positive changes to your digestive and overall health. Give it a shot!


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Mayo Clinic


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