A probiotic is live bacteria that is consumed, as food or in supplements, and that is simply good for the body. Our gut function and our health in total is greatly impacted by the amount of ‘good’ bacteria we have and the balance to ‘bad’ bacteria, which thrive on sugars.
Fermented foods such as live yoghurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, kefir and other lacto-fermented foods and drinks are probiotics, rich in the good bacteria that our bodies need to function.
A prebiotic is a specialized plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon. Whilst probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut, prebiotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria that’s already there, and can even suppress bad bacteria, giving us the balance we need.
Some say that prebiotics are more important, as probiotics are delicate and vulnerable, and though good to consume, may not make it to the gut where they need to be. Prebiotics nourish our gut, creating a positive environment for it to flourish, which is what we all need. However fermented foods play an undeniable role in helping people stay as healthy as they can be, worldwide cultures that have for example low cases of cancers and other diseases that we suffer from highly in ‘Western’ cultures have diets rich in fermented foods. Fermented foods are also far easier to digest than other foods and their nutrients are more bio-available. Check out my fermented recipes here such as sauerkraut, and preserved lemons. More coming soon!
eat a diet rich in both prebiotics and probiotics, to nurture your gut to nurture your health in its entirety.
Most raw foods, fruit and vegetables are likely prebiotics, as is raw cider vinegar, which contains the ‘mother’ culture and so is also probiotic. Vegetables such as leeks, asparagus, artichokes, garlic, onions are known to be high in this fibre, and also wheat, oats, and soybeans. Also seeds, bananas, cooked and cooled starchy foods such as potatoes. It is a good example of how the right thing to do is to eat a whole food diet rich in fruit and veg for optimal health! Check out a discussion on prebiotics plus a gut-nurturing dip and snack here.
The health of our gut flora has a big impact on our immune system, and our ability to ward of infection. 70% of our immune system lives in our gut, and if our gut is healthy then we are healthy, if it is not then a whole host of health problems arise, the bad bacteria takes over, causing SIBO, and this is very damaging in so any ways. Gut health is increasingly recognised as a majorly important, and too little understood part of our well-being, even directly impacting on our mental health,.
Coeliacs, who are vulnerable to poor gut health and so immune weakness, and those on medications, particularly antibiotic, which wipe out our gut bacteria, and anyone who has undergone radiotherapy or chemotherapy for example, need to pay especial attention to eating probiotic and prebiotic foods to repopulate their gut flora, and also it is advisable to take a strong probiotic supplement, alongside eating a good whole food diet.