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© 2017 Vancouver Dietitians

Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Your Digestive Health

Bacteria seems like something we wouldn’t want to have around, much less in our body - but did you know we all have bacteria living in our intestines? In this article, you will learn about probiotics as well as prebiotics, and how you can use them to improve your health!

 

There are numerous harmful bacteria in our environment which can cause infections, diarrhea, and certain types of cancer. Nourishing the good bacteria in your gut can help protect your body by limiting, or even stopping, the growth of these harmful bacteria. Prebiotics have also been found to contribute to achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other digestive conditions, probiotics and prebiotics may help! Having a healthy gut microflora can decrease your symptoms by increasing your protection against destructive bacteria which cause inflammation.

 

What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

 

Probiotics are living microorganisms found in your intestines, otherwise called gut flora or microflora; think of these as the beneficial and helpful bacteria. Probiotics are also found in foods, most commonly yogurt and fermented foods.
 
Prebiotics are special forms of dietary fiber that act as a food source for probiotics. Simply put, prebiotics benefit us by keeping the good bacteria alive by providing them with a source of food. 
 
Both probiotics and prebiotics are an important part of your digestive system. When probiotics and prebiotics work together it’s called symbiosis, which is an important part in keeping your digestive system working to the best of its ability. Combined, they can increase the activity of your immune system, make vitamins, enhance your digestion process, help you achieve/maintain a healthy weight, decrease cholesterol levels, prevent certain types of cancer, and increase the amount of nutrients you absorb!

 

Food sources of probiotics include:

  • Yogurt

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Pickles

  • Kefir

  • ...and other fermented foods

 

Food sources of prebiotics include:

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Bananas

  • Beans & legumes

  • Berries

  • Garlic

  • Oats

  • Onions

  • ...and many more!

 

Try adding some of the foods mentioned above to your meals. Yogurt is a fantastic breakfast option or addition to smoothies and sauces (check out our Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce or our Maple Toasted Granola to top off your yogurt!). Prebiotics are even easier to incorporate into meals by adding onion to your stir fry, eating berries or apples as snacks, or trying out our Vegetarian Chili or Hearty Bean Stew recipes which incorporates beans!

 

Supplementation
 
Although you can get probiotics and prebiotics through many types of food, sometimes supplementation is warranted. If you are wondering about which probiotic is best for you, make an appointment with us!

 

 Works Cited

 

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