When it comes to improving your gut health, you’ve probably heard the terms probiotics and prebiotics, but what exactly are they? Here we explore what they actually are and how your health can benefit by them in your diet.
What are probiotics and what do they do?
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that when consumed in large enough amounts improve health. They are similar to the bacteria found naturally in your gut and they help to improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your body. Probiotics may play an important role in gut health by inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria and assisting in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also contribute to the production of short chain fatty acids (the end product of the fermentation of fibre by bacteria) and maintain a healthy immune system. Common varieties include lactobacilli or bifidobacteria.
What foods contain probiotics?
You’ll find probiotics in some yoghurts, fermented milk and kefir products. Some non-dairy foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and cultured non-dairy yoghurts also contain beneficial bacteria. You can also take probiotics in supplement form.
What are prebiotics and what do they do?
Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that pass through the gastrointestinal tract undigested and stimulate the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the large intestine. You can think of them as food for probiotics. Research into prebiotics is relatively new however there is emerging evidence to show some health benefits like the ability to modify gut microbiota (all the bacteria living in your gut), improve mineral absorption, improve blood glucose and insulin profiles and protect against intestinal infections.
What foods contain prebiotics?
You’ll find prebiotics in the form of inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides and galacto-oligosaccharides in the following foods: asparagus, artichokes, bananas, barley, cashews, garlic, leeks, pistachios, onions, rye and soybeans.
How To Include Probiotics And Prebiotics In Your Diet
Prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically together – prebiotics feed probiotics and the probiotics get to work on restoring your gut health. Enjoying bananas on top of yoghurt or adding temph and cashews to your stir-fry will give you the benefits of both. When it comes to probiotics though, it’s important to remember that seeing they are live cultures, they have a limited lifespan. So shelf life can affect the probiotic content of a product. One way to maximise your probiotic intake, is to make your own yoghurt and eat it fresh. One spoon of freshly made EasiYo Yogurt will give you over 1 billion live cultures. Want more information? Visit the article Why Homemade Yoghurt Is Better and the culture’s section in our FAQs.Back to Blog