Two very popular health buzzwords unheard of of ten years ago are probiotics and prebiotics. Most of us have associated these two with benefits to our digestion, but we don’t really know much more than that. Fooducate is here to clear up the confusion once and for all.
The short version:
- Probiotics are friendly microorganisms inhabiting our digestive tract that aid digestion and may confer additional health benefits.
- Prebiotics are non-living, non-digestible carbs that serve as food for Probiotics.
Probiotics are, for the most part, bacteria that reside in our intestinal tract. Other types of probiotics are yeast. Probiotics get into our intestines from foods we eat or supplements. There are many types of probiotics, and each one behaves a bit differently in our gut. Although the term “probiotics” is relatively new, we’ve been ingesting them for thousands of years. Any food that is cultured or fermented has probiotics: yp
Foods with probiotics include:
- yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk
- aged cheese such as cheddar, Gouda, or Parmesan
- sauerkraut, kimchi and other pickled versions of veggies
- sourdough bread
- miso (fermented barley or soy or rice)
- tempeh – fermented soy
- kombucha – a fermented tea that is gaining in popularity in the US
- beer, wine (yay!)
By the way, when you are sick and take antibiotics, you’re killing off the germs that made you ill, but also the probiotics.
On to prebiotics. Unlike probitoics, these are not alive. Most prebiotics are some form of fiber. Our body does not digest fiber, but the bacteria in our gut, including the probiotics, digest the fiber. Feeding these helpful bacteria keeps them doing what they are supposed to do in order to help our health.
Foods with prebiotics include:
- raw chicory root – the top source, with almost 60% fiber
- raw Jerusalem artichoke
- raw garlic, leeks, and onions
- whole wheat
- fruits and vegetables