Ever walked down the aisle at the grocery store and felt overwhelmed by the five hundred different kinds of yogurt? There’s Greek yogurt, Icelandic yogurt, goat milk yogurt, soymilk, coconut milk, and even oat milk yogurt. So what’s all the rage with this popular snack? Besides their tasty addition to breakfast, some yogurts are a great source of probiotics. Research shows that probiotics and prebiotics help keep your gut balanced, happy, and healthy.
But what exactly are they and how are they different?
Probiotics are made up of different bacteria and yeast which live in the gut and form part of your microbiome. In the microbiome, you have bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms. However for a microbe to be considered a probiotic it must: be isolated from a human, survive in your intestine post digestion, have a proven benefit to you, and be consumed safely. The bacteria found in probiotics are helpful and necessary to maintain optimal health. You can think of these guys as microscopic defenders that protect your gut. They help digest food, keep out bad bacteria, and manage your immune system.
Your body produces a natural amount of probiotics. However, you can also introduce new probiotics into your gut through food or supplements. Most probiotic foods will specify if they have probiotics in them. Some examples include:
The probiotics in these foods help boost the balance of good bacteria in your gut. To stay healthy and feel your best, you’ll want to have more healthy bacteria than bad. Having too much bad bacteria can lead to inflammation, discomfort, and even disease.
Probiotic supplements are another way to improve the balance in your gut. Research is still indecisive on how effective supplementing with probiotics is. Some studies show that introducing probiotics into your diet can help with issues such as: Inflammatory bowel disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, Eczema, gum disease, and yeast infections. However, research is still being done on how effective supplements are for helping these conditions, and they should not be substitutes for professional medical treatment. Before introducing any sort of supplement into your diet, speak with your healthcare provider first! Generally though, adding a supplement to your diet won’t hurt.
There are some things to keep in mind when taking probiotics though. They could, in rare cases, cause allergic reactions. They may also cause an upset stomach, some bowel changes, or uncomfortable gas and bloating for the first few days. This is why we recommend speaking with a healthcare provider before changing your probiotic intake!
Lastly, it may not be safe for certain individuals to take probiotic supplements. Those who suffer from a weakened immune system, a critical illness, or recently had surgery should consult with their doctor before taking these supplements as they could increase risk of infection.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are food for probiotics. They are plant fibers that act as a fertilizer for the healthy bacteria you already have! You can also find prebiotic supplements. However, there is less research on prebiotics than on probiotics. Research suggests the biggest benefit might be the nourishment they supply probiotics. However, some studies suggest that they could also help the body improve calcium absorption, change how quickly the body processes carbohydrates, and supports probiotic growth therefore potentially improving digestion and metabolism.
The side effects of taking prebiotic supplements requires more research. However, prebiotics occur naturally in foods, so most people don’t have to supplement. Those who have chronic diseases or serious illnesses should also consult with their doctors before taking any probiotic or prebiotic supplements.
Of course, we always encourage getting your nutrition from wholesome quality food. Here are some foods rich in prebiotics:
- Jicama Root
- Yacon Root
Many of these foods are complex carbohydrates, which means they contain fiber and resistant starches. Neither of these things are digested, so they stay in your gut and become food for the probiotics living there.
An Unbalanced Gut
Now that you know the function of probiotics in balancing gut bacteria, you may be wondering what happens if they’re unbalanced. An imbalance in gut bacteria is called Dysbiosis. Some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- Bad breath
- Upset stomach
- Rash or redness
As we mentioned in previous blogs, the gut is critical to maintaining overall health and wellness. Therefore, when your gut isn’t healthy, the symptoms can be felt all throughout your body! Dysbiosis has also shown a connection to certain diseases and conditions such as:
- Celiac Disease
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Skin conditions such as eczema
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Some cancers
Keeping your gut balanced and healthy can help prevent or lower your risks of experiencing any of these conditions. A diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics can help you get there. The foods included above help build nutrition that nourishes your gut and promotes optimal health.
However, you don’t have to go through the work of finding out which foods work best for you!
Fran’s Kitchen Meal Plans are focused on delivering nutrition that detoxes the body, heals the gut, and improves overall health. We offer two different meal plan options: Delivery and Online.
The Delivery Meal Plans are available to those around the Phoenix, AZ area. These plans include delivery of meals which follow a chosen plan such as Keto, Detox, and Paleo. Check out our website for more information on our FK Delivery Meal Plans!
If you don’t live in the area, but still want to upgrade your nutrition – our FK Online Meal Plans are for you! We offer three Online Meal Plans: Keto, Vegan, and Metabolic. We customize your choice plan to fit your specific needs and goals. Then, we send your plan via email so that you can start building your optimal health right from the comfort of your kitchen!
Regardless of which path you choose, rest assured that Fran’s Kitchen meals are designed to change your life for the better. Our delicious food will help remove toxins from your body, reintroduce nutrients to bring balance and nourishment, and leave you feeling better than ever.
You can start your journey towards improved gut health, and overall health, today! Just head on over to our website and choose your path to success.