A healthy gut is one of the most important weapons to have in your illness-fighting arsenal. Probiotics are an essential tool to maintaining a healthy gut. But what are prebiotics, and where do they fit in this puzzle of optimal health?
Why You Need Prebiotics and Probiotics
Let’s start with the basics. Probiotics are live bacteria that help keep your gut healthy and balanced. They are helpful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome; inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites and diarrhea caused by antibiotics. Taking probiotics may also be helpful in treating eczema, urinary and vaginal health and preventing allergies and colds.
Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber found in specific foods that “feed” probiotics. Just like we eat food for fuel and nourishment, probiotics eat prebiotics. Prebiotics encourage the growth and activity of beneficial microbes in the intestinal tract, promoting overall good health.
What Foods Contain Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are abundant in sunchokes, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onions, chicory root, burdock root, dandelion root, plantains, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, onions, bananas, rye and barley. Try to consume 5 grams of uncooked, prebiotic fiber each day. Cooking prebiotics decreases their nutritional value.
What Foods Contain Probiotics?
Get your daily fill of probiotics by eating yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha and other fermented foods and specific cheeses including Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar and cottage cheese.
How to Take Probiotics
Probiotics are best taken in the morning with breakfast, or at least within 30 minutes of eating a nutritious meal. Probiotics are available in the refrigerated section at health food stores and come in a variety of delicious flavors. High quality probiotics are stored in black or opaque bottles to avoid damage from light. Some are also formulated especially for women, men and children. Store your probiotics in your refrigerator at home. Buy a probiotic infused with prebiotics and include prebiotic foods in your diet.