Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods For You!
It’s 11:30 pm on Monday night and I’m wrapped in a blanket and staring at my computer. Suddenly, I remember my deadline for this week’s blog. Against my own recommendations for shutting the media off at night, I proceed on, STAYING COMMITTED to writing and sharing the knowledge. This week I highlight probiotic and prebiotic foods with the hopes of inspiring you to keep on integrating these foods into your diet.
According to the Institute of Functional Medicine, “Our gut’s are home to more than 500 species of bacteria, making about 100 trillion bugs (fungi, bacteria, virus, etc.). These bugs are SO important for your overall health. They function to help digest our food, regulate our immune systems, and regulate our genes. They also act as a barrier to help our bodies filter and absorb nutrients from our food.”
These beneficial microbes are called probiotics and through our diets and lifestyle, we constantly replenish them. These microbes also need nourishing food through soluble fibers to help them survive. Soluble fibers are referred to as prebiotics; prebiotics feed the probiotics and produce a compound called butyric acid during the process. Butyric acid acts as fuel for cells of the colon and makes the environment more acidic so that harmful bacteria are less likely to survive.
Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are two of the main bacteria that reside in our guts. We can take these in the form of supplements or include them in the diet in the form of fermented foods. The table below lists examples of the common probiotic and prebiotic foods.
In order to maintain a healthy and diverse microbiome, you should be eating probiotic and prebiotic foods regularly. General recommendations are getting 1 to 25 billion colony-forming units (CFU’s) daily. For example, most store-bought probiotic yogurts contain about 1 billion CFU’s per serving. Choose foods that contain “active, live cultures” and preferentially consist of raw, unpasteurized, perishable ingredients. Choose organic when possible because these are typically not heat-treated and more bacteria is present. You can also ferment at home which is a fun way of integrating these foods. If you have little ones, include them in the process, as they are more likely to try it if they helped; and remember that it can take up to 15 times before they decide to like it.