Nutrition 201: Time For A Gut Check Pre & Pro Biotics

The best foods for healthy stomachWhat’s the deal with the pre and pro-biotics? Is it just a fad or is there some real truth behind this?

Yes, this is a fad. And yes, there is some truth behind it. The fad part of this “movement” are companies jumping on the bandwagon and labeling everything with probiotics. The truth behind this is humans have known this for centuries, including the Ancient Egyptians. Let’s move beyond the consumer packaged goods and media hype and take a look at what’s real.

Let’s start with a simple explanation of what these things are. And it really is simple. In your gut you have good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria helps break foods down to get the nutrients you need from that salad you just ate. The bad bacteria lives to make your life miserable and create toxins. With me so far? Great.

Probiotics, what you hear the most about, are live cultures naturally found in foods such as yogurt. These are very delicate little creatures and are easily killed with heat or even when they reach the acid of the stomach. In order for probiotics to be effective they must reach the gut alive, then they have to compete with the residents already taking up space there.

Prebiotics, which you oddly don’t hear that much about, have a different job. They feed the good bacteria in your gut to keep them healthy and fighting the good fight. Prebiotics are a plant fiber and aren’t as delicate as probiotics and are much more likely to help with gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Good places to find prebiotics are raw bananas, raw onions, and even honey.

Together these can pack quite a punch in helping with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. The question remains whether probiotics in pill form have any benefit. Probiotics are sensitive to heat and exposure to other elements. Those pills have to be processed, packaged and shipped. By the time they reach your hands, are they as effective? Remember probiotics need to arrive alive in order to work. Here’s the good news, a healthy and balanced diet will get you the pre and pro biotics you need without the additional pills. The bad bacteria in your gut flourishes in a fatty and sugary environment. The more healthy foods you put down there, the more they’ll starve and the more the good bacteria flourishes.

What do you do if you’re vegan, stick with the veggies to get your dose of prebiotics. Chances are your gut is ripe with good bacteria since your body isn’t dealing with animal fats and proteins, but watch that sugar intake.

Next time your gut is feeling a bit unsettled reach for some yogurt, preferably Greek which contains more protein, and leafy greens. Your body may be asking you for more nutrients to increase the good bacteria. Share your comments below on your use of pre and pro biotics, and share with your friends.




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