This article was originally published through WellSeek.
Hi guys! I'm chatting about one of my favorite nutrition topics: digestive health! Because of the area of nutrition I specialize in most of the clients I see experience some sort of gut distress like bloating and gas. Although a client may see me for a thyroid condition or weight loss, addressing gut health quickly becomes an important topic to address.
Digestive health and probiotics have become increasingly popular health topics, and for good reason. Poor digestive health has been linked to numerous diseases and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, colorectal cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Perhaps you’ve already heard all about probiotics, also known as the friendly bacteria living in the gut. These “good” guys provide us with a host of benefits: supporting and protecting your immune system, breaking down food, and synthesizing nutrients in the digestive tract. If you are familiar with the health benefits of probiotics, you may already take a supplement or eat probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut, cultured dairy products, or fermented beverages like kombucha.
Once the gut is flooded with good bacteria, how do the bacteria manage stay alive so we reap the benefits? It turns out our friendly bacteria need to eat, too.
Prebiotic is defined as “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora (friendly bacteria), that confer benefits.” The fiber component of prebiotic foods are oligosaccharides, inulin, and resistant starch. Prebiotics resist digestion and make their way into the colon where friendly bacteria reside and ferment the undigested fiber. Most prebiotics are digested by friendly bacteria, called bifidobacteria which help inhibit the growth of pathogenic “bad” bacteria.
Prebiotics are easy to get through the food we eat because they occur naturally in foods. Some delicious ways to get prebiotics include:
How can you add more prebiotics in the kitchen?
1. Saute garlic, onions, or leeks as a flavorful addition to soup, stew or stir-fry.
2. Top your oatmeal with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.
3. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven as tasty side
The regular consumption of probiotics and prebiotics contribute to health benefits including improved immune function, better digestion, and a lowered allergic response.
This is an amazing example of the symbiotic relationship between the food we eat, our gut bacteria, and our health.