In our society today, healthy living seems to be at the forefront of almost everyone’s mind. New recipes for clean eating are traded daily, and social media platforms are advertisements for new vitamins and products that promote a healthy diet. And in many ways, this is good. We should be more mindful of what we consume. Even if you grab a burger at the drive through or prefer real pasta to spaghetti squash, you are aware that healthy eating habits are important. Depending on what we eat, we can feel the difference in our energy levels, our clarity of thought, and let’s face it—our bowel movements. That’s because if our gut is healthy, we are healthy! In fact, our gut is filled with bacteria—both good and bad—that influences both our digestive system and immune system. Bad bacteria forms because of a high-sugar and high-fat diet. The more bad bacteria forms, the faster it grows. The faster it grows, the harder it is for our body to fight off illnesses. This is why it’s important eat the right amounts of prebiotics and probiotics. Promoting good bacteria will go along way to keep our entire body healthy.

Prebiotics

No, we haven’t made a typo. You may be familiar with probiotics, but prebiotics are just as crucial to helping your body function the way it should. Prebiotics are fibers whose key role is to nourish the good bacteria that already exist in your large intestine and colon. Your body cannot digest these fibers, but the bacteria can. When you consume prebiotics, the good bacteria feeds off the fiber and multiples, helping your body regulate the good bacteria and bad bacteria ratio. If this ratio is balanced, there is proof that your gut health, as well as your mental health, will improve.

There are many foods that naturally contain prebiotics and should be found in your diet. These include:

  • Legumes, beans, and peas
  • Asparagus 
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Oats

Probiotics

While prebiotics are food to the good bacteria, probiotics are the good bacteria. Probiotics are live cultures that give your body the good bacteria it needs to improve your immune and digestive system. Be sure to include yogurt or fermented foods in your diet so that you can give your gut the good bacteria it needs. See this list for more ideas:

  • High quality, plain yogurt
  • Kombucha tea
  • Kimchi
  • Saurkruat
  • Unpasteurized pickled vegetables 

Unfortunately, foods that contain probiotics may not always be successful in reaching your gut. Often times, the bacteria is killed by stomach acid before it reaches your large intestine. While eating probiotics through a natural diet may be hard to control, probiotics can also be consumed in the form of a pill. These supplements are designed to do different things and some are more beneficial than others. Supplements may be the best way for you to get the good bacteria your body needs to function at its full capacity. Always talk to your doctor before choosing a probiotic and incorporating it into your daily routine.

How Probiotics And Prebiotics Affect You

The old saying, “You are what you eat” is true. Having a healthy balance of gut bacteria, known as gut flora, affects your body in several ways. That’s why it’s important to avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, and cholesterol while getting the probiotics and prebiotics your body requires. 

Your gut flora influences your weight, your risk for heart disease, your immune system, your brain, your mood, and behavior.

If you have questions about your gut health, or are interested in taking supplements to ensure you’re getting the right amount of probiotics and prebiotics, schedule an appointment at Carolina Digestive Health Associates today. By meeting with a healthcare professional, you can get all of the information you need about probiotics and prebiotics while checking to make sure you are receiving all of the nutrients you need. We have eight office locations for your convenience and every team of doctors is committed to helping you and your gut be as healthy as possible.