Probiotics have become a household name with many of us taking supplements and trying to get them through food. Personally I stick to eating a variety of probiotic rich foods everyday like kombucha, fermented foods and coconut yogurt with added probiotics. You can probably name some probiotic foods, but do you know what they are and their benefits?
Probiotics are popping up everywhere, they're in yogurt commercials, in pharmacies and grocery stores. In order to understand probiotics we need to understand the gut. Inside your gut there are as many as 100 trillion gut bacteria with good bacteria and some bad bacteria living together in harmony. When you have an imbalance of to many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria is when problems start to occur. This is where probiotics come in.
Why? Probiotics can help populate your gut with good bacteria because probiotics are live bacteria! When a food or supplement contains probiotics is actually has bacteria in it that continue to live on in your gut.
Choosing a probiotic supplement
Not all probiotics are created equal. Also not everyone should take a probiotic supplement so consult your doctor first.
When looking for a probiotic supplement look for a few things:
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics recommends looking at the following criteria before choosing a probiotic:
1. Proof of efficacy. Probiotics must be tested (and be shown effective) in humans to determine health benefits.
2. Quality and quantity. Probiotics can be effective at varying strengths. Scientific studies have determined health benefits from 50 million to more than 1 trillion colony forming units per day. A probiotic with higher colony forming units doesn't necessarily equal better quality or effectiveness.
3. Package information. Strain, quantity of colony forming units, serving size, health benefits, proper storage conditions, expiration date, and additional corporate contact information all should be provided on the label.
Now on to prebiotics! Though probiotics alone provide very useful benefits, they have a greater effect when combined with prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics are a type of insoluble fiber. Meaning you can’t digest them, but your gut bacteria can and they use them as food to multiply and proliferate. When you eat a diet low in fibre those important gut bacteria that mostly live lower in your digestive tract can starve and this can cause a gut imbalance like I spoke about earlier.
So eating prebiotic foods is important for keeping your gut bacteria healthy and in return they keep you healthy!
Adding prebiotic and probiotic rich foods is a delicious way to improve your gut health, but how can you add these foods into your diet?
Best Prebiotic Foods
- Onions, leeks, garlic
- Bananas, apples, pears
- Jerusalem artichokes, celery root
- Oats and barley
Best Probiotic Foods
- Yogurt, kefir
- Sauerkraut, kimchi (also a source of prebiotics)
- Miso, tempeh (made from soy for anyone with allergies)
- Pickles (raw, non-pasteurized)
When adding these foods into your diet you don't have to worry to much about getting the right amount of pre and probiotics, just get a variety.
Simple Ways to Get Pre and Probiotics into your diet daily:
Eat Fermented Foods!
Many fermented foods are the best of both worlds because they're prebiotics and probiotics. Some examples of fermented foods are sauerkraut and kimchi.
Drink kefir in the morning
Kefir is a fermented milk product (cow, goat or sheep milk) that tastes like a drinkable yogurt. Kefir benefits include high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics.
Replace your juice or pop with kombucha
After being fermented, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B-vitamins, enzymes and probiotics. Look for one that's low in sugar.
Put yogurt (and bananas) in your smoothies
It’s recommend when buying yogurt to look for three things: first, that it comes from goat or sheep milk if you're lactose intolerant or have a dairy sensitivity; second, that it’s grass-fed; and third, that it’s organic. Yogurt is one of the top (and tastiest) probiotic foods. Bananas are rich in fibre and make a great edition to your smoothie.
Add in handful of dandelion greens to your salad
Dandelion greens are a great fiber-rich substitute for greens in your salad. They are one of the best prebiotics and adding them into a salad is a simple way to fit them into your diet.
Make leek soup
Leeks are a delicious edition to many soups. They have a mild onion taste and add a yummy flavour. Thanks to their high fibre content they are a great prebiotic.
Eat chocolate (what!! 😀)
Okay before you get to excited I'm not talking about milk chocolate. I'm talking about raw cocao. It's a tasty prebiotic food that contains flavanols that increase healthy gut bacteria.
Adding in high fibre foods with probiotic rich foods can help your gut thrive.