There are positive choices that you can make to encourage good bacteria. If we eat a diet loaded with red meat, saturated fats and simple sugars, certain types of bad bacteria will take over and survive. On the other hand, if we eat a diet high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables and grains, a much healthier population of bacteria will thrive in the gut.
Probiotics are organisms, usually bacteria, which have a beneficial effect on both digestion and limit the amount of unhealthy bacteria in your intestines.
There are limited sources of probiotics in the diet:
1. Yogurt is a familiar source of probiotics. Make sure “live culture”, “live bacteria”, or “probiotic” is listed on the label because not all yogurts are probiotic. In fact, the live culture or bacteria makes the yogurt probiotic.
2. Kefir, a thick form of yogurt-like drink made from fermented milk, is a good source for probiotics.
3. Aged cheeses (like Gouda and blue cheese) are a source of resilient probiotics that can survive their way through your intestines.
4. Soy beverages and unfermented milk contain weaker strains of probiotics that often do not produce their full health effects. However, fermented milk such as buttermilk is a better source of probiotics.
5. Miso soup, a popular Japanese dish, is a paste made from fermented soybean. Miso contains more than 160 bacterial strains.
Besides being found in foods, probiotics are also available as supplements. Even though they don’t provide the full benefits that dietary food can offer in terms of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, they are more convenient. Remember to always consult your doctor before you decide on taking them.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are special form of dietary fibers — including inulin, lactitol, lactulose and a variety of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).
Prebiotics serve as food sources for the healthy bacteria thus increasing their growth in your gut.
They can be readily found in non-digestible plant sources such as, burdock, chicory, dandelion root, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onions, and garlic according to “The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.
Prebiotics are also being added to cereals, breads, biscuits, yogurts and some dairy products.
Research has established strong evidence of a symbiotic relationship between prebiotics and probiotics.
Synbiotics are foods that act as both probiotics and prebiotics.