|Erin Stokes, ND| January 2019 |
Feeding your flora for good digestive health*
When it comes to digestive health, there can be a lot of unfamiliar terms to decipher. Perhaps most important to understand is the intricate relationship between the foods we eat, and the trillions of microbes that live inside of us. Let’s take a hard look at the role of probiotics, prebiotics, and how to keep their world -your body- in balance.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast, or ‘friendly’ microbes, that are found in certain foods or in supplements, which are particularly beneficial for our digestive tract.”(1)
Probiotics is a term many of us are familiar with. We find probiotics in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha. A healthy probiotic colony promotes optimal digestive health by aiding nutrient absorption, supporting a properly functioning immune system, and more. Eating probiotic-rich foods and taking probiotic supplements are two ways to keep your bacteria in balance.* Yet, establishing that colony is one thing, keeping it healthy and thriving is another. That’s where prebiotics come into play.
Prebiotics are the food that nourishes our probiotic colonies.
Probiotics thrive on a diet of (what our digestive tract would consider to be) indigestible sugars and fibers. The good news for us is that many of the whole foods that are healthful for us are healthful for our microbes as well! A diet that includes plenty of fiber and plants is a great start - whole grains, root vegetables, legumes, and many others contain these gut-nourishing prebiotic compounds.
First come, first serve
A simple way to think of the role of probiotics in your gut is to imagine your digestive tract as a parking lot. In this parking lot, you have a certain number of spaces available. When a parking space is open, anyone that passes by can park there whether you want them to or not; beneficial bacteria or something more harmful.
When we supplement with probiotics, we essentially reserve these spaces for the good microbes, and encourage them to use them, forcing the harmful microbes out of the lot. We ingest probiotics on a regular basis to ensure there are always enough beneficial bacteria present to keep our parking lot full of desirable inhabitants.
Prebiotics: your gut’s valet
Getting the right microbes into their parking spaces -and keeping them there- is only half the battle. Just like us, probiotics need to be fed the right kind of foods to support their well-being.* Once “parked,” ample prebiotics will ensure that our revered probiotics stay healthy, nourished, and able to do their job.
Understanding the role that probiotics and prebiotics play within your microbiome is an empowering thing, as there are many choices you can make to promote a healthy, happy, balanced colony of this beneficial bacteria..
Help your flora flourish! Ensure your probiotics stay parked right where you want them:
(1) Fortify your Life, Tieraona Low Dog, MD