Probiotics: Gut Health Boosters
In recent years, probiotics have become a popular topic in the field of health and wellness. These live microorganisms, found in specific foods and supplements, can provide a wide range of health benefits. From improving digestion to strengthening the immune system, probiotics have earned a reputation as boosters for gut health.
However, when it comes to maintaining optimal gut health, both prebiotics and probiotics are essential. While they have different functions, they work synergistically to help maintain our gut microbiome, the amazing mini-ecosystem of living microorganisms that reside within our digestive tract.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the live bacteria, which we can consume, either through food or probiotic supplements, that help support not only our gut health, but also our immune function and overall well-being.
But despite its health benefits, there is no perfect probiotic profile or strain of bacteria that is right for everyone. Therefore, the best thing we can do is eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes fermented foods packed with natural probiotics.
Nurturing the intestinal flora: What foods are rich in probiotics?
The intestinal flora, also known as the microbiota, is a diverse community of microorganisms that inhabits our intestines. These microorganisms include bacteria, yeast, and other microbes, and their proper balance is essential for maintaining good digestive health and a strong immune system.
Probiotic foods are those that contain specific strains of live microorganisms that, when consumed, can help restore and maintain the balance of intestinal flora. Some examples of probiotic foods include:
- Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the most well-known and widely available probiotic foods. It contains beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which can help improve digestion and strengthen the immune system.
- Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage and is an excellent source of probiotics. During the fermentation process, lactic acid bacteria are produced that promote intestinal health.
- Kefir: Kefir is a fermented drink made from milk or water. Contains a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that may improve digestive health and nutrient absorption.
- Kimchi: Originally from Korea, kimchi is another fermented food that contains a unique blend of beneficial bacteria and spices. It is known for its spicy flavor and its probiotic properties.
Benefits of Probiotics: Beyond Digestive Health
While probiotics are primarily known for their impact on digestive health, their benefits go far beyond that. Here are some ways that probiotics can help improve our overall health:
- Brain Health: There is a close connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Probiotics can positively influence this relationship, as they help regulate the production of neurotransmitters and help maintain emotional balance. Some research suggests that probiotics may have beneficial effects on disorders such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Immune system: Probiotics strengthen our immune system and help protect us against diseases. They stimulate the production of immune cells and protective substances, resulting in a more effective immune response. In addition, it has been observed that probiotics can reduce the risk of allergies, since they regulate the inflammatory response of the body.
- Vaginal health: Probiotics play an important role in the balance of the vaginal microbiota. Maintaining a healthy vaginal flora is essential to prevent infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. By taking specific probiotics, you can promote an optimal vaginal environment and prevent the proliferation of harmful microorganisms.
- Dermatological health: The skin is another organ that benefits from the action of probiotics. These microorganisms help strengthen the skin barrier, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy skin. Probiotics have been shown to be effective in treating conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, and rosacea.
- Improved digestion: Probiotics can help relieve symptoms of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and constipation. They can also promote the health of the intestinal mucosa and improve the absorption of nutrients.
What are prebiotics?
If you think of your gut as a garden, prebiotics are similar to fertilizers in that they help nourish and feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut, encourage their proliferation, and also help reduce levels of pathogenic gut bacteria in our digestive system. .
Prebiotics are indigestible plant fibers that are resistant to digestion and pass through the stomach and small intestine to be metabolized by bacteria in the large intestine or colon. As you can see, prebiotic foods are also essential for digestive health, as without an adequate intake of prebiotics, your beneficial microbes may not receive the nutrition they need to thrive.
Soluble prebiotic fiber is particularly good for our gut health, as when soluble fiber is metabolized by bacteria and fermented in the colon, the byproduct of this fermentation is the production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These anti-inflammatory compounds are essential for our immune and brain health, as well as our intestinal health, as they help improve intestinal barrier function and prevent side effects such as constipation.
Interestingly, in the Western world, our intake of dietary fiber is much lower than that of people living in non-industrialized regions, with some rural communities in Africa incorporating up to seven times more fiber into their diets. Lower fiber intake is related to lower microbial diversity in the human gut, resulting in poorer gut health.
What foods are rich in prebiotics?
- Onion and garlic: These vegetables contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a type of prebiotic fiber that stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine.
- Asparagus: They are an excellent source of inulin, another type of prebiotic fiber that helps feed and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
- Artichokes: Artichokes are rich in inulin and FOS, making them an ideal option to increase your intake of prebiotics.
- Bananas: Bananas contain resistant starch, a form of prebiotic fiber that is not digested in the small intestine and serves as a food source for beneficial bacteria in the colon.
- Chicory Root: Chicory root is a concentrated source of inulin and is often used as a prebiotic supplement.
- Oats and Other Whole Grains : Whole grains, such as oats, whole wheat, and barley, are rich in prebiotic fiber that feeds healthy gut bacteria.
- Legumes: Legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are a source of prebiotic fiber, as well as being rich in protein and other nutrients.
- Apples: Apples contain pectin, a prebiotic fiber that helps maintain a healthy balance in the intestinal microbiota.
- Flax and chia seeds: These seeds are a source of soluble fiber, which acts as a prebiotic in the intestine and promotes digestive health.
- Yogurt and other fermented milk products: In addition to being a source of probiotics, certain fermented milk products like yogurt contain milk oligosaccharides, a type of prebiotic.
As you can see, both prebiotics and probiotics play a fundamental role in our intestinal health and general well-being. At Ganbatte Superfoods we adopt this synergistic relationship with our Boost supplement, which will help you boost your intestinal health every day.
Now that you know a little more about the importance of taking care of our bugs, we leave you the link to our favorite Kombucha drink (particularly Komvida's, we love their flavors!), full of flavor, refreshing and very, very good for our mini gut ecosystem.
The most important thing is: we need diversity in our intestinal flora!
Written by Ana Saiz
Co-founder of Ganbatte Superfoods