Chances are you’ve heard of know what probiotics are (and I’ve given you 7 reasons why you need them). And you’ve probably seen the commercials trying to sell you supplements, specific yogurts, and even a drink.
But what do you know about PREbiotics? Nope, not a made up word. Prebiotics are actually plant fibers found in some foods that nourish the prebiotics within your digestive system.
In your colon, there are thousands of species of bacteria (both good and bad) and in order to have a healthy digestion system, you need an abundance of good bacteria to combat the bad bacteria. Probiotics introduce the good bacteria to your colon and prebiotics act like a fertilizer and feed the probiotics. Without an adequate amount of prebiotics, probiotics may fall and it can lead stomach issues.
We know that probiotics are found in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, fermented cheese and kefir. But you’ll need to add foods like asparagus, leeks, yams, bananas, legumes, Jerusalem artichoke, raw garlic and onions to your diet to get the right amount of prebiotics.
Unfortunately there is no food that contains both pro and prebiotics.
There are lots of health benefits associated with eating foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics:
- Regular digestive health
- Improved immune system
- Less leaky gut
- Less inflammation
- Weight loss
There has also been lots of research that suggests a connection between gut health and brain health. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have studied the enteric nervous system (ENS), which lines your gastrointestinal tract and controls digestions. They also believe that it communicates with your brain. It’s now believed that digestive issues that you may have – irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc. – sends signals to your brain and central nervous system (CNS), which can trigger mood swings.
It was previously thought that when you have emotional issues, such as anxiety and depression, that those can lead to stomach problems. But now they think that it may be the other way around. Jay Pasricha, M.D, .director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology says “Research suggests that digestive-system activity may affect cognition (thinking skills and memory), too…This is an area that needs more research, something we hope to do here at Johns Hopkins.”
And knowing that 70% of our immune system is linked to the gut, we need to take our digestive health more seriously.
For more information about how there is a connection between food and behavior – especially in children – check out my webinar.