Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, nausea, and other GI problems are far too common. A 2018 survey of over 71,000 participants suggests nearly 2/3 of Americans suffer from GI problems in a week. (1) We need to learn more about taking care of our gastrointestinal system! I love my kombucha but there is more to a healthy gut than just making sure you add probiotics to your diet. Including prebiotic foods in your diet along with practicing healthy gut habits are important for a thriving microbiome and that means less GI stress.
Wait, What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Many of you have heard of probiotics as they are quite common. They are often recommended after taking a round of antibiotics and yogurt brands tout their ability to keep you regular. Probiotics are live organisms that can come in capsule form or piggyback on with some of your favorite foods. These organisms are microbes that add to the microbiome of many bacteria and fungi in your gut. If you are drinking kombucha then you are very familiar with the benefits of these bacteria, but you might not have heard of prebiotics.
Prebiotics are fibers found in a number of foods, but you wouldn’t be able to digest those fibers without the help of bacteria in your gut. Those beneficial microbes in your gut love them. Prebiotics allow those good bacteria to grow and thrive. So, by eating prebiotics you are helping to create a great environment for those good microbes. So, drink your kombucha and eat your prebiotic foods so when those probiotics get to your GI they are happy. They can thrive and grow in numbers keeping the bad bacteria from overtaking your healthy gut.
Potential Health Benefits of Prebiotics and a Healthy Gut
As you can imagine there are a number of potential health benefits of including prebiotics in your diet. They can help support a healthy gut which could mean a healthier GI which could mean numerous health benefits including not having some of those GI problems so many Americans report. A balanced microbiome and a diet that includes prebiotics could have benefits like:
- Improves Digestion
- Increases Mineral Absorption
- Supports Immune Response
- Promotes Healthy of Cells of Intestinal Lining
- Reduces Allergies
- Supports Metabolic Health
Prebiotic Foods to Add to Your Healthy Diet
Most of us do not get enough prebiotic foods in our diet even though they are very plentiful. Many prebiotic foods contain great nutrients and fiber that can help support your healthy lifestyle. It’s important to get a good variety of whole organic foods, while avoiding your allergies. Here are some examples of common prebiotic foods you can easily add to your diet.
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Chia Seeds
- Chicory Root
- Dandelion Greens
- Psyllium Husk
5 Recipes with Gut Healthy Prebiotic Foods
Take Care of Your Gut
Eating prebiotic foods is important for improving and maintaining your gut health but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to avoid other harmful gut habits. A probiotic or a prebiotic won’t fix a gut that is being abused with inflammatory foods or harmful chemicals. Those inflammatory foods include dairy, soy, wheat, sugar, processed foods and of course your food allergies.
If you are experiencing GI problems regularly you are probably experiencing other health concerns as well. If you feel like you are doing all the right things like eating prebiotics and probiotics while taking care of your gut but still experiencing GI concerns, then it is time to talk to a proficient provider for an assessment to see if further testing is necessary.
Too many people experience regular GI concerns. Just because your health problems are common doesn’t mean they are normal. Take care of your gut and it will take care of you. Start by giving it what it needs to thrive and that starts with a healthy diet that includes prebiotics.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn