Have you ever wondered what people are talking about when the words probiotics and prebiotics get thrown around? It seems every food company these days is marketing their products on TV, magazines and bus stops as being beneficial for gut health due to their prebiotic content. But what does it all mean and do you need to be including them in your diet? Read below if you want help making sense of it all!
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live inside the digestive tract, and are found in bacteria, yeast or fungi. Probiotics are the good kind of bacteria that keeps the digestive system healthy, helping to break down food as it enters the system, and has also been found to be beneficial in relieving constipation, aiding recovery from diarrhoea, reducing harmful bacteria that lead to gas and bloating, and supporting the immune system. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement form or found in food products. If using a probiotic supplement, look for one that contains at least 10 billion CFU’s (colony forming units), check the storage recommendations on the label, and take the probiotic with breakfast for at least a month to be able to see the effects on your health. There are various strains of bacteria that will have benefits for different conditions, so your doctor or dietitian will be the best source of information when looking for a supplement.
Top food sources of probiotics:
- • Yoghurt and kefir
- • Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh and miso
- • Kombucha
Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in certain foods. These food components pass through the digestive system relatively unchanged and arrive in the large bowel, where they become food for the good bacteria living in there. Prebiotics help to balance the digestive system and maintain regularity by providing fuel for the beneficial bacteria that live in the body.
Top food sources of prebiotics:
- • Plant foods including: bananas, onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, green vegetables
- • Whole grains: whole oats, barley, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans)
- • Nuts and seeds
Tip: the prebiotic fibre in these foods break down over time and with cooking, so try enjoying them fresh and raw wherever possible!
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