Prebiotics and probiotics. What are they, where are they found, and what are the benefits?
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You’ve probably heard that prebiotics and probiotics have benefits for health. We’ll break it down for you to give you the facts, including ideas for increasing them in your diet.
Prebiotics are nondigestible plant fibers that feed the healthy microorganisms in your digestive system. Yes, there are about 100 trillion microorganisms in the digestive tract, and prebiotics are their nutrient source.
Probiotics are healthy microorganisms in the digestive tract that help with food digestion, control harmful bacteria, and serve other essential functions such as producing vitamins.
What do prebiotics do for you? Regular prebiotic intake keeps healthy bacteria thriving in the digestive tract. This is important for digestive system health and the entire body. Studies show that prebiotics and probiotics can positively benefit the immune system and metabolic health. In fact, the community of microorganisms that live in the body, called the microbiome, is a hot research topic these days.
You can find prebiotics in such foods as asparagus, sugar beets, garlic, chicory, onion, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, peas, beans, tomatoes, apples, bananas, wheat, flaxseed, barley, oat, rye, soybeans, honey, and seaweed.
Prebiotics are also added to some foods and are available as dietary supplements.
Fermented foods are the most natural sources of probiotics. Probiotic sources include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi, and in some cheeses including Swiss, provolone, Gouda, cheddar, Edam, and Gruyère.
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