Your gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem of microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, living in your gastrointestinal tract. While you may not even know this community of living things is inside your body, it has a tremendous effect on your health. In fact, keeping this microbiome healthy can help keep you healthy. Therefore, we must feed it what it wants: prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics are nondigestible food components found naturally in some foods. They become the food for probiotics and help stimulate the growth of good bacteria. Prebiotics are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, such as onions, artichokes, asparagus and bananas. Probiotics, on the other hand, are live “good” bacteria. They are naturally found in your gut, but also come through food and supplements. Probiotics may help improve immunity and digestion and reduce inflammation in the gut. They are found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir (fermented milk drink), sauerkraut, kimchi (fermented vegetables) and kombucha (fermented tea). Note that if fermented foods are processed (heat-treated) after fermentation, they will not contain live cultures of probiotics.
Don’t start taking probiotic supplements without speaking with your health care provider or gastroenterologist first. The most common probiotics found in dietary supplements and foods include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. There are many different species and strains, and not all will have the same benefit. Start with food first and try combining prebiotics with probiotics (called synbiotics). Try the recipe below to merge the prebiotics, onions and garlic, with the probiotic, yogurt.