Prebiotics and probiotics are very important for our health; they work together to make sure our digestive system is working properly. We must begin by understanding the role of bacteria in our bodies.
We have trillions of microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses) that live in our gut, which make up our gut microbiome. When we hear the word “bacteria”, we immediately think that it must be bad, but did you know that there are helpful and harmful types of bacteria? Good bacteria help protect you from bad bacteria, which is why it’s so important to consume foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics.
The purpose of prebiotics is to help the healthy bacteria grow, but what exactly are prebiotics and where do you find them? Prebiotics are a type of fiber that your body cannot digest. They travel through your body to your digestive tract and act as food to nourish the healthy bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics also have many other benefits including supporting the immune system, improving the absorption of certain minerals, and preventing constipation. Prebiotics are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, apples, barley, and oats.
On the other hand, probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive system. When you get an infection or feel sick, probiotics are there to balance your body and fight off bad bacteria to make you feel better. There are many things that we do that may have a negative impact on our gut. One of them is taking too many antibiotics. Antibiotics are necessary at times and are used to kill bacteria but this means they kill off the bad AND good bacteria. Lack of exercise, not getting enough sleep, and having high stress levels may also reduce the healthy bacteria in our bodies. Consuming probiotics helps restore the good bacteria in our gut and prevents health problems. You can get probiotics from supplements or foods that have been fermented. The most common source of probiotics is yogurt, but you can also get them from kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and kimchi.
Smoothies are a perfect way to incorporate both prebiotics and probiotics in your diet. Below is a quick and easy smoothie recipe that contains prebiotics (berries and bananas) and probiotics (kefir or yogurt).
Probiotic Berry Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup Wildberries Whole Milk Kefir (or yogurt of your choice)
- ½ cup frozen strawberries
- ½ cup frozen raspberries
- ½ cup blueberries
- ½ frozen banana
- 1 TBSP chia seeds
- Add all smoothie ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Turn it into a smoothie bowl with desired toppings or just drink it as is. Enjoy!