Our digestive tract is composed of trillions of bacteria. A large portion of your body’s microbiome is found in the gut. These healthy bacteria influence every cell, organ, and system of the body. They control digestion, assimilation of nutrients, inflammation, hormone production and much more. While good bacteria can help your gut thrive, bad bacteria can have a massive impact on your health, both physically and mentally. If these healthy bacteria are outnumbered by harmful bacteria, the result can be a number of problems such as weight gain, fatigue, poor digestion, inflammation, hormone imbalance, and much more.
In recent years, scientists have discovered how complex and vital your microbiome really is to your health.
There are certain foods that are known to help support your gut health. Introducing more prebiotic, and probiotic foods into your diet will help diversify your microbiome. This will benefit many things including weight management that will help combat types 2 diabetes, Celiac disease, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Here are 15 prebiotic and probiotic foods to boost your gut health:
- Dandelion greens
- High-fiber Foods
- Apple cider vinegar
- SBO Probiotics
The Role of Bacteria in Your Gut Health
You may have heard the terms gut health, gut microbiome, and good bacteria, but how well do you know what they mean?
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria and other gut microbes. There are more than 1000 species of bacteria. Each persons’ microbiome is made up of a different combination of bacteria. Although there are a core set of microorganisms that most people will likely have, your gut bacteria is unique to you.
Even though having bacteria in your digestive tract sounds negative, the majority of bacteria is actually good for you. However, there are a handful of “bad” bacteria that can harm you and throw off the balance of your gut. The good bacteria in your gut help to suppress the bad that can cause disease and other health problems. The good bacteria fight off the bad bacteria and restores balance in your gut. You will often hear the word balance used a lot in gut health. That’s because balance is key to a healthy gut, body, and mind.
How to Diverse Your Microbiome
Research shows that the more diverse and richer your gut microbiome, the lower your risk of disease and allergies. By having a diverse microbiome with trillions of healthy microbes working together, it can benefit multiple areas of your health. A healthy gut flora doesn’t just include good bacteria but a diverse range of microbes.
A rich and diverse gut consists of lots of different bacterial species as well as plenty of individual bacteria from each species. It’s the combination of rich and diverse that allows your gut to thrive. Low gut microbiome diversity is associated with several diseases such as obesity, inflammation, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
To diversify your microbiome, you need to eat a diverse range of foods. Over the years, food diversity in the American diet has decreased while eating highly processed foods has become increased. With the overuse of antibiotics that can wipe out a significant number of bacteria in your gut, it’s no surprise that microbiome diversity has become a problem.
One way to increase your microbiome diversity is by eating a more plant-based diet. A healthy plant-based diet can help increase your microbiome diversity as it tends to be naturally high in fiber, prebiotic and probiotic foods.
The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics
When you’re looking to increase your gut diversity and maintain a healthy gut flora, you’ll often come across prebiotics and probiotics. Although the names sound similar, the two are very different.
Prebiotic is a specific type of dietary fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. In order for the good bacteria to thrive, you need to eat prebiotic foods to nourish the bacteria.
On the other hand, probiotics are live bacteria that you can find in fermented foods and probiotic supplements. There are a lot of different probiotic species. As prebiotics feed the good bacteria and probiotics introduce live bacteria, it’s a good idea to eat a combination of both types of foods.
With probiotics, you also have SBO probiotics (soil-based organisms). SBO probiotics occur naturally in the soil. These types of organisms tend to be more acid resistant and able to survive the harsh environment in the digestive system.
If you’re thinking about using a probiotic supplement, it’s useful to find a product that uses SBO probiotics. SBO probiotics can seed themselves in the digestive tract and promote a balanced microbiome. Probiotic supplements are a simple way to boost your microbiome diversity and promote a healthy gut.
Learn more about SBO Probiotics here.
Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods For A Healthy Gut
Garlic is a good source of antioxidants and prebiotics. It promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Garlic also helps to fight bad bacteria and stop it from multiplying. When the bad bacteria gets out of hand, it can lead to health issues. As well as being an excellent addition to any meal, garlic is highly nutritious. It contains vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, fiber, and selenium.
2. Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are rich in several vitamins and a good source of prebiotic fiber. A good chunk of fiber comes from its inulin content. Inulin is a type of dietary fiber. Dandelion greens are great in a salad and the fiber helps to increase the number of friendly bacteria and support the immune system.
Apples are not only delicious but contain prebiotic fiber in the form of pectin. Apples increase butyrates which are a type of short-chain fatty acid that feeds the good bacteria. It also helps to decrease harmful bacteria in the gut. The polyphenol antioxidants in apples have been linked to better digestive health. The bottom line is apples are a great gut-boosting snack.
Onions are a nutritious and versatile vegetable. Onions are rich in fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin, which are both prebiotic fibers. The FOS content in onions helps to strengthen the gut flora as well as give the immune system a boost. Onions also contain antioxidant and anticancer properties due to its quercetin content. Quercetin is a type of flavonoid that’s useful in fighting free radicals and reducing the risk of heart disease.
5. Chicory Root
Chicory root has a coffee-like taste and is a fantastic source of prebiotics. Almost half the fiber in chicory root comes from the prebiotic fiber inulin. It’s the inulin in chicory root that helps to feed friendly bacteria in the gut, boosts digestion, and helps to relieve constipation. Chicory root is often used as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee.
6. High Fiber Foods
High fiber foods like bananas,asparagus, artichokes, lentils, beans, and almonds are all great sources of prebiotics because they are high in fiber. This fiber feeds the good bacteria in your microbiome and helps with digestion and elimination.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been a contraversial “health food” but it does help your body create HCL (hydrochloric acid), a stomach acid that aids in digesting fats, carbs, and protein. It can help with weight loss and help to relieve acid reflux because of all the beneficial probiotics and amino acids apple cider vinegar comes with.
Yogurt is made by fermenting any type of milk (dairy or plant-based) with a culture and letting it ferment for several days. It provides protein and calcium, and enhances healthy gut bacteria to help keep your digestive and immune systems functioning well. When deciding on what kind of yogurt to buy, choose a brand with live active cultures or better yet, make your own at home.
Related: Make Your Own Vegan Coconut Yogurt
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink. It can be based on either green tea or black tea. Kombucha starts out as a sugary sweet tea. It is then fermented with the help of a SCOBY which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The end product is a fermented drink full of live bacteria and yeast.
Kimchi is a Korean dish made of fermented cabbage. You mix cabbage with flavorings like garlic and ginger and leave it to ferment. Kimchi’s digestive benefits come from the lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus kimchii as well as other types of lactic acid bacteria.
Like kimchi, sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage dish. Sauerkraut tends to ferment for longer than kimchi and is less crunchy. It’s a traditional dish and is popular in many countries in the world, especially in Europe. Its probiotic properties come from lactic acid bacteria, but it’s also rich in fiber, vitamin C, K, and B.
Tempeh is a fermented food made from soybean. It looks like a patty and usually tastes quite earthy, similar to mushrooms. It has a much stronger flavor than tofu which tends to taste quite neutral before you add any seasonings. Tempeh is often used as a high-protein alternative to meat. As tempeh is a fermented product, it’s rich in probiotics and delivers around 100 billion CFU per 100 grams. CFU stands for colony-forming unit. Basically, it refers to the number of live organisms in each serving.
This traditional Japanese paste is made from soybeans that have been fermented with salt and a koji starter (usually containing the Aspergillus oryzae fungus). Other than being an amazing source of protein and fiber, miso is rich in probiotics that can help treat intestinal disorders. Research shows that probiotics may help reduce symptoms linked to digestive problems including inflammatory bowel disease.
One of the most delicious ways to strengthen healthy gut bacteria is with chocolate!. Chocolate is loaded with prebiotic and probiotics. There’s a growing number of brands that now make raw and certified organic, prebiotic and probiotic-enhanced chocolate bars.
15. SBO Probiotics
SBO (soil based organisms) probiotics can easily survive the harsh environment of the digestive tract. Often, bacteria is destroyed before it has the chance to reach the intestines to seed and increase the diversity in your microbiome. Sunwarrior’s SBO Probiotics contains both probiotics and prebiotics to enhance your digestive health and support the immune system.
Watch Probiotics & Prebiotics: The Dynamic Duo | Dr. Weston
From your energy production and skin to your mental health and hormone levels, your gut plays a role in so many different processes within the body. By eating a diverse range of foods with plenty of prebiotic fiber and probiotics, you can restore balance in your gut and promote a healthy microbiome.