Take the first step toward better gut health by understanding the difference between prebiotics and probiotics.
(Disclosure: Some of the research mentioned below was obtained at a symposium I attended courtesy of a partial sponsorship by Beneo. I was not asked to write this post, nor am I being compensated to do so.)
This time last week I was finishing up a trip to Mexico and chatting with a young woman on my trip who wasn’t feeling her best. She was blaming it on either a few more adult beverages than she needed, an overexposure to sun and/or food poisoning. I’m sure it could’ve been any combo of the three, but I also suspect some of it was just the general tummy upset that seems to accompany traveling, especially to other parts of the globe.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I HATE the thought of falling victim to stomach upset. I mean, I know none of us especially “like” it… but seriously, it’s my kryptonite. It’s also one of the reasons I’m so passionate about Gut Health and have talked about it here before.
One of the other reasons, though, I’m so passionate about gut health (in addition to the fact that it’s being linked every day to more and more disease states) is because it’s still so misunderstood. I identified fairly early in my convo with the young lady mentioned above that she had only a basic understanding about the importance of feeding your tummy with healthy bacteria. She knew Greek yogurt was “healthy,” but was concerned it had “too much sugar.”
Sidenote: I saw her drinking a Coke later and didn’t have the heart to be the busy-body RD pointing out the irony there. Sometimes you just have to let it go, you know?
My point is this — simply knowing yogurt is good for your digestion is like knowing that you need yarn to knit. There’s a lot more to a healthy gut than eating a little yogurt — sugar containing or not — here and there.
There are a number of factors beyond whether or not you like yogurt that influence gut health — ranging from whether or not you were born C-section or vaginally, whether you took a lot of antibiotics as a kid (or even now as an adult) and whether or not you were breastfed. A lot of that we can’t change today.
But what we can change is what we eat. While there’s a lot we still don’t know about gut health, we do know that BOTH a combination of probiotics (the living microorganisms that you introduce into your digestive tract) and prebiotics (the substances, mostly fiber, that they feed off of) are needed daily to foster a healthy gut. Probiotics are often thought of in relation to yogurt, yes. But other fermented foods can also be beneficial, including kimchi, kefir, fermented krauts/pickles, miso and more. In terms of prebiotics, foods that are rich in fermentable carbohydrates (soluble fiber), and especially inulin or chicory root, top the list of foods your gut bacteria want to feed off.
Here are the Healthy Aperture recipes we recommend to get the most taste and benefit for a healthy (and happy) tummy!
Wild Blueberry Kefir Smoothie via The Lean Green Bean
Kefir Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes via Chard in Charge
The Reuben Roll via The Cozy Apron
Turmeric Cauliflower Rice Bowl (with fermented kraut) via Avocado A Day Nutrition
Carolina Tempeh Reuben Sandwich via The Clean Dish
Skillet Tempeh Enchiladas via Danielle Omar Nutrition
Mixed Berry Kombucha Gummy Snacks via Le Petit Eats
Strawberry Basil Kombucha via Roasted Root Food
Fermented Carrot Pickles via Avocado A Day Nutrition
Easy Homemade Kimchi via Yuri Elkaim
Bulgogi Kimchi Rice Plate via Running To The Kitchen
Sauteed Kale with Kimchi via Danielle Omar Nutrition
Probiotic Packed Bircher Oatmeal via Healthy Aperture
How To Make Miso Soup via Living Well Kitchen
Miso Soup with Veggie Noodles via A Saucy Kitchen
How To Make Your Own Yogurt via Mom's Kitchen Handbook
5 Minute Honey Yogurt Quinoa Parfait via Pinch of Yum
Lemon Thyme Jerusalem Artichokes via Everyday Healthy Recipes
Healthier Creamy Potato Leek Soup via Platings and Pairings
Asparagus Prosciutto Bundles via Food Done Light
Breakfast Baked Apples via Healthy Aperture
Jicama Fries via Food Fanatic
Sauteed Dandelion Greens via For The Love Of Food
Healthy Banana Nut Muffins via Well Plated
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