What are Probiotics?
You don't necessarily need probiotics — a type of "good" bacteria — to be healthy. However, these microorganisms may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing "good" bacteria in your body already do. You may take probiotic pills but we have found Kefir a super probiotic drink you can make yourself to be very good tasting and beneficial.
What are prebiotics?
The term refers to food ingredients that nourish pro-biotics. Typically they are fibers and certain sugars that we don’t digest or absorb, but that the good bacteria in our intestines feed on, thereby stimulating their growth and activity. The fermentation creates short chain fatty acids which can prevent pathogens (dangerous bacteria) from forming and clinging to the intestinal walls, where they can later form cancerous polyps. Prebiotics occur naturally in small amounts in many carbohydrate-rich foods-- whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Whole grains such as wheat, barley, and oatmeal, are rich in prebiotics, according to the Mayo Clinic. Whole grains, which haven't had their fiber and protein stripped during processing, help you feel satiated faster and offer greater nutritional benefits than refined varieties such as enriched flour and degerminated cornmeal. Aim for at least three 1 oz. whole grain servings each day.
Berries, bananas and cherries are among the fruits that contain the highest level of prebiotics. The number of servings you need each day depends on how many calories you eat. For instance, young children and some older people only need about two servings of fruit per day because their diet is generally around 1,600 calories a day. Older children, teen girls and most adults need about three servings for a 2,200 calorie diet and teen boys and active men need about four servings, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. One serving is equivalent to about one medium banana or about ½ cup of blueberries. Stick to fresh and frozen fruit over fruit juice and fruits canned in syrup to get the most nutritional value out of your fruit intake.
Vegetables such as chard, kale, artichokes, chicory, garlic, onions and leeks are rich in prebiotics, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your daily intake of these vegetables depends on your daily calorie intake, but it should range from about three to five servings per day. One serving is equivalent to about 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables or ½ cup of other types of vegetables, cooked or raw.
This is just one more reason to eat whole grains, your digestive system will thank you.