Gut health seems to be an ever-present topic of conversation when discussing general nutrition. And with good reason: the health of your gut microbiome—the collection of live bacteria and yeast residing in your lower intestines—can potentially influence everything from digestion to mental health to immunity.
If your gut is in healthy balance so that it contains more “good” microbes than “bad” ones, the rest of your body is likely to be in balance, too. So, how do you keep your gut happy? Probiotics and prebiotics can both play a significant role in the health of your microbiome. Here, we’ll share what they can do and ways to include them in your diet.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria found in certain foods and supplements that are similar to those naturally found in your gut. When you ingest probiotic bacteria, they can help repopulate your gut microbiome and change the balance of bacterial species residing there.
There are seven different genuses of microorganisms most often found in probiotic products, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and each play different roles in the human body,
Naturally fermented foods are rich in probiotics, and include:
- Cultured cottage cheese
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are soluble fibers that contribute to gut health. They essentially act like fertilizer, passing through your digestive system to become fuel for your gut microbiome and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria. Natural sources of prebiotics include:
- Dandelion greens