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Probiotic Supplements – Not What You Think

Anyone with a smidgen of interest in healthy eating and / or weight loss has heard of probiotics. As a refresher, they are friendly microorganisms inhabiting the digestive tract. Most probiotics are bacteria. Other types of probiotics include yeast. Probiotics aid digestion and may confer additional health benefits.

Probiotics in your gut number in the trillions, and each person has a specific probiotic “fingerprint”. Your probiotic population is nourished by the foods that you eat. Any food that is cultured or fermented has probiotics:

1. yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk
2. aged cheese such as cheddar, Gouda, or Parmesan
3. sauerkraut, kimchi and other pickled vegetables
4. sourdough bread
5. miso (fermented barley or soy or rice)
6. tempeh – fermented soy
7. kombucha – fermented tea that is gaining in popularity in the US
8. beer and wine

As people are looking for short-cuts, a booming probiotic supplement industry has flourished in recent years.

If you are spending money on probiotics, you may be throwing your money away. It turns out that of the hundreds of billions of probiotic bacteria in each supplement pill, less than one hundred survive the passage through the stomach acids to emerge in the intestines and do their thing.

This is where prebiotics come in.

Prebiotics are non-living, non-digestible carbs that serve as food for probiotics. Unlike probitoics, prebiotics are not alive. Most prebiotics are some form of fiber. Our body does not digest fiber, but the bacteria in our gut, including the probiotics, do. Feeding these helpful bacteria keeps them doing what they are supposed to do in order to help our health.

Foods with prebiotics include:

1. raw chicory root – the top source, with almost 60% fiber
2. raw Jerusalem artichoke
3. raw garlic, leeks, and onions
4. whole wheat
5. fruits and vegetables
6. legumes

Since each person’s gut is unique, try and experiment with different foods and see what works for you. The best way to consume probiotics and prebiotics is via food, not supplements.

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