An old adage is, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This quote is accredited to Hippocrates, who is largely considered the father of modern medicine. Though thousands of years old, this quote acknowledges the impact food has on our health.
Why it’s Important to Keep Your Gut Healthy
You might be thinking, why does my gut health matter? But it’s important to keep your gut healthy for many reasons. Your gut is responsible for housing your immune system and plays a vital role in digestion. Out of all the organs in your body, your gut is the largest and most complex.
An estimated 40 trillion bacteria strains are found in the human body, most of which are located in the gut. Collectively, they are known as the gut microbiome, and they can influence your health in many ways.
Your gut helps you to absorb nutrients from your food, helps with digestion and subsequently eliminates waste, has a central nervous system connection, and much more. A healthy gut can help you keep chronic issues, like heart disease and cancer, at bay, reduce inflammation, and maintain a healthy weight. Your gut microbiome can even affect brain health and mood disorders.
Improving the Gut Microbiome
So, how can you improve your gut microbiome? The good news is that simple diet changes like eliminating or limiting artificial sweeteners, coffee, dairy, refined grains, red meat, sugar, processed foods, and alcohol are a good start. Combine that with the addition of probiotics, prebiotics, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier gut.
What’s the Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics?
At this point, you probably have some questions: Do you need both probiotics and prebiotics to have a healthy gut environment? And how do you know which one to use? Although both products can be beneficial to your gut health, they work in different ways. Here we’ll break down the difference between probiotics and prebiotics so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you. We’ll also share some tips on cultivating a healthy gut environment so it is easier than ever to take care of your digestive system.
What are probiotics, and what do they do for you?
Probiotics are live bacteria that you ingest to help support a healthy gut environment. The most well-known type of probiotic is lactobacillus acidophilus, often found in yogurt. Probiotics work by helping to crowd out bad bacteria and fungi, which can lead to an unhealthy gut environment. They can also help to produce vitamins and enzymes necessary for gut health. Eating foods naturally rich in probiotics can help balance gut bacteria, boost immunity and even keep your heart healthy. Probiotic-rich foods include fermented foods such as:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut Yogurt (with live cultures)
What are prebiotics, and what do they do for you?
Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for your gut’s microorganisms. Prebiotics are important because they help to fertilize the gut microbiome, which is the community of bacteria that live in your intestines. Once you’ve got good bacteria established in your gut with probiotics, you need to feed them with prebiotics so they can flourish and make more good bacteria.
When prebiotics are consumed, they travel to the large intestine and are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids, which are important for gut health. Prebiotic foods are usually high in certain types of fiber, known as fermentable soluble fiber. The following is a list of foods to eat if you’re looking to up your prebiotic game:
- Beans and Legumes
- Dandelion Greens (raw)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Garlic (raw)
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- Onions (raw or cooked)
It’s important to note that probiotics are most effective when you’re taking the right strain of bacteria for your particular gut problem. Below are some of the most common strains, their functions, and where to find them.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
Belonging to the lactobacillus genus, lactobacillus acidophilus helps break down lactose in dairy foods into lactic acid by producing the lactase enzyme.
- Found in yogurt, miso, and tempeh.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
This probiotic strain also belongs to the lactobacillus genus. L. rhamnosus has the ability to survive both acidic and basic conditions in your body.
- Found in keifer, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso.
- Lactobacillus fermentum
fermentum may support the breakdown of fats. It is also one of the few strains that offer unique support for the vaginal tract, making it an excellent choice for women.
- Found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, sourdough bread, and kimchi.
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
This probiotic strain plays an essential role in supporting the overall balance of your microbiome.
- Found in yogurt, sauerkraut, certain cheeses, kimchi, miso, soy sauce, and fermented bean pastes.
- Lactobacillus reuteri
Lactobacillus reuteri may help support the tummies of children as well as help support a range of uncomfortable symptoms like occasional gas in adults.
- Found in cheeses like cheddar, gruyère, parmigiano reggiano, roncal, and toma.
- Lactobacillus brevis
brevis is particularly beneficial for digestive health. Several studies indicate that it can combat gastric ulcers and reduce the signs of gastric mucosa infection.
- Found in fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, wine, salami, cheese, sourdough bread, pickles, yogurt, cocoa, and coffee.
- Lactobacillus helveticus
Another incredible member of your microbiome’s “ensemble,” lactobacillus helveticus may help to support overall digestion and balance.
- Found in cheeses like Parmesan, cheddar, and Gruyère, as well as Keifer, buttermilk, kombucha, and olives.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
bifidum produces lactic acid. It also attaches itself to the large intestine and vaginal walls to offer support and balance.
- Found in milk kefir, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables.
- Bifidobacterium lactis
This probiotic strain is another multi-talented ensemble member that may help support both digestive health and immune function.
- Found in sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled veggies, as well as in yogurt.
- Bifidobacterium longum
longum is one of the first bacteria to colonize a newborn infant’s digestive system. It’s also present in breast milk and may help to maintain a healthy gut balance.
- Found in goat dairy products, like yogurt, kefir, seaweed, and miso.
- Bifidobacterium infants
Another of the first probiotic strains to colonize the digestive system of newborns, B. infantis, may be one of the most important probiotic strains for children and adults. In addition to overall digestive support, it may also provide support for digestive distress, irregularity, and occasional gas and bloating.
- Found in yogurt, olives, sauerkraut, salami, and certain cheeses.
Overcoming Digestive Issues Naturally
Here at Atlas Specific, we help people overcome digestive problems naturally instead of masking the symptoms with drugs. We take a different approach. By looking at and identifying root causes, we can address the underlying problem and help you solve your digestive issues once and for all.
If you’re struggling with digestive issues and gut health and you feel you need additional help, reach out to us by dropping by our office at 1800 E 3rd Ave #108, in Durango, giving us a call at 970 – 259 – 6803, or clicking the link below to set up a free consultation with our team.
Notice of Disclaimer:
We are doctors of upper cervical chiropractic, but we are NOT necessarily YOUR doctors. All content and information on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, do not constitute medical advice, and reading or interacting with this site does not establish any form of the patient-doctor relationship. Although we strive to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in your particular area of need before making medical decisions.