Pre-biotics and Probiotics

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Fah-Yeh!
“Fa-Yeh!”

During the past couple of years, yogurt (especially greek yogurt) has been gaining popularity for many reasons. It can be good source of calories, protein, and probiotics (lactobacilli). Probiotics are helpful in replenishing our gut’s bacterial flora by introducing an external source of bacteria. They can help rebalance a skewed bacterial population in our guts. Many special populations turn to probiotics as a healing food, such as those with bowel inflammation or bacteria-caused diarrhea. But before you run out and buy 100 cartons of yogurt, understand that caution is advised to all who take probiotics because there are many variables that affect it’s possible health benefits: the strain of bacteria, the amount, and the health status of each individual. Nothing is fully conclusive about its health benefits; only positive correlations have been established.

Most of us have heard about the health benefits of probiotics, but have you heard of pre-biotics? A few months ago, I was reintroduced to them by my preceptor who discussed their benefit with a patient. Think of pre-biotics as food for our gut’s bacteria. They are equally important as probiotics because pre-biotics allow the gut to maintain its balance of good bacteria which aid in normal digestion and prevention of chronic gastro-intestinal/GI diseases (like colon cancer). To qualify as a pre-biotic, it cannot be broken down or absorbed in the stomach or intestines before our gut’s bacteria metabolize them. Good sources of pre-biotics come from resistant starches (from whole grains and legumes)-sometimes referred to as the 3rd type of fiber after soluble and insoluble fibers- and various types of sugars (from fruits and vegetables). As if you need even another positive reason to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, eating them to help your GI health with pre-biotics is another AMAZING reason to do so.

The take away message here is that including probiotics and pre-biotics can be helpful in improving gut health. Do that by regularly including yogurt, whole grains, fruits and vegetables everyday. There’s no need to over think it. By following the My-Plate method at every meal, it’ll be a no-brainer

To your health, friends.

Thomas Ngo
Dietetic Intern
NASM Certified Personal Trainer

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