‘Friendly bacteria’ sounds like an oxymoron – but the truth is, our body is packed with trillions of friendly bacteria, essential for maintaining good health and vitality. To have a thriving population of these good guys, we need to discuss two terms, probiotics and prebiotics. You may have heard these terms before but do you know the difference or the benefits?
PUT SIMPLY…. Probiotics are microorganisms found in bacteria, which help improve and promote the health of your gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics are non-digestible food fibres that ‘feed’ those friendly bacteria and help their growth, whist discouraging the growth of unfriendly organisms.
Our digestive system plays a huge role in a well functioning immune system and goes into battle against harmful bacteria and viruses. So to stay well, we need to nurture a substantial population of friendly gut bacteria.
Let’s look at practical ways to do this!
Yoghurt: add a dollop to your morning oats or enjoy a small tub as a snack or dessert. Read your ingredient list and ensure that it contains some friendly bacteria.
Miso: enjoy a miso soup for lunch with a 2 or 3 sushi rolls.
Tempeh: delicious grilled or BBQ’d with Asian greens
Sauerkraut: try some warm sauerkraut with some lean pork fillets, some applesauce and greens.
Kimchi: have some Korean kimchi in a vegetarian dish with some sautéed onions, garlic, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and okra served over brown rice.
Kefir: is a fermented milk drink very popular in Russia. Swap your lemon and water for a glass of kefir each morning.
Bananas: are a perfect snack to have before or after exercise
Soybeans: have a vegetarian stirfry with some marinated tofu strips, or a berry and soy milk smoothie as an afternoon tea snack
Jerusalem artichokes: are perfect on an antipasti plater
Barley: is a great addition to a wintery soup or used in place of Arborio rice in a risotto
Flaxseeds/linseeds: choose baked goods like soy and linseed bread; toast some flaxseeds and sprinkle over a salad; or dress a salad with a drizzle of flaxseed oil and lemon.
Legumes: enjoy lentil curries; add kidney beans to a Mexican inspired dish; or have some hummus with some felafel and tabouli.
Try and include a range of probiotic and prebiotic foods across the course of the week. Combined with a high fibre diet, probiotics and prebiotics really support strong gut health and boost immunity. If you intensely dislike fermented foods or cultured products, it might be wise for you to take a capsule probiotic. The key is to ensure you take them regularly and keep them in the fridge so the friendly bacteria stay alive!
The bottom line is, by reducing your intake of highly refined, heavily processed foods and eating more plant based foods, you will be well on your way to supporting a healthier digestive system.
Until next time…
Eat well, be well.