You may not like thinking about it, but your gut is filled with trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that help keep you healthy. These little helpers are called “probiotics” or beneficial microorganisms. At the other end of the spectrum are “prebiotics” which are ingested plant fibers that encourage probiotics to grow. Let’s take a look at the difference between pre and probiotic benefits and other factors that impact your gut health.
What is a healthy gut?
Your gut is made up of the small and large intestines, which are responsible for the digestion and chemical processing of ingested food, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of waste. A healthy gut is one that is thriving with beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. It contains enough “good bacteria” to outnumber the “bad bacteria” and keep your digestive tract running smoothly.
A healthy gut is also free from infection, inflammation, and toxicity. With a healthy gut, you are better able to process food and extract the nutrients your body needs. You’re able to absorb the essential vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, and are less likely to be impacted by food sensitivities. A healthy gut supports your immune system, reducing inflammation throughout your body. When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause physical and psychological distress.
Factors That Impact Your Gut Health
1. Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are like two sides of the same coin. Your body needs and benefits from them both, but in different ways. A gut with a healthy microbiome is full of beneficial probiotic microbes that are scientifically proven to be helpful. Sources for probiotics include fermented foods and supplements.
On the other hand, you can think of prebiotics as the fuel your probiotics need in order to do their jobs. Fiber-rich plant foods are excellent sources of the prebiotics needed to keep your probiotics happy and healthy so they can keep you happy and healthy, too.
2. Foods That Promote Gut Health
You can incorporate many foods as part of a healthy gut diet, including fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Whole grains can help improve your digestive health and lower your risk of heart disease. They also work to lower your risk of developing diabetes. Enjoying fruits and vegetables are great ways to consume more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Legumes are a great source of protein, as well as fiber and other vitamins and minerals.
You can also include probiotic foods in your diet. Foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi are naturally enriched with probiotics, making them ideal additions to a healthy gut diet. You can enjoy a probiotic drink or smoothie to maximize your intake. Probiotic supplements are another way to add probiotics to your diet if you don’t like the taste of probiotic foods.
3. Folic Acid (and other B Vitamins)
Folic acid is one of the B vitamins found in many of the foods that promote gut health. It’s also commonly added to many foods. B vitamins are important for many bodily functions and maintenance, and many of them are especially important for gut health:
- Folic Acid
Folic acid is important for the growth of cells, particularly the growth of new neurons in your brain. It’s also an important part of the methylation process that is necessary for many bodily functions.
Biotin is important for metabolism, including your digestion. It’s also important for the health of your hair and skin.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is important for the metabolism of all cells in your body, including your gut. It’s also important for the formation of new blood cells, so it helps keep your gut healthy by facilitating the movement of nutrients through your gut.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for many bodily functions, including gut health. Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in fish and are necessary for the proper functioning of your gut. They can help maintain the health of your gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria, controlling inflammation, and keeping the gut lining healthy.
5. Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich in minerals, amino acids, and other helpful nutrients for your gut. It’s been shown to help heal and seal the gut lining, and promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Bone broth also contains glutamine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
No Guts, No Glory
The best way to improve your gut health is to start with good habits. Avoiding processed foods, eating more fiber-rich foods, and maintaining a balanced diet are all important steps toward good gut health. You can also take probiotic supplements and consume probiotic-infused foods to promote better gut health. Gut health is vital to your overall well-being, with pro and prebiotics leading the way. To your health!