Our intestinal tract is not a sterile environment. It is home to billions of “good” bacteria and other beneficial micro-organisms. This microbial flora is very important: it helps us digest our food and fight off “bad” bugs.
The balance in our intestinal flora (the bacteria that live in our intestines) can be affected when we have an infection or an illness, particularly if we are taking antibiotics. This imbalance can weaken our defences against harmful germs and upset our digestion.
Taking probiotics and prebiotics can help our intestinal flora flourish and multiply.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria normally found in our gut. When we take probiotics, they join forces with the “good” bugs already present in our digestive system, to help them do their job.
Probiotics can be added to foods. They are naturally present in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, natto, tempeh and kombucha, among others. Read the labels on foods and look for the words, “live bacterial cultures” or “active bacterial cultures.”
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are made up of fibre that cannot be digested but feed the good bacteria in our intestines. Prebiotics are found in fruits (bananas), many vegetables (asparagus, garlic, leeks, tomatoes, onions and artichokes), grains (barley, oats, whole wheat and flax), roots (chicory, dandelion and elecampane), fermented dairy products (yogurt, buttermilk and kefir) and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, navy beans, black beans, kidney beans and flageolet beans).