Prebiotics and Probiotics: Functional Foods for a Healthier You

5_Blog_Images_15th-May-2017

A course of strong antibiotics and doctor has already advised the patient to start with probiotic pills or sachets. What do you think is in them? When down with stomach infection or a stomach upset, the first thing we do is increase our intake of curd to boost the gut health. But in reality, apart from the fact that curd is good for health, do we know the exact reason why it’s consumption could be a life saver for you? Let us help you understand what exactly the above means.

What are Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Prebiotics are non digestible food ingredients. All the prebiotics are a form of fibre. On reaching the gut, they act as fertilizer for the nourishment of the good bacteria in the intestine ie the good bacteria feed on them. These good bacteria are called as probiotics. The more the number and more the variety of these probiotic bacteria, the better the health of the gut. They keep the growth of the harmful bacteria in check and thus help maintain the good health of the digestive system. And the more the prebiotic in the diet, the better the chances of the probiotics to thrive.

What Foods contain Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Prebiotics: Foods like bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, oatmeal, legumes and whole-wheat foods are rich in prebiotics.

Probiotics: are live bacteria and are rich in fermented dairy foods like cheese, kefir and yogurt and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, etc.

Are they the inseparable duo?

Both prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically. In other words, the probiotics need prebiotics to survive. So a combination of yogurt with a whole grain or a banana can work together to enhance the effect.

What roles do they play apart from offering you with a healthy gut?

Together, they not only work towards a healthier intestine but also help in boosting the immunity. They keep the intestinal infections at bay. They have a lowering effect on cholesterol levels and help in promoting the sense of satiety. High intake of the fibre also works against weight gain. They also enhance the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium which thus ensures a better bone health. They may also help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance. There is good evidence of their functionality in some health conditions and an ongoing research in the role they could play in managing other conditions

Incorporating health-promoting functional foods such as foods containing prebiotics and probiotics into the diet aids in creating a healthier you. For specific advice on obtaining prebiotics and probiotics for your own specific health needs, especially if you have GI issues or a weakened immune system, contact a dietitian/ nutritionist. Several companies offer online nutrition services promoting healthy eating plans which could help you plan these wonderful functional foods into your diet for your good health.