You've probably heard a bunch about probiotics for a while now. Not only do they help your digestive tract stay regular to avoid painful bowels, bloating and gas, but they also lower inflammation, which can decrease risk of disease and injury.
Needless to say, they have tremendous benefits on the gut microbiome, and they taste pretty great, too, for an added perk. (Although you might want to take a supplement, as well, for better absorption each day.)
"Probiotics contain various strains of microorganisms that can be ingested to replenish, restore and assist the natural balance of the digestive system. This is essential to your health because the gastrointestinal tract is likely the most vulnerable connection your body has with the outside world," says Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, a.p.
"Whatever you put into your mouth is going to spend the next three days traveling through your digestive tract permeating the intestinal walls to be absorbed into the body's circulatory system and tissues, impacting the rest of your body's organs and physiology. Thus, your overall health is significantly affected by what you eat and how effective your digestion is," she says.
However, probiotics can't act alone.
Just as probiotics feed our guts, probiotics have to get fed, too. From where? That's where prebiotics step in.
We need to eat prebiotics to help probiotics do their job in our bodies, giving us healthy bacteria strains to promote a balanced gut. Prebiotics help balance out the good and bad bacteria in the gut by keeping probiotics healthy and functioning, she explains.
Besides, most prebiotic and probiotic foods actually work well together in meals. (For instance, try yogurt with bananas or sauerkraut with garlic.)