Did you know that you should be eating bugs?! No, I’m not talking about the creepy crawly kind, but rather the tiny microorganisms that feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. I’m going to explain why consuming more prebiotics and probiotics (aka “good gut bugs”) could be what’s missing in your weight loss strategy and how you can get more of them to nourish your body and achieve your best health.
Gut health has been getting a lot of press and recent research shows that the state of your gut biome can really impact weight loss. Not only are these “good bugs” great for nutrient absorption and digestion, but they are also advantageous for a healthy body composition. Other perks that stem from a healthy gut environment, include but aren’t limited to: aiding the immune system, helping to prevent disease, including cancer and diabetes and keeping the digestive system running like a well-oiled machine.
Some of you might be wondering…what’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics and why do we need both? Simply put, prebiotics are carbohydrates that the body cannot digest and they act as the food for probiotics, the healthy bacteria that keeps our digestive system in shape. Probiotics and prebiotics work together, synergistically, in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics combined with prebiotics are called synbiotics. We need these synbiotics for a healthy gut microbiome. If you are eating probiotics and not consuming enough prebiotic foods, then you are missing a large piece of the puzzle.
There are several main factors that can negatively impact our gut health:
- not eating enough fiber-rich and nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables and whole grains)
- food intolerances
It’s important to reduce stress for overall health by getting regular exercise, getting adequate sleep and taking time each day to de-stress. Stress is extremely destructive to the body, so set goals to get some daily R&R. Yoga, walking and meditation are great ways to physically relieve anxiety and rejuvenate the body.
Are you getting your 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day?? Getting synbiotics through food is the best way, but sometimes it’s hard to get enough in whole food form. Great examples of probiotic foods are: Greek yogurt, kefir and other cultured dairy products and fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc). Great sources of prebiotic foods are: whole grains, apples with skin, onions, bananas, garlic, leeks, artichokes and fortified foods and beverages. Another positive benefit of prebiotics, is that they aid in the absorption of calcium and magnesium. This can actually help you sleep better and recover from exercise. Steel cut oats are one of my favorite prebiotic go-to’s.
Supplements are also helpful when not enough whole food sources have been eaten. There are some high quality probiotic supplements on the market to make sure that you are getting enough. One thing that I try to look for is “pharmaceutical grade” on the label. I take a probiotic supplement daily, as well as eating probiotic-rich foods and beverages.
Here are a few great articles from a few of my favorite nutrition pros on this topic:
Basics of Probiotics from Sincerely Nourished
Why I Don’t Recommend Elimination Diets from Hungry Hobby
Eat Your Way To A Healthier Gut from Marissa Moore
Should I Take A Probiotic? from Marissa Moore via Hello Healthy
Ask The Diet Doctor: The Power of Probiotics from Dr. Mike Roussell
As you can see, addressing gut health is hot topic that has a lot of scientific evidence to back it up. Taking care of your body from the inside out is the best focus for overall health and wellness.