Probiotics and Prebiotics (Synbiotics)
What Are Prebiotics?
Now we know, Probiotics can be beneficial for optimal intestinal health when ingested. Then, how can we maintain this “Good” bacteria in the intestinal system effectively? Well, we can FEED the bacteria, so that living probiotic bacteria can grow and remain in our intestines.
Prebiotics are not living bacteria themselves, but “food” for the living probiotic bacteria. They are different kinds of fiber that are not normally digested when ingested. Some natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains contain prebiotics.
So, Probiotics and Prebiotics sound similar, but they are very different!
What are Synbiotics?
Synbiotics typically refers to nutritional supplements that combine both probiotics and prebiotics. Consuming “synbiotics” is a good idea, because doing so can stimulate and maintain beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. Some say that there is no synbiotic food at all. Others say there are foods that are synbiotics.
I believe that consuming both probiotic foods and prebiotic foods at the same time will do the job. This synbiotics diet could help in promoting optimal intestinal health!
What Foods Contain Prebiotics?
Here are some foods high in prebiotic;
- Whole wheat flour
- Whole grains
- Jerusalem artichoke (it looks like ginger rather than an artichoke)
- Chicory root (used in coffee substitutes)
- Dandelion greens
Generally, raw foods contain more prebiotic fibers than cooked foods.
How to eat Synbiotic foods?
Here are some suggestions for combinations of probiotic foods and prebiotic foods;
- Yogurt (probiotics) with whole grain cereal(prebiotics)
This is one of the ideal breakfast menus. Be sure to look for probiotic yogurt (“live or active cultures” on the label) and also good quality whole grain cereal (containing no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and colours). Adding other fruits would make it more delicious and nutritious.
- Kefir(probiotics) and banana(prebiotics) smoothie
This healthy drink makes an easy breakfast or a nice snack. Kefir itself contains fermented kefir grains. So, it is considered a synbiotic food. Consuming with banana, along with ground flaxseed and/or hemp seeds for extra fiber is a good idea.
- Sourdough bread(probiotics) and hummus(prebiotics)
This slightly sour and chewy bread is made with “good” bacteria. Toasted sourdough bread pieces dipped in homemade hummus (legume and raw garlic) makes an excellent snack or appetizer.
- Miso soup(probiotics) with onion(prebiotics)
A traditional Japanese dish “miso soup” is an excellent digestive regulator. Boil 1 and ½ cups of water in a small pot. Add 1 teaspoon of dashi (Japanese soup base) and sliced onions. Cook until onions are soft. Then add 1 tablespoon of miso into pot. In order to dissolve miso well, mix in a small amount of miso at a time. You can add tofu and/or wakame (a kind of seaweed) for extra protein and minerals.
- Kimchi(probiotics) with brown rice(prebiotics)
Kimchi is a spicy vegetable dish that goes well with rice. Brown rice is the best choice but if you prefer white rice, add a small amount of healthy grains; brown rice, barley, or freekeh when you cook white rice. Since kimchi contains large amount of spices, you might want to start with a small portion.
To sum up, we must continuously choose foods from both probiotic and prebiotic foods to create a healthy colon environment. The ultimate benefit of consuming probiotics and prebiotics appears to be supporting and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
All is well, all the best!