Prebiotics and Probiotics : A How-To Guide
- Posted on: Jan 14 2015
Did you know that you are controlled by your gut? There is increasing evidence that the bacterium in your gut does in fact have an influence on your mental health and brain function. Research has shown that both probiotics and prebiotics can alter human brain function, have an effect on stress, and can help alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms. The consumption of probiotics and prebiotics manipulate the microbes in the gut, and they work together to do so. Prebiotics serves as food for probiotics, as probiotics consist of strains of good, live cultures of bacteria, and this bacterium growth is nourished by prebiotics, which are non-living, non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the bacteria.
You may be asking, how do I find and take prebiotics and probiotics? Well it’s easier than you think; there are two ways you can feed your gut. The first way is from food, and who doesn’t like food? You can get both prebiotics and probiotics this way, and it allows for a lot of flexibility in regards to how and what you eat; experiment and see what works best for you. Here are some yummy, easy ways to incorporate getting these prebiotics and probiotics in your gut at every meal:
Foods that contain prebiotics (choose Organic if possible):
- Raw chicory root – the top source, with almost 60% fiber; makes an excellent coffee replacement!
- Raw Jerusalem artichokes
- Raw garlic, leeks, and onions
- Whole wheat
- Fruits and vegetables
- Raw dandelions
Foods that contain probiotics (choose Organic if possible):
- Yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk
- Aged cheese such as cheddar, Gouda, or Parmesan
- Sauerkraut, kimchi and other pickled/fermented versions of veggies
- Sourdough bread
- Miso (fermented barley or soy or rice)
- Tempeh – fermented soy
- Kombucha – a fermented tea
The other option is to take supplements, and there many out on the market currently for both prebiotics and probiotics. This may be a good option if you are an extremely picky eater, or maybe want to get your pre/probiotics from both sources. Finding the right supplement for you may be a little tricky though, and they can be expensive (a pre-warning, you may experience sticker shock). Another potential downfall is the possibility of getting “dead” bacteria in probiotic supplements (prebiotics don’t suffer from this), as some supplements require consistent refrigeration in order to keep the bacterium alive, and it can be hard to tell how it was handled, and what conditions it was stored in, before it was in your hands. Despite the downfalls, don’t let this stray you from going this route if you feel it’s the best for you, as there are ways around these potential downfalls. When buying probiotic supplements online, it is best to go directly to the source, since they will send their products that need to be kept cold refrigerated. However, some of the other online companies out there do guarantee “shipped alive” products because they send them refrigerated. If you are buying them inside a brick and mortar store don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson if the refrigerated supplements were shipped that way (shipped cold), and if they aren’t sure, don’t worry, just make sure they have a return policy. In either regard, knowing if there is a guarantee policy, and knowing if you are able to return the product is a must; these probiotics can be very expensive and nobody should have to spend money on a dead product. To ensure that you have an alive product, here is an easy way to test your probiotic supplements at home to ensure that you actually have living bacteria in the capsule:
- 2 liquid containers (you can use any container; just make sure they are similar in size and shape.)
- 1 cup of regular (or soy) milk.
- 2-3 probiotic pills from the bottle you just purchased.
- Pour 1/2 cup of regular, or soy milk in each container.
- Split open your pills, and sprinkle the contents into only one of the containers. Ensure that you mix it well into the milk.
- Leave it out (not in the refrigerator) overnight, or for roughly 8-10 hours.
- Check results. You should be able to see a difference between the two containers; the milk with the probiotic should appear to be clumpy, curdled, or firm (similar to yogurt), this means you have an active, live capsule. If the milk in both containers look the same (watery), the bacterium is dead and you should go and return the bottle.
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