We’ve all heard about probiotics, but have you heard about prebiotics? Just like probiotics, prebiotics are gut health heroes, helping to keep the good gut bacteria nourished and healthy.
Let’s take a dive into pre- and probiotics and how they can help your gut health, as well as the best foods for gut health.
What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
First things first, let’s iron out the difference between probiotics and prebiotics.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics define probiotics as ’live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.’ This refers to the fact that when you ingest beneficial bacteria in large enough quantities, they can offer health benefits.
Prebiotics on the other hand are defined as, ‘a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.’ Prebiotics come from plant-based foods which ferment in the colon and become fuel for the good gut bacteria. Prebiotics are found in the insoluble fibre in certain fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
Best foods for good gut health
Probiotics – While probiotic supplements, available in both refrigerated and shelf stable forms are readily available, fermented foods, such as Yakult are a source of probiotics also. It is important to note fermented foods are required to be chilled to ensure the survival of their probiotic content.
Sources of fermented foods include:
- Dairy – kefir, yoghurt (yoghurt naturally contains live cultures, some yoghurts also have additional strains of probiotic cultures added)
- Soy – miso, natto, tempeh
- Tea – kombucha
- Fermented vegetables – kimchi, sauerkraut
Prebiotics – Prebiotic fibre is found in a range of plant-based foods, such as:
- Fruits – apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, stone fruits (ie. apricots, cherries and plums)
- Vegetables – leeks, onion, garlic, artichoke, asparagus, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens
- Legumes and beans – chickpeas, lentils, faba beans, soybeans
- Grains and seeds – wholegrain bread, oats, wheatbran, flaxseed, sesame seeds
Our top tips to adding more prebiotics and probiotics to your eating habits
Eat across the rainbow – Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibre, which provide prebiotics. Adding more variety to the fruits and vegetables you eat on your Jenny Craig menu can increase your diversity of good bacteria in your gut.
Try fermented foods – To increase your probiotic intake, why not try adding some sauerkraut, kimchi or miso to your Jenny Craig meal. Try Kombucha as an alternative refreshing beverage – it’s classified as a limited free food on the program.
Change up your yoghurt – The next time you’re selecting a yoghurt to have with your Jenny Craig breakfast, opt for yoghurt with added live cultures or try kefir, for an added boost of probiotics.
How do prebiotics and probiotics support gut health?
A healthy gut is a gut with large numbers and a diverse range of good bacteria. This means there are a number of different types and amounts of bacterial species living in the colon. But it is important that no species are dominating, a healthy gut needs even amounts of different bacteria.
Probiotics – Probiotic foods or supplements contain live beneficial bacteria which help to restore or boost the number of good bacteria in your gut.
Prebiotics – When gut bacteria digest prebiotic fibres, that is insoluble fibres, they ferment in the colon and can result in an increased number of different types of good bacteria.
Interestingly, there are other factors which have been shown to have positive effects on gut health, specifically intermittent fasting which may improve gut health. Current research has shown that following a time-restricted eating pattern may result in a boost in microbial diversity and reduce inflammation. These studies have been identified in animals, as very few human studies have been conducted.
One of the best and easiest ways to get pre and probiotics into your diet is to eat a healthy, varied diet. Speak to a Jenny Craig Coach for more tips on how to include a variety of fruits, vegetables and dairy foods on our meal plans to support your gut health.