Prebiotics and Probiotics

Want to keep your digestive system healthy and happy? Make sure you’re getting enough prebiotics and probiotics


Healthy breakfast

Photo by: György Barna

György Barna

Want to keep your digestive system healthy and happy? Make sure you’re getting enough of these important tummy pleasers.

What are they?

It may sound icky but it’s a good thing that our digestive tracks are populated with bacteria. Many of these buggers are there to protect the digestive tracts and fend off potentially harmful germs. Probiotics are microorganisms that live (yes, they’re alive) to provide such protection. The more probiotics hanging out in your digestive tract, the healthier and more balanced it remains. This type of balance means better digestion and less stomach issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea, especially when traveling or taking antibiotics.

Prebiotics are non-digestible components of certain types of carbohydrates. They act as food for healthy probiotic bacteria, fueling the production of more.

Where to Find Them?

Since the surface of the digestive tract is constantly regenerating, to reap the benefits of these substances they need to be a regular part of your diet.

Probiotics exist naturally in cultured and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, tempeh  (a hearty soy-based product), sauerkraut and buttermilk. They can also be found in supplement form; Lactobacilli, Bifidobacterium, Bifidobacteria and B. Bifidum and Acidophilus are common supplemental forms. Taking an extra dose from a supplement may come in handy when traveling or taking antibiotics, two situations that tend to wreak havoc and some folks' digestive systems.

You can find prebiotics in carbohydrate-rich foods like fruit, whole grains, bananas, berries, lentils and raw veggies like onions, leeks and garlic.

Pointers for Pre- and Probiotics
Want to make room for more of these digestive aids? Use these tips.

•    Snack on yogurt or add kefir to a smoothie.

•    Make a stir-fry with tempeh or try it roasted.

•    Add berries to oatmeal and cold cereal.

•    Add raw onions to sandwiches.

•    Add a modest amount of raw garlic to salad dressing or make fresh pesto.

Tell Us: Are you getting enough pre- and probiotics?

Going to buy more yogurt? See the results of our nonfat vanilla and Greek yogurt taste tests.

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