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Fermented Foods and Prebiotic Fiber: A Dynamic Duo for Gut Health

Did you know you’ve got tons of bacteria in your gut? There's no need to panic or pop in an antibiotic. Numerous microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast, fungus, etc., reside in our gut. This is known as the "gut flora". It is a mixture of both good and bad microbes, where the beneficial microorganisms outnumber the harmful ones. These tiny microbes have a big impact on our overall health and well-being, but they predominantly affect the health of our gut.

They are responsible for keeping you fit and healthy, but for them to be healthy, you need to feed them healthy stuff too. Prebiotic fiber and probiotics like fermented foods are a great combination that can provide us with the best health outcomes. Foods that contain both prebiotics and probiotics are also known as Synbiotics. Keep scrolling to learn more.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microbes that reside in our body, predominantly in our gut, in large quantities. They benefit our health by maintaining a balance between the good and bad microbes, boosting our immunity, keeping the bad microbes in check to prevent us from falling sick, aiding in digestion, producing vitamins, helping in metabolizing medicine, and supporting the gut lining in preventing pathogens from food from entering the bloodstream. Probiotics are already present in your gut, but you may increase their number by consuming probiotic foods, drinks, prebiotics, and probiotic supplements.

Fermented foods as probiotics

The fermentation process for foods has been used since ancient times as a method of preservation. Since bacteria are responsible for causing fermentation, most fermented foods act as natural probiotics. Diets rich in fermented foods have been shown to reduce inflammation and enhance the variety of the gut flora. By increasing the richness of the gut microbiota and lowering inflammation, fermented foods help the intestines' walls resist leakage. Fermented dairy products that serve as probiotics include yogurt, aged cheese, and kefir. Fermented non-dairy products include miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Root and leafy vegetables that have been fermented by microorganisms for a few days or weeks are better absorbed by the body since yeast and bacteria have already predigested them. Fermented versions of these foods are better digested than unfermented ones. Also, during fermentation, certain microbes also produce enzymes that aid the digestion process, thereby benefiting the gut microbiome.

What are prebiotics?

Probiotics survive on indigestible fibers from foods known as prebiotics. It is with the help of these prebiotics that the probiotics are able to grow, flourish, and multiply. They have similar beneficial effects on our health, like reducing the quantity of disease-causing pathogens, enhancing bowel movements, boosting the immune system, controlling appetite and thereby maintaining weight, supporting optimum mineral absorption from foods, and building and strengthening the gut flora. In short, prebiotics help probiotics function better, thereby providing an array of health benefits. Bananas, whole wheat, artichokes, leeks, asparagus, etc. are a few examples of prebiotics. Prebiotics are also available in supplement versions like prebiotic capsules or prebiotic tablets.

Fermented food and prebiotics for gut health

Prebiotics, when combined with certain fermented foods, serve as synbiotics for the gut. Synbiotics refers to foods or supplements that contain both prebiotics and probiotics (fermented foods). Eating synbiotic foods or supplements provides you with the best of both worlds in one serving. Synbiotics like prebiotic and probiotic supplements often tend to blend plant-based prebiotic fibers with specific strains of bacteria that have a beneficial impact on health. By combining prebiotic foods with probiotics or fermented foods, you can make your own synbiotic food. For instance, stir-frying asparagus, garlic, onions, and veggies of your choice along with tempeh or making overnight oat chia pudding using kefir. If you want instant access to synbiotics, you may also opt for prebiotic and probiotic supplements. Go for prebiotics and probiotic supplements that have a high CFU count and a live, active culture with a good diversity of probiotic strains, along with prebiotics sourced from plant-based fibers.

Wrapping Up

The time-tested, age-old method of fermentation does not just help preserve your food by increasing its shelf life but also increases its nutritional value and serves as a probiotic. When these fermented foods serving as probiotics are coupled with prebiotics, the dynamic synbiotics tend to deliver additional benefits to the gut over and above their basic role of providing nutrition. You can make your own synbiotic to gain the array of benefits it offers to the gut or simply invest in prebiotic and probiotic supplements. But before you start any new supplement, check with your physician.

References

https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2019/oct/how-probiotics-affect-your-gut-health/#:~:text=The%20dynamic%20duo%3A%20probiotics%20and%20prebiotics&text=Different%20strains%20of%20probiotics%20produce,prebiotics%20so%20they%20can%20flourish.

https://www.med.umich.edu/pfans/_pdf/hetm-2017/0717-fermentedfoods.pdf

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fermented-foods-can-add-depth-to-your-diet

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065

https://draxe.com/nutrition/synbiotics-supplements/

https://www.mdpi.com/2311-5637/8/7/303

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.772573/full

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