We just celebrated one of our holidays, Eid and my brother in law and his wife got us an awesome goodie basket as a gift. In their search of what to put in it, they asked my brother what kinds of snacks/drinks I like and my brother said kefir milk!
I found this hilarious but I guess I’ve been raving about kefir and the benefits of probiotics a bit too much!
Buut, is it all just a fad? I’d say not!
Recent research is showing a strong connection between gut health and overall health, going as far as calling the gut – the second brain of the body. That’s serious stuff!
But let’s back up a second – what ARE probiotics?
Our gut is made up of millions of tiny critters called bacteria. These play an important role in our digestions, bowel movements, and overall health. These bacteria need two things:
1. Prebiotics -> food for them to feed on, i.e. certain fibers (which aren’t digested)
2. Probiotics -> actual “good” bacteria to help create a balanced gut with the right kinds of bacteria growing
Today many of us are not getting sufficient fiber which can really bother our gut and we also eat very little truly fermented foods so we are not ingesting the bacteria our body needs.
Kefir milk (or water) is one of these fermented foods as is kombucha tea, miso, tempeh, some yogurts, and pickled foods that aren’t made with vinegar (to name a few). These foods and drinks help our body replenish our gut bacteria.
You can also take pre/probiotic supplements but those are more difficult to navigate through as supplements are not as regulated.
If starting out with a probiotic rich food, start slow! I recommend clients initially only introduce 1/4 cup kefir daily. And don’t forget your fiber rich foods as that bacteria needs to eat – particularly onions, garlic, bananas, asparagus, and whole-wheat foods!
GOT QUESTIONS ON PRE/PRIOBIOTICS? Just ask them below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more, check out this article by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Prebiotics and Probiotics.
– Dua Aldasouqi, MA, RDN, Certified Health Coach