If you have read any of my other blogs you will have seen that I have suffered with stress, but I haven’t really gone into detail (because it’s gross) about my bowel movements. Although, anyone that knows me, knows I do love a good chat about poo…you name it, I have probably spoken about it.
Many of my friends and I have had awful stomachs, some worse than others but last year I was in and out of hospital trying to figure out what was wrong with me. It would swing from one extreme to the other within days and was ridiculously uncomfortable. I would have a literal food baby, but all the time. Luckily, now I take my sachet of Digestion Plus, which contains both probiotics and prebiotics and I am a whole new (almost always) un-bloated human being. AND it helped improve my skin. Winning at life!So why do we need pro and prebiotics to sort our stomachs out?
In order to have a fully balanced gut we should be eating both, but I can pretty much guarantee that most people only know about probiotics. Prebiotics are fibres which cannot be absorbed or broken down by the body and therefore serve as a great food source for probiotics, so without them it’s useless being good and eating loads of probiotics as they won’t survive the environment and won’t be effective!
Prebiotics occur naturally in our diet and prebiotic fibres can be found in Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, chicory, and onions amongst other things. Although, you may have to eat tonnes of these to have a decent effect and increase the levels of friendly bacteria in your intestines. For this reason many people find it easier (like me) to take a prebiotic supplement, or a combination probiotic and prebiotic supplement (called a synbiotic) to ensure they are feeding their levels of friendly bacteria.
Anyway, onto some examples of probiotics:
Tempeh: Tempeh is made from natural fermented soybeans. With a slightly nutty flavor, it’s a good source of probiotics and because it contains essential amino acids, it’s a complete source of vegetarian protein.
Miso: A fermented paste made from barley, rice or soybeans, miso adds a nice umami flavour to dishes. It’s bold, so a little goes a long way (which is good because it’s also high in sodium.)
Sauerkraut: Made from just cabbage and salt, this fermented food delivers a healthy dose of probiotics and fibre.
Yogurt: Most people know about this one, but make sure you get one that is labeled ‘Live and Active cultures’.
Kefir: A fermented milk drink – it tastes a bit like drinkable yogurt. It is a great source of calcium as well as probiotics.
Kombucha: Kombucha is a tangy, effervescent tea – typically black or green. The drink is often flavoured with herbs or fruit. You can find it in many natural foods stores and some farmers markets. Watch out though, as a teeny weeny amount of alcohol is sometimes produced during fermentation (can be up to 2/3%.)
Kimchi: This is basically an Asian version of Sauerkraut, as it’s fermented spicy cabbage. Look for it in the refrigerated section near other Asian ingredients or pickles.