A Good Gut Feeling: How Probiotics and Fermented Foods Help Your Gut
You’ve probably heard about the amazing benefits of probiotics and fermented foods and how they can improve your gut health. But you may also wonder – what is driving this new emphasis on gut health?
It’s all about the microbiome, the trillions of tiny organisms that live on our skin and in our intestines, also known as the gut. “Virtually every system in the body is affected by the microbiome,” says Uday Jani, MD, a board certified internist with Shore View Personalized Medical Care who offers an integrative approach to care. “A healthy microbiome, with a heavy population of beneficial bacteria, enables you to fully absorb nutrients, boosts immune function, and reduces your risk of disease.”
One of the best ways to strengthen your microbiome is to consume more probiotics. Probiotics are live, good bacteria and yeasts found naturally in fermented foods and yogurt. Probiotics need prebiotics – high-fiber foods such as broccoli, peas, beans, sweet potatoes, or almonds – to survive and thrive in your digestive system.
“Your healthy gut bacteria feeds off that healthy food,” says Rita Williams, manager of services for Beebe Oncology Services. “To support your gut health and get the most out of your probiotics, limit the inflammatory foods you eat, such as processed foods and foods with added sugars, as they counteract the good bacteria.”
According to Dr. Jani, the positive effects of prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods are only beginning to be fully realized. “Future research may show us they have even greater potential to improve health,” he says. His only caution: “While most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics to their diets, check with your doctor first.”
Many people eat yogurt every day as a source of probiotics, but many brands of yogurt are loaded with sugar. Rita emphasizes the importance of reading labels and choosing ones that do not have any added sugar or artificial sweeteners, ideally, or one that has a total of 9 grams of sugar or less per serving.
Dr. Jani’s practice in Milton blends the best of traditional, integrative, and functional medicine to treat body, mind, and spirit. For more information, call 302-684-0990.