According to the to National Institutes of Health, between 60 and 70 million people in the United States are affected by some form of digestive illness. The most commonly reported conditions include chronic constipation, IBS, diverticular disease, and peptic ulcers.
While the medical community attributes these conditions to stress, poor food choices (including a diet high in processed foods), and a sedentary lifestyle, a growing body of evidence points to the role of intestinal flora in maintaining our digestive health.
Factors such as illness, antibiotic overuse, and poor diet are culprits in damaging or altering the delicate balance of the natural probiotic gut flora. These probiotics or “friendly bacteria” help us maintain our overall digestive health, and prohibit the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause diarrhea and other digestive ills.
Feeding the Flora
Prebiotics nourish and replenish the gut flora, creating a healthy environment in our intestinal tract. These foods contain natural prebiotics to help your digestive tract nourish and create diverse gut flora:
- Vegetables such as onions and cabbage
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and green peas
- Whole grains like oats, barley, and wheat
- Fruits like apples and bananas
Beans are a healthy, inexpensive source of prebiotics since they contain oligosaccharides. These specialized carbohydrates help ensure a healthy balance of gut flora.
Bananas are especially popular sources of natural prebiotics; they’ve been a mainstay in the BRAT diet for their bland properties and high levels of potassium. Both of these qualities help to soothe an upset stomach and replenish electrolytes lost through vomiting and diarrhea. The natural prebiotic properties in bananas also help to heal the mucous membrane lining the intestinal tract.
Good gut health depends on a healthy, diverse balance of intestinal flora. In some cases, foods alone may not be enough to help your gut nourish intestinal flora. A high-quality prebiotic supplement is an excellent addition to a healthy diet to ensure optimal digestive health
The Perfect Prebiotics
Prebiotics are the “fertilizer” for intestinal flora, providing diverse nutrients to help the flora proliferate. Prebiotic supplements provide an extra dose of essential nutrients to help gut flora thrive. Look for a supplement that contains three Bacillus strains to withstand the assault of stomach acid and to reach your gut at full strength.
Infection, food-borne illness, poor diet, and smoking can all damage your gut flora, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea and indigestion. A prebiotic supplement combined with foods high in prebiotic properties will aid in your gut’s natural repair process and ease your symptoms.
Good digestive health starts from the inside. By combining prebiotic-rich foods with prebiotic supplements, you can help your body jump-start its natural healing process. Damaged intestinal flora is replaced with healthy flora that can feed and maintain the delicate balance of the natural probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut.
High quality prebiotic and probiotic sources and supplements represent a two-pronged approach to optimal gut health. Your body will be better equipped to fight off infections, viruses, and stomach upsets.