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Promoting Digestive Wellness

Discover foods that can help promote gut health. Find out about prebiotics and probiotics—and how they may help you manage certain digestive issues.

Keeping Your Gut Happy

Did you know that gut health is connected to the health of the rest of your body? Your gut is filled with trillions of bacteria that play positive roles, such as aiding in digestion and protecting against infection.1 Maintaining digestive wellness is important for our overall well-being.

Unfortunately, 60–70 million Americans suffer from digestive diseases, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.2

The good news is that prebiotics and probiotics may provide benefits for digestive health through their interaction with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.3 It’s no wonder so many people are talking about how to incorporate these food components into their diets.

yogurt bowl

The Pros of Prebiotics and Probiotics

Let’s learn more about prebiotics and probiotics—and how they can work together to keep your
gut happy.

prebiotics vs probiotics infographic

Prebiotic Foods

Here are some common foods containing prebiotics:10

  • Fruits – apples, bananas, berries, raisins, kiwi, guava, and pomegranate
  • Vegetables – onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cabbage
  • Legumes or pulses – lentils, dry beans, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans
  • Whole grains – whole wheat, barley, rye, oats, brown rice, corn, and buckwheat
  • Seeds and nuts – flaxseeds and almonds
  • Other foods – honey, green tea, cassava (tapioca starch)

Probiotic Supplements

When choosing a probiotic supplement, be sure to check with your doctor about variety and quantity. You may need to find a specific probiotic strain that pairs best with your particular GI issue.9 Publix offers a variety of probiotic supplements.

Fermented Food Trends

You may have seen fermented foods available in restaurants and at your neighborhood Publix. Though this form of probiotics may seem trendy and new, fermented foods have been part of human diets for thousands of years.11

What is fermentation? Fermentation is a process by which a microorganism transforms a food into another product. For example, yogurt is a fermented food made from milk. Lactic acid-producing bacteria grow in milk, changing the flavor, texture, and nutrients to create yogurt. The living cultures in fermented foods may add beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.11

Here are some examples of fermented foods with active, living microbes:
Dairy products – kefir, yogurt, and some cheeses
Vegetables – fresh or raw kimchi, found in the Produce department; fresh sauerkraut and dill pickles, both found in the grocery/canned vegetables section
Kombucha (kom-BOO-chuh) – a traditional fermentation of sweetened tea made with a microbial mixture of yeast and bacteria,12 found in the Produce department or juices and drinks section.

Fermented food tip: Fermented foods that are further processed by pasteurizing, baking, or filtering are no longer sources of active microbes.11 If you’re looking for fermented foods containing living cultures, keep your eyes peeled for terms on the label such as “unpasteurized,” “naturally fermented,” “raw,” or “contains live and active cultures.”

As research about the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics continues to evolve, there’s evidence to suggest that the right quantities of these food components can support gut health. It’s always wise to consult your physician about your particular needs. Publix offers a wide range of products and recipes to support your digestive health.

Sources

1 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): National Institutes of Health. "Your Microbes and You: The Good, Bad and Ugly" NIH News In Health. November 2012.

2 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): National Institutes of Health. "Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). November 2014.

3 International Food Information Council Foundation. "Functional Foods Fact Sheet: Probiotics and Prebiotics." Food Insight. May 23, 2014.

4 Wolfram, Taylor, MS, RDN, LDN, ed. "Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier You." Eat Right: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. October 10, 2016.

5 Scholz-Ahrens, Katharina E., Peter Ade, et al. " Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics Affect Mineral Absorption, Bone Mineral Content, and Bone Structure.The Journal of Nutrition: Oxford University Press. March 1, 2017.

6 Scott, Karen, PhD. "Prebiotics.” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Accessed February 19, 2018.

7 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): National Institutes of Health. "Probiotics: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). October 2016.

8 Guglielmetti, S., D. Mora, M. Gschwender, and K. Popp. "Randomised clinical trial: Bifidobacterium bifidum MIMBb75 significantly alleviates irritable bowel syndrome and improves quality of life — a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” PubMed.gov. May 2011.

9 Sanders, Mary Ellen, PhD. "Probiotics.” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Accessed February 19, 2018.

10 Hattner, Jo Ann, MPH, RD, and Susan Anderes, MLIS. "Prebiotic Food Sources.” GutInsight.com. October 2016.

11 Hutkins, Robert, PhD. "Fermented Foods: Live Microbes and Fermented Foods.” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Accessed February 23, 2018.

12 Hutkins, Robert, PhD. "Kombucha: Trend or New Staple?” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. September 2017.

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