What Do Probiotics and St. Patty's Day Have in Common?

Your diet is made up of many dif­fer­ent parts. Each part helps your body func­tion and work each day. You may be famil­iar with some of the dif­fer­ent nutri­ents in your food like vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and pro­teins, but a well-round­ed diet includes so much more. 

Oth­er key aspects of a well-round­ed diet — and espe­cial­ly a healthy gut — are pro­bi­otics and prebiotics. 

While pro­bi­otics are a term you might hear on TV or social media, you may be won­der­ing what they are, what they do, and if you should be eat­ing more of them. These are all great ques­tions, and here are the answers. 

1. Why should I eat pro­bi­otics and prebiotics? 

Dif­fer­ent nutri­ents help your body and health in dif­fer­ent ways. Vit­a­min D can pro­tect your bones, pro­tein can help you build mus­cle, and vit­a­min C can help keep you from get­ting sick. Pro­bi­otics also can play a role in your health by main­tain­ing a healthy bal­ance of good bac­te­ria in your gut.

While you may hear the word bac­te­ria” and think about get­ting sick, this kind of bac­te­ria is dif­fer­ent, and it can actu­al­ly be help­ful for your body. Pro­bi­otics are the good kind of bac­te­ria that can be found in your diges­tive tract.

Hav­ing a healthy bal­ance of bac­te­ria in your gut might not seem like it will have a big impact, but it can help improve your diges­tion, immune sys­tem, weight man­age­ment, skin health, and even brain health.

Pre­bi­otics on the oth­er hand aren’t bac­te­ria but are instead made up of dietary fibers. Your body can’t digest these fibers, so you might be won­der­ing why you need them. Pre­bi­otics can help the pro­bi­otics do their work in your body, which is why it’s best to con­sume some of both. 

Many pre­bi­otics are found nat­u­ral­ly in foods that are already full of oth­er nutri­ents, like bananas and beans. These foods can pro­vide you with many of the vit­a­mins and min­er­als your body needs any­way — hav­ing a pre­bi­ot­ic ben­e­fit is just a bonus!

To learn more about improv­ing the health of your diges­tive sys­tem with pre­bi­otics and pro­bi­otics or to dis­cuss any diges­tive con­cerns or symp­toms, you can sched­ule an appoint­ment with one of our pri­ma­ry care physi­cians online or by call­ing your desired location.

2. How can I get more pre- and pro­bi­otics in my diet? 

When it comes to mak­ing a healthy addi­tion to your diet, there’s no time like the present. You can focus on your gut health at any time of the year, but it might be even more rel­e­vant on St. Patrick’s Day.

You may be won­der­ing what the con­nec­tion is between pro- and pre­bi­otics and this March hol­i­day. While they might seem unre­lat­ed, they are con­nect­ed by one lucky food: cabbage.

Cab­bage can both be a pre­bi­ot­ic and a pro­bi­ot­ic depend­ing on how it is cooked. On its own, cab­bage is already a pre­bi­ot­ic. But when it is turned into sauer­kraut or kim­chi, the fer­ment­ing process cre­ates bac­te­ria that make it a probiotic. 

So if your St. Patrick’s Day cel­e­bra­tions include a spe­cial din­ner of corned beef and cab­bage, you’re not only treat­ing your­self to a great meal, but you’re treat­ing your gut, too. 

    It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that not all pro­bi­otics are cre­at­ed equal — espe­cial­ly when it comes to sup­ple­ments you might find in the store. Pro­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ments aren’t all held to the same FDA stan­dards as oth­er pre­scrip­tion drugs. This means you may not know exact­ly what is in them or how hon­est a com­pa­ny is being about their product. 

    Eat­ing a lit­tle bit more yogurt in your diet is one thing and is gen­er­al­ly going to be harm­less — even if it doesn’t dras­ti­cal­ly improve your health. Tak­ing a ran­dom pro­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ment that you saw on Tik­Tok is anoth­er thing and could actu­al­ly be very harmful.

    3. Who should try probiotics? 

    Gut health is impor­tant for every­one, and research sug­gests that pro­bi­otics and pre­bi­otics have pos­i­tive impacts on your health. 

    Recent research has shown that pro­bi­otics may be ben­e­fi­cial for peo­ple who have:

    • Irri­ta­ble Bow­el Syndrome

    • Inflam­ma­to­ry Bow­el Disease 

    • Con­sti­pa­tion

    We don’t know every­thing there is to know about pro­bi­otics, and there is still a lot to learn. Future stud­ies will con­tin­ue to look at how gut health may impact over­all health and can give med­ical providers a bet­ter idea about who pro­bi­otics can help. 

    It’s All About Balance

    Just like with oth­er aspects of your diet, it’s all about bal­ance. Everybody’s body is unique and responds to new foods in its own way. 

    If you’re inter­est­ed in eat­ing more gut-healthy foods like pre­bi­otics and pro­bi­otics, start by talk­ing to your Duly pri­ma­ry care provider. They can review your med­ical his­to­ry and under­stand your health goals or con­cerns. They can also answer any ques­tions you may have and help you fig­ure out what changes in your diet are healthy and safe. 

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