Gut function is a pretty complex process when you really think about it. Typically food is broken down in your digestive system over the course of 12 to 48 hours. As the food is broken down, the nutrients and minerals make their way to different systems and organs in the body in order to support healthy functions.
Weird to think that your small intestine is 11 feet long, but it’s true! Most nutrients and water are absorbed through that organ, keeping your body hydrated, regulating your bowels, and even having an impact on hormones, and levels of stress.
Boosting prebiotics and probiotics in your gut can help keep it healthy. Strengthening the lining of your intestinal walls and ensuring you have healthy villi (which are like little sensors lining your small intestine) will help keep things moving along the 11-foot road.
Probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Good bacteria in your body are needed for the healthy functioning of the digestive system, which directly benefits other systems and organs. When you have a healthy gut, you also have a healthy immune system, allowing you to fend off additional bacteria and viruses that you may be exposed to.
You can take probiotic supplements, but there are also so many delicious ways to get more good bacteria into your gut.
Fermented, or cultured foods are one of the best ways to get extra flavor and happy gut helpers into your body. Beverages like kombucha and other fermented teas are low in sugar, but super high in probiotic content. Fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi pack a powerful punch of probiotics. Even pickled carrots, garlic, onions, ginger, and other plant-based items can give your body a solid probiotic boost. Yes, pickles are powerful!
Miso also includes cultured probiotics and has the added benefit of being pretty filling, widely available, versatile and inexpensive. You can get really creative and add to salad dressings, roasted veggies, and of course soups!
Yogurt has long been a source of probiotic content. I would recommend going for yogurts with low sugar content. And if you don’t eat dairy, there are a lot of non-dairy, cultured yogurt alternatives. I think my favorite is coconut yogurt!
Prebiotics are sources of nutrients that feed the probiotics, or good bacteria. Keeping the good bacteria in your gut healthy and active requires “feeding” them the prebiotic sources to keep them happy. Prebiotics are typically carbohydrates that are full of fiber, such as leafy greens, apples, beans, onions, garlic, spinach, and cabbage.
Getting in probiotics is great, but you also want to be sure that your newly ingested good bacteria is being supported and kept healthy by prebiotic fibrous, food sources.
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