Why consuming probiotics and prebiotics is crucial for your microbiome and gut

Why consuming probiotics and prebiotics is crucial for your microbiome and gut

Probiotics and prebiotics may sound like cousins, but they have different functions

Luke CoutinhoUpdated: Friday, July 07, 2023, 10:30 PM IST
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Josep M Suria

Probiotics and prebiotics may sound like cousins, but they have different functions. They are the makers of the healthy gut-brain axis. Foods that nourish the healthy gut flora and better immunity are probiotics. But before they need to turn pros at what they do best, the probiotics need support and nourishment from prebiotics to function best. Simply put, probiotics are useless without prebiotics. You need to have both for good health and to offset the damage to the gut by the ingestion of junk foods, synthetic goods, refined oils and sugar, and medicines. 

Boosting gut health

Before you make a beeline for the yoghurt, kefir, kanji, kombuchas, and other probiotics, understand the making of a healthy gut. The lining of the gut carries both good and bad microbes. The good guys help you to digest food and absorb nutrients from your food. This brings about deep cellular nutrition, bettering the health of your cells which are the fundamental builders of good health. To increase the strength of the good guys in your gut lining, skip the fast foods, deep-fried stuff, and refined and packaged goods. You can make simple probiotics at home, ones that our grandmothers used to prepare in the kitchen. Juice beetroot and carrots to sun and ferment for a week, with rock salt, as kanji. Rice kanji is another superb probiotic prepared by soaking leftover rice overnight, straining and seasoning it with mustard seeds, and curry leaves. 

Urban lifestyles bring about a depletion of the digestive enzymes due to inflammation, chronic stress, poor eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, environmental pollution and toxins, and often the inferior quality of the foods we eat that have been grown using chemicals. This makes it important to bring in a good combination of prebiotics and probiotics to make the health index strong. Bring in these cool correctors to fix your health index.

Home-made

Making a good prebiotic at home is equally simple. Mix one teaspoon each of isabgol (psyllium husk) and apple cider vinegar (with the mother culture) into 250 ml of water. Drink half an hour before meals. You can sprinkle a pinch of Sri Lankan rolled cinnamon powder on either one of the ingredients, not both. This works beautifully if you know you are eating out that day, as the cinnamon can lower your blood sugar levels post a meal laced with oil-rich, spicy food. 

Does it suit you?

Try this test to assess whether you are bringing a sound mix of prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. Have a glass of vegetable juice. If it leaves you feeling bloated, the optimum digestive enzymes are absent in your system. Why? All foods from the plant kingdom carry cellulose that can be hard to break down and digest when consume whole. Juicing vegetables converts them into an easier format for digestion. But if eating raw salads and vegetable juices makes you feel bloated, it means that you lack the digestive enzymes to break down something so natural. Recognise the red flag and jump to the rescue of your bio eco-system. Everything begins with a sound gut function.

Tuck in right

Probiotic foods include yoghurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, sourdough.

Prebiotic foods include whole grains, onions, whole oats, apples, bananas, garlic, soybeans, artichokes.

(Luke Coutinho by Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of You Care - All about YOU by Luke Coutinho)

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