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Healthy Gut, Happy Life

July 30, 2019

Give yourself a boost with a better microbiome

Did you know that you wage a war every day inside your stomach? It’s a battle between bad bacteria – which cause inflammation and gastrointestinal (GI) distress – and good bacteria, which improve the GI flora in your gut and offer such benefits as a calmer stomach, a healthier immune system, and even a clearer mind. Tip the balance of good bacteria in your favor with these tips from Gale Reed, RDN, outpatient dietitian for Overlook Medical Center.

Pre and Pro Are the Way To Go

For maximum benefit, our bodies need both prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are high-fiber foods that make it easier for probiotics to flourish. Probiotics are the aforementioned “good bacteria” that promote healthy digestion. “Think of prebiotics like fertilizer for the probiotics,” says Reed. “They get the gut ready. Just like in a garden, the more you fertilize, the better the yield. When you consume high-fiber prebiotic foods, it makes it easier for your body to absorb the probiotic foods that improve your body’s own microbiome.” 

Food vs. Supplements

Reed cites a review of indexed articles in PubMed and ScienceDirect, which concluded that although both foods and supplements are efficient carriers of beneficial bacteria, probiotic foods are preferred over probiotic supplements to promote health. “Probiotic and prebiotic properties are naturally occurring in food,” says Reed, “with the added benefit of health-promoting fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients.” In other words, you get more bang for the buck. 

The ‘Gut-Brain Axis’

Prebiotics and probiotics can do more than bolster your immune system or soothe your stomach. There is evidence that your brain influences weight gain, bowel habits, nutrient delivery and microbial balance. Similarly, the gut has influence on neurotransmitters that play a role in regulating mood, behavior, and stress and anxiety. “Your brain informs your gut, and vice versa,” says Reed. “You can influence both with the foods you eat, and these prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods can really make a difference.”

Outpatient counseling with a registered dietitian is the more effective way to address your nutritional needs. Call 908-522-6114 to schedule an appointment.