Diet: probiotics and prebiotics

Food and nutrition

Published on 5 April 2018
by Isabelle Huot

We are increasingly interested in the composition of our intestine. The bacteria present can impact our overall health. Studies have shown links between microbiota and obesity, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and several other metabolic disorders. To regulate the composition of our intestinal flora, we can integrate probiotics and prebiotics into our diet.

Probiotics are microorganisms that, when consumed in sufficient quantities, have known health benefits. Each strain targets a specific area. Some are effective in treating diarrhea caused by antibiotics, while others stimulate the immune system or improve bowel function. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented milk, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, and kombucha are sources of healthy bacteria.

Prebiotics are indigestible and fuel probiotics, optimizing probiotic activity and promoting their growth. Today, inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, and galacto-oligosaccharides are the most commonly studied prebiotics. Whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables such as bananas, asparagus, artichoke, onions, chicory root, and Jerusalem artichoke powder are sources of prebiotics. Over the next few years, we will hopefully learn more about the ideal quantities of prebiotics for a perfectly balanced intestine.

Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition