Each year, more than 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders. The severity of these conditions range from a nuisance to potentially life threatening. The gut is one of the immune system’s central disease-fighting mechanisms. It is home to a diverse community of bacteria that play a vital role in both fighting disease and maintaining our health. For more on immune health, click here.
Enter: probiotics. What are probiotics, and what do they do?
Probiotics – good bacteria – stimulate the intestinal immune system and support many digestive conditions. Sometimes stress, travel and antibiotic use can disrupt the balance of these healthy bacteria necessitating supplementing your natural supply with probiotics.
Prebiotics, often referred to as fermentable fibre, are food for probiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, it has been suggested that you should get 3 to 8 grams of prebiotics per day. They can be found in bananas, berries, flax, onion, garlic, artichokes, chicory, leeks, legumes, and whole grains. If planning to take a prebiotic supplement (such as inulin), you should check with your health care practitioner to make sure they are safe for your situation.
Some gastrointestinal (GI) issues can be managed by ensuring you have a healthy diet that is high in fibre. Fibre is the component of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. You can find soluble fibre in peas, beans, lentils, fruits, and broccoli as well as in the form of supplementation (e.g. psyllium or inulin).