Probiotic and prebiotic foods help take care of the intestinal flora.
When we talk about microbiota, or intestinal flora, we are referring to a large colony of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms –about 100 billion– that live in our digestive system, especially in the colon.
Some of these microorganisms are particularly “good” and, being more numerous, manage to control others that have a more aggressive behavior. This is precisely what we need to protect, this perfect balance on which our health often depends.
What are the functions of the microbiota?
This flora is not only responsible for our ability to go to the bathroom regularly and effortlessly; he has one long list of features and its alteration is linked to many disorders, from Alzheimer’s disease to the appearance of ulcers or colon cancer. He is responsible for…
- Helps metabolize nutrients. Thanks to it, we make good use of food.
- Protect us against intestinal infections.
- Send orders to the cells of the intestinal mucosa to multiply and grow well. If this fails, tumors can form.
- Intervene in the development of our defenses.
Probiotic and prebiotic foods
You will have heard a lot about it. Everyone takes care of the microbiota in their own way:
- probiotics they are, as their name suggests, “pro-life” substances. These are microorganisms such as lactobacilli, bifidobacteria or streptococci, which are found in foods such as yogurt or kefir. regenerate and maintain the intestinal microflora.
- prebiotics they are indigestible food ingredients that promote the growth and activity of these microorganisms. You could say that they feed them. These are usually carbohydrates (oligo and polysaccharides), although there are some peptides, proteins and lipids.
The ideal time to “build” a healthy intestine, full of good bacteria, is childhood. But if we weren’t lucky enough to have good food, we are always on time to get that good intestinal flora. Then we explain what foods and habits will pamper your gut and the bacteria that inhabit it.
Apple, grape and blueberries
you are interested in food rich in pectins, carbohydrates found in many fruits, but especially in grapes, citrus fruits, blueberries, apples, quinces and currants. The intestinal bacteria adore pectins and, in addition, by giving them we manage to have greater bacterial diversity, that is, there are more different species, which generally implies a more balanced and healthier microbiota.
It is advisable to increase the consumption of baked applehomemade pear compote or Homemade blueberry jam without sugar. Offer to make them and take them at least two or three times a week. And why homemade? Because surely manufacturers will bring other substances, not natural, which eliminate the power of pectin.
all kinds of mushrooms
Include mushrooms in your menus every week. They contain beta-glucans which, in addition to helping the flora, they satiate and help lower circulating cholesterol. They have the enormous advantage of not being affected by the pH of saliva or by specific conditions in the stomach or small intestine. i.e. beta-glucans reach the intact large intestine they degrade there and serve as food for the intestinal microbiota.
They can also be found in seaweed, oats or rye. Alternating these foods with vegetables in your diet is a great strategy for maintaining extraordinarily strong gut and immune health.
seeds and algae
Both are rich in mucilage, another of the favorite nutrients of the bacterial flora. Have you ever seen that chia or flax seeds take on a slimy appearance when left in liquid? The mucilages they contain are responsible for this viscosity. They also give it to algae.
Maybe you don’t usually take them, but it would be nice if you incorporated them into your stews At least once a week (Not if you have thyroid disease; young children shouldn’t take it either.) You can buy them dry and hydrate them.
Some plants also contain mucilage; This is the case with nettle, sage, marshmallow and plantago ovata.
Garlic and onion
Add garlic and onion to your recipes whenever you can. The most interesting compound for the microbiota is fructan, which is also found in asparagus, artichokes, chicory, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and beets. The gases produced by these foods are due to the fermentation of bacteria and their sulfur content.
Sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented
Fermented foods are essential. Good examples are sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, kombucha tea, miso (a soy paste to which a fungus is added) or tempeh (also made from soy or legumes). All of them promote the formation of anti-inflammatory substances in the intestine, help us modulate the immune system and we obtain amino acids, vitamins and other nutritional substances from them.
To all this it must be added that they are very digestive and leave “good stomach” after taking them. You can start with the simplest: add a little sauerkraut or pickles to salads or have kefir for breakfast with fruit. If you dare with the less common, buy miso and add it to your soups or purees, tempeh and grill it, or kombucha tea as a drink with your meals.
Potato and sweet potato
they will bring you resistant starch, one of the favorite foods of the microbiota. It is found in potatoes, plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, cereals and even cooked and cooled legumes. This process makes your starch look like jelly, more nutritious for bacteria.
When making potato or rice salad, cook these two ingredients the day before and store them in the refrigerator. Reheating it will create this beneficial starch.
Inside, they retain a type of fiber that is very valuable for intestinal bacteria: galactooligosaccharides or GOS. It is a type of fermentable carbohydrate, a prebiotic and a popular food for gut bacteria. The most natural way to get it is through breast milk, the most complete and impossible to imitate food.
When we are adults, the way to always have a minimum amount in our intestinal tract (to nourish the good bacteria) is to consume legumes with a certain frequency.
Legumes are among the least expensive foods that spread the most because with a moderate amount we are already full. Organize your take-out menus at least three times a week. Make simple preparations (warm salads or fat-free stews) with white beans, lentils, peas, soy, chickpeas or broad beans.
A lot of salt harms the intestinal flora
Excess sodium in the diet reduce the population of lactobacillus, a family of good bacteria that are part of the intestinal microbiota. Don’t add too much salt to meals and cut down on sodium-rich foods, sausages, cookies, ultra-processed foods and bouillon bars.
Carefully read the labels of what you buy because you are not interested in bringing home the products they carry high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS). It’s actually a very common sugar that harms your good bacteria.
Drugs and toxic substances also influence
In addition to diet, there is another set of factors that can determine whether we have good or bad gut microbiota.
- Drug use. Some of the most obvious are antibiotics (remember having an upset stomach or colitis after taking these can be a sign of damaged flora), but this is also caused by antidiabetics, laxatives, antidepressants, anxiolytics and oral contraceptives.
- Pollution and tobacco. The toxic substances present in both (also in the smoke we swallow when we are faced with a smoker) cause a significant imbalance in our gastrointestinal microbiota.
The environment affects the microbiota
It has been shown that the type of bacteria of members of a family nucleus or coexistence are similar. This may have an explanation: we are in contact with the same environment, we eat in the same way and, although indirectly, we also share bodily fluids. One more reason to take care of yourself as a family.
Being born by caesarean section, not having received breast milk or having had a poor diet before the age of two also impoverishes the intestinal flora.
And if you considered have a dog or a cat, that you know it’s more than proven that which also diversifies and increases our bacteria good.
The flora needs you to reduce stress
Stress is a bomb for the whole body… also for our intestine because it deprives it of its natural defenses, promotes inflammation and ends up unbalancing the whole digestive system.
It is able to affect the frequency of going to the bathroom, causing constipation but also periods of diarrhea, or persistent and strange flatulence. It happens to us because stress irritates our intestines and has a negative impact on our bacteria.
In addition, it leads to more and probably less healthy eating, which promotes obesity and enters into a vicious circle: we know that excessive weight can alter the microbiota.
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