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Prebiotics are a great tool to maintaining a healthy gut. Prebiotics function to help bacteria that is already inside of your gastrointestinal tract grow and survive by serving as a food source for those good bugs or bacteria.1 The bacteria in the gut is what helps protects us from harmful pathogens that could cause food poisoning or other diseases.2 Selecting food with prebiotics contents is a great preventive measure for keeping your child’s tummy happy and healthy. Eating prebiotic food does not introducing any new bacteria (just gives the existing bacteria food to eat) to your child’s tummy, which is why it is important to also consume probiotic foods which does add new ‘good bacteria’ to your child’s tummy.
Probiotics are defined as the good bacteria that we can consume through food, drink or supplements to improve our gut health.3 The new bacteria, found in probiotics, serve to help our stomachs and intestines through the process of digestion and can alleviate any bloating or discomfort. Probiotics are great in the protection against diarrhea, which can occur due to an irritated gut and is a common side effect to taking antibiotics. Think about them as good bugs that cruise around our intestines and eat bad bacteria so they can be excreted with waste.
Fruits are a great place to start when trying to incorporate prebiotics into the diet. Fruits such as apples, bananas, mangos, pears, and oranges are all great prebiotic sources.4 For a more savory option of incorporating prebiotic foods, you can incorporate onions and asparagus.4 Other sources are quinoa, flax seeds, and chia seeds.4Another great, natural source of prebiotics is breast milk.2
Prebiotics can also be found from artificial sources. There are many prebiotic powders on the market that are consumed in the similar fashion to how proteins powders work. Prebiotics can also be included in some vitamins though how effective they are is highly dependent on storage temperature and shelf life.
All types of yogurts contain probiotics, as yogurt is a fermented milk product. This also means that cheeses will have probiotics.5 The fermentation process allows the good bacteria to grow within the product. Kombucha is a type of tea that also goes through a fermentation process, however it contains alcohol as well as probiotics from the fermentation process and thus is not recommended for children or teens.5 Another way to get drinkable probiotics is through Kefir, which is a fermented product similar to milk but with the tartness of yogurt.5 Savory options for probiotics include kimchi and sauerkraut.2 Probiotics can also be found in tempeh, which is a fermented soybean-based meat substitute that is similar to tofu.5
Like prebiotics, probiotics can also be found through powders or other supplements. There are many gummy vitamins and pills on the market for probiotics. It is important to know that the supplements available represent multiple different strains of good bacteria, and each strain is linked to a different purpose. Deciding which strain is best for your child is something you should discuss with your child’s pediatrician and dietitian. Adding in supplements like prebiotics or probiotics should be discussed with your physicians and dietitian as in some cases, like those who have undergone an organ transplant, probiotic supplements may not be recommended.
Prebiotics are a great way to keep all the good bacteria that you consume while eating your probiotic rich foods alive and well. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics helps in boosting immunity and preventing gastrointestinal related diseases. Overall, having a healthy gut is important as it is what keep our food moving through and then out of the body. Maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria within the gut can improve your bathroom experiences and is key to a healthier lifestyle. If you’re struggling to include these foods in your child’s diet, grab one of Courtney’s books. Blissful Meals can help you end meal time battles and teach you how to let your child be more flexible with foods. Busy Mom Meal Prep incorporates these prebiotic and probiotic foods in an easy way. Or if you’re looking for a more custom assessment and personalized guidance for your family, book a strategy call with Courtney.