We’ve barely had time to get to know about probiotics and incorporate them into our daily diet and now we discover there are also prebiotics we need to focus on for digestive health. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria which live in our intestine and aid in the digestive process. They also help keep bad bacteria in check and aid in the natural treatment of some gastrointestinal illnesses, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic diarrhea.

Prebiotics are the nutrients that allow the probiotics to thrive inside our intestine. The pro and pre work together to help treat a variety of gastrointestinal health issues, and both probiotics and prebiotics can often be found in the same food, so caloric intake does not have to be increased to get the best of both. Eating foods which contain both or eating different foods that contain each form at the same time will help ensure they’re doing the most for your digestive health.

Best Probiotic Foods

Yogurt tops the list as the best probiotic food , followed closely by buttermilk and cottage cheese. Fermented milks such as acidophilus and kefir are good sources and fermented soybean products like miso and tempeh are too.

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Best Prebiotic Foods

Asparagus, almonds, artichokes, berries, bananas, barley, chicory root, onions, garlic, legumes, leeks, oats, honey, wheat and flax will provide the needed nutrients so the probiotics can thrive. Many of the best prebiotic foods , like bananas, wheat and legumes, also top the list of foods for a heart healthy diet, so you can help improve heart health and digestive health at the same time by eating some of these foods daily.

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Combining Foods

Look for ways to combine favorite foods to get both pro and pre in the same meal for maximum health benefits. Top yogurt (live and active culture variety) with oats or berries for breakfast or top fresh fruit with a drizzle of honey and crème fraîche (a mixture of buttermilk and whipping cream) for a refreshing and healthy dessert. Cottage cheese and fresh fruit make for a low calorie lunch or try a favorite southern diner staple of pinto beans and cornbread, washed down with an ice cold glass of buttermilk.

Probiotics and prebiotics can also be taken in supplemental form if foods containing the natural digestive aids can’t be eaten.