Prebiotics 101: Kid’s Edition

prebiotics-101

By Juli Novotny Goddard of BasilHealth

I swear, talking to kids about being healthy is such a catch-22 because the more we talk about it, the less they want to do anything about it. At least that’s how it is in my house.

So I try to lead by example, give some input when they ask,  and focus less on the lectures. Lately, to my surprise, there have been inquisitive questions popping up about stomach aches and probiotics.

It started when we bought these really tasty ProBugs popsicles at the grocery store a few months back. My kids are really obsessed, and I feel good about them snacking on these treats because they contain probiotics.

We chatted a bit about why kefir and other fermented foods are healthy and great for the belly. I told them these foods contain healthy bacteria — or “little bugs” — that our intestines need to function properly and be stomachache-free.

Just when I thought I had nailed that topic, I saw an article online about prebiotics, foods that work in conjunction with probiotics. The article mentioned that without these prebiotic foods, probiotics just aren’t enough.

This led to hours of Google searches and rethinking my meal-planning.

So what exactly are prebiotics and why do we need them?

I explained it to my kids with an analogy: Think of prebiotics as gut fertilizer that help the good bacteria (probiotic bugs) thrive in the colon. Prebiotics are not bacteria but rather foods the bugs eat to help create a nice gut flora environment.  

Prebiotics and probiotics have a symbiotic relationship, where neither can survive without the other.

Some examples of prebiotic-rich foods include:

  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Jicama
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Chicory Root
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Unripened Bananas or plantains
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Yacon Root

Some of the alleged health benefits of prebiotics are:

  • Improved Digestion
  • Stronger Immune System
  • Better Nutrient Absorption
  • Sustainable Weight Loss
  • Natural Detoxification
  • Stress Support

So now you know, to achieve optimal digestion, you should include both prebiotics and probiotics in you and your family’s diets. If you’d like a more scientific explanation of prebiotics and their relationship to probiotics, take a look at this article written by Giana Angelo, Ph.D.

 

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