Keep it moving for good gut health

Keep it moving for good gut health

When it comes to digestive health, there is more than meets the eye. Working behind the scenes are two substances that are beneficial for digestive health – probiotics and prebiotics.


These "good" bacteria and yeasts aid the body's digestive tract. They help regulate the movement of food through the body and are similar to organisms that occur naturally in the digestive tract. Probiotics are live organisms found in dietary supplements and foods, such as yogurt, other dairy products, sauerkraut, chocolate, granola bars, and juices.

In addition to helping the body absorb nutrients from foods, probiotics produce B vitamins, support the immune system, and help prevent harmful bacteria that make people sick. Probiotics are commonly used to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms that are not due to acute illness, such as gas, bloating, and constipation.

New guidelines from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) cite a lack of scientific evidence to recommend probiotics for the treatment of most digestive disorders, including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and C. difficile infection. The AGA says healthcare providers should only suggest probiotics to their patients only if there is clear benefit.


These are “nondigestible” food ingredients that help support the growth of probiotic bacteria. Prebiotics are present only in plants, mostly vegetables. The body does not digest these plant fibers. Instead, the fibers act as a fertilizer to promote the growth of many of the good bacteria in the digestive system. Prebiotics are found in asparagus, yams, bananas, onions, garlic, honey, artichokes, and whole grains. They are also available in supplement form.

Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotics and prebiotics regimen.