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Guide to healthy probiotic and prebiotic foods


The probiotic foods like yogurts with bifidus, they can be very beneficial for your health. These types of products are made up of bacteria. Yes, by bacteria. These, strange as it may seem, play an important role in our body, being beneficial to our health. The same happens with prebiotics, which are responsible for these bacteria to function properly in the body.

Probiotics are part of what is known as ‘food microbiology’, in charge of studying the microorganisms that can affect what we eat, according to the senior dietetic technician Álvaro Vargas.

«There are microorganisms in food that generally do not produce any type of alteration in our body, do not lead to disease, and go unnoticed, while other times microorganisms can manifest themselves by modifying the food, producing a food infection or providing positive properties, such as this is the case of fermentation, which increases the beneficial bacteria in this food, that is, probiotics, “he adds.

100 million probiotics beneficial for the immune system

As he explains in an interview with Infosalus, in our microbiota there are almost 100 million beneficial bacteria for the immune system, and foods with probiotics carry similar bacteria, they are mainly fermented foods. These foods include:

  • Yoghurt
  • Dark chocolate (above 75%, the purer the better)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Kombucha tea

These foods, although they are not very common in a shopping basket, because some are difficult to find, and even expensive, they can be beneficial to our health, as he clarifies.

Superfood dark chocolate
Superfood dark chocolate – Canva

Moreover, he maintains that “all those that contain beneficial bacteria in their composition” can be considered as probiotic foods. By taking them, in principle, it says that we are ingesting millions of these microorganisms that can settle and become part of our intestine or be eliminated; Although it warns that “the causes of why one thing or another happens are not well studied.”

“What is clear is that for these bacteria to settle in the colon, you have to take probiotics regularly, between three and six months, the same happens with probiotic supplements. It is not so easy for these strange bacteria to nest in the colony already formed in our body, it takes time and sometimes they are not fully integrated “, adds Vargas.

Most are fermented foods

One of the characteristics of these foods is that most are fermented foods, that is, they have spent time in some aqueous solution and this has led to the appearance of beneficial bacteria.

On the other hand, the dietician is in favor of taking probiotic supplements continuously, and especially coinciding with the changes of season, and if we have been taking medications such as antibiotics, if we have come out of any ailment, in particular gastrointestinal, “but it would not hurt at any time”, or after an infection.

How do prebiotic foods work?

Regarding prebiotic foods, Vargas emphasizes that these are foods that do not have these bacteria in their composition, but that they do encourage the intestines to manufacture them and facilitate the cultivation of beneficial bacteria: «It is as if it were aphrodisiacs for these microorganisms , since they help them to procreate. Of course, they are not as effective in this task as probiotics, since their interaction with the existing microbiota is even more uncertain, but they will undoubtedly help ».

These prebiotic foods do not carry those beneficial bacteria but they do serve as training and enhance the bacteria that already exist.

«Here all the vegetables would be framed, that help our intestinal flora, especially the green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, or cabbage, and then the crucifers are very interesting such as cauliflower, turnip, kale , or broccoli. Other foods rich in prebiotics are garlic, artichokes, oats, onion, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes, bananas, and leeks “, the expert concludes.

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