Probiotics & Prebiotics ~ Keep your gut microbiota healthy!

brain health healthy eating healthy recipes immunity real food sugarfree Aug 06, 2023

Our modern life delivers a “gut punch” of health issues! 

High stress levels, too little sleep, eating ultra-processed and high-sugar foods, can all damage our gut microbiome.

The result: complications with our health, from unintentional weight changes, fatigue, skin irritation, autoimmune conditions, and food intolerances.

Let’s change that!

Learn the real benefits of probiotics and prebiotics, why they are so good for your body, and what food you should eat to keep your gut microbiota healthy.

What are Probiotics & Prebiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, offer a health benefit on the host.  Put simply: Probiotics are good bacteria (and sometimes yeasts) that offer health benefits.

So how do probiotics work?

The main job of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Think about maintaining your body in neutral. When you are sick, bad bacteria invades your body and increases in number. This makes you feel out of balance or sick. Now the good bacteria work hard to fight off the bad bacteria to bring back the balance within your body and make you feel better again – Well done, probiotics!

Unfortunately, if we don't take care of our healthy bacteria, sometimes the harmful ones will get the upper hand, and we can literally develop a "pain in our gut."

Prebiotics are special plant fibers that help the healthy bacteria grow in your gut. This makes your digestive system work better. You can say that prebiotics are the food source for probiotics.

Prebiotics are found in carbohydrates that your body can’t digest. So they are able to travel to your lower digestive tract, where they then act like food to help the healthy bacteria grow.

Take Note: Without prebiotics there’s no food for the probiotics!

That means the probiotics can’t do their job effectively, which leads to problems in your gut microbiota.

The Benefits

Both probiotics and prebiotics can provide your body with powerful benefits…

Probiotics may improve digestive health, mental health like reducing depression, gastrointestinal health and heart health. Plus, evidence suggests they may even give you healthier-looking skin.

Prebiotics have many links to the benefits of probiotics. They may support a healthy gut, offer better digestive health, and help to lower antibiotic-related health problems. They may also improve your body’s absorption of calcium and can help process foods faster, so they spend less time in your digestive system, which helps avoid constipation.

Foods To Keep Your Gut Microbiota Healthy

Maintaining a healthy gut can take some effort. But there are many healthy probiotic and prebiotic foods that you can eat, to help your gut.

Prebiotic: Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes

Fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes are all great sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiome. They are high in fiber, which your gut loves. Here are some specific foods high in fiber that are great for your gut bacteria, and should be on your shopping list.

  • Apples - Rich in pectin fibre
  • Asparagus - Rich in prebiotic fibre & antioxidants
  • Garlic - Great for flavouring foods & gives prebiotic benefits
  • Onions - Rich in inulin & fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Banana - Good source of fibre
  • Oatmeal - Rich in beta-glucan fibre

Probiotic: Eat fermented foods

Fermented foods have undergone a process in which the sugars they contain are broken down by yeast or bacteria. Fermented foods are packed with probiotics and may therefore improve your gut health.

Here are 5 fermented foods to add to your shopping list

  • Yogurt is a great source of probiotics. It is made from milk that has been fermented by friendly bacteria, mainly lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Plant-based yogurts, such as coconut yogurt, also contain added friendly bacteria. Unfortunately, not all yogurt contains live probiotics because they have been killed during processing. Therefore, look for yogurt with active or live cultures, found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
  • Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish usually with cabbage as the main ingredient, but it can also be made from other vegetables. Kimchi contains the lactic acid bacteria lactobacillus kimchi and is also high in vitamin K, vitamin B2 and iron.
  • Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is a traditional and old food very popular particularly in Europe. In addition to its probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in fiber, the minerals iron and manganese and the vitamins C, B and K. Make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut, because pasteurization kills the live and active bacteria.
  • Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to milk from cows or goats. Kefir grains are cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that look a bit like a cauliflower.
  • Tempeh is fermented soybean. It is normally served as a popular, high protein substitute for meat. Due to fermentation, tempeh also contains vitamin B12. This makes it a great choice for vegetarians as well as anyone looking to add a nutritious probiotic to their diet.

The Bottom Line

Your gut bacteria consist of hundreds of species of bacteria which all are extremely important for many aspects of your health. The best way to maintain a healthy gut microbiota is to eat a varied diet with a range of fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and fermented foods.

Bonus tips...

  • Try trading milk for kefir or yogurt in a smoothie!
  • Add tempeh to your favourite stir-fry recipes in place of tofu (which is not fermented) or other protein sources!
  • Serve sauerkraut as a side dish or try adding it in a soup (just before serving)!
  • Experiment with kimchi. Add it to your rice or make delicious fritters or pancakes out of it!

Recipes ~ 

Easy Kim Chi

Serves 8


  • 4 cups Napa Cabbage (tightly packed)
  • 6 stalks Green Onion (diced)
  • 1 Carrot (large, grated)
  • 1 cup Radishes (grated)
  • 4 Garlic (cloves, minced)
  • 3 tbsp Ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 1 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes


  • Core and finely slice the cabbage. Place in a mixing bowl with all ingredients. Using your clean hands, massage the salt into the cabbage and vegetables until it starts to soften (5 to 10 minutes). Set aside and let rest for 10 minutes then massage again for another 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the kimchi into sterilized jars, leaving an inch of space at the top. Pack it down into the jar until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Seal the jars with sterilized lids.
  • Let it ferment at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. It may bubble and that is normal. Check on your kimchi everyday and re-submerge the vegetables under the brine if they rise.
  • Taste your kimchi on day 3. If it tastes ripe, transfer it to the fridge. If not, let it ferment another day or two.
  • Enjoy kimchi right away or let sit for another week or two for extra flavour. Enjoy!

Pre- and Probiotics Salad


Serves 2


  • 1 cup Chickpeas (cooked, drained)
  • ½ Cucumber (medium, chopped)
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper (chopped)
  • ¼ cup Mixed Olives (pitted)
  • ½ Avocado (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup Red Onion (sliced)
  • 4 oz Feta Cheese (chopped, optional)
  • 1/4 cup Italian Dressing
  • 2 tbsp Parsley (fresh, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Kim Chi (optional)


  • Divide the feta cheese, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, olives, avocado, and onion evenly between bowls. Top evenly with the dressing and parsley, and Kim Chi if you like. Enjoy!


  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • No Italian Dressing? Use olive oil and lemon juice instead, or your choice of dressing
  • Mix it up!  Substitute your protein of choice

Sources & Further Reading

Prebiotics and probiotics: Creating a healthier you. (2018, February 27)

Scott, K. (n.d.). Prebiotics

Rather, I. A., Bajpai, V. K., Kumar, S., Jeongheui, L., Paek, W. K., Park, Y.-H (2016, April 12). Probiotics and atopic dermatitis: An overview. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 507

The Health Benefits of Probiotics and Prebiotics. G. R. Gibson,R. A. Rastall,R. Fuller,

Basic Definitions and Concepts: Organization of the Gut Microbiome. Eamonn M M Quigley

US Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed 3/9/2020. Probiotics: What You Need To Know

American Gastroenterological Association. . Accessed 3/9/2020. Probiotics

Probiotics and Prebiotics in Pediatrics: Dan W. Thomas, Frank R. Greer and Committee on Nutrition; Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.

Probiotics and prebiotics in dermatology. Katherine L Baquerizo Nole , Elizabeth Yim, Jonette E Ker

Resistant Starch Alters the Microbiota-Gut Brain Axis: Implications for Dietary Modulation of Behavior. Mark Lyte, Ashley Chapel, Joshua M Lyte , Yongfeng Ai, Alexandra Proctor, Jay-Lin Jane,

Gregory J Phillips

Formation of B-vitamins by bacteria during the soaking process of soybeans for tempe fermentation. J Denter, B Bisping

Analy Machado de Oliveira Leite, Marco Antonio Lemos Miguel, Raquel Silva Peixoto, Alexandre Soares Rosado, Joab Trajano Silva, Vania Margaret Flosi Paschoalin Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage

Effects of Dietary Yogurt on the Healthy Human Gastrointestinal (GI) Microbiome. Daniel J. Lisko, G. Patricia Johnston, and Carl G. Johnston

Probiotic bacteria in fermented foods: product characteristics and starter organisms. K J Heller

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