probiotics prebiotics local food

Boost gut health with probiotics & prebiotics

The local foods that have them may surprise you!


By the Veggie Fairy Team

You’ve probably heard of probiotics. But do you know exactly what they are, why they’re important, and that there are a lot of foods you can get them from? Turns out local food is a great source for this vital part of a healthy gut!

What are probiotics?

Most probiotics are “good” bacteria, though some species of yeast have also been ID’d as having probiotic qualities. Once these beneficial micro-organisms are ingested, they set up housekeeping in your digestive tract. The friendly microbes are believed to help you digest your food properly and may protect you from harmful bacteria that cause disease.

What are prebiotics? Are they related?

They are! Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. So you can boost the probiotics in your gut by feeding them prebiotics. The term “synbiotics” refers to foods or products that have both probiotics and prebiotics.

Check out the health benefits!

According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s evidence that probiotics may help:

  • Treat diarrhea, especially after taking certain antibiotics (which can kill the beneficial bacteria in your gut)
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
  • Ease allergic disorders such as eczema and hay fever
  • Scientists are also studying probiotics and prebiotics to see if they’re effective (and safe) in treating other diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. More research is definitely needed!

    Eat your way to a healthy gut

    You don’t have to take supplements to boost the good work that probiotics are doing inside you. In fact, the best way to get most of the micro-organisms, compounds, minerals, and vitamins that you need is from real live food, not pills. When you get it from food, it’s easier for your body to absorb it and put it to work.

    Here are the local foods to look for

    Both probiotics and the prebiotics that fuel them can be found in lots of local foods. In prepared foods, the key to probiotics is often fermentation. A fermented dairy product like YOGURT contains both live bacteria and the fuel they need to thrive. The local supplier in our online farmers market is Trickling Springs Creamery. Using grassfed milk from local farmers, they make minimally processed yogurt, and BUTTERMILK that’s rich in probiotics, too.

    Fermented dairy’s not your thing? Then how about SOURDOUGH BREAD, like the sourdough boule baked in Ashland, Va., by La Bella Vita Bakery. The fermentation is in the sourdough starter that makes it rise, and sourdough is a source of probiotics.

    For additional tasty ways to get your priobiotics, try naturally fermented SOUR PICKLES, KRAUT, or KIMCHI. Any naturally pickled vegetable will get the job done. Matt’s Dirty Pickles are fermented in brine in Midlothian, Va.

    The prebiotics that feed probiotics can be found in local foods, too. Fresh produce like GREENS (including kale and spinach), ONIONS, LEEKS, GARLIC, and ASPARAGUS, and foods like WHOLE GRAINS, LEGUMES, and HONEY can all be had from local farmers and food artisans in our online farmers market. Yummvees vegan meals are made in Midlothian, and are full of legumes and whole grains. The bees of Alfredo’s Beehive gather their nectar in the toxin-free fields of Manokin-Sabot, Va., and produce the most amazing local honey.

    Are probiotics safe?

    If you’re getting extra probiotics and prebiotics from the food you eat, side effects are rare. Most healthy adults can safely add probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods to their diets. If you’re considering taking supplements, though, check with your doctor to be sure they’re right for you.

    Want to learn more about prebiotics and probiotics? The National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic are both good places to start.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

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