Of all the dietary research available, one of the most interesting new areas of understanding is how powerful our gut health is in determining our overall health and immune function. It appears that modern life and the stress associated with it, along with more refined, processed food based diets have played havoc with the bacteria naturally found in the digestive system. In turn this means more tummy issues, reduced immune function, an increased risk of a number of disease states and even weight gain.
As we learn more about the importance of keeping our guts healthy, the good news is that pre and probiotics, active components found in foods and various supplements may offer some relief. Known as the “good bacteria,” probiotics are microorganisms naturally found in the human digestive tract improve the balance of healthy bacteria. Probiotics have to been shown to;
- help reduce digestive symptoms such as constipation and bloating
- help restore gut flora after consuming a course of antibiotics which can kill the good bacteria naturally found in the gut
- help rebalance the bacteria required for optimal nutrient absorption
Probiotics can be found in various food sources, including fermented drinks and yoghurts. It’s been shown just 1-2 serves a day of these foods can reduce bloating in sensitive stomachs. For those individuals opposed to yoghurts or milk-based drinks, probiotics are also available in supplement form, which can be an effective way to get your daily dose of “good gut health”.
Read how bananas are great breakfast choice here.
Probiotics are active living microorganisms, and often need to be kept cold in the fridge and consumed within the used by dates. Some newer forms of probiotic supplements however do not require refrigeration, making them suitable for travel. To be sure always check the label or ask your health practitioner.
Found in various food ingredients, prebiotics promote the growth and function of different types of good bacteria in the gut. Recent research has emerged that prebiotics may also play a significant role in immune function. Prebiotics found in various fibrous foods move through the digestive tract undigested and then act to feed the good bacteria promoting their growth and optimising gut balance. As a result the gut is healthier and better able to absorb nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract.
There are a wide range of foods that naturally contain prebiotics, in particular aromatic vegetables including onions, leeks and celery. As well as wheat bran, soy beans, rye based breads and green bananas. While ripe bananas offer the health benefits of 3-5 grams of dietary fibre per serve, which is still important for gut health, green bananas in particular offer a significant dose of the powerful pre-biotic, resistant starch linked to a number of positive health outcomes. So if you are looking to feed more of the good bacteria in your gut perhaps it is time to try your bananas green and support immune function long term.
*Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.