It may seem alarming that there are over 400 species of bacteria in your gut but these bacteria are known as the "good bacteria". Probiotics and prebiotics help keep your intestinal tract healthy by helping digest food, absorbing micronutrients, and preventing infection. 

There already is a fair amount of bacteria that does all this good stuff on its own, but some assistance is helpful. If you're looking to give a little love to your gut, probiotics and prebiotics are the way to do it. 

This bacteria can boost your immunity against other bacteria. 

sweet, tea, coffee, milk
Kristine Mahan

Probiotics are the "good bacteria", just like the ones that we naturally have in our guts. They're active cultures that can help change our natural intestinal bacteria to balance the gut as a whole.

Because probiotics are like the bacteria already found in our gut, their functions are similar in that they can help boost immunity by protecting the gut against infection from "bad bacteria". 

It's so important to keep your gut healthy because of the link there is between immunity, digestion, and overall health that stems from the intestinal tract. Incorporating probiotics into your diet can help keep this balance. 

Probiotics give an excuse to buy trendy, new foods.

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Kristine Mahan

Fermented foods like yogurt and aged cheeses (like brie or parm cheese), as well as pickled vegetables, apple cider vinegar, miso and tempeh contain the live cultures that are considered probiotic.

If you're already eating these foods, your gut is thanking you. And if you're not eating these foods, try adding them into your daily diet. 

And for the weeks you skip out on miso from the grocery list...

Kristine Mahan

Supplements are another source of probiotics. Whether you choose to take a probiotic pill or start your day off with a kombucha tea, you're giving your gut an extra bit of bacteria. 

Don't worry, prebiotics are most likely already in your diet.

garlic, vegetable
Kristine Mahan

Prebiotics may not be as much talked about as their probiotic counterparts, but they are just as important. Prebiotics are the natural, non-digestible food components that help the good bacteria in your gut grow. 

These prebiotics can be found naturally in foods such as bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, artichokes, soybeans, and whole-wheat. 

Combining the two makes a dynamic duo.

yogurt, milk
Kristine Mahan

In digestion, there are many instances where a pair of micronutrients work together synergistically, leading to greater absorption and effectiveness within the body.

Prebiotics and probiotics are the same way. Products that combine the two, or meals that pair the two are called synbiotics. With the synbiotics, you'll get the maximum benefit of the probiotics from your food.

So eat a banana with your yogurt or make a pizza with cheddar cheese and onions as two of the toppings. Go with your gut after learning all this, it will thank you later.