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You have likely heard the terms gut health, prebiotics and probiotics — but what do they mean and how do they impact you? Let’s breakdown these keywords plus learn key areas and foods to focus on when it comes to improving your digestive health.
Digging into our digestive health starts with the gut microbiome. A combination of microorganisms including healthy bacteria live in our digestive tract. These microorganisms play a key role in our digestive system but also contribute to our metabolic functions and support our immune system. It’s important to maintain a flourishing gut microbiota and you can do that through the consumption of prebiotics and probiotics.
Probiotics are what we call the live microorganisms that we consume to help boost the population of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. These can come in the form of shelf-stable or refrigerated capsules, as well as in fermented foods containing live or active cultures such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and cheese.
Prebiotics are what we call the food that feeds the microorganisms in our digestive tract. Prebiotics are a form of fiber and we can get them from a variety of supplements and foods such as garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, barley, whole-grain oats, chicory root and apples.
Ready to get started on the journey to improve your digestive health? Start small by focusing on a few key areas of your diet.
Focus on fiber
According to the American Society for Nutrition, 93 percent of American adults need more fiber in their diet. Dietary fiber plays many roles in our wellness, including helping with digestive regularity, adding bulk to waste and lowering our cholesterol. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as adding oats or apples into your diet for easy and cost-effective solutions to incorporating more fiber into your diet.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Water helps prevent constipation and helps food pass more easily through the digestive track. It is important if you are considering increasing your fiber intake to support your digestive health to increase your fluid intake to avoid constipation, gas or bloating.
Eat regular meals and snacks
With the hustle and bustle of daily lives many individuals may choose to skip meals and snacks, leading to overconsumption and that uncomfortable feeling of bloat at mealtime. Carve out time in your schedule to consume regular meals and snacks to allow your digestive system time to rest between meals and give it time to breakdown the food you have consumed.
Are you looking to take a more individualized approach to your digestive health? Connect with a local Hy-Vee dietitian in-store or online. To learn more, head to www.hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians/default.aspx and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session with your Hy-Vee dietitian. We offer a variety of services to help you meet your nutrition goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more.
Julie Gallagher is a dietitian at Hy-Vee Food Stores.