Last night I volunteered at an exclusive event called Conscious Bite Out in Wynwood, Miami. The event took place in an enchanting, modern spot called The Sacred Space Miami, with dimmed lights, tea candles and spider green flowers delicately placed everywhere. It really was such […]
Tag: plant-based diet
Healthy Recipe Ecstasy: Garlicky White Bean Pasta Faux-Fredo with Kale Pesto There comes a time every few weeks where veggies start to run out in the fridge. Instead of running out to the grocery store immediately, I get creative with the pantry, usually using “processed carbs,” such […]
Believe it or not, our bodies can synthesize all the fat it needs, and saturated, monounsaturated, and trans fat (including cholesterol) do not need to be consumed through the diet. Omega-3 and omega-6 are the only two which the body cannot synthesize and therefore they are […]
Love all of these actresses and especially love that they are vegetarian or vegan. A woman who makes her health and her dietary choices a priority is sexy as heck! #wcw ! I’d like to add Bianca (creator of THe Friendly Fig) to this list!!?
Probiotics always seem to be a topic of interest among health-conscious individuals. Most of us have at least heard of probiotics, and maybe we have even tried a few products containing them when we have gotten some type of cold or other sickness (because that’s what your neighbor told you to do, or your friend’s friend has suggested it, or because you googled probiotic and the first website you read claimed probiotics are the ‘real-deal’). But I often wonder if we really understand what a probiotic is. What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? And should we really trust either one? I’ve learned about these two forms of bacteria in some of my classes, I’ve done some information gathering, and I hope to clear some things up.
First things first. Let’s talk bacteria. Our gastrointestinal tract is made up of hundreds of different species of “good” bacteria, also known as our body’s microflora. This bacteria helps our body metabolize nutrients, vitamins, drugs, hormones, and carcinogens; fight against intruders; prevents pathogens from colonizing; protects us against allergies and immune disorders; and regulates our immune system (1,2). These functions of the gut flora help our body’s to function properly and prevent disease-causing bacteria (AKA the “bad” bacteria) from taking hold. Our diet and lifestyle affects the types of bacteria that live in our gut. A healthy, nutrient-dense diet helps promote the growth of the good bacteria; an unhealthy diet consisting of refined sugar and animal fat, low fiber, and antibiotic use promotes the bad bacteria. This is where probiotics and prebiotics come into play. People frequently believe their diet can be “fixed” with supplementation, including probiotics.
I find that the definition of probiotics is often confusing, but Dr. Joel Fuhrman explains it best:
“The term probiotics is used both for the beneficial bacteria that are native to our intestinal tract and for supplemental live bacterial organisms that are thought to be beneficial when ingested. However, the (limited) bacteria in supplemental probiotics and fermented foods are not the same as the indigenous bacterial flora that live in the gut. Supplemental probiotics serve a beneficial role–but mostly when the normal native bacteria have been harmed or removed with antibiotic use or perverted with a diet of sweets and processed foods (1).”
He goes on to explain that it can take months to reestablish the good microflora and that a healthy diet needs to be maintained in order to do so. Probiotic bacteria that come from supplements drop within days when supplementation stops. This begins to explain why a healthy diet is the most important factor in promoting the right type of bacteria in our gut–not occasional probiotic supplementation.
There are many studies that have been done regarding probiotics, but the evidence is mixed when it comes to its effectiveness (1). For this reason more research needs to be done before we can proclaim that probiotics are the real deal. That being said, there are a few conditions that have been shown to benefit most from probiotics, including antibiotic associated diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (2). For more information regarding probiotics, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s article: What are probiotics?).
So, why is a healthy diet the most important factor in promoting the good bacteria? The good bacteria (and even probiotics themselves), feed off of non-digestible carbohydrate sources, resistant starch and fibers coming from vegetables, fruit, and legumes. These types of food act as prebiotics, which support the growth and activity of the good bacteria. They are found in foods like onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, artichokes, oats, and bananas (2,3). It is not necessary to eat fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir to have beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract (1). A whole-food diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and legumes (AKA a high fiber, resistant starch and carbohydrate diet consisting of natural prebiotics) will provide enough of the favorable bacteria in our gut to keep us healthy and functioning at our best.
Probiotics may be helpful for some people under certain conditions, but I hope more research is completed in the future so we can determine their safety and effectiveness. As of right now, the evidence regarding the benefits of prebiotics from whole, plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables is our best bet when we want to keep our good bacteria in check. When you’re feeling sick, think about how your diet has been over the last few months or even the last few weeks. Are you fueling your microflora with healthy foods (prebiotics), or are you encouraging the growth of the “bad” bacteria?
This photo comes from PCRM.org:
- Furhman, Joel. Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free. Harper One. 2012. pp. 89; 151-153. Print.
- “Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits.” MDPI. Web.: http://www.pcrm.org/media/online/sept2014/seven-foods-to-supercharge-your-gut-bacteria
- “Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits.” MDPI. Web.: http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/probiotics.aspx#_ENREF_1
- “Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits.” MDPI. Web.
I made my own butternut squash soup! It’s oil free, gluten free, nut free, and dairy free, of course. I used half of the squash to make the soup and I’m saving the other half to make a cheese recipe later. But for now, if […]
- 1 roll Arnold’s whole grain bread
- 2 slices of extra firm sprouted tofu (pressed between paper towels)
- 1 slice Daiya cheddar cheese
- Red pepper hummus
- Sliced red onion
- Garlic powder, sea salt, pepper
First prepare the tofu by pressing between paper towels, and then sprinkled with the garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper (I pressed down on the tofu slices with a spatula to make sure the spices stick).
Next cook the tofu on each side in a skillet, about medium high heat, turning once. I did not use any oil to cook. While tofu is cooking, I made the sandwich–cheese slice and sliced red onion on the bottom side of bread and then I mashed a small amount of avocado and red pepper hummus on the top side.
After the tofu was finished I placed it on top of the cheese/sliced red onion, topped with the other slice of bread and put it back on skillet to melt cheese! Again I used no oil, just let the bread toast. Flipping the sandwich to cook the top side can be tricky! Good luck!
Plus an article about the nutrition confusion among all of us. It’s personally one of the most frustrating things to deal with, when everyone around me acts as a nutritional expert because they know how to type in the search bar on google. There really is a skill that we all need to learn when it comes to using the internet as an educational tool, and I’m so grateful that I learned about research methods during my psychology education a couple of years ago. I hope to post an article soon about this!
For now, it’s valuable to understand that many health and nutritional information you find on the internet focus on very specific nutrients and specific effects on the body. How many times have you heard to use a calcium, iron, or vitamin D supplement? Unfortunately our bodies do not work based on this reductionist approach, a term coined by Dr. Campbell. He’s been one of my most favorite authors and physicians, mainly because he has taught me that reductionism misses the larger context, and abandons the wholistic approach we need to focus on for true and lasting health. I recommend reading some of his books, especially Whole, as it explains the reductionism phenomenon.
Here is the article: http://nutritionstudies.org/reductionist-paradigm-cause-nutrition-confusion/
Aside from nutritional information focusing too much on specific nutrients and effects, it’s important to remember that many people over the internet have no educational background regarding nutrition. Make sure to dig into an articles resources and especially find out the authors credentials. Including mine! You can find out in my about me that I have my BS in business management and psychology, I have a certificate in Plant-based Nutrition, and I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Dietetics and Nutrition, as well as a health coach certification. It’s up to you to be able to trust the information I am providing as I am not yet a Registered Dietitian or Health Coach. My educational experience started a quite a few years ago and it continues, but you should always question the bloggers experience and knowledge.
I hope this helps you use the internet more efficiently!
Here is a link to follow my recommended plant-based recipes on Pinterest. A lot of them are gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and of course, healthy. *My Pinterest Recipes* Taylor’s cousin and his wife are in town so last night we had them over for drinks, and then we […]