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What is your gut telling you? According to the National Institutes of Health, about one in five Americans suffers from digestive diseases. The growing awareness of the relationship between diet and digestive health has led to an increasing demand for food products that support health and provide basic nutrition. Maintaining digestive wellness is important. While science hasn’t given us all the answers yet, here is what we know so far.

Our gut is filled with trillions of bacteria, some of which are thought to aid in digestion, protect against infection and even maintain reproductive health. While much more research is necessary (including long-term safety information) and studies are ongoing, some preliminary evidence has shown that prebiotics and probiotics are promising in their ability to help maintain a healthier environment for the bacteria our body needs.


Prebiotics are thought to be “good” bacteria promoters. Preliminary research shows prebiotics may help support gut health as well as potentially enhance calcium absorption. Prebiotics are found naturally in food. Some common foods containing prebiotics that you can find at your local store are:

Fruits – apples, bananas, berries, raisins, kiwi, guava and pomegranate

Vegetables – onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms and cabbage

Legumes or pulses – lentils, dry beans, chickpeas, peas and soybeans

Whole grains – whole wheat, barley, rye, oats, brown rice, corn and buckwheat

Seeds and nuts – flaxseeds and almonds

Other foods – honey, green tea and cassava (tapioca starch)


Probiotics are live active cultures that support digestive health and/or immune function. Probiotics are found in supplements, foods and beverages. Prebiotics are believed to support the growth of probiotics, as they work together in a synergistic way. Common probiotic food sources are:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Cheese
  • Fresh or Raw Kimchi
  • Fresh Sauerkraut
  • Fresh Dill Pickles
  • Kombucha

When looking for food and beverages containing probiotics, look for terms on the product’s label like “naturally fermented” or “contains live and active cultures.”

Those microbes are still alive when we eat yogurt, kefir, cheeses, kimchi and some other fermented foods. It is important to know that not all bacteria present in fermented dairy products have a probiotic effect. However, some foods that undergo fermentation are further processed (by pasteurization, baking or filtering) so they are no longer sources of active microbes.

Kombucha is an example of traditional fermentation of sweetened tea made with a microbial mixture of yeast and bacteria. The live cultures in some blends vary depending on brands. Look for those that are raw or contain live cultures.
Check out these recipes containing fermented foods and prebiotics below and give them a try.

Turkey & Vegetable Stir-Fry Tacos– fermented foods including rice vinegar and hoisin; green onions
Blended Tropical Fruit & Yogurt Bowl– Yogurt, kiwis & berries in fruit salad, Honey, Back to Nature Vanilla Almond Agave Granola (agave, almonds and chicory root fiber, banana)

You should discuss these options with your doctor to learn more about whether or not probiotics, prebiotics or dietary changes are appropriate and safe for you. Your doctor may suggest specific strains of bacteria or dietary changes that are right for you.



“Functional Foods Fact Sheet: Probiotics and Prebiotics.” Food Insight, May 2014
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): National Institutes of Health. “Your Microbes and You: The Good, Bad and Ugly.” NIH News In Health, November 2012
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): National Institutes of Health. “Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), November 2014
Katharina E. Scholz-Ahrens, Peter Ade, Berit Martin, Petra Weber, Wolfram Timm, Yahya Aςil, Claus C. Glüer, and Jürgen Schrezenmeir. “Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics Affect Mineral Absorption, Bone Mineral Content, and Bone Structure.” The Journal of Nutrition: Oxford University Press, March 2017
Jo Ann Hattner, MPH, RD, and Susan Anderes, MLIS. “Prebiotic Food Sources.” GutInsight.com, October 2016
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): National Institutes of Health. “Probiotics: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), October 2016
Sanders, Mary Ellen, PhD. “Probiotics.” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, February 2018
Hutkins, Robert, PhD. “Kombucha: Trend or New Staple?” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, September 2017
Monique B.

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Monique B. began her journey at Publix in 2010, where she fell in love with the fact that, as an associate, she was also part owner of the company. Since then, she has dedicated her skills in organization and creativity to Publix, taking a special interest in social media. At the end of the day, she hopes The Publix Checkout leaves you with the knowledge that Publix is more than just a grocery store – we’re experts, we’re family, and we’re here to help!

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