Smoothies and Gut Bacteria

by in Our Dietitan

The beautifully blended combination of nutrients that come together to create your favorite smoothie may also be the perfect pre- and probiotic boost your body needs. Prebiotics, the non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of the beneficial bacteria found in our gut, team up with probiotics, or good bacteria, to positively impact our gut microbiota. A few questions commonly come up when the topic of smoothies and gut bacteria is considered.

Adding oats, as with this Pumpkin Spice Smoothie, can help keep the prebiotic value of a pureed dish high.

I know I’ve heard about probiotics, but what are they again?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may serve a number of roles in our body. An emerging field, the power of probiotics is still being understood. As they are naturally found in our gut, which is considered as a center of significant body function, we believe that they may benefit us in many ways. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods or taken as supplements.

If the fruit is pureed (thereby breaking down the fiber), is it still prebiotic?

Unlike juicing, which eliminates some parts of produce to extract only antioxidant rich juice, smoothies include whole fruits and vegetables, which means you don’t just consume the juice, but the fiber too. However, once pureed, is the fiber still considered a prebiotic since the blender is essentially breaking it down for you? This is a great question and one that is hard to quantify. My advice is to include other add-ins like ground flax, chia or oats, which are also prebiotic.

I added yogurt, that’s a probiotic right?

While it’s true that yogurt can’t be made without active cultures, the effectiveness of those cultures as a probiotic is unclear. There are yogurts designed to have a probiotic benefit, however if you prefer a different variety you can also include a probiotic powder (there are several on the market) in your smoothie or include a fermented beverage like kefir.

There is still more to learn about probiotics and gut health. Watch this space for emerging research on the role it plays in preventing chronic disease, obesity and more.

Interesting…how can I learn more?

Funny you should ask…

Join my colleague Kit Broihier and me at 2:00 PM ET on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 for a free, one-hour, live webinar: Probiotics Primer: The Connection Between Food, The Body and Good Bacteria.

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