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Your Healthy Family: Understanding prebiotics, probiotics and your microbiome

Posted at 7:29 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 07:31:03-05

A Naples dietitian talked to Fox 4 about Prebiotics and Probiotics, and how they're key to a healthy microbiome.

Betsy Opyt is a Registered Dietitian in Naples. She said the first thing to understand is that not all bacteria is bad. She said within our bodies are millions of good bacteria, especially in our gut.

"We actually need to look at our gut as our first line of defense. That's what's helping us build our immune system, and helping us assimilate vitamins and minerals for our body," Opyt said.

Probiotics are crucial to having a healthy gut. Opyt said probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that naturally live in our bodies. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that feed the good bacteria so it can grow.

"So if your diet is low in fiber, you're eating a lot of refined foods, you're not eating much fruits and vegetables, you don't have that abundant fiber that's going to feed the good bacteria, so then the bad bacteria overgrows," Opyt said.

Opyt said all of that can lead to health issues, but prebiotics and probiotics help create a healthy microbiome. She said to think of your microbiome like a rain forest, where different types of good bacteria with different functions work together.

"Some of them actually help us with our hormones, and sending messages to our brain and neurotransmitters. So that can actually help with things like depression and your mood. Some are there to help you break down your food. And some bacteria are there to actually produce vitamins and minerals for our bodies," she said.

You can get probiotics as supplements, but Opyt said it's best to get them from the food you eat.

"Where you find those probiotic-based foods are foods that are fermented. So things like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha," she said.

Opyt said probiotics are key to keeping your gut and gastrointestinal tract moving, and eliminating toxins.