Probiotics meet Prebiotics: The Symbiotic Chocolate Chunk Banana Shake

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Chocolate Chunk Banana Shake

I for one like to follow my gut. For major life decisions, I listen to those gut instincts. When faced head on with a situation, I let my gut reaction take charge. And when I’m not feeling well, my gut is typically the first to let me know. So why am I tempted to ignore it sometimes?

Bombarded with convenience foods and quick sugars, digestive issues have become the norm rather than the exception in our society. Our stomachs often tell us what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, outside influences can sway us away from that gut feeling, and lead us to continuously abuse that precious pathway.

I could write an entire book, or three, on how digestion relates to our overall health, but I think I’m supposed to keep this brief. So instead I’ll touch on one small portion of this topic, damage control.

Because my own prior illnesses turned out to be related to my digestive system, I’ve learned to listen more to the internal cues. But I’m not perfect. I know that eating just two more bites could mean the difference between a satisfying meal and rolling on the floor like a beached whale, but I can’t stand to waste a single morsel. I know that taking antibiotics will deplete my healthy intestinal flora, causing a host of symptoms, but sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks. And I know that consuming an excess of sugars will feed the bad bugs in my gut and cause me to suffer peaks and valleys of energy as I absorb near worthless calories, but those cookies look so darn good!

Let’s face it; we all need damage control sometimes, which is why I’ve been reading up on beneficial foods for healing the gut. Probiotics are all the rage these days, and for good reason … according to World’s Healthiest Foods, “These beneficial bacteria produce vitamins and digestive enzymes that improve our ability to absorb nutrients, plus compounds that protect us against unfriendly microorganisms.” But behind every star, there’s an amazing support network, and in this case, it’s prebiotics.

Prebiotics feed probiotics, helping them to expand their beneficial population. But beyond aiding probiotics, prebiotics tackle some duties on their own, including reducing gastrointestinal transit time (and subsequently lowering the risk of colon cancer) and … here’s the kicker for you dairy-free divas like me … they increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium!

So where does one get these unsung heroes? Food, good quality food. Some foods are power providers of prebiotics, including one of my favorites, bananas. They are “an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide” (aka an awesome type of prebiotic). Just seconds after discovering this juicy tidbit, my gut led me to the kitchen, and a simply delicious recipe was created …

 

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Alisa

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