The Health Benefits of Pre/Probiotics

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Our digestive tracks contain hundreds of different types of bacteria. These bacteria aid in digestion, help our gut absorb nutrients and reduce growth of harmful bacteria. However, stress, a poor diet and the use of antibiotics are a few examples of ways these good bacteria can become depleted.

Eating foods with probiotics can replenish the “good” bacteria, and have been associated with healthy digestive and immune systems. For centuries, cultures around the world have consumed fermented foods—such as sauerkraut, kimchi and miso soup—to counter digestive issues, all of which contain probiotics. Other examples include kefir, pickles, tempeh and yogurt. (Note on yogurt: Choose a yogurt with live, active cultures, with at least five strains of bacteria that is also low in sugar. Too much sugar feeds the harmful bacteria.)

Probiotics thrive off carbohydrates humans can’t digest. These nondigestible carbohydrates are called “prebiotics” and can be found in garlic, asparagus, bananas, leeks, onions and whole grains. The more foods with prebiotics you eat, the more healthy bacteria will grow. 

Speak with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian about adding foods into your diet that contain pre- and probiotics, and especially before taking any over-the-counter supplements. 

Recipe: Sammamish Reuben

Serves 1  |  By Chris Linaman, executive chef, Overlake Medical Center


  • 2 slices rye bread (my favorite is Macrina Bakery’s onion rye)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing
  • 4 ounces beef or turkey pastrami, deli-sliced
  • 2 ounces sauerkraut
  • ½ Granny Smith apple, shredded (optional)
  • 1-2 slices Swiss cheese


  • Butter one side of each slice of rye bread and place one slice buttered side down on a flat surface.
  • Add ingredients in the following order: half the dressing, pastrami, sauerkraut (mixed with optional shredded apple), Swiss cheese. Top with remaining dressing. Crown the sandwich with the other slice of rye, buttered side up.
  • Preheat saute pan over medium-high heat, place sandwich in pan, and heat sandwich approximately 3 minutes on each side until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
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