pro/prebiotics without the pretty penny



I never thought I would be led astray by a doctor named Muffy. 

Unfortunately, the last month has found me fighting the debilitating consequences of being misprescribed and not properly warned of the effects of a medicine called Clindamycin. An antiparasitic, usually prescribed for people with very serious parasitic infections, I was given this as treatment for a very normal and natural bacterial overgrowth. After taking the pills for almost the full dose I started feeling intense stomach cramping, dizziness, and nausea. I couldn't hold down small bites of bland, solid food or water for almost 16 days. Lots of research led me to discover that taking Clindamycin is effectively akin to staging a full blown nuclear attack on the flora and natural ecosystem of your digestive tract. To put it simply, the good bacteria is wiped out and the (very resistant) bad bacteria gets free reign. In many cases, it can lead to very serious lifelong diseases such as colitis. Thanks, Muffy.

A thorough consultation with a gastroenterologist is what helped me discover the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics. These bacteria naturally occur in our digestive tracts and are what help our systems function properly. The latter, prebiotics,  are the "foods" that feed and encourage the good bacteria, probiotics, in our intestinal tracts. (Check out handy article that I used to learn more about probiotic bacteria here.)

In order to get my digestive system into a pre-poisoned state I was told to consume as many of these good GI bacteria as I could get my hands on. No less than 2000 live strains at least two times a day.

A trip to the natural foods store quickly opened my eyes to how expensive this supremely healthy bacteria can be. A pack of four pills can go for as much as $50 - not at all realistic for my budget! Thus, I started doing research on probiotic rich foods that I could use to supplement what I couldn't afford to give my body in pill form.

I hope the following lists help anyone else who finds themselves in such a predicament.. 

Probiotic Rich Foods

  • Kefir : a fermented dairy/water based beverage, the most powerful and direct way to consume probiotic organisms.
  • Stoneyfield Yogurt I found this is the best as it has a great selection of flavors, no hormones, often on sale, and has 3 live strains of bacteria.
  • Miso : fermented soy beans made into a paste, delicious in broth or stir-fry
  • Tempeh : also a product of fermented soybeans, great in stir-fry.
  • Oatmeal : just add butter!
  • Kombucha : over 50 strains of bacteria in this delicious beverage.

Prebiotic Rich Foods

  • Carrots : especially fresh carrot juice does amazing things for the stomach lining.
  • Leeks : raw or lightly sautéed with olive oil. 
  • Banana : incredible benefits for the lining of the stomach and in prebiotic content. 
  • Brussels Sprout : lightly sauteed or roasted in the oven for 15 min at 400F.
  • Beans : soy, pinto, kidney.
  • Asparagus : raw or lightly sautéed.
  • Honey : Love it on my oatmeal and toast BUT I believe it is best consumed in stick form. Tons of flavors in bulk available here!


P.S. The very serious diet I have had to adhere to over the last month has meant few allowed foods and lots of experimentation. Kefir, not surprisingly, has been one of the most used items in my kitchen. I've put it over granola, mixed it with fruit, and added it to my buckwheat to try and "spice" things up. Later this week I will post a recipe for a fantastic cold Russian soup whose base is Kefir that is quick, easy,  inexpensive, full of nutrients, and incredibly delicious. Stay tuned!