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Four terms your gut wants you to understand

Fall is officially here and that means cold and flu season is just around the corner. Emerging research suggests bacteria in our gut could play a key role in keeping us healthy. But where do we start when it comes to understanding our gastrointestinal tract? Registered dietitian Jennifer Sygo broke down some key terms for us.


Our microbiome is the genetic material found in all of the bacteria and microbes that naturally exist on our skin and in our digestive tract. They are super important to our health. Microbes - collectively known as microbiota - help protect us from unwanted infections and viruses by getting rid of bad bacteria.


Probiotics are live bacteria that can provide health benefits when we take them in large enough amounts. Researchers are still working on it, but early signs suggest that taking probiotics could help build a healthier immune system over time. That being said, a healthy diet, exercise and plenty of sleep are also crucial. 

Choosing the right probiotic

Look for one that contains a variety of both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, and make sure you follow the instructions (i.e. take with food, store in fridge, etc…)

Foods that contain probiotics

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Miso soup
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Unpasteurized sauerkraut
  • Some varieties of pickles 
  • Soft cheese (like gouda)


This stands for Colony Forming Units and is used to quantify how many bacteria in probiotics are capable of dividing and forming colonies. 

While there’s no consensus dose, for most people, taking at least 10 billion CFUs at a time is a reasonable start. 


Prebiotics are types of fibre that probiotics love to eat. 

Foods that contain prebiotics
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Honey
  • Garlic
  • Black beans
  • Jerusalem artichokes
Note: prebiotic foods tend to be gassy foods, so eat with caution! 

Watch the video above for more of Jennifer's tips.