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Probiotics for Digestive Health After Cancer Treatment

Banana yogurt.

October 07, 2019

Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria or yeast that help you digest food and fight off harmful bacteria. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can harm these friendly bacteria in the gut. Use of antibiotics can also destroy these bacteria.

Your healthcare provider may recommend eating foods containing probiotics or taking supplements if you have been on antibiotics or have acute diarrhea or inflammatory bowel disease.

Data on long-term safety of probiotic use are limited. Before taking any probiotic or other herbal or dietary supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. Remember, complete foods are the safest way to obtain necessary nutrients.

Probiotic food sources include:

  • Acidophilus milk
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt/Greek yogurt

What are prebiotics?

These food components cause good bacteria to grow in your gut. Think of them as food for the friendly bacteria in your body.

Prebiotic food sources include:

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Chicory root
  • Garlic
  • Honey
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Legumes
  • Oatmeal
  • Onions

Try this easy recipe

Apple Pie Kefir Smoothie
This recipe makes a great breakfast smoothie or snack. The kefir provides probiotics, and the honey contains prebiotics.


  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup original kefir
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. honey

Add all ingredients to a blender and process to desired consistency. Enjoy chilled.

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