Digestive health is such a hot topic that the dairy aisle is bursting with yogurts, drinks and smoothies claiming to improve your health.
Though there is a lot of interest in gut health, where do you ask a question and how can you sort it all out?
For a comprehensive look, check out the new ebook, "Gut Insight" by JoAnn Hattner (www.gutinsight.com, $12.95). Hattner, a registered dietitian and nutritionist for Stanford University, has compiled the essential consumer guide on probiotics and prebiotics for wellness.
Hattner points out that 70 percent of our immune function takes place in the digestive tract, so it makes sense to consume foods that support gut defenses.
Readability: The idea of reading a book online can be intimidating, but Hattner makes it easy.
The book is presented in 10 chapters, with plenty of illustrations and examples to hold your interest.
Since it is stored on my computer, it is only a click away when I want to use it as a resource or to search a topic.
Scientific evidence: The book provides the latest research on foods that contain pro- and prebiotics.
Yogurt, kefir, dairy and soy or products such as Dannon's Activia or Yakult (a Japanese dairy drink available in the United States) are all examples of probiotic foods that contain live bacterial cultures that help support your immune system.
Contrast that with foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, chicory root, whole-wheat pasta and barley that contain carbohydrates that the body cannot digest.
Referred to as prebiotics, these substances can be fermented in the gut to stimulate growth and activity of the healthy bacteria.
Hattner promotes a plant-based diet and reviews the research on the known sources of pro- and prebiotics as well as giving insight into emerging benefits of these foods.
Extras: One of my favorite things about this ebook is the number of embedded Web links to products, research or trade organizations that offer more information with one click.
The book also contains recipes, tips for choosing the healthiest probiotic and prebiotic foods in each stage of life and an assessment on how to evaluate your digestive health.
And moms will especially like the section on newborns and infants.
Top tip: Hattner recommends that parents begin feeding natural probiotic foods to children during the introduction of solids.
"Children will accept the taste of plain yogurt if it's introduced with their first foods. "Later when they discover the flavored versions, they will naturally prefer them for the sweeter taste," she says.
This book is a good buy. How can you not love a book dedicated to Mother Nature?