We all have heard about how important gut health is. Most try to get probiotics into their diets through drinking kefir and kombucha, eating sauerkraut and kimchi, and taking probiotic supplements to nourish a healthy gut microbiome. But did you know that there's an equally, if not more, important way you can immediately take action to improve your gut health?
So what are Prebiotics ? They are a class of dietary fibers found in some (but not all) fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains. They act as the fertilizer and nourishment for all of the good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. Prebiotics are technically defined as "substrates that serve as nutrients for beneficial microorganisms in a host."
Prebiotic fiber is different from other dietary fibers, such as cellulose, in that these other dietary fibers encourage the growth of a wide variety of gut microorganisms, whereas prebiotics only support the health-promoting ones.
Like all fiber, your body doesn't digest prebiotics. Instead, they go to your colon—and that's where the magic happens. In the colon, they're fermented and good bacteria feast on them, ultimately providing a vast array of prebiotic benefits that include:
- Improving digestive health
- Fighting chronic inflammation and disease
- Boosting immunity
- Possibly helping with satiety
- Helping you manage weight
You’re already eating some prebiotic-rich foods but with a few additions, you can help the bacteria population in your gut become a more efficient community.
- Soluble fibers
These include the two most investigated prebiotics: inulin‐type fructans and galacto‐oligosaccharides (GOS)— think "GO" for them because when these are a large enough part of the diet, the variety of gut microbes tends to increase. Some examples;
- Bananas (ripe)
- Chicory Root
- Dandelion Greens
- Fennel Bulb
- Jerusalem Artichokes (also known as Sunchokes)
- Pulses (dried beans, lentils, split peas and chickpeas)
- Savoy Cabbage
- Resistant starches
These prebiotics may be especially great for helping with satiety. These starches resist digestion and make their way into the gut where they cherry-pick and fuel only the good gut bacteria. Plus, they make cells more responsive to insulin for better blood sugar control.
- Uncooked oats
- Cooked and cooled potato
- Grains that are cooked, and then cooled (pastas, oats)
- Unripe bananas
- Unripe green banana flour
- Unmodified potato starch
These are showing the potential to nurture the gut microbiome in addition to their known ability to fight against inflammation and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Citrus Peels
To make sure you're eating a variety of prebiotic foods;
- Eat last night's leftovers straight from the fridge.
- Sip on soup. Dine on sushi.
- Swap meat-based meals for pulses.
- Eat Muesli.
- Have a prebiotic-rich protein/ energy bar for a snack.
- Sip on tasty water infusions.
- Drizzle a little dressing.
- Top your sandwiches, burgers, and salads with raw, fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.
- Spread nut butter on toast, an apple or on celery or add it to a smoothie.