A balanced diet is essential for good health, so prebiotic foods are important. What we eat not only has a direct impact on our body, it also makes a big difference to the countless microbes that reside in our gut. To keep our gut healthy, we need to eat prebiotic foods to help our good gut bacteria thrive.
Prebiotics are types of fibers that are useful for the functioning of our intestinal microbes. But what are some prebiotic foods you can eat and which ones are best for gut health?
Chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, and seaweed are great sources of prebiotics, but you may have a hard time finding them at your local supermarket or knowing how to cook them. The good news is, you don’t have to resort to using niche grocery stores or supplements to top up your prebiotic intake. Many common staple foods have been found to have a highly beneficial effect on gut health, and some of them may already be in your kitchen cabinets. Here are five common prebiotic foods to feed your good gut bacteria.
Garlic holds pride of place in many cuisines, its unmistakable flavor making it a popular ingredient in cooking. But garlic is just as good for our health as it is for our taste buds.
Multiple studies have shown that garlic can have a wide-ranging impact on our body thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering properties. Regular consumption of garlic can help prevent chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, its bioactive compound allicin exhibits antibacterial, antifungal, and immune-activating traits, which may explain why garlic is been used for centuries as a remedy for infections.
Garlic is also an excellent source of prebiotics. The fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in garlic were shown to encourage the growth of Bifidobacterium And Lactobacillus acidophilus, two strains of highly beneficial intestinal bacteria. FOS can also prevent “bad” bacteria from inhibiting our gastrointestinal tract and improving the absorption of minerals. Not to mention, garlic contains a significant amount of inulin, which has been linked to a better immune response and better metabolic health.
Onions are a staple ingredient in many dishes, their durability and shipping resistance make them popular in every corner of the world. This humble vegetable is also a great example of a prebiotic food.
A full-bodied body of evidence suggests why onions have long been used for medicinal purposes. They possess strong antioxidant, anti-cholesterol, antimicrobial and anti-tumor properties. They can also help prevent and treat metabolic problems.
Onions are a great source of prebiotics. Similar to garlic, they are rich in inulin and fructoligosaccharides. They also contain more organosulfurized compounds (OSCs) than they were shown to exert a positive effect on gastrointestinal health and the immune system. OSCs modify the composition of the gut microbiota in ways that may be able to alleviate some symptoms of IBS and reverse the damage done to good bacteria by a high-fat diet.
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits around the world. They are perfect for a snack on the go, easy to store and very filling. But not only are bananas an excellent source of potassium and carbohydrates, they can also provide a good dose of prebiotics.
Bananas contain several powerful antioxidant compounds, including phenolics, carotenoids, and phytosterols, which can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems and chronic degenerative conditions. They are also high in resistant starch, a type of prebiotic that is particularly beneficial for colon health. Unripe (green) bananas are particularly rich in this compound, with several Education suggesting that eating green bananas may lead to improved insulin metabolism, better weight control, and reduced severity of complications from diabetes.
You’ve probably heard that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and although this old proverb is rightfully exaggerated, there is a grain of truth to it.
Apples are a particularly rich source of phytochemicals which exhibit strong antioxidant properties. Multiple Education have linked apple consumption to a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and asthma.
Apples provide a substantial dose of prebiotics. They are particularly rich in pectins, a form of carbohydrate that humans cannot digest. When these compounds reach the gut, gut microbes use them to make short-chain fatty acids. These can help rebalance the gut microbiota, decrease inflammation, and improve the functioning of the immune system. But remember to leave the skin, as this is where most of the fiber is stored.
Many of us wake up in the morning with a steaming bowl of oatmeal. It’s a perfect breakfast that provides a solid dose of energy to start the day on the right note. Oats are also considered to be one of the best prebiotic foods.
Whole oats, in particular, are a true nutritional powerhouse. Multiple Education have shown that regular consumption of oats can have highly beneficial effects on our cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. Evidence It has also shown from nearly fourteen clinical trials that oats can improve blood glucose levels and lipid profiles of patients with type 2 diabetes.
Whole oats are rich in dietary fiber and prebiotic compounds, such as non-starch polysaccharides. They also have a beneficial effect on the growth of Bifidobacterium And Lactobacillustwo strains of good gut bacteria.
Oats contain a significant amount of β-glucans, which were reported to lower cholesterol levels, significantly change the composition of the intestinal microbiota and increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. Beta glucans were also shown have a beneficial role in the fight against insulin resistance, hypertension and obesity.
How to eat more prebiotic foods
Knowing how to feed our good gut bacteria can make a big difference to our health and well-being. “Thankfully there are a wide variety of natural food sources available that contain prebiotics and also many good quality supplements,” says Dr Michelle Braude, physician, nutritionist and author of The food effect.
For many people, a balanced diet with enough prebiotics will be enough to maintain good digestive health. However, if you’re struggling with severe gastrointestinal issues, it might be a good idea to ask for personalized diet advice.
“A qualified dietician or nutritionist should be able to guide the best prebiotic foods for you and your gut and recommend any supplements if needed,” adds Braude.