Gut health relies on thriving colonies of good bacteria called probiotics. These colonies, in turn, rely on prebiotics, which are compounds that the good bacteria feed on. In essence, prebiotics are the difference between a so-so presence of friendly bacteria and a thriving one. We need them for good gut health. Not all foods are great sources of prebiotics, though.
Comprised of dietary fiber, prebiotics are a much-needed food source for friendly bacteria in the gut. We get prebiotics from the foods we eat. However, some foods contain more prebiotic content than others. Let's look at the best places to find these important elements of a healthy diet.
Best Sources of Prebiotics
- Dandelion Greens - Perfect for salads, soups, omelets or stir-fries, dandelion greens contain approximately 3.5 grams of fiber per serving and many more great nutrients. That’s 12% of the daily recommended value of prebiotics.
- Garlic - Flavorful and healthy, garlic is a great addition to any dish. What’s more, it’s great for gut health. Garlic contains only a small amount of fiber, but much of it is the kind our guts need. It also contains a naturally-occurring prebiotic called fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
- Onions - Of similar composition to garlic, onions also contain healthy fiber and Fructooligosaccharides, or FOS. This prebiotic alleviates digestion issues and may reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Asparagus - A savory side dish, asparagus is high in fiber and water content, both of which are crucial for gut health. A diet high in fiber helps prevent common digestive ailments, including constipation and diarrhea. It may even reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Bananas - Bananas, especially green ones, are a great source of prebiotics. They contain fiber and are high in resistant starch. This increases good gut bacteria and reduces bloating.
- Oats - Tasty and filling, oats contain a heart-healthy fiber called beta glucan. This fiber helps alleviate constipation and other bowel issues. It also maintains good bacteria and may even help you lose weight.
- Apples - Apples contain a large concentration of pectin, a known prebiotic that improves gut function. Studies have shown that apple-derived pectin increases gut microbiota and improves the function of the gut barrier.
- Cocoa - Rich in flavanols, cocoa promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Cocoa may also reduce cholesterol and improve heart health.
- Flaxseeds - An excellent source of fiber, flaxseeds contain a greater concentration of lignans than other seeds; lignans are powerful antioxidants. Furthermore, the fiber found in flaxseeds helps slow down the bowel and increase the absorption of nutrients.
- Wheat Bran - Bran is the outer layer of a whole wheat grain, and it is a great prebiotic. As such, wheat bran reduces digestive issues, including gas, cramping and abdominal pain.
Prebiotics contain essential dietary fiber that your good gut bacteria needs to thrive. The bottom line is this: if you take care of your gut bacteria, it will take care of your gut. You will have fewer digestion issues and live a happier, healthier life. All you have to do is give your probiotics plenty of food, and that’s where prebiotics come in.
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