Have you taken your probiotics today? If so, chances are you’re pretty aware of the role your microbiome plays in your overall health. Many scientists are now referring to the gut as the “second brain,” noting that our digestive health is linked to the immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. While we’re just beginning to understand gut health, if you’re looking to boost yours, you should not just be taking your probiotics, but adding prebiotic foods to your daily diet as well.
Prebiotics are different than probiotics, but not any less important. Probiotics refer to the beneficial bacteria that make up the gut lining, or the mucous lining of our digestive tract which prevents toxins from seeping into our bloodstream and causing health conditions. They also work to properly digest our food so that we’re able to absorb all their nutrients. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are the fibers that probiotics use for energy to increase the number of healthy microorganisms in the gut.
“Prebiotics are the food for the bacteria that live naturally in our digestive systems,” explains Willow Jarosh, MS, RD, CDN, resident nutritionist at Health-Ade Kombucha. “Typically, they’re non-digestible fibers that go through our digestive system and feed probiotics to help them proliferate and create the ideal balance of bacteria in the gut.”
When our microbiome is well-balanced with prebiotic fibers and probiotic bacteria, our digestion is regular, we feel satiated, and we boost our overall health in so many ways. Check out the gallery below for a list of prebiotic foods that will get you one step closer to this ideal balance and feeling your best!
Garlic contains two types of prebiotic fiber: inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). According to Science Direct, eating garlic prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut while promoting the growth of the highly beneficial Bifidobacteria.
From the same family as onions and garlic, leeks contain an impressive amount of gut-boosting inulin fiber. They also contain a high amount of Vitamin K, which has shown to boost heart and bone health!
Foods With Prebiotics
Onions are similar to garlic in that they contain inulin and FOS. FOS has shown to help with fat breakdown and strengthen the gut lining.
Foods For Gut Health
Asparagus contains inulin fiber, just like garlic, onions, and dandelion. Eating asparagus has shown to boost the good gut bacteria and even help prevent certain cancers.
Prebiotics For Gut Health
Many probiotics come from carbohydrates. Specifically, whole oats contain beta-glucan fiber which promotes healthy gut flora and helps with cholesterol and blood sugar control. Even more impressive: the fiber in oats slows the digestive process to stop hunger in its tracks!
Prebiotic Foods Gut Health
A fall favorite, apples contain a prebiotic fiber called pectin. Pectin helps to increase the fatty acid butyrate, which feeds the good bacteria while decreasing the amount of harmful bacteria in the gut. Apples also boast a high amount of antioxidants called polyphenols, which when combined with pectin, help to boost fat burning and improve digestion.
Gut Health Prebiotics
The flavanols found in cocoa beans feed good bacteria in the gut. Just as well, when cocoa beans go through the digestive tract, nitric oxide is produced, which has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
If this strange-sounding superfood isn't already on your radar, it should be! Jicama, also known as Mexican turnip, contains high amounts of inulin prebiotic fiber. Consuming jicama has shown to improve blood sugar and digestive health. This tasty root also boasts an impressive amount of essential amino acids.
Prebiotics In Food
Among the many health benefits of flaxseeds, they are also loaded with prebiotic fibers. The fiber in flaxseed has shown to increase healthy gut bacteria and also help with fat burning by decreasing the amount of fat your body holds on to and helping to excrete it through the digestive system. Flaxseeds are a potent superfood with anti-cancer properties, and consuming them has shown to improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels!