11 Prebiotic Foods and Supplements for a Healthier Gut
Improve gut health by taking these prebiotics supplements and foods! Read on to find out more.
11 Sources of Prebiotics: Foods and Prebiotics SupplementsWhat are prebiotics? Not to be mistaken with probiotics, prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber. They improve the body's digestive function by helping the good bacteria in the gut produce important nutrients.
Eating a banana is an easy way to get some prebiotics, as they contain small amounts of inulin.
What is inulin? It is a form of soluble fiber. The good bacteria in the lower gut uses it to make short-chain fatty acids for digestion. Unripe bananas are also rich in resistant starch which functions similarly to inulin. On top of the rich prebiotics, bananas are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too. They're also low-calorie fruits, so snacking on them won't make you feel guilty!
There may be some truth to the saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Apples are relatively high in fiber. You can get about 2.4 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of apple, and almost half of which is pectin. Pectin helps create butyrate, a special short-chain fatty acid which supports the good bacteria in the gut and helps eliminate the bad ones. On top of these digestive benefits, apples are also rich in antioxidants. They help lower LDL cholesterol and protect against certain forms of cancer.
3. Whole Oats
Whole oats are rich in prebiotics called beta-glucan fiber, as well as resistant starch. Studies show that the beta-glucan fiber in oatmeal has a positive effect on gut microbial functions. On top of that, studies also show that whole oats lower LDL cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar levels.
Tip: Try to avoid instant oats that already contain artificial flavoring. To get the full health benefits of oats, stick to the plain variety such as steel cut or old fashioned oats.
4. AsparagusEvery 100 grams of asparagus contains approximately 2-3 grams of inulin. Aside from promoting gut health, this vegetable is packed with all sorts of nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate. Asparagus is also quite versatile—you can easily add it to different dishes.
5. Yacon Root
Yacon root is similar to yams or sweet potatoes. It is a great source of the prebiotics inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Research shows that fructooligosaccharides are metabolized by good gut bacteria to create short-chain carboxylic acids for the following benefits:
- Enhance good bacteria in the gut
- Promote regular bowel movements
- Lower blood pressure
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Improve the immune system
Enjoy yacon root by roasting or steaming it. It goes well with salads and stir-fries.
6. Jerusalem Artichoke
Jerusalem artichoke is sometimes called sunroot or earth apple. It's a root vegetable that resembles ginger. It's rich in both inulin and fructose. Both of these nutritional components promote the good gut bacteria while inhibiting the growth of the bad bacteria. In addition to the digestive benefits, studies show that the fructan found in Jerusalem artichoke may help prevent the progression of colon cancer. It's also a great source of potassium, iron, and protein.
Tip: If you're trying to figure out how to incorporate Jerusalem artichokes into your diet, think of it like a potato. While many enjoy it raw, you can also boil, steam, roast, saute, or bake it!
7. GarlicApproximately 17% of the fiber found in garlic are prebiotics. These prebiotics include inulin (around 11%) and FOS (around 6%). One study shows that the prebiotics in garlic may prevent certain gastrointestinal diseases. The same prebiotics also stimulates the growth of Bifidobacteria, the same probiotics found in yogurt and some cheeses. This probiotic helps the body break down food, absorb nutrients, and inhibit the growth of bad gut bacteria.
You can also find prebiotics in onions. There are about 1.1-7.5 grams of inulin and approximately 4.5 grams of FOS for every 100 grams of onions. Apart from improving digestion, one study shows that onion FOS can also increase the production of nitric oxide in cells. This compound helps widen blood vessels so it can increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. Just like garlic, onions don't only add flavor to your favorite dishes. They're also packed with health benefits!
9. Chicory RootChicory root is commonly used as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. The roots of the plant are roasted, ground, and brewed into a warm beverage that closely resembles your favorite cup of joe. Chicory root is a great source of inulin, which amounts to almost half of its fiber content. One study shows that chicory root may prevent constipation and diabetes. Researchers also found that it also aids in the digestion of fatty foods. So if you don't feel like eating your prebiotics, drink them!
10. FlaxseedFlaxseed is a great source of prebiotics. Depending on the variety, its fiber content includes:
- 20-40% soluble fiber
- 60-80% insoluble fiber
Both soluble and insoluble fibers play an important role in digestion and overall health. Apart from increasing the good bacteria in the gut, studies show that flaxseed can help regulate cholesterol and bowel movements.
Tip: You can easily add flaxseed in your cereal, dressings, yogurt, and baked goods!
11. Prebiotics Supplements
It might be difficult to get a regular dose of prebiotics from natural food sources on a daily basis. An easy way to do this is by including prebiotics supplements in your diet to help maximize the good bacteria in your gut and create the optimal probiotic environment. Choose a prebiotics supplement which includes digestive enzymes as they help enhance and accelerate the fibers' prebiotic effects. But before you begin taking any new supplements, it's best to consult your doctor first. More so if you're currently undergoing treatment for a medical condition.
Tip: Once you have your doctor's approval, take your prebiotics supplement along with your probiotics supplement. It's best to take it first thing in the morning before your first meal.
Introducing BIOHM Super Greens from BIOHM Health:
While many may already be aware of the benefits of probiotics, prebiotics are often forgotten. Prebiotics and probiotics go hand-in-hand. You can think of prebiotics as the fertilizer for probiotics. They aid in the growth and function of probiotics in promoting gut health.
How do you incorporate prebiotics in your diet? Have you considered prebiotics supplements? Let us know in the comments section below.