Probiotics! Prebiotics! The internet is buzzing with these words. Wondering what the hype is all about? Let us first understand the basic difference between probiotic and prebiotic foods and how they can be beneficial for our health. Prebiotics are a “type of dietary fibre” that supports your body’s friendly bacteria while probiotics are the “live bacteria” found in various food sources. For general health and well-being, maintaining a healthy gut is crucial. Prebiotics are a type of fibre that feed the good bacteria in the gut, supporting immune and digestive health.
Prebiotics promote the production of nutrients like short-chain fatty acids or inulin in your colon cells by your gut bacteria, leading to a healthier gastrointestinal tract. . Your bloodstream can absorb these fatty acids, which in turn enhance your metabolic health .
How does prebiotic food help probiotic bacteria?
Prebiotics give probiotics the environment and food they need to develop and flourish. Prebiotics are consumed and pass through the upper digestive tract undigested before entering the large intestine where they are fermented by Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two types of good bacteria. Short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate, are created during this fermentation process. These fatty acids provide probiotics with energy and support the maintenance of a healthy gut environment.
What is the best way to increase prebiotic intake?
Prebiotic supplements, prebiotic-rich foods, and functional foods that have been fortified with prebiotics are some of the ways to increase prebiotic intake. Here are some pointers for raising prebiotic consumption, along with a reference to a review article that details these strategies:
- Eat foods naturally high in prebiotics, such as oats, garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, and bananas, to help increase your intake of prebiotics.
- Prebiotic supplements can be found in pill, powder, and liquid form; examples include inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). You can take these supplements by themselves or in conjunction with probiotics.
- Prebiotics are increasingly being added to functional foods like yogurt, cereal, and snack bars to help support digestive health.
Keep reading to learn about the 7 of the best prebiotic foods to include in your diet. To reap the full health benefits, try to eat these foods raw rather than cooked since the fibre content may change during cooking. Read about the differences between Yogurt and Yakult here.
7 Best Prebiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut
Garlic has been linked to potential health advantages like lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and particular types of cancer because it also contains antioxidants. It is also an excellent source of inulin, a prebiotic fibre that has been shown to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of garlic contains 4 grams of carbohydrates, including 0.2 grams of fibre and 0.5 grams of sugar.
Onions are a good source of prebiotic fiber in the form of fructooligosaccharides (FOS)Onions are also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which may help prevent chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Inulin, which promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut, is found in abundance in raw onions. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of onions contains 9 grams of carbohydrates, including 1.7 grams of fiber and 4.2 grams of sugar.
- Chicory Root
Chicory root is a great prebiotic food because it is one of the richest sources of inulin. Since ancient times, it has been used as a home remedy for a number of illnesses, including liver and digestive issues. Studies suggest that chicory root may have health advantages like lowering inflammation and enhancing blood sugar regulation. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of dried chicory root contains 24 grams of carbohydrates, including 14 grams of fibre and 0.4 grams of sugar.
Inulin, which encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut, is present in raw asparagus in significant amounts. Additionally, asparagus contains significant amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may help prevent chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease. According to certain studies, asparagus may be anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, and it may also help with better digestive health and blood sugar control.
- Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens when eaten raw are a good source of inulin, which promotes the development of good bacteria in the gut. Raw dandelion greens are also rich in antioxidants and have been used for centuries as a natural treatment for a variety of illnesses, such as liver and digestive issues. Scientific data shows that greens could potentially improve blood sugar regulation and reduce inflammation.
- Jerusalem Artichoke
Inulin, which is abundant in raw Jerusalem artichokes, helps the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract. In addition, it is a good source of vitamins and minerals like thiamine, potassium, and iron. Scientific evidence suggests that Jerusalem artichokes may have health advantages like lowering inflammation and enhancing blood sugar regulation. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of Jerusalem artichoke contains 17 grams of carbohydrates, including 1.6 grams of fibre and 9 grams of sugar.
Raw leeks are a good source of inulin. Leeks are also rich in vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health, and other antioxidants that may help prevent chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease, leeks are a good source of these nutrients. Leeks may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, as well as the potential to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, according to some studies. Leeks are a good source of prebiotic fibre in the form of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). A half-cup (52 grams) serving of chopped raw leeks contains 0.9 grams of fibre, including 0.4 grams of FOS, and 2.1 grams of sugar.
Fruits are rich in natural sugars and fibre making them a good source of prebiotics. You can easily incorporate prebiotic-rich fruits into your diet for better health. Read on to find out more fruits that are good prebiotics.
5 Best Prebiotic Fruits
Bananas are a good source of prebiotic fibre in the form of resistant starch. A medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 3.1 grams of fibre, including 0.5 grams of inulin, and 14.4 grams of sugar.
Apples are a good source of prebiotic fibre in the form of pectin. A medium-sized apple (182 grams) contains 4.4 grams of fibre, including 0.4 grams of pectin, and 19 grams of sugar.
Berries such as raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are good sources of prebiotic fibre in the form of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of raspberries contains 6.5 grams of fibre, including 1.7 grams of FOS, and 4.4 grams of sugar.
Kiwifruit is a good source of prebiotic fibre in the form of inulin. A medium-sized kiwifruit (148 grams) contains 2.7 grams of fibre, including 1 gram of inulin, and 10.1 grams of sugar.
Pomegranate is a good source of prebiotic fibre in the form of pectin. A half-cup (87-gram) serving of pomegranate arils contains 3.5 grams of fibre, including 0.7 grams of pectin, and 11.9 grams of sugar.
Here is a table with some examples of prebiotic-rich foods, their prebiotic content, and their serving size:
|Prebiotic-Rich Foods||Prebiotic Content (per serving)||Serving Size|
|Raw garlic||1.8 g inulin||1 clove (3 g)|
|Raw onion||1.4 g inulin||1 medium onion (110 g)|
|Chicory root||64.6 g inulin||1 oz (28 g)|
|Raw asparagus||2.8 g inulin||1/2 cup (90 g)|
|Raw dandelion greens||4.5 g inulin||1 cup (55 g)|
|Raw Jerusalem artichoke||2.4 g inulin||1/2 cup (75 g)|
|Raw leek||1.8 g inulin||1/2 cup (50 g)|
|Raw banana||0.5 g inulin||1 medium banana (118 g)|
|Cooked oatmeal||0.8 g beta-glucan||1/2 cup (78 g)|
|Cooked barley||0.6 g beta-glucan||1/2 cup (78 g)|
Note: The prebiotic content and serving size may vary based on the specific type and preparation of each food item. Additionally, the prebiotic content of some foods may vary depending on the season, growing conditions, and other factors.
Side Effects of Prebiotics
Prebiotics are generally safe to consume and do not usually cause significant side effects.
It’s important to keep in mind that some prebiotic foods, especially if consumed in large quantities, may cause bloating and gas in some individuals. Always introduce new foods into your diet gradually and pay attention to how your body reacts to them.
- It’s also important to keep in mind that some prebiotic supplements might contain significant amounts of fibre, which, if consumed in excess, can lead to digestive discomfort. Before beginning to take prebiotic supplements, as with any dietary supplement, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.
- In addition, some prebiotic foods may interact with specific drugs or health issues. By reducing their absorption, some prebiotics, for instance, may lessen the effectiveness of some medications, such as antibiotics. Additionally, prebiotic supplements may interact with diabetes or other medical conditions treatments.
Before increasing your intake of prebiotic foods or supplements if you are taking any medications, it is important to consult a healthcare professional.
Prebiotics are generally regarded as safe for the majority of people and can provide a host of health advantages when consumed as part of a balanced diet. It is advised to consult a healthcare professional if you experience severe digestive symptoms or other negative effects after consuming prebiotic foods or supplements in order to identify the underlying cause and the best course of action.