We’ve heard all about the importance of probiotics, but did you know prebiotics are just as, if not more, important for your gut health? We’ll be diving into the benefits of these overlooked nutritional essentials, plus 5 outstanding sources to get your daily dose from.
Prebiotics are a kind of dietary fibre that the good bacteria in our gut feed on, ensuring our gut microbiome flourishes with plenty of the healthful microbes that keep everything from our mental health to our gut health in order. If you’re just focusing on probiotics, you might miss out on the essential nutrients that ensure those probiotics can stick around and grow. Prebiotics have been found to promote the production of nutrients for the cells in our colon, resulting in healthy digestion. These include the following nutrients:
These short-chain fatty acids are known to improve our metabolic health, reducing our risk for gut issues, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Probiotics, on the other hand, are live, good bacteria which many of us consume in fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and tempeh. Let’s take a look at 5 exceptional sources of prebiotics to add to your shopping list.
Chicory root comes from the dandelion family – these plants aren’t just good for making a wish on, they’re actually powerful nutritional sources. They’re also easy on the palate, with a taste similar to coffee, minus the caffeine, so if you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up that doesn’t stir up your nervous system, brew up some chicory root instead. This stuff is also loaded with prebiotics, with a whopping 68% of its fibre dedicated to inulin; a prebiotic fibre. Inulin is a known digestion-booster, with research showing it reduces the symptoms of constipation. It may also help balance blood sugar levels and reduce your risk for liver disease due to its antioxidants.
This hearty veggie makes for a mean tray bake, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a nutritional powerhouse too. It’s loaded with inulin – that dietary prebiotic we mentioned earlier – and it’s a sure-fire way to improve your digestive health. It’s also known to boost your immunity and lower cholesterol, along with reducing your risk for obesity. It boasts 2 grams of inulin fibre for every hundred grams, making it a quality source of prebiotics.
Is there anything this super-veggie can’t do? From its antibacterial properties to its anti-cancer properties, garlic is a force to be reckoned with. To add to its incredibly long list of health benefits, it’s also a rich source of prebiotics and has been proven to promote the growth of good bacteria like Bifidobacteria – this type of bacteria helps to fight off infections. Garlic is also a source of inulin for a healthy digestive system and an increased diversity of gut flora, and you’ll find these benefits in other members of the allium veggie family like onions and leeks.
While this veggie may have the reputation for making your urine smell funky, it’s worth adding it to your plate – plus, it makes for a delicious veggie roast! It’s a good source of the prebiotic inulin, and helps promote the growth of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, both of which are powerful probiotics for gut health. Asparagus has been found to reduce the risk for disease – including cancer – along with reducing inflammation as a result of its antioxidant and prebiotic content.
If you enjoy a bowl of oatmeal for brekkie, then you’re on the right track. Whole oats are loaded with prebiotics like beta glucan fibre and resistant starch, which are known to promote good bacteria in the gut, reduce bad cholesterol levels, balance blood sugar levels and even manage apetite hormones. So, add a little chicory root to your oats and you’ve got a prebiotic powerhouse of a breakfast!
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