As you embrace a healthier lifestyle, it's equally important to incorporate both prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. In fact, without prebiotics, your other efforts to fix your gut may be in vain. Here's why.
First, What Are Prebiotics?
In short, prebiotics are the fibers that feed your gut bacteria.
Scientists researching the value of prebiotics in treating diseases have more recently described a prebiotic this way:
A prebiotic is a partially digested ingredient that allows specific changes that confer health benefits to the host when ingested and digested by the gut microbiota.
To be prebiotic, the food ingredient must:
1. Resist digestion processes in the stomach and intestine
2. Be digestible (fermentable) by the gut microbiota
3. Stimulate the growth or activity of the intestinal microbiota
4. Confer a health benefit to the host
Bottom line: prebiotics are fibers that the good bacteria in your gut eat and subsist on. (1)
Prebiotics lay the foundation for maximizing the benefits of probiotics. That's because prebiotics nourish and strengthen gut flora.
When it is strong and nourished, the gut microbiota can be ready to receive the full benefits of live cultures, probiotics, and enzymes from the fermented foods we eat.
Prebiotics and probiotics functioning in symbiosis will create a digestive environment that optimizes good health in the body.
So How Do I Get More Prebiotic Foods Into My Daily Diet?
1. First, eat more plants, which have a beneficial prebiotic effect.
Nutritionists have spoken of the need for fiber in a healthy diet for years. Dietary fiber is defined as "a carbohydrate that does not contribute much in the way of food energy (calories), even though it is often included in the calculation of total food energy just as though it were a sugar." (2)
Further contemporary research shows that although fiber may not translate directly into calories through our digestion processes, fiber provides a nutrient base for our gut flora to grow and thrive. (3)
2. Look for high-fiber opportunities within your existing daily habits.
If you start your day with a power smoothie, make sure it's fiber-rich (add some spinach leaves, half an avocado, or a scoop of fiber supplement).
If you prefer to juice, by all means, save that fiber to incorporate into soups which can be blended into a delicious veggie bisque to enjoy for lunch, alongside sauerkraut.
3. To take your gut health to the next level, know about the prebiotic superfoods.
These include chicory root, onions, garlic, oatmeal, asparagus, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, barley, and apples with skins.
4. Eat foods that pack both a prebiotic AND a probiotic punch.
If you guessed that the best ones are pickles, kraut, kimchi and olives, you guessed right.
By now, it's clear: it's not just about the probiotics. It's prebiotic fibers that are at the foundation of excellent gut health.
To read more about this subject, check out Why You Should Eat For Your Microbiome (And How To Do It Easily) — another great read to continue your journey towards better health.
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