There are 3 pounds of bacteria in your body at any given time. (Really!) The billions of unicellular organisms that reside in your body weigh as much as your brain. Among all of this bacterium is a constant battle of good versus evil. If you’re experiencing bloating, intestinal discomfort or digestive troubles, your bad bacteria may be winning. Luckily, there’s a simple way to give the good guys a competitive edge – give them the fuel they need by eating plenty of prebiotic foods.
How Do Prebiotics Work?
Even though prebiotics have been around forever, they’ve only recently made it into the nutritional zeitgeist. If you don’t know what prebiotics are, the first thing to know is that they are not probiotics, though both play a part in developing a healthy microbiota. Prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber found in many foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. The primary role of soluble fiber, while technically indigestible, is to aid in digestion. Prebiotic insoluble fiber however, plays a unique role as its fermentability makes it the perfect fuel for good bacteria. By feeding your gut good bacteria, prebiotics strengthen your overall gut health.
What Does Good Gut Health Mean for You?
A healthy microbiota isn’t limited to reducing bloating and improving digestive issues. The beneficial bacteria in your gut are at the front lines for all kinds of health issues including rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and even some types of cancer. In addition to fending off potential illnesses, good bacteria aids in brain functioning, decreases anxiety and regulates your metabolism.
Which Prebiotic Foods Should You Eat?
Many foods contain prebiotics including; asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, bananas, lentils, chicory root, apples and tomatoes. Chicory root has one of the highest concentrations of prebiotics with 47 percent of its fiber coming from inulin, one of the more well-known prebiotics. With most of these foods, the prebiotic content is much higher when raw, so you should try to consume raw whenever possible to get the maximum benefit.
Are You Getting Enough Prebiotics?
There’s no formal consensus on how many grams of prebiotics you should eat each day, but some research suggests between 5 to 20 grams is a good goal. Here are some smart ways to incorporate prebiotics into your diet morning, noon and night.
Breakfast: A blueberry, banana and flaxseed smoothie packs a huge prebiotic punch along with your omega-3s and antioxidants. Pair this with a cup of “coffee” made from chicory root fiber and you’ll be set.
Lunch: Dandelion greens are made up of 25 percent prebiotic fiber, so consider a dandelion salad with a roasted garlic vinaigrette to help keep your gut healthy. Top with tomatoes or shredded carrots to add even more prebiotics to your meal.
Dinner: This lentil and tomato soup gives you a hearty prebiotic boost along with a healthy portion of protein. Add some sautéed kale or spinach for an additional prebiotic pick-me-up.
After-Dinner Drinks: Thanks to the inulin in agave (the plant harvested to make tequila), you can enjoy your favorite tequila cocktail with a small boost of prebiotics. Here are 35 tequila cocktails to choose from. We’re big fans of the rosemary margarita.
Shannon Wells is a freelance writer. When she isn't helping her clients grow their businesses, she writes about healthy food and home improvement. You can find her on LinkedIn.
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