Prebiotics are typically dietary fibers that support the thriving of healthful gut bacteria. These good gut bacteria help maintain the health of the digestive system by supplying the colon with nutrients.
Probiotics are another term used when referring to healthful gut bacteria. They feed on prebiotics such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate which are all short-chain fatty acids. When absorbed into the circulating blood and taken up by cells, prebiotics can help improve metabolic health.
Current studies have shown that prebiotics can have several health benefits when taken in good amounts. However, knowing exactly which foods provide prebiotics can be a challenge. This article will help you know the rich sources of prebiotics and the health benefits of prebiotics.
What Is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
As mentioned earlier, prebiotics is a special type of fiber that the probiotics usually feed on to survive. The entire gastrointestinal system has normal commensals just like the skin and vagina for instance. These microorganisms reside in the mouth, stomach, and small intestines while most of them lodge in the large intestines. They facilitate the process of digestion, support a prompt immune response among other benefits.
For the utmost function, these bacteria need to be fed. And so, prebiotics acts as their only food. The fiber in your routine diet gives rise to the prebiotics and their sources are referred to as prebiotic foods.
In other words, prebiotics are compounds such as acetate and propionate that are produced through the process of fermentation by the probiotics. On the other hand, probiotics are the living bacteria found in the colon which are essential in improving the process of digestion.
Benefits of Prebiotics
When you eat fiber, 99% of cannot be digested in the upper digestive system. it, therefore, has to pass into the small and gets to the colon where they can be digested effectively. Here, they meet the probiotics which digest them by the process of fermentation. This is a symbiotic relationship. As the bacteria help in fermenting fiber to digest them, they at the same time obtain their food for their survival. The entire process leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids like propionate, butyrate, and acetate which keeps the digestive system healthier improves immunity, regulates blood sugar levels, and improves the functioning of the brain.
That said, prebiotics may help prevent and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes, heart conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and cancer.
Researchers are focusing to establish how prebiotics may help reduce intestinal inflammation caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Prebiotics may also be essential in reducing the likelihood of developing autoimmune diseases, infections of the digestive system, increase weight loss, boost your mood, balance hormones, reduce the symptoms of allergy and eczema, strengthen bones, balance metabolism, and reduce cholesterol levels.
Foods Rich in Prebiotics
A wide range of foods can provide you with prebiotics. But it is essential to eat the best ones out of them anyway. The best way to do this is to do organic prebiotic foods. They are the foods that you can routinely incorporate into your diet in different ways. You can try alternating them to gain the best out of them. Continue reading.
1. Chicory Root
This is a good source of prebiotics. Chicory root is a type of dandelion plant. For many years, chicory root has been used in the field of medicine and cooking due to its flavor which is sort of coffee-like.
Chicory root is largely composed of 68% prebiotic fiber inulin. This composition enables chicory root to improve digestion and bowel motility thus prevents one from developing constipation. Inulin may also help control the levels of blood glucose by escalating the levels of adiponectin. What’s more, is that chicory root contains antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the effects of oxidative stress in the liver.
2. Dandelion Greens
Dandelions are green flowering plants with leaves that can be cooked or eaten raw. They are a good source of fiber. For every 55 grams of dandelion greens, there are about 1.92 grams of fiber. Just like in chicory root, a greater part of this fiber comes from inulin.
Eating dandelion greens may help with constipation, increase the number of probiotics, provide antioxidants, help reduce inflammation and improve the immune system.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, garlic is good for your health because it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and can help lower the levels of lipids. It is loved by many because of its flavor.
As a prebiotic, garlic helps in the multiplication of Bifidobacteria in the colon. It also thwarts the growth of harmful gut bacteria.
Onions are healthful bacteria and they are high in FOS and inulin. FOS specifically promotes the growth of gut bacteria, helps with the process of emulsification, and increases the production of nitric oxide thus boosting the immune system.
Research has shown that leeks are high in vitamins and minerals but low in calories. They are an excellent source of prebiotics since they have high contents of inulin that promote the growth of probiotics and fat breakdown. Leeks, garlic, and onions share the same family. They also offer vitamin K up to 35% of the daily recommended value in just 89 g of leek.
The proven nutritional components of bananas by the United States Department of Agriculture National include lots of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and some content of inulin. It has been found that green (unripe) bananas are a good source of prebiotic.
This is another excellent source of prebiotics. Inulin is naturally found in asparagus. Consuming asparagus will leave the good gut bacteria fed and increase the growth of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
Apple is a good source of pectin, which is a soluble dietary fiber. Pectin in apples promotes a significant growth of probiotics and increases the production of butyrate.
Cocoa powder and its products contain certain flavonols, which besides offering anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are a rich source of prebiotics for probiotics.
Prebiotics are a unique type of fiber that acts as food to intestinal probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms in the gut that help in the digestion of prebiotics. Once digested, prebiotics helps the body in various ways. Rich sources of prebiotics are apples, onions, and asparagus just to mention.