Your gut has more than 100 million brain cells hard at work every day. It doesn’t need to rely on the brain and instead works independently- thinking for itself.
The gut has a massive impact on your overall health. In fact, one study found that it can even help protect your bones from osteoporosis.
So how do you keep your gut healthy? Prebiotic foods are one of the best ways to do this. Read on to learn why these foods are so important and which foods you should be eating.
What Are Prebiotics?
While you’ve probably heard of probiotics, you may not have heard of prebiotics before. Probiotics are hugely beneficial for overall health and offer a long list of benefits. But prebiotics are often left out in the cold.
There are a number of benefits of prebiotics. Prebiotics work by ‘feeding’ the probiotics, which bump up any health benefits so you get the most out of them. This means that you’re amplifying the properties of these ingredients.
Prebiotics are a fiber compound. They’re non-digestible and pass through your upper gastrointestinal tract, reaching the colon where they’re fermented. They’re then used as a source of fuel, enhancing the health of your gut flora.
The Best Prebiotic Foods to Eat
Since a healthy gut is so closely tied to overall health, increasing your intake of prebiotics is a good way to improve your diet.
Here are 11 of the best prebiotic foods to include in your diet:
1. Dandelion Greens
You’ll often find these in salads, and they’re an excellent source of fiber, with four grams of fiber per 100 grams. This type of fiber boosts the immune system, helps increase friendly bacteria in your gut, and reduces constipation.
Dandelion greens are also excellent for lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation.
This delicious herb is one of the best (and tastiest) prebiotics around. It promotes the growth of Bifidobacteria, and it also helps prevent the growth of the types of bacteria that promote diseases.
The best way to enjoy all the prebiotic properties of garlic is to eat it raw. Mince or crush it, and then whisk it into your salad dressings. You can also use it in hummus, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
Both cooked and raw onion is great for your gut. Add it to your omelets, salads, and stir-fries. Saute onions in vegetable broth, and use them as a topping for seafood, chicken, and black beans.
10% of the fiber found in onions is inulin, which is the most beneficial fiber for gut health. Onions also help break down fat and boost your immune system.
It’s not surprising that the humble leek is an excellent prebiotic. After all, leeks are from the same family as garlic and onions.
Up to 16% of their fiber is inulin fiber, and this helps promote healthy gut bacteria. They’re also high in flavonoids which helps your body respond to oxidative stress.
Bananas are high in minerals, vitamins, and of course, fiber. The greener the bananas you eat, the better, since they have resistant starch which is a powerful prebiotic.
This helps reduce bloating and increases your healthy gut bacteria. Add slightly green bananas to smoothies to help get the prebiotic benefits.
Not only are whole oats a great choice as a carbohydrate, but they’re packed with beta-glucan fiber. This is linked to lower LDL cholesterol, the good kind of gut bacteria, and improved blood sugar control.
Barley is used to make beer, but it’s also popular in cereals. Each 100-gram serving contains 3-8 grams of beta-glucan fiber, making it a top choice for gut health.
It’s also known to lower LDL cholesterol and is rich in selenium which boosts your immune system and helps your thyroid work well.
Asparagus can be added to a wide range of meals and helps promote the growth of good bacteria.
The combination of antioxidants and fiber found in asparagus makes it an excellent anti-inflammatory. It may even help prevent some cancers.
An apple a day still keeps the doctor away. And one of the reasons for this is its high fiber count – with up to 50% of this fiber made up of pectin.
Pectin helps increase butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid. Butyrate decreases the number of harmful bacteria in your gut while feeding the good bacteria.
Apples also have polyphenol antioxidants. When combined with pectin, these help decrease LDL cholesterol and improve fat metabolism.
You’ve probably already heard that flaxseeds help improve your health, but did you know that they’re also a great source of prebiotics?
Up to 40% of the fiber in flaxseeds is soluble fiber, and up to 80% is insoluble fiber. These types of fiber help promote regular bowel movements, encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, and reduce how much fat you’re digesting and absorbing.
Flaxseeds also contain phenolic antioxidants. These are known for their anti-cancer properties, and they’re also a good choice if you have problems regulating your blood sugar levels.
Wheatgrass is known as a ‘superfood,’ and is available as both a supplement and a juice. It contains chlorophyll and is grown from wheat seeds.
Wheatgrass helps increase your red-blood-cell count, stimulates your thyroid gland, and helps cleanse your gastrointestinal tract. Many people use it to relieve ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, and constipation.
It’s easy to see why so many people are adding wheatgrass to their diets to improve their gut health, and you can learn more here.
As you can see, many of the prebiotic foods above aren’t just healthy for your gut- they have a number of other health benefits as well.
By focusing on eating foods that are good for your gut, you’ll also be improving your overall health. This will help you control your blood sugar, boost your immune system, and fight cancer-causing bacteria.
Want to learn more about how you can stay healthy or improve your overall health? Check out some of our other helpful articles today.
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