We all know that health and wellbeing is about many different things; for instance you need to eat well and exercise regularly as a starting point. You also need to make sure you visit the doctor to get anything you’re not sure of checked out, and you should listen to the advice your doctor gives you.
When you break it down, health and wellness isn’t that difficult, but it’s surprising how many people don’t manage it to the best level!
This article is going to talk about something which many people overlook – prebiotics foods.
Prebiotics are different to probiotics, which you’ve no doubt heard of. We live in stressful times, and that means that gut health is a priority concern. Poor diets, stress, and specific stomach conditions can all create a rather unfavourable environment, creating symptoms such as excess gas, bloating, stomach discomfort, diarrhoea and constipation. None of that is any fun!
Let’s discuss prebiotics and learn more.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are required for good gut health, but they are different to probiotics. Whilst probiotics are live bacteria which contribute towards gut health, immune system function, and other benefits, prebiotics are not bacteria at all. Prebiotics are actually the food which probiotics require, in order to work to their maximum capacity.
Prebiotics are therefore fibers which are indigestible. These cross over into the large intestine and through a process of fermentation, they help to enhance the work of the good bacteria in your gut. Some can also be absorbed into the overall blood stream and enhance metabolic function.
Put simply, you need prebiotics in your diet, or via a supplement, to ensure the best gut health possible.
Should You Take a Supplement or Use Dietary Methods?
That is a personal decision. The reason that many people choose to opt for a supplement is because it can be difficult to get enough prebiotic content via prebiotics foods every single day. We’re going to talk about some of the foods which are rich in prebiotic content shortly, but you will see that many of them are either a little obscure, or not that available; some are and are easy to use, but variety is also important.
For that reason, you’ll also see many different supplement products on the market, either as part of a probiotic combination, or on their own.
Finding the right supplement can be equally as difficult, because the supplement world isn’t regulated. This means a product can be marketed as fantastic, but it doesn’t have any real evidence to back it up. Research is key in this regard, as well as reading reviews.
Of course, natural is always the best option if at all possible and in that case you need to learn about the best prebiotics foods around. There are many, but here are seven of the best, and easiest to incorporate into your diet.
7 Best Prebiotics Foods to Help With Overall Gut Health
For a good amount of prebiotic content in your regular diet, these are some of the best foods to add to your daily routine.
Super-easy to add to any dish, garlic is not only delicious, but it has a lot of different health benefits to its name too. Within garlic there is also a naturally occurring prebiotics, known as FOS, or fructooligosaccharides. In addition, garlic is actually a natural probiotic, as it helps to grow bifidobacteria in the gut too – a very common and powerful probiotic in many supplements. If you want more benefits, garlic is known to help stop bacteria growing, the types which can promote diseases.
If you’ve read anything about garlic’s general health benefits you’ll also know that it is renowned for helping to reduce the risk of serious heart disease and may also help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. It is also a natural antioxidant and may help with asthma.
Those are very good reasons to sprinkle plenty of garlic into your pasta!
Another very easy food to add to virtually every dinner meal, onions have a very similar health reputation as garlic, with the same FOS prebiotic naturally occurring, at around 6%. This type of prebiotic helps to breakdown fat, gives the immune system a boost and also helps to boost and strengthen the good bacteria in your gut (probiotics).
There is also the addition of something called quercetin, which works as a powerful antioxidant, but can also help to prevent certain types of cancers too. If you want a heart health boost, you’ve got that too!
Onions can be added to most meals, so this a great excuse to do so.
Not everyone likes leeks, but they are actually fantastic as a prebiotics food, and come from the same food group family as garlic and onions. Leeks also have a high amount of flavonoids within them, which can help your body deal better with oxidative stress, and they also have vitamin K in abundance, which is vital for health bones and for giving your overall level of heart health a big boost too.
You can add leeks into stews and other meat dishes, and whilst they do have a quiet strong flavour, you can tone it down a little if you’re not a big fan, by adding extra garlic or onions!
As you can see, most prebiotics foods are natural vegetables, and these have an abundance of benefits for the body in many different ways. Again, asparagus helps to support good bacteria in the good (probiotics) and it is also linked with helping to prevent certain types of cancers too.
Asparagus has an anti-inflammatory reputation also, because of the antioxidant and fiber mix. In addition, asparagus is a great source of protein.
Super easy to add into your day, either as a snack or part of your morning smoothie, bananas have countless health benefits, as well as being high in a large number of vitamins and minerals. Bananas are also naturally high fiber and potassium, which can help to reduce bloating in the gut and also helps to support the good work of prebiotics (healthy bacteria) too.
If you need a boost of energy throughout the day, a banana should be your go-to.
Be sure not to add large amounts of sugar to your oats in the mornings, but these grains are high in prebiotic content and contains beta-glucan fiber in high amounts as well as the resistant type of starch.
Oats have a range of health benefits, including lowering bad cholesterol, keeping blood sugar levels even, and also possibly helping to reduce the risk of some types of cancer. In addition to this, oats help to support probiotics in the gut and ensure a healthy digestive system overall. The phenolic acid content of oats also helps with antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory effects.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and it certainly seems to have some evidence behind it! The fiber of an apple comes down to its pectin content, which is quite high, at around 50% total. Pectin helps to reduce the amount of bad bacteria in the gut and also helps to support good bacteria.
In addition, actin helps to lower cholesterol and may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
Throw these foods into your daily diet and you’ll be high in prebiotic content!
These are certainly the easiest of the prebiotic foods to incorporate into your diet, as many of the other common prebiotic foods are a little more obscure in general. For instance, Jerusalem artichoke for one. Whilst you might regularly eat this type of food, many people don’t, and many might also find it hard to source these types of ingredients in regular supermarkets. As a result they have to go to more expensive health food or organic stores, and that’s when it can get quite expensive.
These 7 foods however are relatively easy to use, and most on a daily basis. By doing that, and by ensuring you’re getting enough probiotic content in addition, you should notice vastly improved gut health and better health overall.
Probiotics boost the immune system and can help with various other health issues too, such as skin and recurrent UTIs for women, and by ensuring you’re getting enough prebiotic content, you’re helping the probiotics to do their job. In that case, prebiotics have, indirectly, the same benefits as probiotics!
Anyone who regularly suffers from gut health issues will tell you how annoying and distressing they can be. If you can find a way to minimise them, it’s something you should do. Prebiotics, and indeed probiotics, can help you do just that.
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