It All Starts With Prebiotics
Ahh, good ol’ reliable. We’re not talking about the ’84 Volvo that’s still trucking along or your BBQ grill that’s rusting in the backyard. We’re talking about your digestive tract. It’s working everyday, trying to properly digest everything that you swallow. And in order to work properly, your digestive tract relies on trillions of bacterial cells, known as your gut microbiome.
A healthy gut microbiome is essential to a healthy life; not only is it needed for digestion, but there are studies that link a healthy gut to good mental health (1, 2). Our gut microbiome helps with bolstering our immune system (3, 4), providing thorough digestion (5), nutrient absorption (6, 7), boosting anti-inflammatory properties (8, 9), and much more. And in order to help our bodies out and keep a balance of good bacteria, we can eat prebiotic, and probiotic, foods for a healthier gut!
Probiotics are good bacteria that reside in your gut microbiome, typically consisting of bacterias like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Now, when we’re talking about bacteria, it doesn’t mean bad bacteria; there are also good bacterias as well. In actuality, there are many more good bacterias in our gut microbiome than bad ones… at least there should be. That’s why consuming probiotics is so important, as it helps maintain that balance of good bacteria.
Those good bacterias that live in your gut microbiome, including the ones that come from those probiotics, are living things! And being living things, they need “food” to survive! And that’s where prebiotics come into play. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbs, like dietary fibers, starches, etc., that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics are, essentially, “food” for probiotics, working in synergy to provide all these health benefits!
Top 6 Prebiotic Foods for a Healthier Gut
Everyday our gut works on keeping us going and it’s oh-so important to keep that gut of ours healthy! And that all starts with eating the right foods and giving your gut the right prebiotics that it needs to keep those probiotics alive and growing! Let talk about some of the top prebiotic foods for a healthier gut!
This fancy plant has been used for thousands of years, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. Chicory root is a great source of a prebiotic fiber known as inulin, which is categorized as an oligosaccharide. Inulin is a great prebiotic source for probiotic bacteria to feed off of. Chicory root has been recently added to some foods to boost their nutritional value, like protein bars, yogurts, cereals, and even coffee creamers!
Studies have linked chicory root to boosting the gut barrier through means of probiotic bacteria, as well as bolstering your immune system (10, 11). The prebiotic fiber found in chicory root also has been linked to relieved IBS and better digestion (12). Another study has also linked chicory root fiber to improvements in energy levels, as well as reductions in stress levels (13).
Also known as sunroot or sunchokes, Jerusalem artichoke is a widely consumed vegetable. On top of prebiotic effects, Jerusalem artichokes are packed with vitamins and minerals to support your overall health.
The main prebiotic fiber found in Jerusalem artichokes is inulin, which has been linked to improving your gut microbiome (14, 15, 16). Jerusalem artichokes have also been studied to improve your immune response when your body is fighting off an infection (17). Finally, the prebiotic fiber in this vegetable has proved to improve digestion and help you go to the bathroom more consistently (18).
Everyone loves a good banana, for its many health benefits as well as its ability to keep you full for long periods of time. That feeling of fullness is thanks to the prebiotic fiber that is found in bananas, especially green bananas. Green bananas, or slightly unripe bananas, have a higher amount of resistant starch, which is a prebiotic fiber that helps grow the good probiotic bacteria in your gut.
Studies have shown that the prebiotic fibers in bananas help promote the diversity and growth of probiotic bacteria in your gut microbiome (19, 20). Another study linked bananas to its ability to improve digestion, as well as reduce inflammatory bowel diseases (21, 22).
Whether it be fresh or grilled, onions are a staple in many dishes throughout many cultures. Onions are a great source of prebiotics, ranging from inulin to fructans. These prebiotics have all of the qualities of benefitting your gut, as well as having antioxidant properties and help lowering cholesterol.
Studies have linked the prebiotic fibers found in onions to help strengthen your gut microbiome, fighting off IBS and leaky gut syndrome (23, 24). Another study linked onions’ prebiotic fibers to improved mineral absorption, cancer-fighting agents and lowered cholesterol (25).
We’re talking beans, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, peas, etc… These foods are a great prebiotic source for your gut health. Not only do they have tons of plant protein, but they also are very high in prebiotic fiber. These beans and legumes ferment in your gut, which is where the good bacteria feed off of those foods, helping them grow and strengthen.
During the digestive fermentation process, gas may form, just as with kombucha would fizz/gas during fermentation… but don’t worry! Gas is a natural thing and shouldn’t be shied away from! Studies have linked legumes to improved digestion, bolstered probiotic bacteria growth, as well as anti-inflammatory effects (26, 27)!
With quite the pungent scent, garlic has been used in cooking across the world. Not only does it improve the taste in some dishes, but it also improves your health! Like onions, garlic contains prebiotic fibers like inulin and fructooligosaccharides.
Studies have linked garlic’s prebiotic fibers to increased probiotic bacterium in the gut microbiome, as well as increased anti-inflammatory effects, cancer-fighter agents, and reduced digestive discomfort (28, 29, 30, 31). On top of its prebiotic health benefits, garlic also contains a healthy dose of Vitamin B!
How To Get More Prebiotic Foods In Your Diet
Now, one way you can get more prebiotic fiber is through protein bars, yogurts, coffee creamers, etc. Or you might be thinking about how much work it might be to incorporate these different foods into your lifestyle… but not to fear! Here at Bare Bones, we love to share tasty recipes with our beloved supporters! Below are just a few recipes that can get your started towards incorporating these nutritious prebiotic foods into your meals!
You can start off with some soups and stews that include plenty of legumes/beans, as well as garlic and onion! To go with your main dish, you can also whip up some side hummus or lentil dips, which also include those prebiotic-packed legumes, garlic and onion! And to finish it off with some desert, you can mix together a pudding that includes those all-needed bananas!
If you might have noticed, the Creamy Bone Broth Hummus includes our favorite Chicken Bone Broth! Our bone broths have a handful of gut health benefits, from helping our intestinal walls (28, 29) to aiding with inflammatory bowel disease (30). If you’re in a rush and want to enjoy all those health benefits, you can mix our instant bone broth into some warm water and take it with you on the go! Something else you can mix into your meals would be some gut healing collagen, which helps with digestion, strengthening your gut lining, reducing gut injury, and much more (31, 32, 33, 34, 35).
Find some more prebiotic-packed recipes on our website and let us know how you incorporated more prebiotics into your lifestyle!