What’s the Deal with Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics. They make sure that the healthy bacteria in your gut are well-fed and taken care of. Many health coaches and nutritionists recommend supplementing with prebiotics for optimal gut flora. Before you do that it’s helpful to know what it really is and how you can get ample amounts of prebiotics through diet alone.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are indigestible plant matter that our gut bacteria feed off, so basically soluble fiber like you would find in many vegetables. They stimulate the growth and maintenance of our inner microbial world.
The most popular source of prebiotics in supplements are raw chicory root and jerusalem artichoke but food sources for prebiotics go far beyond these foods alone.
Insoluble vs. Soluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber isn’t a food source for our gut bacteria. It’s impossible to digest by human and bacteria alike and acts more like a scrub brush in our intestines.
Soluble fiber is the prebiotic food source that our microflora just love. Inulin is the most effective form of soluble fiber but there are other naturally occurring forms of prebiotics in everything from root vegetables and tubers to breastmilk!
Best Food Sources of Prebiotics
- Dandelion greens
- Raw asparagus
- Raw garlic
- Chicory root
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Raw jicama
As long as you’re consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis you really shouldn’t worry about supplementing with prebiotics long term. However, when you’re actively working to heal your gut and promote those beneficial bacteria, prebiotic supplements can be useful.
How Much Soluble Fiber Do You Need Per Day?
Most experts estimate about 5 grams of prebiotics per day is what most people need. You can obtain this much soluble fiber by eating a few of the foods listed above daily.
Other Benefits of Prebiotics
Prebiotics do more than just support the growth of probiotics. They’re also amazing for a variety of other conditions.
- Boost the immune system
- Help with weight loss
- Blood sugar maintenance
- Good for bone health
- Support a healthy brain and balanced mood
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Julie Fearey, C.H.N.C.
Oats and Honey Nutrition