Prebiotics: Food for a Healthy Gut
Pretty sure you’ve heard of probiotics to support gut health, right? But have you heard of prebiotics for gut health? No, prebiotics aren’t just an expensive new supplement. In fact, prebiotics have been around since the beginning of time, and many of us consume them without even knowing it.
Prebiotics support your gut microbiome – all the helpful microorganisms in your digestive tract that help you break down your food. But did you know that you have to feed these tiny helpers?
You can think of the microbiome as a microscopic herd of cows. Well, prebiotics are the grass that you feed them so that they can do their work for your body. We can't digest the grass, but the little cows can. Feeding the good bacteria makes sure that they stay alive and well so that they can help keep us healthy.
So, in true gut health fashion, we’re taking a microscope to the topic of prebiotics. What are the benefits of prebiotics? What are the best sources of prebiotics?
What are Prebiotics?
The gut consists of trillions of bacteria. In a healthy person, this includes primarily “good” bacteria or probiotic bacteria. There may also be some “bad” or unfavorable bacteria, but in an otherwise healthy person, bad bacteria are far outnumbered by the good.
But just like us humans, probiotics need food to stay alive and well. That’s where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut.
Benefits of Prebiotics
By feeding the good bacteria in your gut, prebiotics help improve the composition of the gut microbiome. We know that a healthy gut is related to several downstream health benefits, from supporting immunity (and managing autoimmune conditions) to metabolic health and maintenance of a healthy weight. A healthy gut has also been associated with improved mood and brain health as well as cardiovascular and neurological health.
We likely haven’t even scratched the surface of how far-reaching the influence of gut health extends throughout the body. Scientists are actively studying these connections and how we might impact our overall health through the composition of the microbiome.
Sources of Prebiotics
While prebiotics can now be taken in supplement form, many whole foods are rich sources of prebiotics. The following are foods high in prebiotics:
- Green tea: Green tea doesn’t contain fiber, but it does contain polyphenols with prebiotic properties. In fact, green tea polyphenols have been found to exert prebiotic properties on the gut microbiota. Try our Organic Matcha Power® for a polyphenol-packed boost for your gut!
- Cacao and dark chocolate: Cocoa contains flavanols that increase healthy gut bacteria while reducing harmful bacteria. Of course, be mindful of the sugar content often packaged with cacao as sugar can actually feed the “bad” type of bacteria and yeast in the gut.
- Asparagus: The fiber in asparagus promotes friendly gut bacteria and can help calm inflammation.
- Ginger: Ginger contains compounds that have been found to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, reduce intestinal inflammation, and enhance the gut microbiome. Try our SuperPure® Ginger Extract which contains over 50,000 mg of freshly harvested, organic ginger concentrated into every capsule and is carefully extracted with a dual H2O & CO2 process to maximize the potency of its critical compounds.
- Apples: No matter the variety, apples are filled with prebiotic benefits and can help rebalance your gut bacteria.
- Garlic: Garlic is a prebiotic food shown to support digestion and help discourage the growth of unfriendly organisms.
- Onions: An underappreciated food, onions are rich in prebiotics, antioxidants, and flavonoids and can strengthen your gut flora.
- Jerusalem artichoke: Also known as the “earth apple”, the Jerusalem artichoke isn’t related to the globe artichoke. This prebiotic food is actually a species of sunflower with an edible tuber. It is often used in prebiotic supplements.
- Underripe bananas: Slightly unripe bananas have particularly powerful effects as a prebiotic food source. They can increase good gut bacteria, reduce bloating, and improve muscle relaxation.
- Oats: Oats are a healthy grain with prebiotic benefits. They contain large amounts of beta-glucan fiber, as well as some resistant starch.
- Inulin: Inulin is a type of fiber found in chicory and dandelion roots. These roots are often found in herbal teas.
- Seaweeds and microalgae: These are being actively studied as potentially prebiotic foods, but research has shown that certain seaweeds and microalgae like our SuperPure® Fucoidan and SuperPure® Beta 1,3-Glucan Extract can have prebiotic effects on gut bacteria.
Feed Your Gut
Supporting gut health is something that has become top of mind for so many wellness seekers and health enthusiasts. Think beyond probiotic pills and use the power of real food to feed the good bugs in the gut!