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In order to understand prebiotics, we need to know probiotics. The two are related, yet very different. The latter refers to live bacteria that help the gastrointestinal tract and strengthen the immune system too.
For them to work, they need to feed. They feed on the former. In a nutshell, prebiotics is food for probiotics. They fuel the live bacteria in your gut, ensuring that they are working full throttle. They are non-digestible fiber compounds.They remain undigested and go all the way to the colon, where they are fermented and then fed on by probiotics. Why not delve more into this important fiber compound?
Why should you eat prebiotics?
a) Better digestion
When you intake this fiber compound, you stimulate the growth of probiotics in the gut. The increased probiotics then balance harmful bacteria and toxins in the digestive tract, improving digestion. It will also solve other digestive problems:
– Intestinal infections and chronic disorders, for instance, Crohn’s disease
– Inflammatory bowel disease
– Candida virus
– Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome IBS
– Leaky gut syndrome
– They help to improve stool quality reducing the risk of infections.
b) Improved immunity
The non-digestible fiber compounds enhance the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and minerals from food. They also prevent the growth of bacteria and pathogens by lowering the pH in the gut.
c) Prevents heart disease and diabetes
This non-digestible fiber compound lower inflammation which causes diseases like heart disease. They also result in healthier levels of cholesterol in the body, keeping cardiovascular disease at bay. They contribute to improvements in metabolic processes tied to obesity and type 2 diabetes. When you have a healthy gut, the body is able to metabolize nutrients and fats. It is also able to modulate immune and hormonal functions which control where the body will store nutrients.
d) Weight loss
Prebiotics contain high amounts of fiber. They make you feel fuller. You eat less and lose weight. Studies involving animals show that they minimize the production of ghrelin , a signal to the brain that it is time to eat.
e) Stronger Bones
As aforementioned, the fiber compounds help in the absorption of minerals in the body. This means that more iron, calcium, and magnesium are absorbed, leading to increased bone density, strong bones and prevention of osteoporosis and fractures.
Sources of prebiotics
Many foods naturally contain the all-important fiber compound. You are likely to find them in high fiber foods. Here are some good sources of prebiotics:
a) Raw Chicory Root
65% of raw chicory is fiber. You can get it in ground form, or as a supplement. You are likely to find it in breakfast bars, bread, cereal, and dairy products. It tastes like coffee, and is used as a substitute for coffee in the southern parts of the United States since it does not have caffeine side effects, for instance, difficulty sleeping.
b) Raw Dandelion Greens
Raw dandelion greens are awash with nutrients: fiber, vitamin A, iron, vitamin K, and calcium. You can add raw dandelion greens to your sandwiches, casseroles, herbal teas, salads, stews, and soups. The greens have a bitter taste. You can reduce this by blanching them in boiling water for about 20 seconds.
c) Raw Asparagus
This one contains 5% fiber. To make it more palatable, you can ferment it. You can also blend raw asparagus into a smoothie.
d) Raw Wheat Bran
It also contains 5% of fiber. You can add it to your breakfast cereal, mix it into yogurt or blend it into a smoothie.
e) Raw banana
All you need to do is peel a banana and munch it, right? Yes. It may not have the best taste, but it is worth it. You can eat a raw banana before or after a workout.
f) Other food sources:
– Baked wheat flour
– Onions – cooked and raw
– Raw leeks
– Raw garlic
– Raw Jerusalem Artichoke
As you may have noted, most of the above-discussed food sources are raw. When you cook them, they lose some fiber, which you need if you are going to ensure that probiotics work optimally in the gut. Some of them may not be palatable. You can add them to salads, soups, smoothies or some dishes. If you have to cook them, steam them a little.
The importance of prebiotics in the body cannot be underestimated. They aid in weight loss, development of stronger bones, improve digestive tract problems, and keep heart disease at bay. You can find them in the above-discussed foods, especially when raw. You can add them to salads and soups or steam them to make them more palatable. You have no reason not to intake the beneficial fiber compound.