Tasty Ways to Incorporate More Prebiotics Into Your Diet

Chances are, you’ve heard of probiotics, bacteria that provide us with health benefits when we consume them. Eating probiotic-rich foods is important, but we also shouldn’t forget about including prebiotic-rich foods in our diet.

Prebiotics are substances found in certain foods that selectively feed good gut bacteria so they thrive and keep us healthy. Incorporating a variety of prebiotics into your diet helps prevent bad bacteria from taking over and encourages good bacteria to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, called short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells lining the colon. Most prebiotics are types of fiber, and a few are phytochemicals, or bioactive compounds found in plants. If our gut microbiome were a garden, prebiotics would be the fertilizer. Fortunately, there are many prebiotic-rich foods to choose from that suit a variety of dietary needs and taste preferences. With a little extra thought and planning, you can easily incorporate prebiotic-rich foods into every meal to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Here are five prebiotic-rich foods to add to your diet now.

1. Cook With Garlic, Onions, Shallots, Scallions, and Leeks

Vegetables in the allium family, like garlic, onions, shallots, scallions, and leeks, all contain fructans, a type of prebiotic fiber. Humans lack the enzymes necessary to break down fructans, so they end up in the colon, where our good microbes use them as nourishment and break them down through fermentation. As a by-product, short-chain fatty acids are produced, which are compounds demonstrated to lower inflammation, promote a healthy weight, and improve insulin sensitivity, according to research published in March 2020 in the journal Nutrients. Additionally, short-chain fatty acids make the gut environment more acidic, which increases mineral absorption. By feeding good gut microbes and increasing short-chain fatty acid production, fructans are thought to increase our absorption of calcium and improve bone density, according to research published in February 2021 in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research.

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