Trillions and trillions of microbes inhabit our guts. The exact number is unknown, but researchers estimate that our gut has between 30-400 trillion microbes. And did you know, that just like us, they also get hungry! They need to eat to survive and thrive. This is the purpose of prebiotic foods.
Prebiotics are food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut.
They have specific types of dietary fibers which we cannot digest. Instead, these fibers pass through our digestive system and enter the colon. Once in the colon, the gut bacteria feast on these prebiotic fibers and create a number of beneficial postbiotic byproducts such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
The most common SCFAs are acetate, propionate and butyrate. They have many health benefits:
they serve as an energy source for the cells of the colon
they can regulate metabolism, stimulate hormone production, regulate blood sugar and regulate appetite
they have anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic and antimicrobial effects
they can modulate the immune system in a beneficial balanced way
they can regulate gene expression
When you sit down for your next meal, look at the food not only in terms of your own enjoyment and health, but also as food for your gut bacteria. As you feed the beneficial microbes with prebiotics, they will flourish and will inhibit the growth of harmful microbes. This helps to maintain a diverse and balanced microbiota.
A diverse microbiota has many health benefits, some of these include:
maintaining a strong gut barrier
reducing leaky gut
reducing systemic inflammation
reducing chronic disease
reducing fungal overgrowth
reducing the impact of viral infections
creating a strong and balanced immune system
Prebiotics are found in most fruits and vegetables.
Some of the best sources of prebiotics include...
jicama, leek, mushroom, pea, radish, sweet potato, yam.
apple, avocado, blueberry, banana, cherry, dragon fruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, pear, pomegranate, plantain, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, and more!
SEEDS & GRAINS:
Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, legumes, quinoa, wild rice.
HERBS & SPICES:
Burdock root, chives, cumin, dandelion root, ginger, parsely, thyme, tumeric, oregano.
DIVERSITY IS KEY.
As you can see, there is a wide range of options to choose from.
Research shows that the best indicator of a healthy microbiome is the diversity of whole plant foods in your diet. It is recommended to eat a MINIMUM of 30 plant foods each week. This can be easy when you include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, herbs, and spices. These foods are not only delicious but also provide the nourishment your gut bacteria need to thrive.
So get busy in the kitchen, add new flavors, and have fun!
By taking care of your gut health
you are taking care of your overall health.