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The sheer amount of research that goes into finding out how the human body works is staggering. Of course, all of this is vital to help us know how to deal with diseases and conditions successfully. The other plus point of this is that we get to find out about things that can help us out, things we probably would never have known about otherwise.

Have you heard of prebiotics?

You’ve probably heard of probiotics, but prebiotics are something slightly different, and actually work create the right environment for probiotics to actually do their good work.

A prebiotic actually encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut and digestive system.

Basically, good bacteria thrives on prebiotics, mainly in the form of fiber. Prebiotics can’t be digested and as a result, they continue to act in a beneficial way all through the digestive system. Prebiotics also help to promote the growth of probiotics – as you can see, they’re different quite subtly, but they work together to create a harmonious situation.

If you don’t get enough prebiotics in your diet, you’re actually creating an environment for conditions to begin, diseases to start, and illness to commence. Research shows that prebiotics are useful by:

  • Improving your general digestive system and helping with conditions like IBS

  • Allowing you to absorb more advantageous minerals from your food

  • They work to lower levels of anxiety and stress

  • Promote weight loss, when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise

  • Increase immune system performance

So, now we know what prebiotics are and we know the advantages of having them in our diets, how can we make sure that we’re getting enough?

Basically, it’s about diet adjustment.

Most people don’t eat enough fiber, so that’s something you should ensure you’re getting in your overall diet. This wont just give you the prebiotic boost you want, but it will also help with your overall digestive health too, and reduce bloating and sluggishness. There are numerous studies to suggest that our bodies need enough fiber to function correctly.

To give you an idea of how little fiber most of us get, studies showed that cavemen/women ate an average of 135g of fiber every day. These days, we get around 10% of that!

Make sure you get enough prebiotic fiber by getting enough fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet.

You can easily incorporate these into your regular meals, and nuts can be added as decoration to dishes too! Some other foods you might like to try and get more of, to increase your prebiotic intake include:

  • Raw Chicory Root – This is probably one of the best prebiotic foods you’re likely to come across, and you can easily consume it in your food or as a supplement. You’ll find this in health stores in a ground consistency, but it is always better to try and add it to foods instead, for a more natural intake.
  • Sunroot/Jerusalem Artichoke – When eaten raw, the prebiotic level of the Jerusalem artichoke is pretty impressive, as well as being a great source of potassium and iron. You can add this to a salad or you can create a ‘mashed potato’ type of snack with it too.
  • Raw Dandelion Greens – These are cram-full of vitamins and nutrients, such as Vitamins K, A, iron, and calcium. This is also a great source of prebiotics, and you can easily add raw dandelion greens to a salad or a sandwich, without even realizing it. They don’t taste of much, but that’s not the point!
  • Raw Garlic – Garlic not only tastes great, but it’s fantastic for your overall health and wellbeing. Garlic, the raw type, is packed with vitamin B6, C, selenium, and manganese. On top of this, it’s a great prebiotic food too! Add garlic to whatever you want, such as stir fries, pasta dishes, etc.
  • Raw Leeks – You’ll notice we’re talking about a lot of raw foods here, but in this state they hold the greatest nutrient benefit for your body. Raw leeks can be added to almost anything, just like garlic, and they taste great too. A cup of raw leeks will give you a dose of vitamins K and C, as well as plenty of prebiotics.
  • Raw Onion & Cooked Onion – Both raw and cooked onions will give you a dose of prebiotics, but raw is much better, because the cooking process actually destroys some of the beneficial vitamins. Having said that cooked onions are better than nothing, and you can easily add onions in either state to your meals, if you don’t already!
  • Raw Asparagus – Fiber, prebiotics, and plentiful taste will come your way when you incorporate raw asparagus into your diet. If you find it hard to eat raw, you can ferment it or blend it, to gain the same benefits.
  • Banana – We all know that bananas are delicious and easy to snack on, but they also contain a huge hit of potassium and prebiotics too. You can throw a banana in your bag and munch on it whenever you get hungry, without having to try and prepare a snack.

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough prebiotics is to make sure that you are munching on these foods. By doing that, and by doing it regularly, you’re certainly going to be boosting your prebiotic intake and grabbing the huge benefits for your gut’s overall health and wellbeing.

Of course, make sure you get enough probiotics too, by eating foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, yoghurt, dark chocolate (in moderation!), miso soup, and pickles. If you struggle with any of these foods, you can, of course, take a probiotic supplement.   

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About The Author

Lorna Frances's picture

Lorna Frances is a nutritional medicine graduate and health and wellness writer at azhealthyfamilies.org. She is an advocate of natural medicine and is passionate about finding natural solutions to common health issues. Connect with Lorna at https://www.facebook.com/atozhealthyfamilies/ or www.azhealthyfamilies.org

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