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Why Prebiotics Are Good for Your Gut


Gut friendly foods are one of the biggest trends again in 2019. Why should you care? It means a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics. While fermented probiotic foods are presently getting all the glory, prebiotic rich foods deserve an honourable mention.

Prebiotic Definition

Unlike probiotics (which are live bacteria) prebiotics are actually fibres. So let’s start with defining fibres: fibres are non-starch carbohydrates which pass through your gut undigested and get fermented in your large bowel. While all prebiotics are a type of fibre not all fibres are prebiotics.

What separates prebiotic fibres from other fibres is that during the fermentation process in your large bowel prebiotics act as food for probiotics so that more good bacteria grow in your gut.

What are the benefits of prebiotics?

Prebiotic fibres can help with your gut health in these ways:

  • Strengthens your immune system by increasing the growth of good bacteria (specifically Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) which can help reduce diarrhea and infections

  • Strengthens bones by increasing calcium absorption

  • Helps with appetite control and possible weight loss by satiating your hunger

  • It may protect against colon cancer by decreasing inflammation in your large bowel (Raman, Sirounis, Shrubsole, 2015)

What is the recommended amount of prebiotics per day?

How much should you eat? Does more equal better? Not according to Dr. Peter Gibson, a gastroenterologist from Monash University, who says you can achieve good digestive health with just 5 to 15 grams of prebiotics daily. (Gibson, 2017). This is pretty achievable on a regular basis.

Where are prebiotics found in food?

Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates like fibre and resistant starch. The best food sources include asparagus, chicory root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onions, garlic, raw bananas, wheat bran, wheat flour, barley and rye.

You’ll get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, if you eat prebiotics in its raw form (with the exception of onions). That being said, how likely are you to eat raw asparagus? Be practical too: you can lightly steam prebiotic vegetables if you want to. After all, we’re foodies first.

References

Raman, M., Sirounis, A., Shrubsole, J (2015) The Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Health Guide. Toronto: Robert Rose Inc.

Gibson, P. (2017). Pres 01 Peter Gibson final for Paris (Online)

Retrieved from https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/video-gallery

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