Prebiotics 101

Prebiotics 101

Probiotics are a pretty popular point of discussion in the health world these days, but have you heard of prebiotics? They're just as important for a healthy gut, and therefore for an overall healthy life. Here's everything you need to know about what prebiotics are and why you need them in your diet.

What are Prebiotics?

A healthy gut is a gut with a balance of beneficial bacteria. Eating the right kinds of foods helps you achieve that balance. Diets with lots of sugars and processed foods give harmful bacteria lots to work with. On other hand, beneficial bacteria do well in an environment where they're provided with prebiotics. Prebiotics are certain types of plant fiber that act as food for helpful bacteria. Balancing your diet with prebiotics makes sure the beneficial bacteria in your gut have the nutrition they need to continue doing their good work, and that harmful bacteria are "starved out." 

Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics

Both prebiotics and probiotics have a role to play in a healthy gut, but they work in very different ways. Probiotics are living strains of beneficial bacteria. Eating probiotic foods make sure plenty of beneficial bacteria are making their way to your gut. Prebiotics are food for those bacteria. Eating prebiotic foods or taking supplements with prebiotics in them ensure that the bacteria delivered by probiotics thrive.

Prebiotic Benefits

There's more to prebiotics than feeding your gut (though that alone is plenty!). Regularly consuming prebiotic foods and supplements help your body absorb nutrients like calcium. Prebiotics help control the rate at which your body absorbs glucose, reducing blood sugar spikes and helping to manage diabetes. They support the cells that line your gut, helping to keep it in tip top shape. And finally they speed up the fermentation of the foods you eat. This moves your digestion along a little faster and reduces your risk of constipation. All in all they're well worth adding to your diet.

Where Can You Get Prebiotics?

Prebiotics aren't hard to find. In fact, you're probably getting some already. Here's where you're most likely to find them:

Fruits and Vegetables: Prebiotics are most common in fruits and vegetables. You'll find large concentrations in apples, tomatoes,  bananas, onions, leeks, and berries.

Whole Grains: Whole grains are full of prebiotics. To get more in your diet, eat more barley, oat, and wheat.

Legumes: Legumes have a high concentration of prebiotics. They're also a great source of plant based protein. Load up on beans and peas to make your gut happy. You'll also find plenty of prebiotics in soybeans. 

Greens Powders: Greens powders containing prebiotics are an excellent way to work this fiber into your diet. With each scoop you'll get a dose of bacteria-feeding prebiotic fiber. You'll also get the probiotics your gut needs to stay in balance. They're an excellent way to supplement a balanced diet to make sure your whole gut is happy. 

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