Prebiotic foods are important for the health of the gastrointestinal tract. They are compounds that lead to the activity of microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria (lactobacilli and bifidobacterial) that are resident in the human gut. For any food to qualify as being categorized as prebiotics, it must not be digestible or broken down by enzymes or stomach acid in the gut, it must also target and enhance the growth of bacteria that is beneficial to the host, as well as be selectively fermented in the intestine by microorganisms. Many diet healthy food companies are pushing prebiotic foods and supplements as healthy additions to functional foods towards the attainment of optimal health status, but are they right?
In what ways are prebiotic foods beneficial to the body?
According to research, prebiotic foods have been found to improve the absorption of calcium in the body, thereby important to maintaining the health of bones at any point in life. Prebiotic foods are also found to improve the immunity of the body, ensuring that the body has the necessary nutrients to fight off infections and diseases. Eating prebiotic foods also decreases the risk of allergies, while also having positive effects on the metabolism of the host. They are rich in fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar and is therefore beneficial in the management of weight and obesity.
There are indications that prebiotic foods might be beneficial in the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but the results of the research are mixed. It is therefore advisable to start taking prebiotic in small doses and monitor the interaction with and reaction of the user’s body. Some people might react by experiencing flatulence or bloating, so it is best to start slow. In what is known as the symbiotic therapy, prebiotics can also be added to probiotics, which are usually short-lived in the body, to prolong its lifespan and ensure that the body obtains the maximum effect of the probiotic.
Types of Prebiotic Foods
The following are prebiotic foods that can be easily obtained in different locations of the world: asparagus, wheat products, onion, leeks, shallots and scallions, legumes (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans), flaxseed, chia seeds, seaweeds, garlic, and Jerusalem artichoke. Cashews, pistachios, chicory roots, fennels, walnuts, dandelions, bananas, oats, leek, apple, and even chocolate are also easy prebiotic foods that can be incorporated into everyday diets. The above list of foods contains mainly vegetables, fruits, and grains high in fiber. That is the rule of the thumb for including prebiotics in your daily diet.
There are different types of prebiotic supplements, so if you want to buy supplements from companies like Bimuno and others, you might want to check out the various categories before you make any purchase. Before you start using any supplements, please read the labels carefully, and if possible, seek medical opinions.
Now that you know the various forms and foods that can improve the health of your gut and the microbes’ resident in your bowels, try to keep a food journal detailing your intentional attempts at including them in your daily diet alongside any medical or physical symptoms you feel. Over time, your journal could become a health resource to know if prebiotics has improved your overall health (or not), and which ones you tolerate the most.