Unfortunately we don’t always read much about the many health benefits of prebiotics nor are we told about healthy foods high in prebiotics. As a result most Americans don’t eat enough prebiotics on a daily basis. This may have cause more indigestion, higher levels of inflammation, lower immune function, weight gain and even a higher risk for some chronic diseases.
Okay, let’s talk about prebiotics and 12 of the healthy foods high in prebiotics which you should consume on a daily basis.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics were first identified and named by Marcel Roberfroid in 1995. According to Roberfroid: “A prebiotic is a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health.” In a nutshell, prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. They aid in stimulating and maintaining the good bacteria in your digestive tract which in turn has a positive effect on your immune system. It has been argued that many of the health effects of prebiotics emanate from increased production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) by the stimulated beneficial bacteria. Thus food supplements specifically enhancing the growth of SCFA producing intestinal bacteria (such as clostridia and bacteroides species) are widely recognized to have such potential.
A huge and diverse range of bacterial species colonize the human body. The microbiota extend from mouth to anus and into the vaginal tract of women. They also reside on the skin. Many lines of research have demonstrated the significant role of the microbiota in human physiology. The microbiota are involved in the healthy development of the immune system, prevention of infection from pathogenic or opportunistic microbes and maintenance of intestinal barrier function. For a variety of reasons, normal native bacteria may not always perform these functions optimally. Probiotics or prebiotics have been studied and used to improve these functions. (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics)
Benefits of Prebiotics
From preliminary research, there’s encouraging evidence that higher intakes of probiotics may have a positive effect in:
- Diarrhea treatment, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treatment of vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Increases the production of short chain fatty acids in the human colon, including the supremely beneficial butyric acid
- Reduction of colorectal cancer risk
- Increased magnesium and calcium absorption
- Immune system effectiveness
- Treat inflammatory bowel disorders (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
- Lower risk for obesity and weight gain
- Lowering the body’s stress response
12 Healthy Foods High in Prebiotics
- Dandelion Greens
- Flax Seed
Getting your fiber and your prebiotics from natural, real food will always be the very best choice. However, consuming a high quality probiotic supplement that includes prebiotics can be just as beneficial. It’s always best to use supplements as supplemental to an already healthy diet and not “in the place of” a healthy diet.