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10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Gut Health

10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Gut Health 10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Gut Health

From reducing the risk of disease to clearing up acne on your skin, so many aspects of your health are connected to your gut. And while probiotics tend to get a lot of the shine for supporting a healthy gut, prebiotics definitely deserve some love too.

In this post, you'll learn about what prebiotics are, the benefits of implementing them into your diet, and then we'll run down 10 of the best prebiotic foods for gut health.

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics come from non-digestible dietary fibers (oligosaccharides, inulin, lactulose, and glycan) that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Implementing prebiotics into your diet supports healthy digestion, a stronger immune system, and can even encourage weight loss.

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: What's the Difference?

Simply put, prebiotics are the nutrients that feed probiotics and beneficial microbes. You can think of the probiotic and prebiotic relationship like a garden. Probiotics are the seeds of that garden and prebiotics are the water and fertilizer that helps the seeds grow.

But let's dive a little bit deeper on probiotics versus prebiotics. When you take probiotics, you're actually consuming live strains of bacteria that are designed to increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut. Typically, probiotics don't feed microflora that's already in your gut, but instead, provide external support.

So if your gut is primed for the probiotics you consume, then these good microbes will multiply and give the boot to common bad microbes in your gut. “Priming” your gut means ensuring the probiotics have enough nutrients to proliferate. And that's where prebiotics step in.

Prebiotic Benefits

As you can see, prebiotics and probiotics pack a great one-two punch for gut health. Now, let's take a more in-depth look at some of the benefits of incorporating prebiotics into your diet.

Better Digestion

It's not the be-all-end-all, but digestion is a pretty solid measuring stick for good health. Prebiotic fermentation in the gut creates short-chain fatty acids, which supports healthy digestion. It also fortifies your intestinal lining by reducing inflammation, which research suggests can help with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms.

Improved Immune Health

There is a high correlation between immune health and gut health. That is, to say, when your immune system gets out of whack, the root cause can likely be traced back to your gut. Without a solid family of good bacteria in your gut, the epithelial tissue (i.e. layer of tissue surrounding various organs like your intestines) can become overrun with bad bacteria. But prebiotics supply fuel for the probiotics to multiply and overtake the bad bacteria.

They also contribute to how well your body absorbs different vitamins and minerals. Improving your gut can help you achieve better bioavailability, which is something prebiotics definitely have a hand in.

Encourages Weight Loss

Are gut health and weight loss related? Unfortunately, there isn't some magic, instantaneous weight loss pill out there (Wouldn't it be cool if there was?) but your gut can make losing weight easier. Research has linked prebiotics specifically to higher satiety. If you're feeling full, you're less likely to overeat, which can ultimately lead to weight loss.

Top 10 Prebiotic Foods for Gut Health

If your diet consists of nutrient-dense whole foods or contains a lot of veggies, then you probably have enough prebiotic foods and fiber in your diet as is. Fruits are also high on the list of prebiotic foods. As you head off to the store for your next grocery haul, keep this prebiotic food list handy.

1. Asparagus

We'll start the list off with one of the top prebiotic vegetables. Asparagus contains inulin, which is a soluble fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut (like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria). Asparagus has been shown to help with blood sugar control.

2. Chicory Root

Next on the list of best prebiotic foods is chicory root, which is part of the dandelion family. Chicory root looks like a flower and tastes like coffee. In fact, a lot of people use it as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The prebiotic fiber inulin makes up roughly 68% of chicory root fiber. Benefits of chicory root include improved digestion and constipation relief.

3. Jerusalem Artichoke

Similar to chicory root, the Jerusalem artichoke also looks like a flower (sunflower to be specific). Also known as the sunroot or earth apple. The Jerusalem artichoke promotes good bacteria in your colon and encourages better immune and digestive health.

4. Dandelion Greens

They can be overlooked but dandelion greens definitely belong on the list of prebiotic vegetables. They're high in inulin fiber and can serve as a great substitute for greens in your salad. Dandelion greens contain anti-inflammatory benefits, help relieve constipation, and boost the good bacteria in your gut.

5. Garlic

Garlic can do more than just add flavor to some of your favorite dishes. It stimulates the growth of healthy gut bacteria (such as Bifidobacteria) and prevents harmful, disease-causing pathogens from multiplying. It's also known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as being able to lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease.

6. Onion

Onion is another prebiotic vegetable that contains inulin and Fructooligosaccharides. Short for fructooligosaccharides, FOS fortify your gut and build up your immune system by increasing your cell's nitric oxide production.

7. Oats

Want some healthy grains with prebiotic benefits? Try whole oats. Oats are high in beta-glucan fiber, which has been associated with healthy gut bacteria, lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and a lower risk of cancer, among other things.

8. Bananas

One star of the top prebiotic fruits is bananas. Not only do they taste great, but they're chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber too.

9. Flaxseeds

If you're looking for a good source of prebiotics, reach for flaxseeds. You can add them to your smoothies, shakes, or sprinkle them on top of your oatmeal or a salad. Flaxseeds promote healthy gut bacteria and regular bowel movements. They've also been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

10. Cocoa

Cocoa means chocolate, which might make this the tastiest item on the list of best prebiotic foods. The flavanols in cocoa promote good bacteria in the gut, while decreasing bad bacteria.

Final Words

Prebiotics and probiotics work together to promote a healthy gut. While probiotics tend to get most of the love, prebiotics are important to your gut and overall health as well. They help with digestion, improve immune health, and even promote weight loss.

You can increase your prebiotic intake with foods like chicory root, dandelion greens, flaxseeds, or cocoa. Prebiotic supplements are also a good option. But at the end of the day, it all starts with understanding what's going on in your gut. That starts with a gut test, our specialty here at Sun Genomics.

With our personalized probiotics, you'll receive a blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and natural botanicals tailored to fit your own, unique gut profile.

About the Author

Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams. 

About the Author

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