Eating prebiotic foods can provide the nutrients that healthy types of bacteria in your digestive tract need to thrive and grow. They may help improve your immune function and lower your risk for diarrhea and cancer, according to an article published in 2008 in the journal, “Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology.” Prebiotic foods contain certain types of fiber, including inulin, oligofructose and trans-galactooligosaccharides.
Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and available as dietary supplements.
Although more research is needed, there’s encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:
- Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome and IBD
- 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
Both bananas and berries provide you with prebiotics. These fruits are good sources of fiber and also contain other essential nutrients, such as the high amounts of potassium in bananas and vitamin C in berries. Add these fruits to salads, yogurt, oatmeal or sandwiches, or simply consume them alone as snacks to include them in your diet.
A number of vegetables provide prebiotics, including jicama, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes and dandelion greens, as well as other leafy greens. These foods are all low in energy density, meaning they don’t contain many calories per gram, so eating more of them is a great way to increase your prebiotic intake without consuming too many additional calories.
Beans contain a lot of protein and will increase your prebiotic intake.If you replace part or all of your animal protein with soybeans and other beans, you’ll lower your fat and cholesterol intake while increasing your prebiotic intake. Beans also provide other essential nutrients, including copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and protein. Toss them on top of salads, puree them to replace part of the fat in your baked goods, mix them into your favorite pasta recipe or make them into a tasty dip to have with baked pita chips or vegetables.
PREBIOTIC VS PROBIOTIC
PREBIOTICS are a special form of dietary fiber PROBIOTICS are live bacteria in yogurt, dairy products and pills. There are hundreds of probiotic species available. Which of the hundreds of available probiotics is best is still unknown. PREBIOTIC powders are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time. PROBIOTIC bacteria must be kept alive. They may be killed by heat, stomach acid or simply die with time. PREBIOTICS provide a wide range of health benefits to the otherwise healthy person. Most of these have been medically proven. PROBIOTICS are still not clearly known to provide health benefits to the otherwise healthy. Some are suspected but still not proven. PREBIOTICS nourish the good bacteria that everyone already has in their gut. PROBIOTICS must compete with the over 1000 bacteria species already in the gut. PREBIOTICS may be helpful or preventative for irritable bowel (IBS), or inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease,Ulcerative Colitis), colon polyps and cancer and those people with a leaky gut. Certain PROBIOTIC species have been shown to be helpful for irritable bowel disease and for recurrence of certain bowel infections such as C. difficile. – See more at: http://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotics/probiotic-or-prebiotic/#sthash.ZNv8tDg0.dpuf
Types of Prebiotics
Anything with sugar in it can be a prebiotic, since microflora love to consume sugars.Microflora need water and prebiotics (food), and since they are anaerobic, they do not like oxygen.
Inulin – Inulin is found in 36,000 plants such as:
- Herbs – chicory root, burdock root and dandelion root
- Fruits – such as apples, bananas
- Sweet vegetables – such as onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a subgroup of inulin, is also a prebiotic and is often added to dairy foods and baked goods. It improves the taste and stimulates the growth of the beneficial bacteria, bifidobacteria.
Dairy products – studies are starting to show that lactose may be considered a prebiotic.1
What Can Prebiotics Do For You?
- Heart HealthPrebiotics have been shown to moderate cholesterol and triglyceride levels- both indicators of heart disease. Specifically, one study shows that inulin can reduce artherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries by 30%.As heart disease becomes more widespread among men and women, new approaches to treatment and prevention that do not involve medications are proving to be effective and have the added benefit of being side effect free, unless you count improved health as a side effect!
- ImmunityFrom an immunity standpoint, who doesn’t want to feel better and get sick less often? In preliminary research, prebiotics boost white blood cells and killer T cells, and may even improve your body’s response to vaccinations.Children in one test group who ate yogurt containing inulin had fewer daycare absences, fewer doctor visits and took fewer antibiotics.
- Chronic Illness and DigestionBecause prebiotics act in your intestines, they have a profound effect on the pathogens and bad bacteria in your body that can cause disease. Prebiotics are being used to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease, and may also prove useful for treating cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Prebiotics and Body Ecology
Pathogenic yeast (like the fungal infection, candidiasis) also feast on sugars and starches that easily break down into simple sugars. So the key is to focus on prebiotics that don’t feed these pathogens so you can encourage the growth of friendly microflora.
- Fermented Foods & Drinks – here are some options: cultured vegetables, Coco-Biotic and Young Coconut Kefir. (after about 3 months or when you conquer candida and your inner ecosystem is re-established), add milk kefir and fermented soyfoods (like natto, miso and wheat-free tamari).
- Sour Fruits – lemons, limes, unsweetened black currants and unsweetened cranberries.
- Gluten-Free Grains – While grains like wheat act as prebiotics, they also feed yeast. (amaranth, quinoa, millet and buckwheat) are gluten-free alternatives that act as prebiotics AND don’t feed pathogenic yeast. For more information on our recommended grains, read: The Risks of Choosing Typical Grains and the Healthy Grains to Choose Instead.
- Sweet Vegetables – eat plenty of asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and other sweet vegetables to feed healthy microflora without feeding pathogenic yeast.