Probiotics, prebiotics, multivitamins, organic. No sugar, no carbs, no coffee, no cheating. Sometimes eating healthy sounds way too complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Eating right and being healthy may actually be easier than most diets make it out to be. Eating the right things on a regular basis will go a long way to help you reach your weight goals and keep your gut in good shape. A healthy gut means an overall healthier you since your gut is directly linked to your immune system. Prebiotics are key to a healthy, productive digestive system, and consuming enough of them is much easier than you think!
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are foods that create an environment for good gut bacteria to grow. Prebiotics offer long-term nourishment for your gut whereas probiotics bring a momentary influx of good bacteria. In order for the good bacteria found in probiotics to thrive, regular intake of prebiotics is crucial. Prebiotics are actually non-digestible fibers that pass through the GI tract bringing nourishment to the good bacteria that live in your large intestine. It may sound strange, but your ability to have regular bowel movements and avoid common GI problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, depends on the amount of prebiotics you consume. In fact, a healthy gut can also protect you from obesity, mental illness, and diabetes. The key is to have a diverse gut microbiome which is easily accomplished by eating a variety of prebiotic foods.
What Should I Eat?
As you’re making your grocery list, be sure to grab the following items from the produce section: onions, apples, leeks, and corn on the cob. Onions and leeks are rich in prebiotic inulin that helps to protect your colon. Apples are filled with pectin which is beneficial for a gut filled with diverse healthy bacteria. Corn contains resistant starch which is a prebiotic that your body can’t break down. Food with resistant starch makes its way through your GI tract, allowing good bacteria to ferment it. This creates a laxative effect which keeps your colon healthy and protects it from cancer.
To make prebiotics a staple in your diet, you’ll need to stock your pantry with nuts, red lentils, and oats. While there are several nuts that contain prebiotics, walnuts should top your next grocery list. Walnuts promote the growth of lactobacillus which shuts out bad bacteria and allows you to grow good bacteria. In fact, a recent study found that people who ate half a cup of walnuts every day for three weeks increased the presence of a bacteria that reduces inflammation in your colon. Oats are a major source of resistant starch, but the ones with the highest amount of prebiotics are raw steel oats (not rolled).
Red lentils are also high in resistant starch and include fibers that help remove cholesterol. It’s a win-win if you can protect your gut and your heart with one ingredient. We’ve saved the best pantry item for last—dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, an antioxidant that promotes the growth of two types of good bacteria. As you enjoy a tasty bite of an ingredient that is typically on the “do not eat” list, you’ll also help your bowel movements stay regular. Just be sure you read labels to ensure you’re eating at least 70% of cacao to avoid excess sugar. If you have questions about your gut health, make an appointment at GI Associates & Endoscopy Center today. Our locations are staffed with the best team of GI specialists. We even have a pediatric center dedicated to helping your little ones maintain a healthy GI tract.