We discussed prebiotic foods in our previous article The Top 3 Nutrition Trends of 2021, but what exactly are they? Prebiotic foods are dietary fibers that supply nutrition to the bacteria in your gut.
With this nutrition, your gut flora becomes healthy and, in turn, produces nutrients for the cells of your colon. The result is a very healthy digestive system (1).
Examples of these nutrients include acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which are collectively known as “short-chain fatty acids” (2).
These short-chain fatty acids are easily absorbed into your blood, giving your metabolic health a boost (2).
Prebiotics are carb-based nutrients. These fibers serve as food for the bacteria in your gut.
Many people tend to confuse prebiotics with probiotics, but there’s a unique difference between the two. Prebiotics are carb-based nutrients (mostly fiber and we humans cannot digest them). These fibers serve as food for the bacteria in your gut.
On the other hand, probiotics are live bacteria that are present in some supplements or food substances. They are highly nutritious and provide several health benefits.
In this article, we will focus on the top 10 best prebiotic foods to consume for your health.
1. Chicory Root
Chicory root is well-known for its coffee flavor. It is an excellent source of prebiotics.
Research has shown that over 50% of chicory root fiber is sourced from inulin, a prebiotic fiber.
Inulin is an excellent source of nourishment for your gut flora. It aids the digestion process and also relieves constipation (3,4).
Chicory root also improves bile production. An increase in the amount of bile produced translates to improved fat digestion (5).
It is also essential to know that chicory root contains plenty of antioxidants that protects your liver from unhealthy oxidative damage (6).
2. Jerusalem Artichoke
Another name for the artichoke is “earth apple.” It is rich in nutrients and has immense health benefits.
Jerusalem artichoke provides roughly 2 grams of fiber per 100 grams. What’s more? Inulin offers over 76% of this fiber (7).
Studies have found that artichokes boost your gut flora — even more than chicory root (8).
They also boost your immune function and hinder the development of some metabolic disorders (9,10).
Jerusalem artichoke also contains a lot of potassium and thiamine. These improve the physiology of your nervous system and enhance muscle function (7).
Everyone knows garlic. It is a tasty herb with immense health benefits.
Inulin provides at least 11% of the fiber in garlic. Another 6% comes from fructooligosaccharides, a sweet prebiotic.
Garlic enhances the growth of Bifidobacteria. It is a unique gut-friendly bacteria that prevent the development of pathogenic bacteria (11).
The extract from garlic reduces your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that it has anti-cancer, anti-microbial, and of course, antioxidant effects. It also protects against asthma (12,13,14).
4. Dandelion Greens
Many people use dandelion greens in their salads. But it is also important to note that they are rich in fiber as well.
A 100-gram serving of dandelion green provides 4 grams of fiber. Most of this comes from inulin (15).
This inulin-based fiber eases constipation and boosts immune function and the number of healthy flora in your gut (16).
Dandelion greens have excellent anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-cancer, cholesterol-reducing, and antioxidant effects (17,18,19,20).
Onions are tasty vegetables with many health benefits.
Over 10 percent of the fiber in onions comes from inulin. And, fructooligosaccharides contributes 6 percent of the fiber in onions (20,21).
Fructooligosaccharides make your gut flora stronger, enhance the digestion of fats, and boost immune system function by increasing nitric oxide production in your cells (22,23,24).
There’s also a lot of quercetin in onions. Quercetin is a flavonoid and is responsible for the anti-cancer and antioxidant properties of onions.
It is also important to note that onions have outstanding antibiotic properties with many benefits for your cardiovascular system (14,25).
Asparagus is in the same class as onions — a vegetable. It is another excellent source of prebiotics.
A 100-gram serving of asparagus provides around 2–3g of inulin.
Studies have found that inulin promotes gut flora’s growth and has specific anti-cancer properties (26).
The healthy mix of antioxidants and fiber in asparagus contributes to its anti-inflammatory effects (27).
Leeks can be likened to garlic and onions. They’re from the same family and provide almost the same health benefits.
There’s over 16% inulin fiber in leeks (21).
Its rich inulin content contributes to its ability to breakdown fats (24).
Leeks are rich in flavonoids, and flavonoids are known to boost your body’s response to oxidative stress (28).
What’s more? There’s quite a healthy amount of vitamin K in leeks. From one of our previous articles, we learned about the amazinghealth benefits of vitamin k2. Research has shown that you can get 52% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K from just a 100g serving of leeks. Vitamin K is also healthy for your bones and heart (29).
We’ve all heard of bananas. They contain a lot of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They also contain some inulin, but not much.
Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which is well-known for its prebiotic effects.
The fiber in banana promotes healthy gut bacteria growth and reduces bloating (2,30,31).
Whole oats have immense prebiotic benefits. They contain a lot of beta-glucan fiber.
Whole oat beta-glucan promotes the growth of healthy gut flora, enhances blood glucose regulation, lowers the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood, and reduces your risk of cancer (32,33,34,35,36).
Research has shown that oats have high satiety effects. Satiety means that it keeps you full, thus controlling your appetite (37,38).
Oats also contain phenolic acid. This acid is responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection (39,40).
10. Konjac Root
Another name for Konjac root is elephant yam. Konjac root is best used as a dietary supplement.
Konjac root contains a lot of glucomannan fiber — roughly 40 percent of it. This fiber facilitates the growth of good gut flora, eases constipation, and gives your immune system a boost (41,42).
Glucomannan has cholesterol-lowering effects, promotes weight loss, and improves carbohydrate metabolism (43,44,45).
What Conclusion Can We Draw from Prebiotic Foods?
It is a fact that prebiotic foods are essential for your health. Prebiotic foods contain healthy fibers that promote the health of your digestive system.
They promote the growth of healthy gut flora, treats some digestive problems, and gives your immune system function a boost.
It is worth noting that some of the fibers in prebiotic foods may be destroyed during cooking, so you’re better off eating them raw. Try and get yourself lots of prebiotic foods. You’ll be doing your digestive system a lot of good.
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