Foods that deliver prebiotics are just as important as
food that contain probiotics. So why aren’t we talking about them more?
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the good bacteria in the gut. Basically, prebiotics help probiotics flourish, so eating more of them is a great strategy — especially to reap the many health benefits, like improving your digestive health, supporting immunity and fighting off various diseases.
In fact, research suggests that a diet high in prebiotics may lower your risk for colorectal cancer. Adding prebiotics may also increase calcium absorption and keep you satiated after meals. You don’t need prebiotics to make probiotics work, but the two work synergistically to promote a healthy and well-functioning gut. “Failure to feed a subset of microbes by avoiding whole food groups like grains or certain vegetables, means they will not have the resources to replicate or serve their essential functions,” says Vanessa Méndez, M.D, a triple board-certified gastroenterologist.
“There are different types of prebiotics,” adds Nour Zibdeh, M.S, R.D.N., a functional dietitian specializing in digestive disorders. The prebiotics that are commonly highlighted are oligosaccharides, which are a type of carbohydrate naturally found in a variety of plant foods. Others include fructans, inulin and pectin. When “good” bacteria probiotics ferment prebiotics, they produce “postbiotics,” which are healthy, beneficial byproducts that are “heart-protective and help prevent diabetes,” says Zibdeh.
You’re probably already eating prebiotics, especially if you’re consuming a variety of high-fiber rich foods, but it might be time to take it up a notch to ensure you reap the benefits. Here are some of the top prebiotic foods worth adding to your diet.