When it comes to gut health you always hear about Probiotics but what about Prebiotics??

Prebiotics are defined as non-digestible, non-metabolised food ingredients that beneficially affect the body by stimulating and supporting the growth and activity of bacteria (microflora) found in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) that improve health and wellbeing.

In other words we eat food such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and dairy to support our own body’s growth and function and prebiotics support the growth and function of the bacteria in your digestive system, they are the food for your microbes.

Am I consuming prebiotics?

Prebiotics are compounds predominantly carbohydrates and dietary fibres oligosaccharides or disaccharides of which there are many types: oligofructose, inulins, isomaltooligsaccharides, lactosucrose, GOS, lactulose, pyrodextrins and xylooigosaccharides. They also can be found in specific nutritional supplements. 

Common food sources of prebiotics are asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, parsnip, green bananas and artichokes. As well as resistance starches (cooked and cooled rice or potato; leftovers are perfect for this), whole grains such as barley, oats and rye, cows milk, yoghurt and human milk are all forms of prebiotics. 

Health benefits of Prebiotics

Since prebiotic foods are undigestible they are not metabolised, so they make their way through the stomach and the small intestine all the way to the large intestine where they provide food and fuel for your beneficial bacteria to produce vitamins and healthy fatty acids to support your digestive function and health. Prebiotics and probiotics work well together in synergy to assist with digestive function.

When it comes to consuming prebiotics making sure your consuming a variety of vegetables and whole grains (see the list above) on a regular basis will contribute positively to the health of your gut. Obtaining optimal gut health comes with an array of health benefits such as improved immune, skin and mental health. It’s why it is such an important system to look after and maintain for health and wellness. 

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References:

Braun, L and Cohen, M 2015, Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence based guide, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood, NSW. 

📷  Enders, G 2015, Gut: the inside story of our body’s must under-rated organ, Scribe publications, London. 

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