Prebiotics are one of the most important things you can consume to improve your gut health, digestive health, and overall health. That is right, PREbiotics. We all know the benefits of probiotics, but what is the deal with prebiotics?
Keep reading to understand what exactly prebiotics do and why they are so important, how they work with probiotics, and learn the best-known sources of prebiotics in 2021. Pop open one of our delicious VINA prebiotic sodas while you dive into the world of prebiotics and gut health.
What Are Prebiotics?
The importance of a healthy gut has been known for a while now. Feeding your gut good bacteria is important, but once your gut has the good bacteria, what does it eat? That is where prebiotics come into play.
Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in the gut. The body is not able to digest these fibers, but they are fermented into short-chain fatty acids, which provide energy to the cell lining the gut.
Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics, What Is the Difference?
If both prebiotics and probiotics help with supporting good gut bacteria in a healthy gut, what is the difference?
Probiotics are live organisms that add to the population of the microbe in your gut. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that your gut needs for good overall health, and they’re often found in foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
Prebiotics are what good bacteria eat. When you pair probiotics and healthy bacteria with prebiotics, the food for the good bacteria, you have a perfect match for a healthy gut.
Benefits of Prebiotics
We have known for a long time that good bacteria supports a healthy gut, but we also need prebiotics to support the healthy bacteria. Prebiotic foods and drinks may support digestive health and your immune system, reduce bloating, maintain healthy metabolic function, and may increase calcium absorption supporting bone health.
Best Sources of Prebiotics
Without further adieu, let’s get the skinny on the best prebiotics on the market in 2021. From whole food sources to supplements, this list is sure to help you find a great source of prebiotics.
Chicory root has a high concentration of the prebiotic inulin. Inulin is a prebiotic fiber that supports the good bacteria in a healthy gut. Because chicory root is high in prebiotic fiber, it helps relieve constipation, supports healthy metabolic function, and may help with weight loss.
Chicory root is the root of a flowering plant in the dandelion family, and it’s often ground into a powder. It has a nutty, woody, earthy taste, much like coffee. In fact, you can make chicory root coffee. It’s less acidic and won’t leave you with that caffeine crash, but you will get all those probiotic benefits.
Getting prebiotics can be as simple as peeling open a banana. Besides being high in vitamins like vitamin B6 and vitamin C and in minerals like potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, they are also a good source of prebiotics.
There are two sources of prebiotics in bananas. One is fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) which feeds beneficial bacteria. When a banana is green or underripe, it can provide resistant starch, which is also a prebiotic.
Whether you eat a banana right out of the peel, throw it in your morning smoothie, or bake it in bread, you’ll reap all the healthy benefits of this delicious fruit, including its prebiotic powers.
You may have a vision of a traditional artichoke in your mind with their pointy leaves and fibrous flesh, but in fact, Jerusalem artichokes are a root vegetable grown from a species of the sunflower plant. This lesser-known vegetable is very high in inulin. Jerusalem artichokes are also high in iron, potassium, and vitamin B1.
You can eat Jerusalem artichokes raw or cooked. When cooked, they are very similar to potatoes. They can be baked, sauteed, or even made into a healthy version of french fries.
Onions are in most savory recipes, and generally, they are only thought of for their flavor-enhancing abilities. But did you know onions are full of health-promoting nutrients? Onions have prebiotics, antioxidants, and flavonoids, making them a great vegetable for gut health and immune health.
Onions can be eaten raw, pickled, sauteed, roasted, or added to a soup. There is not much you cannot do with an onion, and they always help boost the flavor of any savory dish.
The key to gut health is increasing the good bacteria and decreasing the bad bacteria. Garlic is a superhero when it comes to both of these functions. Not only is garlic a great prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria, but it is also a known antibiotic, which can kill the bad bacteria in the body while supporting digestion.
Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked. You can add garlic to any of your savory meals, or you can toss a clove into your smoothie in the morning. If you aren’t a huge garlic fan, there are also garlic supplements on the market that can give you a dose of garlic without having to eat a bunch of garlic cloves.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” While you should still go to the doctor even if you eat an apple a day, apples have tons of health-promoting properties, including prebiotics. The pectin in apples is a prebiotic that helps with feeding healthy bacteria and reducing inflammation. Apples are great as an afternoon snack, added to a salad, or cooked in a healthy, no-sugar-added crumble.
Apples are also the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV has many amazing gut benefits, including the presence of the prebiotic pectin from the apples. Sipping on a VINA prebiotic drink made with ACV will have your tastebuds singing a happy tune and your gut thanking you, too.
Asparagus is high in fiber, including prebiotic fiber. Along with being a great prebiotic, asparagus is full of nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and antioxidants. Asparagus may improve gut health, reduce free radicals and support bone and blood health, along with overall immune health.
Asparagus can be consumed raw or cooked. Add raw asparagus to a salad or green smoothie, or saute it up for a delicious side dish.
If you are unsure if you are getting enough prebiotics in your diet, you can purchase a prebiotic supplement. Oftentimes, the best prebiotic supplements are in powder form, although not always. These prebiotic powder supplements are derived from removing the prebiotic fibers from the foods previously listed and making them into a supplement that is easy to take.
Prebiotic Honorable Mentions
We didn’t have time to talk about all our favorite sources of prebiotics here, so we’re going to list out a few honorable mentions:
- Legumes like beans and lentils
- Dandelion greens
Prebiotics are an important piece of the puzzle for a healthy digestive system. By feeding the healthy bacteria of the gut, prebiotics help calcium absorption, support healthy metabolic function and help maintain a healthy weight. Prebiotics are found in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis, but you can also find prebiotics in supplement form.
At VINA, we understand the importance of prebiotics. That is why we have created a line of prebiotic sodas in refreshing flavors.