If you have been trying to improve your gastrointestinal health without turning to chemicals or over-the-counter medications, then you have likely come across prebiotics as an option.
Prebiotics have been growing in popularity in the health community for some time now with their reported health benefits to colon and gut health. But what exactly are prebiotics? And how do they work? Here is a complete breakdown of prebiotics.
Before we can understand prebiotics, we need to look at our digestive tract closer for a minute. Your digestive tract has a collection of organs like your esophagus, small intestines, large intestines, and your stomach. Your digestive tract is the pathway that foods follow through your body that allows you to absorb nutrients and filter out waste products.
But there is more to your digestive tract than just your organs. Trillions of bacteria live inside your digestive system and perform essential functions that help our bodies survive. These good bacteria are responsible for digestion, secreting essential enzymes, protecting our organs, and filtering out healthy nutrients from waste.
These gut bacteria cannot survive without food—and that is where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are food for your gut microbiome and probiotics, and they’re mostly plant fibers that our bodies cannot digest. These fibers make it to our digestive tract relatively unchanged, where they then serve as the fuel for our gut bacteria.
Foods you’ll find probiotics in include yogurt, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods like kimchi and kefir, and if you’re consuming a lot of these foods, it might be worth mixing in some prebiotics, too.
What Are the Benefits of Prebiotics?
There are tons of benefits that come with eating a diet that is rich in prebiotics. Most of the health benefits of prebiotics are derived from a healthy gut microbiome, with a wide variety of bacteria that can function properly—not just from having prebiotics. But, since you cannot have a healthy gut microbiome without prebiotics, prebiotics are essential.
Assist Immune System Functioning
Having a healthy gut microbiome helps our immune system. This is achieved in many ways, but firstly by filtering out toxins and other harmful items from our digestive tract.
Reduce Blood Sugar Spikes
Prebiotics help your gut slow down digestion, giving you fewer blood sugar spikes. By keeping the sugars in your stomach longer, prebiotics and your gut bacteria prevent them from entering your bloodstream too fast.
This is especially important for diabetics and pre-diabetics looking to monitor and regulate their blood sugar levels.
Prevent Constipation and GI Discomfort
Nobody likes having plugged-up bowels. If you eat a proper amount of prebiotics, you may get plugged up less frequently.
Prebiotics and our gut microbiome work to increase the bulk of our stool while simultaneously softening it so that you can go when nature calls without discomfort.
What Foods Are High in Prebiotics?
There are tons of foods that are high in prebiotics, and the even better news is that almost all of them are incredibly healthy for many reasons. If you are looking to increase your intake of prebiotics, here are a few places that you can start.
Asparagus is high in fiber and also is full of vitamins and nutrients. Asparagus is low-calorie and has tons of antioxidants—making it a great addition to a healthy diet.
Bananas are another great source of prebiotic fiber, as well as tons of vitamins like potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium.
Garlic is a vegetable closely related to onions and shallots that is very beneficial with lots of prebiotics.
Whole Grains, Barley, Oats, and Wheat
These sources of plant fiber are great sources of prebiotics.
Just make sure you eat whole grains sources and avoid overly processed grains like white bread. The less processing, the more prebiotics you will find in your products, and the more other nutrients there will be.
Beans and other legumes are high-protein and high fiber options that make a significant part of a healthy diet. Legumes can also help lower your blood pressure.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away and gives you a big dose of prebiotics.
Apples are a great way to get in some extra prebiotics. Apples are also very nutritious, and kids love them—so if your child is struggling with stomach discomfort, apples may help alleviate symptoms.
Vegetables and Fruits
Almost all veggies and fruits contain fiber that is prebiotic and makes great food for your gut bacteria. Plus, fruits and veggies have tons of antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals and should make up a large portion of your diet if you are trying to increase your prebiotic intake.
Specifically, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, and leeks are known to be good prebiotic foods. Even pure cocoa is known to have a high prebiotic content, although we’re not necessarily saying to run out a grab a chocolate bar.
There are plenty of great and healthy ways to feed your gut bacteria with prebiotics. These are just a few ideas, but there are always ways to find more!
Should I Supplement With Prebiotics?
You may have seen a few prebiotic supplements out there at your local health store and wondered if it’s something you need to be taking. Well, the answer depends. The best way to get the proper amount of prebiotics is from whole foods, like fruits and veggies.
But, if you struggle to get a proper amount of prebiotics, supplementing is a great idea. You could add prebiotic-rich substances to a smoothie or start taking a pill, but we prefer to get our prebiotics another way.
A good way to supplement your prebiotic intake is by replacing your sodas with VINA. VINA sodas are a prebiotic soda made with fruit juices and sweetened with stevia, so it is ultra-low in calories. VINA is a soda that is made for your body and your taste buds.
If you are looking for a soda that will taste delicious, give you the satisfaction of a soda, and feed the live microorganisms in your gut, then look no further than VINA.
Can I Consume Too Many Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a natural part of any diet, and there is a limited risk of consuming too much. But, if you find that you are consuming a high amount of prebiotics, and are struggling with gas, flatulence, or other gastrointestinal discomfort, try decreasing your intake to see if it makes an impact.
Consuming around 20-40 grams of dietary fiber daily should give your microbiome a healthy diet of prebiotics, and there is no pressure to consume more than 40 grams of fiber per day.
Takeaways and Final Thoughts
Prebiotics are essential to promote a healthy gut and support your digestive tract. There are tons of benefits to consuming a diet that is high in fiber that provides proper prebiotics, like immune system health, reduced blood sugar spikes, and constipation and gastrointestinal discomfort relief.
There are plenty of great ways to consume prebiotics in your food. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of healthy fiber, as well as whole grains and legumes. VINA prebiotic soda is also a great option if you are looking for a healthier option to replace your current soda intake.
Prebiotics are an amazing type of fiber that allows the bacteria in our gut to work for us instead of against us. Consuming enough prebiotics is a key for maintaining intestinal health and promoting colon and stomach well-being. If you are struggling with stomach issues and haven’t tried increasing your prebiotic intake, give it a shot and see what prebiotics can do for your health.