Before we talk about prebiotics…we’ve all heard of probiotics, right?! If you haven’t, where have you been hiding? Probiotic supplements have boomed in popularity + for good reason! In ancestral days, getting these good gut bugs (aka probiotics) was an everyday normal thing by fermentation. We utilized fermentation to keep food good for storage for a good amount of time. Remember, we didn’t have those refrigerators like we do now! Fermented foods are easier to digest too!
We naturally were exposed to our good gut bugs + our ancestors were also eating TONS of real wholesome foods because the industry wasn’t processed + commercialized like it is now. I’m so thankful that we have access to vegetables, fruits, meats, very easily and all year around, but it does come with a price. We’re tempted down every aisle with “food like” substances (I’m guilty too, ya’ll!) + we’re eating nutrient void foods + artificial junk that does NOT nourish + feed those gut bugs!
I’m not going over the benefits of probiotics in this blog, but I want to dive into how to nourish and grow the good species you do have. This is often overlooked because we take a probiotic + think we’re doing everything we can for our gut health. BUT, we can’t just focus on inoculating our gut with good bugs, but also have to feed them + make them grow!
Tips To Nourish Those Good Gut Bugs
We’re using the term prebiotics – which means food for the microbiome. Basically, prebiotics are exactly how we nourish them little guys! When our gut bacteria is balanced + nourished, they give us a great immune system, a happy + healthy digestive tract that reduces the risk of colon cancers + digestive issues, and produce nutrients in the gut to nourish the rest of the body. You’ll notice that a lot of the suggestion below are real wholesome foods that are high in fiber! Those good little guys love to munch on that fiber!
They actually digest the fiber by fermentation and produce short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids are like acetate + butyrate. Butyrate is one of the most studied short chain fatty acids that are produced by fermenting prebiotics. Butyrate influences our metabolism, provides fuel for colon cells, and inhibits inflammation!
Cooked + Cooled Potatoes
When you cook + cool potatoes, this creates something called resistant starch. This type of starch does exactly what it says – RESISTS digestion. When it resists digestion, it goes right down into your intestines to feed your gut bacteria. Potato salad is a popular way that people eat cooked + cooled potatoes. If you heat the potatoes back up to a certain degree, it isn’t considered resistant starch anymore. So, potato salad it up!
I loooove flaxseeds because it’s such an easy way to get in extra fiber! I try to do 2 tbsp a day in smoothies when I remember. It helps keep you movin’ and groovin’ with your stool to! (Goodbye constipation!) When using flaxseeds, make sure that you buy flaxseed meal or grind down your flaxseeds that you buy! We aren’t able to break down whole flaxseeds because of the tough shell!
Apples + Banana
These two fruits are fabulous to provide prebiotics for your microbiome! If you choose green bananas, this is considered a source of resistant starch (just like the potatoes!) that go right in your intestines to start feeding your gut! The pectin that is in apples actually supports the short chain fatty acid production (specfically studied for butyrate)!
Oats + Quinoa
Oats have beta-glucan, which is a type of fiber that feeds your gut bacteria and increase short chain fatty acids, especially propionate! Make oatmeal for the occasional breakfast to break up protein/fat heavy breakfasts that I usually recommend. Using oat flour in your baked goods can also turn a normal not-so-healthy baked good into something your gut bacteria will happily munch on!
Quinoa was also found to help feed the microbiome and have an increase of short chain fatty acids. It has the potential to help with dysbiosis by supporting balanced bacteria in the gut!
Try various different legumes, such as chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, etc. to get a variety of nutrients + fiber! Don’t forget that soaking (and even sprouting) legumes overnight in water and apple cider vinegar can help reduce the amount of anti-nutrients that naturally occur to help make the legumes easier to digest and release the nutrients that are in them!
Chicory Root + Garlic + Onions
This root, garlic, and onions are very high in inulin. We can’t digest inulin, so its a fiber that goes straight to the gut to nourish your gut bacteria! This is also a great fiber to help constipation. You’ll find chicory root in a lot of supplements, but you can use it in recipes raw! It’s also a common coffee alternative too!
Garlic and onions are the easiest vegetables to incorporate in your diet because of their flavor they create in meals! These vegetables are super inexpensive too! Raw garlic, which is great to be used as a natural anti-microbial, is ideal for getting the prebiotic effects!
Dandelion greens are a great addition to a salad! Since they are a little more bitter (which helps with digestion too!), make sure to mix it with your normal salad mix (romaine, spinach, etc.) and use a good quality olive oil + vinegar to top it off! If the taste is really off putting to you, cook them down in some avocado oil and spices and it will lower the bitterness.
Which prebiotic foods are your favorite?