A prebiotic keeps you healthy by stimulating good bacteria in your system. A prebiotic is a food ingredient that you want to include in your daily diet to enhance your overall health. Studies have shown that prebiotics improve the absorption of calcium, strengthen your immune system, assist you in resisting infections, limit injury in the intestines and reduce the chances of colorectal diseases.
When looking at ingredient labels, look for these prebiotic substances in foods:
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
Here are seven foods that contain prebiotics:
Bananas are a strong prebiotic source. They encourage friendly bacteria, known as probiotics, in your colon. You want the friendly bacteria because they improve your ability to protect against unwanted bacteria. They also generate vitamins and enzymes that assist with better nutrient absorption. Bananas are a great fruit to grab when you’re on the run. You can also mix them into shakes, fruit salads, bread recipes and as a topping for ice cream.
Garlic has numerous health benefits. It reduces inflammation, protects the heart, has antiviral and antibacterial properties, assists with iron metabolism and protects against infection. What many people don’t realize about garlic is that to capture most of its health benefits, you have to let it sit for at least a few minutes after chopping, cutting or crushing it before cooking with it. This gives its enzymes and other properties a chance to be effective.
In addition to prebiotic benefits, onions protect your heart, increase your bone density, lower inflammation, protect against certain cancers and act as an antibacterial. Eat onions raw or cooked. Mix them into salads and sandwiches or cook with them in soups, meats and stews.
Oats can be considered a prebiotic, as can many whole grains. The fibers in oats ferment and feed the friendly bacteria in your intestines. Popular ways to eat oats are in oatmeal, pancake mixes made with oats and oat cereals. You can also bake with oat flour.
Honey is known to fight unfriendly bacteria and has antiviral capacity as well. This is an easy food to include in your diet. Mix it into your tea, pour it on top of oatmeal or use it as a substitute for sugar in your drinks and baked foods.
Artichokes have high amounts of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and will aid your digestion. They are also known to be great for cleansing the liver. Artichokes can be boiled and eaten alone with olive oil and lemon or with a condiment of your choice. Artichoke dip is also a popular way to eat this vegetable.
Asparagus contains the prebiotic substance known as inulin. Eating asparagus will increase the friendly bacteria in your intestines. Grill asparagus or boil it. For a double-dose of prebiotics, add chopped garlic to asparagus.
When you eat foods containing prebiotics in large quantities, you may encounter some discomfort in your GI tract, because as prebiotics ferment, gas is released. These symptoms, however, should be mild and pass relatively quickly.