Probiotics are often spoken about when it comes to gut health- and with good reason. But the prebiotics that should accompany the probotics are often the unsung heroes when it comes to gut health.
Prebiotics are a type of fibre that is able to pass through the digestive tract undigested and actually stimulate the growth of good bacteria within the gut.
For this reason making sure that you have plenty of prebiotics in your diet is almost more important than having probiotics.
Probiotics have been shown to be transient, so that when you do take a probiotic capsule, the good bacteria doesn't actually stay in our gut forever. Having the prebiotics in your diet will help to 'feed' the probiotics going in and help to prolong their actions on the gut.
Because probiotics are largely undigestable sources of fibre if had to high amounts then this can cause digestive distress in some people. For this reason having everything in moderation is vital.
What foods are prebiotic foods?
There is such a wide variety of foods that are prebiotic, the following is a small list of prebiotic foods:
Vegetables: Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, spring onion, asparagus, beetroot, fennel bulb, green peas, snow peas, sweetcorn, savoy cabbage
Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
Fruit: Custard apples, nectarines, white peaches, watermelon, grapefruit, pomegranate.
Dried fruit (eg. dates, figs)
Cereals: Barley, rye, oats
Nuts and seeds: Cashews, pistachio nuts
Other:Human breast milk
As you can see, these foods are pretty standard, and you will be consuming most of them already!
If you are on a low FODMAP diet you may notice that many prebiotic foods are high in FODMAP's - for this reason seeking a health professionals advice for personalised treatment for maintaining long term gut health is important.
Karah is the Founder and head Naturopath at The Sana Co. She specialises in treating digestive condition such as IBS, bloating and reflux.