From kombucha to kefir, probiotics are all the rage these days. Food companies are finding ways to give us our boost of probiotics in nearly all types of foods – even candy!
Here at IgY Nutrition, we love that people are looking to support their microbiomes with healthy gut bugs.
But the spotlight on probiotics is leaving out its just-as-important sidekick: prebiotics.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are “food” for probiotics – they feed the good bacteria living in the gut.
This feeding strengthens probiotics and accelerates their population growth.
Okay, they’re food for probiotics – but what exactly are they? They’re specific types of dietary fiber – nothing too fancy. You unknowingly consume prebiotics all of the time by eating certain plant foods like artichokes and apples.
They have been shown to propel and support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut – precisely what we need and want for a healthy gut microbiome!
For example, prebiotic fibers increase Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, two of the most crucial bacteria for optimal gut health.
By increasing the count of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, prebiotic fibers confer all benefits associated with increased beneficial bacteria, including:
- Short-chain fatty acid production
- Decreased risk of dysbiosis
- Protection against unwanted pathogens
- Inflammation reduction
- Improved digestion
- Improved nutrient absorption
- Much more!
Another bonus: prebiotics are usually cheaper and easier to get your hands on than specific strains of probiotics. That’s because you can find them in several plant foods, and they’re heat resistant (unlike many probiotics)! They do also come in supplement form if you prefer that instead.
Which foods contain prebiotics?
Many foods are high in prebiotics. The most common form of prebiotic fiber is inulin, which many plants contain.
Some examples of foods containing inulin are:
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
Bananas and whole grains are also high in prebiotics.
There are also many prebiotic supplements out there. Psyllium husk is particularly potent and may help with digestive issues.
Should I combine prebiotics and probiotics?
Yes! Prebiotics maximize probiotics’ benefits by fueling them. Scientists call a mix of the two synbiotics.
A synbiotic supplement delivers both a probiotic, the live bacteria, and the prebiotic, the fuel for that live bacteria. This kind of supplement is particularly powerful for supporting a healthy microbiome.
Are you picking a prebiotic? Tag us in a picture of your prebiotics on Instagram @igynutrition. Let us know how your digestive wellness journey is going! Happy mixing.