Within the digestive system, there are 10 times more bacteria than cells in the body. The health of our microflora, or internal ecosystem, is integral to almost anything else in our body. From allergies to ailments, maintaining proper gut health is a must if we want to give our bodies a fighting chance at turning around any health problems we face.
Including a diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics is the fastest way to boost your immune system, improve digestion and support mental health. Whilst probiotics can support the production of B12 and K vitamins, prebiotics promote the growth and function of good bacteria and prevent harmful or ‘bad’ bacteria from reeking havoc on the gut.
The relationship between prebiotics and probiotics is an important one. Probiotics are the live microorganisms found in bacteria, fungi or yeast. Probiotics are integral to maintaining your gastrointestinal tract and promoting overall gut health.
Prebiotics act as the fuel for probiotics to do their job. Probiotics require sustenance in order to be able to perform in the gut, therefore, feeding them prebiotics – non-digestible food fibres – allows them to thrive in the gut and stick to the bowel wall.
If your body isn’t getting its necessary dose of pre and probiotics, bad bacteria has a greater chance of flourishing in the gut, leading to a plethora of health issues such as flatulence, inflammation,constipation, leaky gut, UTIs, cold and flus and can even affect emotional health.
We all know by know which foods pack a punch when it comes to probiotics, but do you know which foods contain those much-needed prebiotics?
Bananas are a universal favourite and so easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Whether you eat them on their own, or mash them into a delicious banana bread or smoothie, their natural fibres act to soothe the gut membrane and promote the harvesting of good bacteria.
Bananas are also a great source of potassium, B vitamins and vitamin C.
Peel and freeze sliced bananas so you always have the option of adding them to your next morning smoothie or delicious bake.
These under-utilised greens are a powerful digestive aid and a great source of vitamin k – the vitamin needed for bone strength. These (slightly acrid) greens are also high in prebiotic fibre, as well as vitamin A.
Packed full of manganese, Vitamin C and selenium, as well as fibre. The best way to get the most out of this prebiotic rich food is to eat it – yep you guessed it – raw.
It’s not as bad as you think though. Add some finely grated or crushed garlic to your next salad for a deliciously warming kick that packs flavour into an otherwise boring dish. Or mix in a few cloves worth of crushed garlic into olive oil, with some lemon, black pepper and balsamic for a delicious way to dress salads or steamed veggies.
Both raw and cooked onions are a great source of prebiotics. If raw onions give you indigestion then opt for cooked onions. As a member of the lily family (along with garlic) onions contain organic sulphur compounds, an important mineral that is destroyed when cooked.
One of the best prebiotic food sources, chicory is a great source of inulin – a long chain prebiotic fibre.