Here are the prebiotic foods you should eat to improve your gut health and the best ways to cook them.
Chances are you’ve heard of probiotics, bacteria that provide us with health benefits when we consume them. It is important to consume foods rich in probiotics, but we should also not forget to include foods rich in prebiotics in our diet.
Prebiotics are substances found in certain foods that selectively feed the good gut bacteria so that they thrive and keep us healthy. Incorporating a variety of prebiotics into your diet helps prevent bad bacteria from taking over and encourages good bacteria to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, called short-chain fatty acids, which nourish cells in the lining of the body. colon. Most prebiotics are types of fiber, and a few are phytochemicals, that is, bioactive compounds found in plants. If our gut microbiome were a garden, prebiotics would be its fertilizer. Fortunately, there are plenty of prebiotic-rich foods that suit a wide variety of dietary needs and taste preferences. With a little thought and planning, you can easily incorporate prebiotic-rich foods into every meal to support the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Here are five prebiotic-rich foods to add to your diet right now.
1. Cooking with garlic, onions, shallots and leeks
Vegetables in the allium family, such as garlic, onions, shallots, shallots, and leeks, all contain fructans, a type of prebiotic fiber. Humans don’t have the enzymes needed to break down fructans, so they end up in the colon, where our good microbes use them as food and break them down through fermentation. As a byproduct, short-chain fatty acids are produced, which are compounds shown to reduce inflammation, promote healthy weight and improve insulin sensitivity, according to research published in March. 2020 in Nutrients magazine. Additionally, short-chain fatty acids make the intestinal environment more acidic, which increases mineral absorption. By feeding good gut microbes and increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids, fructans are believed to increase our absorption of calcium and improve bone density, according to research published February 2021 in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research.
Alliums also stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, while decreasing the growth and activity of harmful bacteria, as highlighted in a study published in August 2021 in the journal Foods. These changes to the gut microbiome could help prevent chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.
To add more alliums to your meals and reap the benefits of fructans:
Cook with a generous amount of sautéed garlic and onion.
Add leeks to soups and stews.
Sprinkle salads and sautéed dishes with sliced onions.
Season with garlic and onion powder (when choosing garlic or onion powder, look for brands that only contain dehydrated garlic or onion, to get the full benefits and avoid consuming unnecessary additives).
2. Blend underripe bananas into smoothies
While it might seem odd to prefer underripe bananas over ripe bananas for your morning smoothie, underripe bananas are actually higher in prebiotic fiber than ripe bananas, according to a 2021 study published in the journal PLoS One. Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, a type of starch that resists digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract and then makes its way to the colon, where it acts as a prebiotic to selectively feed good gut microbes . When a banana ripens, this resistant starch is transformed into simple sugars, which do not have the same prebiotic effects. Consumption of resistant starch may also aid in weight management and obesity prevention due to its positive influence on the gut microbiome, as well as its ability to promote satiety and blood sugar stability, according to research published in June 2019 in the journal Nutrients.
To start your day with a healthy dose of prebiotics, try making a tasty morning smoothie by blending a slightly unripe banana with plain Greek yogurt, chia seeds and cocoa powder each, a date for sweetness, and just enough unsweetened almond milk to mix. It should be noted, however, that if you are allergic to latex, you may need to avoid consuming less ripe bananas, which contain proteins that are similar in structure to latex and can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. .
3. Add chia seeds and flax seeds to yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies.
Chia seeds and flax seeds are best known for their nutrient density, but they also happen to be excellent sources of prebiotics. Research published in June 2019 in the journal Nutrients shows that consuming chia seeds is linked to reduced markers of inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes, and their prebiotic fiber content likely plays a role.
Flaxseeds, meanwhile, may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, according to a review published in May 2019 in the journal Nutrients. The authors of the study attribute this phenomenon to the lignan content of flax seeds. Lignans, which are a prebiotic, are fermented by good gut microbes and, through the fermentation process, converted into compounds that are linked to both reduced breast cancer risk and decreased cancer mortality. breast.
Chia seeds and flax seeds can impart a slight nutty flavor to foods. To complement this taste, sprinkle them over fruits such as berries over yogurt or oatmeal, or blend them into a banana for a smoothie. Additionally, chia seeds can alter the consistency of food due to their high content of soluble fiber, which forms a viscous gel when exposed to moisture. You can take advantage of this gelling property by using it to thicken your rolled oats, making them more filling. Added to yogurt, chia seeds form a consistency similar to that of rice pudding. Just add the flavoring of your choice, such as cinnamon, vanilla extract and a drizzle of honey, for a delicious chia seed pudding.
4. Replace meat with beans and legumes a few times a week
Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, black beans and lentils are not only great plant proteins, they are also rich sources of a type of prebiotic fiber called galactooligosaccharides (GOS). According to research published in March 2021 in the journal Biomolecules, this specific type of prebiotic fiber increases beneficial bifidobacteria in the gut, which have been studied for their ability to improve blood lipid profiles, as highlighted in research published in 2019 in Journal Vascular Brasileiro. Additionally, a clinical trial published in January 2022 in the journal Nutrients demonstrates that GOS can improve constipation in adults, likely due to increased bifidobacteria in the gut.
Incorporating a few plant-based meals containing beans and legumes into your weekly rotation can do wonders for your health. In fact, a study of more than 40,000 American men, published in 2020 in the British Medical Journal, shows that replacing meat with plant proteins, such as beans and prebiotic-rich legumes, reduces the risk of disease. coronary.
Try making vegetarian chili by incorporating a few varieties of beans, experiment with black bean tacos, use lentils in bolognese sauce, or make baked falafel with chickpeas. You can also boost the prebiotic content of your favorite recipes by replacing some or all of the meat with an equal amount of beans and legumes.
5. Satisfy your sugar craving with dark chocolate
As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate, cocoa contains polyphenols, natural antioxidant compounds that are poorly digested by our bodies but fermented by our good gut microbes. Research published in June 2020 in the journal Nutrients shows that cocoa polyphenols increase beneficial gut bacteria like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria while decreasing harmful bacteria like Clostridium perfringens. These changes in the gut microbiome are associated with reduced inflammation and improved immune function. However, not all chocolates are created equal. The higher the percentage of cocoa in chocolate, the more powerful its prebiotic effects. To support a healthy gut microbiome, it’s best to opt for a dark chocolate bar that contains at least 70% cocoa.
* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice.
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