Prebiotics Primer

We are well into the new year, and while most people are thinking about what they should take out of their diet to be healthier, maybe consider what you should be adding instead. Prebiotics might be just the addition you need!

Not to be confused with probiotics, which provide the gut with good bacteria, prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. They help produce nutrients for colon cells and, in turn, can help improve the health of the digestive tract.

The good news is that foods rich in prebiotics can fit all kinds of eating patterns from Mediterranean to vegetarian to high-carbohydrate competition training. Vegetables like chicory, artichokes, cabbage, onions and leeks top the veggie list. Fruits such as bananas, custard apples, watermelon and grapefruit are also high in the nutrient. You can also fill your day with prebiotic fiber from chickpeas, lentils, beans, bran, oats, almonds, pistachios and flaxseeds.

Consuming adequate quantities of prebiotic foods can help with digestion and keep you regular, not to mention many of these foods are also good for heart health. While there is no specific recommendation for prebiotic fiber in the diet, the American Heart Association and other health authorities recommend getting 25 to 38 grams of total fiber a day. Adding a good source of fiber at each meal and snack can help you meet the recommendation and get your gut in good shape!