Prebiotics Primer: Why You Should Never Buy Prebiotics Supplements

shutterstock_121143247Recently I’ve been hearing or seeing the word “prebiotics” thrown around increasingly often. There are ads for prebiotics supplements in vegetarian magazines and reminders about prebiotics’ importance in women’s health articles. Geezus, I thought, another supplement that’s now allegedly essential? Yes and no. While they are essential for staying healthy (and slim), you can get all the prebiotics you need from a healthy diet.

“Prebiotics” are simply non-digestible substances that help the good bacteria (probiotics) in your digestive system flourish. In short: They help probiotics do their thing.

A “functional food component,” prebiotics “are conceptually intermediate between food and drugs,” according to Wikipedia. The word prebiotics itself was only coined in 1995. In technical terms, probiotics are oligosaccharides – linked sugar molecules found naturally in fruit, vegetables and dairy.

Natasha Turner, naturopathic doctor and author of The Hormone Diet (also: a weekly Blisstree columnist), explains that ”prebiotics alone can often help digestion, because they feed, nourish and increase probiotic bacteria.”

And that’s not all. Prebiotic foods also help with calcium absorption and controlling blood glucose.

“Some animal studies have indicated that they have a protective quality against early-stage colon cancer,” notes Turner. “And data already exists showing that some prebiotics may reduce appetite, increase satiety, and thereby decrease the amount of energy consumed.”

According to Food Insight, there are three things that must be demonstrated for a food ingredient to be classified as prebiotic:

  1. It’s not broken down in the stomach or absorbed in the GI tract
  2. It’s fermented by the gastrointestinal microflora
  3. Most importantly, it “selectively stimulates the growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria associated with health and well-being”

Click through for a primer on some of the most prebiotic-rich foods.


JICAMA

The three vegetables with the highest prebiotics content are jicama (also called yacon), Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root. All are extremely high in inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber.

ARTICHOKE

Raw Jerusalem artichoke is more than 30% prebiotic fiber by weight!

DANDELION GREENS

Dandelion greens have the highest prebiotics content of leafy green vegetables, with nearly 25% prebiotic fiber by weight.

RAW GARLIC

Raw garlic contains 17.5% prebiotic fiber! Garlic's fellow allium-family members, such as leeks and onions, are also good prebiotics sources.

RAW ONION

Cooked onion will do, too, but eating the onion raw provides more goodness. Either way, onions are a good source of prebiotics.

WHOLE GRAIN BREAD

Baked whole-wheat flour contains about 5% prebiotics.

AVOCADO

PEAS

SPROUTED GRAIN BREAD

WHEAT GERM OR WHOLE WHEAT BERRIES

SOYBEANS (I.E. CHICKPEAS, EDAMAME)

POTATO SKINS

RAW, UNFILTERED APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

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    • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.hauer.5 Stephen Hauer

      When feeding their DOGs Pro-Biotics…
      many PET Parents believe that the Food that their Dog Consumes is sufficient to “Feed” the Pro-Biotics..

      This is Not True..

      As with Pro-Biotics, Pre-Biotics are specially Structured / Formulated to “Survive” the Stomach to arrive “Intact” for Pro-Biotic Consumption.

      Not to Worry …

      GOO Gut Rescue’s DVM GUT Expert has already Thought of This.