Want a Healthier Gut? Get the Scoop on Prebiotic Foods

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When it comes to creating a healthy gut, the goal is for both the good and potentially harmful bacteria in your small intestines to stay balanced. 

This is because the lining of your small intestines is an extremely thin layer that acts as a protective barrier as bacteria passes through. Too much bad bacteria can compromise this thin lining. Once compromised, non-nutritive materials can slip into your bloodstream.

Of the variety of ways you can promote good gut health, eating prebiotic foods full of fiber is one of them!

Why Eat Prebiotic Foods? 

Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that stimulate the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut. According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber and the type of sugar (oligosaccharides) in fruits and vegetables set up a healthy intestinal environment that allows good bacteria to thrive. 

 

What are Prebiotic Foods? 

Prebiotic fiber can be found in foods such as:

Dry beans: Cooked soybeans, lentils, split peas and kidney, pinto, black, lima, garbanzo, navy and Great Northern bean

Vegetables and fruits: Think cooked spinach, artichokes, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, pears, raspberries and strawberries, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cabbage.

Fruits like watermelon and grapefruit and vegetables like garlic and leeks are now plentiful because they’re in season. To help you both eat by the season and promote good gut health, you can visit this What’s In Season guide.

If you want to learn how much fiber you’re actually getting each day, a macronutrient tracker on your smartphone, such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It! can help you track your fiber.

Understanding Gut Health 

A healthy microbiome is key to living a healthy life.

As more research is conducted on gut health and the 5 lbs of bacteria that reside in your body, researchers continue to make discoveries about its connection to a variety of diseases and conditions, from anxiety and mood to obesity and IBS.

An unhealthy gut can impact your:

  • Immune system. As a response to non-nutritive materials slipping into your bloodstream, your immune system launches a response, resulting in inflammation. Inflammation is the underlying theme in preventable chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, and autoimmune diseases. Almost 70 percent of the immune system is regulated in your gut.
  • Nutrient absorption. A balanced diet – for balanced bacteria – is necessary for proper absorption of nutrients. Without proper nutrient absorption, your body can become deficient. Minerals like zinc and magnesium play an important role in keeping your body healthy and functioning. Possible signs that you may be deficient range from weakness and fatigue to muscle cramps and constipation – Related reading: “7 Minerals and Signs You Could Be Deficient.”
  • Digestion. Your digestive tract relies on a variety of foods moving through the intestines for nutrient absorption. For example, eating high amounts of fat can slow digestive system function. Not getting enough insoluble fiber can increase constipation.
  • Weight. As featured by the Mayo Clinic, studies are connecting bacteria to its effect on energy absorption. “Researchers have identified a difference in the types of bacteria found in a lean person’s gut versus those that live in the gut of someone who is obese. The amount of energy is small, but researchers wonder if over time this could be a factor in weight maintenance.”

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The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.