What Are Prebiotics & Why Do We Need Them?

trip of smoothies - homebiotic - prebiotics

It’s no secret that probiotics are great for your gut health, but where is all this enthusiasm for prebiotics? Prebiotics, the lesser talked about partner to probiotics, are equally as important to your gut health. The proper function of your gut is imperative to the optimal function of other body systems, including your nervous system. Like a luxury car, your gut deserves the best in preventative maintenance – that is where prebiotics come in.

gut health - homebiotic - prebioticsWHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Generally speaking, the concept and discovery of prebiotics are one of the new kids on the block. Having only been identified in 1995 by PhD Marcel Roberfroid, the idea of dietary prebiotics is fairly new in the world of nutrition. When discussing his research, Dr. Roberfroid said:

Prebiotics are a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health.

Prebiotics are the fuel for your gut bacteria. They support the health of your gut bacteria, making sure they are in tip-top condition to properly digest and absorb nutrients.

Prebiotics are the fuel for your gut bacteria. They support the health of your gut bacteria, making sure they are in tip-top condition to properly digest and absorb nutrients. Click To Tweet

They are composed of indigestible carbohydrates, which pass through your digestive system to live in your lower gut. This is where they get gradually consumed by your gut microbes, essentially fueling your whole digestive system.

blood pressure cuff - homebiotic - prebioticsWHAT ARE THE NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS?

Although we do not gain any direct nutritional value from prebiotics, our digestive system would suffer without them. A diet lacking in prebiotics can cause serious health issues and even permanent damage to gut function.

Without proper amounts of prebiotics, studies have shown that our gut microbes are forced to look elsewhere for fuel, leading them to consume part of the all-important mucous layer of the intestines. This mucous layer is integral to not only the proper absorption of nutrients but is also the first line of defense against harmful microbes.

The adequate presence of prebiotics in your gut determines the effectiveness of your probiotics. Without proper intake of prebiotics, all the probiotics you are putting into your body will lack a fuel source, creating serious health problems.

The adequate presence of prebiotics in your gut determines the effectiveness of your probiotics. Without proper intake of prebiotics, all the probiotics you are putting into your body will lack a fuel source, creating serious health… Click To Tweet

box of vegetables - homebiotic - prebioticsWHERE CAN YOU GET THEM?

You can find naturally occurring prebiotics in lots of plants and whole-grain foods. Things such as oats, onions, garlic, cocoa, apples, and bananas all contain prebiotics.

Additionally, many pre-packaged or pre-made foods can be fortified with prebiotics. This is commonly done with baby formula and yogurt.

Another source, often recommended by nutritionists and medical professionals, is a fiber supplement. This is an easy way to consume a significant amount of prebiotics with minimal effort.

GREAT PREBIOTIC RECIPES

Looking to add some delicious prebiotic-focused recipes to your cooking arsenal? Check out these amazing options, perfect for any day of the week:

Ultimate Prebiotic Salad from Sophie Uliano

Oatmeal Smoothie by Beauty Bites

Leek & Potato Soup by Food Matters

Prebiotic Pancakes by Cultivate Beauty

 

Gillian May

Gillian May

Gillian is a former nurse and joined the Homebiotic team as a researcher & science writer. She loves traveling the world and currently lives in Colombia.