Prebiotics are substances that are used by the gut bacteria to aid in their growth and colonisation.
Prebiotic foods are typically, but not limited to, non-digestible substances, such as fibre, but not all forms of fibre are considered a prebiotic. The main thing to remember here is that the food has to assist in the growth and survival of the beneficial gut bacteria.
Should I take a Prebiotic?
The healthy bacteria in our gut reside in a very acidic environment, an environment that is needed to help breakdown food for digestion, absorption of its nutrients and to prevent any opportunistic pathogenic bacteria getting into our body and eliciting their ill-effects. Without a healthy composition of beneficial gut bacteria our health can be significantly impacted and put at risk to acute symptoms such as fatigue, slow workout recovery rate and an increased frequency of illness due to a weakened immune system. Remember, 80% of our immunity resides in the gut and who do you think takes care of that integrated functional system?
Therefore, the first thing we need to ensure as host to these residents is to consume probiotic (live beneficial bacteria) foods that help to maintain a healthy bacterial gut composition.
Daily, we should be consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, plain yoghurt, miso, tempeh. If necessary, at times as it may be and as instructed by a health professional such as a Nutritional Therapist, taking a good probiotic supplement.
Now, in order for probiotics to thrive, the diet needs to be well-balanced, containing wholefoods and not processed, refined foods that provide no nutrients to our local gut residents. When you nourish the body and its residents, this can have a significant impact on overall health and wellbeing. You may experience improved digestion, which improves absorption of nutrients for energy production, improving performance, reducing fatigue, you may experience less joint and muscle pain as good gut health aids in reducing exercise-induced inflammation, this in turn may improve muscle recovery and you may even strengthen your immune system overall which becomes compromised on a daily basis by modern life stressors and intense exercise, poor quality diet, poor sleep, stress (physical and emotional).
So now do you see the importance of gut health and why it is the very epicentre of our overall wellbeing?
I’ve discussed the importance of prebiotics and why you should include these in your diet, but what are the best prebiotic foods to ensure that you are creating a thriving environment for your beneficial bacteria? Well, you have most likely been consuming these foods without realising their beneficial effects to gut health:
Bananas (whilst they are still green-ish)