How to nurture your gut? The best way is through whole prebiotic and probiotic foods. And we can help!June 01, 2020 7:20 pm
Before we tell you more about specific foods that are especially good for the gut, there are two main ways that food can nourish your gut. Handily, both end with ‘biotics’. The way we remember it is that the pre goes before the pro – and then we remember the prebiotics actually feed the probiotics. To clarify further…
Prebiotics contain fibre which cannot be digested. This fibre stays in your large intestine, where most of the gut microbiome is located. Your tribe of good gut bacteria then feed on the fibre. Not only do they get stronger, but more varieties of gut flora flourish, each kind a star in its own distinct way. This means your gut can do more and do it better. In other words, by eating prebiotic, you’re not only feeding yourself but also all the tiny creatures in your gut! → View Related Products
Probiotics are foods that import live bacteria right into your gut. As we explained above, expanding the colony of gut bacteria makes your gut microbiome more diverse and more alive. Think of it as being like a savanna. The more healthy species that are appropriately housed, the better the savanna is. Some probiotic foods, like those tiny milky drinks that have been around for ages, add predictable bacteria to the gut flora. Other probiotics contain more unusual bacteria that enhance the microbiome and bring new possibilities to it.
Interestingly, research suggests that prebiotics may make more noticeable difference in gut health in the short term. However, the effect of probiotics is valuable in the longer run.(1) In other words, do make an effort to make both prebiotics and probiotics a regular part of your day to day eating. That’s the easy part, as they are so tasty.
Like what? Like…
1. Jerusalem artichokes
Those of you who haven’t yet started to eat Jerusalem artichokes – here’s another reason to! Jerusalem artichokes are a wonderful source of inulin, a type of fibre that’s a powerful prebiotic. They are actually tubers, rather similar to parsnips and potatoes to give you a better sense. Also called earth apples. A lovely nickname – and they have several others. Jerusalem artichokes have a somewhat sweet flavour that will interest your palate. Finally, just 20 grams of earth apples will give you enough prebiotics for the day.(2) → View Related Products
2. Leeks, onions, and garlic
We’ve added those in to let you know prebiotics don’t only reside in relatively unusual foods. They’re also in plenty of goldie oldies. You probably already include onions, garlic, and leeks in your diet, yeah? Now you can feel virtuous retroactively – and eat these vegetables with new reasons in mind (and in gut!). All three of these vegetables belong to the same family, and all also contain inulin.
As well as having a really nice name, tigernuts are just plain delicious. They’re sometimes called earth almonds – how’s that to add to earth apples, or Jerusalem artichokes? These small, wrinkled orbs are actually tubers, and they are highly versatile. For instance, you can make them into flour, make them into milk, enjoy them roasted, blend them with dates…. Moreover, most all ways you choose to consume them, you will benefit from their high store of resistant starch fibres, which function as effective prebiotics.(3) → View Related Products
'Think of your microbiome as being like a savanna. The more healthy species that are appropriately housed, the better the savanna is.'
4. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and…
Ok, so we’re moving on to probiotic foods. Just like with prebiotics, you’ll discover that some very traditional foods found in most any supermarket are very effective as probiotics. You know that cleansing, bright flavour found in everything from sauerkraut to Japanese fermented pickles? Many of these foods are highly recommended as probiotics. Friendly bacteria feed on the natural sugar or fibre in the food, and transmit themselves to your gut. However, make sure that your pickled food isn’t pasteurised. Pasteurisation kills the bacteria. You should look for words such as raw and keep refrigerated. Moreover, some foods, like sauerkraut, function as both prebiotic and probiotic. Fabulous! Other examples of fermented foods are kombucha and kefir (both dairy and non-dairy varieties). Ensure that your pickles are fermented in salt and water rather than put into vinegar. Pickles in vinegar have no value as probiotics.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans and thus contains live bacteria. This miracle substance is incredibly versatile once you make it a kitchen staple, with an almost endless list of possibilities. Make a vegan alternative to a beautiful French onion soup; start your day with a cleansing, comforting bowl of miso soup; include in all manner of sauces to bring depth and flavour. Dress your Asian noodles with miso sauce. And you’ll no doubt discover even more possibilities once you start experimenting.
This interestingly textured relative of tofu was always a favourite of ours. Chalk up another reason for adding it to our shopping basket. Tempeh is also fermented, which gives it stellar probiotic qualities. However, as with pickles, go for tempeh that isn’t pasteurised to maximise its benefits as a probiotic.
… and the chocolate on top of the cherry
Yes, we know that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? It will feel right too, when we tell you that we’re finishing this little piece with dark chocolate because it’s both prebiotic and probiotic. Now, isn’t that absolutely fabulous? We have to do our duty and say that this doesn’t mean you should eat crazy amounts of dark chocolate. We do have to say this is one pretty substantial reason to savour your dark chocolate that bit more. Go on now…
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(1) Cerdo et al, "The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity" Nutrients, 2019
(2) Barszcz et al, "The effects of inulin, dried Jerusalem artichoke tuber and a multispecies probiotic preparation on microbiota ecology and immune status of the large intestine in young pigs." Archives of Animal Nutrition, 2016
(3) Rosello-Soto et al, "Nutritional and Microbiological Quality of Tiger Nut Tubers (Cyperus esculentus), Derived Plant-Based and Lactic Fermented Beverages" Fermentation, 2018