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Health

Prebiotics: What Are They and the Best Sources on a Plant-Based Diet

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When it comes to gut health, we hear a lot about the importance of probiotics and not so much about prebiotics. Although probiotics are crucial to our gut microbiome to promote good digestion, prebiotics are as well. Unfortunately, not knowing much about them can lead people to inadvertently not consume enough in their diet which undermines the action of any probiotic taken.

Afraid that this may be your case? Don’t fret! If you follow a varied plant-based diet, chances are your gut is getting enough prebiotics. However, if you suffer from bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues, taking a look at your prebiotic and probiotic intake might be a good idea.

Not sure what prebiotics and probiotics are and how to get more of them in your diet? Here are a few facts that will help you make sense of these important digestive health boosters along with some delicious gut-friendly recipes to try from the Food Monster App.

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: What’s the Difference

4-Ingredient Probiotic Oat Yogurt/One Green Planet

Did you know that our body is made up of bacteria and cells in equal amounts? It is, and our gut is no exception. Our digestive system relies on the 300 hundred to 500 hundred bacterial species present in our gastrointestinal track to metabolize nutrients. Our gut microbiota is also essential to our immune system and prevents pathogens from making us sick.

These crucial functions our gut microbiota is responsible for can be made more difficult when undesirable bacteria start to outweigh the good bacteria in our gut. To preserve this delicate balance between good and bad bacteria, fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria is essential. This is where prebiotics and probiotics come into play.

Prebiotics are fibers fermented by our intestinal microflora. These non-digestible food compounds found in carbohydrate-rich foods stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria that is associated with our health and well-being. Some of the fibers classified as prebiotic include inulin and oligofructose (OF), lactulose, and resistant starch (RS). It’s important to note that while all prebiotics are fiber, not all types of fibers are prebiotics.

Contrary to prebiotics, probiotics are not food for bacteria, they are bacteria themselves. Found naturally in certain fermented food products, probiotics improve our intestinal balance by supplementing it with more good bacteria.

Health BenefitsWoman with heart over her gut with hands

Shutterstock

As food for the good bacteria in our gut, prebiotics play an essential role in our digestive health and overall well-being. Indeed, a healthy balance of bacteria in our microbiota (which prebiotics promote) is linked to a decreased chance of developing gastrointestinal disorders, vitamin deficiencies, and conditions brought about by a weakened immune system.

Furthermore, prebiotics have a distinct role in both lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. They have a lowering effect on cholesterol and triglycerides levels and also impact positively satiety hormones. Research indicates that prebiotics improve glucose tolerance and increase insulin sensitivity through their action on glucagon, a blood sugar regulating hormone.

In light of these benefits, including prebiotics into one’s diet has been related to a risk reduction of getting cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. It also significantly reduces your chances of suffering from obesity and can prevent some forms of cancers, especially colon cancer.

The Best Sources on a Plant-Based Diet

Prebiotics are fibers, mostly polysaccharides and oligosaccharides, which means they are abundant in carbohydrate foods. Here are some examples of great sources of prebiotics to include in your diet with delicious recipes from the Food Monster App:

1. Leeks

This Slow Roasted Leeks With Toasted Grains and Pesto recipe, pictured above, puts leeks at the center stage accompanied with a delicious nutty farro that brings out the sweetness of tender leeks. To top it all off, a vibrant walnut cauliflower pesto ties the dish together with the perfect amount of creaminess and spice. Doesn’t this sound good?

You can also get a load of prebiotics by trying out this amazing Cheesy Leek Soup, this Tempeh Bacon and Leek Quiche, and this Wild Mushroom and Leek Risotto.

2. AsparagusGrilled Asparagus and Smoked Tofu Benedict

This beautiful Grilled Asparagus and Smoked Tofu Benedict will delight your taste buds and give you a good dose of prebiotics to start the day in a really amazing way. The smokiness of the tofu pairs perfectly with the delicate flavor of the grilled asparagus. Needless to say, the hollandaise is heavenly. Creamy and rich, it makes the perfect topping for this dish.

If you’re looking for other recipes as drool worthy as this one, we suggest checking out this Crispy Asparagus With Truffle Aioli, this Asparagus Almond Crostini With Fennel Frond Gremolata, and this Asparagus and Pea Soup. You’re welcome!

3. Onion

Tender and delicious focaccia paired with prebiotic rich red onions and spicy arugula, this Red Onion Focaccia recipe is exactly what you need to make you gut and taste buds happy! The spelt floor used to make the bread also give this focaccia a rustic texture and nutty flavor perfect to accompany an Italian inspired dinner.

Want more delicious recipes featuring onions? You have to make these Crispy Indian Onion Fritters, these Lentil and Mushroom Stuffed Onions, and this Caramelized Onion Pasta!

4. GarlicVegan Grain-Free Pink Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

Savory and simple, this Pink Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup is a great recipe to add to your repertoire if you want to include more prebiotics in your diet. Packed with flavor and nutrients thanks to beets and coconut milk, it makes for a comforting and healthy meal. What’s even better? It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Versatile and flavorful, garlic can also be added to recipes such as these Eggplants in Tomato Garlic Sauce, these Garlic and Spinach Lentils, and this Creamy Garlic and Thyme Rigatoni With Roasted Cauliflower for a good dose of prebiotics.

5. Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)

For a nutrient and healthy prebiotic filled recipe, this Roasted Sunchoke and Apple Herb Salad is incredibly flavorful. Combined with fresh herbs and the sweetness of apples, the earthy and nutty taste of the artichokes makes this dish a pleasant and quite fancy experience.

Not sure what else to cook with Jerusalem Artichokes? Take a look at these Maple-Orange Carrots With Sunchoke Cream, this Curried Red Lentil Dal With Sunchoke, this Creamy Asparagus and Sunchoke Soup, and these Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes With Braised Garlicky Kale for more inspiration.

Where to Find Supplements (Some of Our Favorites!)

While eating a diet rich in naturally occurring prebiotic foods is the best way to support your gut health, it might not be possible due to food intolerance or illnesses. Whatever the case may be, if you want to include prebiotics into your diet in supplement form, there is a wide variety of options available to you. Here are some of our favorites that you can find on Amazon:

1. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Prebiotic Superfood Fiber Supplement

Garden of Life/Amazon

Priced at 15.73$ for 192grams or 32 servings, this Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Prebiotic Superfood Powder contains 5 grams of prebiotics in every tablespoon. Derived from Organic Acacia, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Baobab Fruit, Organic Apple Peel, and Organic Cranberry Fruit, the prebiotics in this product will help your gut maintain its good bacteria and promote digestive health.

2. Ora Organic Probiotics and Prebiotics Powder

Ora/Amazon

Priced at 38.95$ for 225 grams, this Ora Organic Probiotics and Prebiotics Powder contain Jerusalem artichokes and a blend of apple and strawberry fruit to feed your gut with healthy bacteria.

3. Hyperbiotics Organic Prebiotic Powder

hyperbiotics/Amazon

Priced at $26.95 for 375 grams, this Hyperbiotics Organic Prebiotic Powder is packed with organic Jerusalem Artichokes, organic acacia fiber, and has a pleasant mild green banana flavor.

You can add a tablespoon of any of these prebiotic supplements into your morning smoothie, your oatmeal, or simply mix with water if you’re short on time.

More Info, Recipes, and ResourcesChinese Cabbage Salad With Tofu and Spicy Peanut Dressing

Chinese Cabbage Salad With Tofu and Spicy Peanut Dressing/One Green Planet

Concerned about your gut-health? Learn more about how to prevent and deal with digestive issues on a plant-based diet by checking out these articles:

If you want to find more gut-friendly recipes as well as tips and tricks to help you lead a healthy lifestyle, then we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster Appwhich is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

 

Lead Image Source: Shutterstock

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0 comments on “Prebiotics: What Are They and the Best Sources on a Plant-Based Diet”

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Karen Williams
5 Months Ago

I wouldn\'t use the Garden Of Life products. I ended up in hospital after ingesting this stuff and their protein powder. One must proceed with caution with this product.


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