Prebiotics: These foods promote healthy digestion

Prebiotics are indigestible plant-based food components that serve as food for desirable intestinal bacteria. Prebiotics ingested with food therefore increase the number of healthy bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, which, among other things, render pathogens in the human digestive system harmless.

Healthy intestinal bacteria ferment prebiotics and short-chain fatty acids are formed. These ensure the desired pH value in the large intestine and thus contribute to a healthy  intestinal flora  . In addition, short-chain fatty acids serve as an energy source for intestinal wall bacteria.

What prebiotics are good for

Health benefits of prebiotics at a glance:

  • Preventive action against gastrointestinal disorders, especially  constipation .
  • Improved digestion and faster removal of toxins from the body. Because prebiotics are non-digestible, they increase intestinal volume, thereby reducing transit time (time from ingestion of food to defecation).
  • Improving the composition of the gut microbiome (total of all bacteria that inhabit the gut).
  • Stimulating the immune system.
  • regulation of cholesterol levels.
  • Promotion of mineral absorption (including iron, calcium and  zinc ).
  • Higher intake of  folic acid  (vitamin B9) and other B vitamins.
  • Prevention of colon cancer.
  • Prevention of atopic eczema in infants and high-risk children.

prebiotics in food

The food industry adds prebiotics to various products such as baked goods, dairy products or muesli bars to increase their fiber content. They also serve as a substitute for fat and sugar and are also used to influence the structure of a food.

However, prebiotics are also found naturally in certain foods. Anyone who increasingly integrates foods with a naturally high content of prebiotics into their diet is doing something good for their health. Cooking reduces prebiotic levels, so it’s best to eat prebiotic foods raw. The photo series shows which foods are particularly rich in prebiotics.

Chicory

Chicory  is one of the foods with the highest content of prebiotic inulin. For example, chicory can be eaten steamed, but this reduces the prebiotic properties of the vegetable. If raw chicory tastes too bitter for you, you can mix it with other types of lettuce.

artichokes

Artichokes mainly contain the prebiotic inulin. Inulin is a polysaccharide that the plant uses as a reserve substance. In addition to a positive effect on human gastrointestinal health, eating artichokes has other health benefits. Artichokes, for example, stimulate bile production, which is important for the elimination of  cholesterol , among other things  .

Preparation of artichokes

Fresh artichoke blossoms are cooked whole. To prevent the vegetables from turning brown while cooking, simply add a few dashes of lemon juice or vinegar to the salted water. The cooking time depends on the size of the artichoke hearts and therefore varies from 15 to 45 minutes.

bananas

Bananas are among the fruits with the highest levels of prebiotics, including resistant starch, oligofructose and pectin. Raw bananas contain a particularly large number of probiotic substances, which is why they are often   recommended for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome .

Bananas are also a popular snack among athletes. A normal-sized banana has about 100 kcal and is rich in numerous nutrients that are important for regeneration after physical activity. In addition to magnesium, bananas also provide the valuable minerals iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese and copper. The content is highest in yellow bananas, while the concentration of nutrients decreases in overripe, brown bananas.

lentils and chickpeas

Legumes, such as chickpeas and lentils, are also natural sources of prebiotics. Legumes are one of the very healthy foods overall. If you are not used to eating legumes, you should approach them carefully if you have a tendency to flatulence, so that the digestive tract can slowly get used to processing them.

For vegans, they are also a valuable source of certain  amino acids that are limited in other foods. Therefore, legumes such as lentils or chickpeas should always have a permanent place in the vegan diet.

onions

Onions are also one of the foods that are particularly rich in indigestible prebiotics: there is a lot of inulin in the tuber. However, the prebiotic properties of the onion are not as dependent on the type of preparation as is the case with many other plant-based foods. Fried onions, for example, are also valuable sources of prebiotics.

Onions are very low in calories, but contain numerous important minerals and vitamins, such as  vitamin C. They have an antibacterial effect and thus strengthen the immune system. In addition, onions regulate blood sugar levels and the tuber also has a positive effect on heart health.

 

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