Understanding the role of Prebiotics in foods for Health

Prebiotics in foods are a type of dietary fiber that humans cannot digest but the gut bacteria can. Prebiotic is a source of food for your gut’s friendly bacteria. It is a food which does not get fully digested in the body and reaches the large intestine (commonly known as GUT). The good bacteria in the large intestine eat this food and flourishes. Good bacteria multiply and win over the bad bacteria (disease causing). This allows your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which helps in healthy digestion.

Some of these nutrients include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate and propionate that are released into blood circulation, consequently affecting not only the gastrointestinal tract but also other distant organs. Prebiotics should not be confused with probiotics. Each have their separate role in the battle for better gut health, where probiotics are the friendly bacteria, prebiotics in foods are food for these bacteria. (What are some foods for healthy gut?)

Health benefits of prebiotics in foods
  • Consumption of prebiotics increases the useful gut flora, which synthesize the B complex vitamins.
  • Positive effect on calcium and other mineral absorption, by increasing their solubility.
  • Prebiotic may help reduce inflammation, especially in your intestines, and thereby strengthen the immune system.
  • Prebiotics in foods reduces constipation by maintaining the regularity of bowel movement.
  • It also may help with allergy prevention and symptoms of eczema.
  • Helps in maintaining healthy hormone levels. Prebiotics help your body absorb essential nutrients that help in building hormones.
  • Prebiotic are fiber and eating lots of fibrous food keeps you full for a long time, thus prebiotics in foods are great for weight loss.
Food sources of prebiotics:
Moong Daal (Mung Bean):

It is an outstanding prebiotic. It has been used in Ayurveda for over 1000 years to make medicine for digestion. Other than being a food for the bacteria in the Gut, it is the most powerful antioxidant amongst all lentils, and is also loaded with many micro-nutrients. Mung bean is also extremely high in Protein, which digests slowly and keeps the kids energetic and Fit.

Due to these powerful results, billion dollar companies in the west are moving to Moong Daal (Mung bean) to prepare plant-based non-veg. protein which is more nutritious than original. (What are other easy protein sources for kids?) Soaked Mung beans can be cooked for a longer while with extra water into a soup or blended into a paste of Dal for small kids. It’s so rich in good bacteria and fiber that it helps in easy digestion and manages gas, colic, and bloating in kids. Without removing the cover of the mung bean, it can be prepared as Khichdi (porridge), Wrap, Cheela (pancake), Dosa or a paste to add in bread dough for all age-groups. (Easy mung bean recipe)

Garlic:

Garlic is a prebiotic that is naturally high in inulin, a type of non- digestible carbohydrate that feeds the good bacteria in your gut and restrict disease causing bacteria from growing at the same time. Pickled garlic is best for kids’ gut health. (Easy to feed Omega-3 for kids brain development)

Onion:

It has prebiotic effects which strengthen gut flora, that help with fat breakdown and boost your immune system and improve digestion. Onion is also rich in antioxidants called flavonoids quercetin which help fight free radicals. Onion is also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins like folate (B9), pyridoxine (B6) and potassium, which aids in metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function. (Home remedy to cure cough using onion?)

Banana:

Apart from being rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin B9, it also has prebiotic effects and a small amount of inulin.Banana is high in fiber and prebiotics, both of which support smooth digestion. (Easy to make banana and apple muffins for kids)

Barley:

Barely is one of the most popular cereal grains. It contains beta-glucan which is a prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract. Barley is also rich in selenium, this helps with thyroid function. It has antioxidant properties as well which boost the immune system of the body. (Easy pizza recipe using millets)

Sprouted grains:

The concentration of fiber increases in sprouted grains. Fiber is one of the most important components for maintaining gut health. Fiber nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and promotes elimination and detoxification of the colon. (What is the need to sprout grains?)

Apple:

Apple has outstanding health benefits as it is rich in fiber, vitamin c, antioxidants and potassium. It has pectin, a type of soluble fiber, which has prebiotic effects and promotes healthy gut microbiota. Pectin increases butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and decreases the population of harmful bacteria. (Foods to keep the immunity of kids high all through the year?)

Cocoa:

Cocoa contains prebiotic fibers that activate good bacteria. Researchers found that cocoa can promote friendly bacteria and helps to reduce inflammation in the gut. Cocoa contains zinc, iron, copper, and vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin K which also relaxes arteries and increases blood circulation. (Healthy and tasty Iyurved’s Daily Nutrition spread Chocolate spread for brain development, immunity, growth and strong bones)

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