There is no doubt that having a good diet is essential for health, but because of so many conflicting views, there is some confusion about just what is the best diet. As everyone is different, sometimes it is difficult to ensure you have the best diet to suit your particular needs. Regardless of which type of overall diet, you choose, it is important that you begin by maintaining a healthy microflora in your gut.
It is easy to be confused by the different terminology used as there are so many terms that sound similar. Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics all work together to complement and boost a body’s general health. Prebiotics are non-digestible selected plant fiber that ferments to provide food for the live microorganisms called probiotics. Postbiotics are the colonies of bacteria found in the colon.
The simple explanation as to why you need to consume prebiotics is that they are vital to your overall health and longevity. Prebiotics are a range of substances or chemical compounds that are collectively called dietary fiber. The technical terms are oligosaccharides, polysaccharide and inulin.
Prebiotics are nature’s way of helping to enhance our gut flora’s health. Our digestive system is not able to use them directly, but after we have eaten them they begin breaking down. On their travel along your digestive tract, they start to ferment and become the basic food for the millions of beneficial bacteria living there.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live inside our gut and provide us with a whole range of health benefits including better brain function and a healthy improved immune system.
Postbiotics are the byproducts that are left after bacterial fermentation in a person’s colon is complete.
All the fiber we receive when we eat whole, unprocessed plant foods has a major part to play in the way we absorb our nutrients and the overall health of our digestive system.
Unlike grazing animals, we do not have the necessary digestive enzymes or gastric acids to full breakdown many of the tough fibers in plants. This does not mean we should not eat them as they have a tremendous influence on our whole body’s health.
Prebiotics help to clean out the gut and then they become nutrient rich food sources for all the good bacteria that lives in our gut
Some of the many benefits of having a diet rich in prebiotics:
- Prebiotics lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease
When you consume foods that have a high level of prebiotics you help to reduce your glycation levels. Glycation triggers inflammation, this increases the levels of free radicals in your system and lowers your insulin resistance. Prebiotic’s are known to help reduce bad cholesterol levels while maintaining essential cholesterol in your system. This, in turn, helps balance out your mineral and electrolyte levels, including the all-important sodium and potassium that control blood pressure
- Improved digestion and overall gut health
Prebiotics help to lay the groundwork to stimulate healthy probiotics or the beneficial bacteria colonizing the microflora in your gut. They are essentially food for probiotics as they help with balancing the good and bad bacteria as well as helping to control the many toxins that are always present in the digestive tract. This helps to improve digestion and digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea while allowing for the elimination of waste materials
While the prebiotics are broken down they produce a range of short chain fatty acids that provide health support to intestinal linings and assist with regulating electrolyte levels.
Prebiotics also help the body to recover after using antibiotics and many other drugs that upset the delicate balance if the digestive tract
Having a regular intake of prebiotics helps the body respond and recover from chronic disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Cohn’s disease, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
- A better hormonal balance and mood levels
It is now believed that depression and anxiety disorders are strongly linked to a person’s overall gut health. This is because your gut metabolizes and absorbs nutrients that are used to provide support to neurotransmitters that create serotonin and other hormones that help relieve stress and control your moods.
It is thought that when your microbiome is not healthy and your gut does not work properly, it can cause many other biological pathways including your neuronal, immunological and hormonal to not work properly. This can affect the neurotransmitters located in your brain that control and affect fear, worry and other emotions
- A healthier immune system
Everyone now knows that having a healthy immune system is the key to good health, but many do not realize that the immune system is strongly dependent on the health you a person’s gut. By improving your gut microbiome you can significantly improve the biomarkers that help to indicate a reduction of the levels of cancer promoting enzymes and other compounds. When consuming prebiotics each day you will soon have your immune system operating at optimum levels
- A reduction in the risk of obesity or weight gain
When you consume foods high in prebiotics your gut is fuller as it slows down the passage of food through your digestive tract. You do not produce ghrelin the hormone that stimulates hunger. This sends signals to the brain that you are full and no longer require food. You do not feel hungry, which makes resisting temptations to snack, easier.
Higher intakes of all types of dietary fiber have been linked to an overall body weight reduction
- Lower body inflammation, both internally and externally
Inflammation is now the main suspect in causing a number of chronic conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cancers and many forms of arthritis. Having a diet high in perbiotics food, helps to lower inflammation as it tends to turn off reactions that are triggered by autoimmune signals
- Helps to protect bone health
Having a good supply of prebiotics in the diet enhances the body’s ability to absorb minerals including boron, iron, calcium and magnesium the minerals essential for strong bones and the prevention of breaks and fractures.
As people age, they often experience bone density loss and can develop conditions such as osteoporosis, so adding a few grams of prebiotics a day to your diet can help reverse this
The best place to find prebiotics are selected fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. The following are some prebiotic rich foods that are easy to add to your diet:
- Organic Acacia Gum
- Raw Organic Chicory Root
- Raw Organic Dandelion greens usually in a tea
- Raw Organic Jerusalem Artichokes
- Raw Organic Garlic
- Raw Organic Leeks
- Raw or Cooked Organic Onions
- Raw Organic Jicama
- Raw Organic Asparagus
- Unripe Bananas
- Fresh Organic Yacon or Yacon Syrup
- Raw Organic Honey
- Organic Psyllium Husks
- Organic Whole Grains
Some of these foods are hard to find, but then others like onions, garlic, leeks whole grains and bananas are very common and not too expensive so can easily be added to your daily diet.
By increasing your overall intake of prebiotics or non-digestible dietary fiber you can increase your immune function and gut health. This will result in the reduction of inflammation, enhance your immune system and heart health while regulating your hormone levels and boosting your bone health and longevity.