What You Need to Know
Like with any supplement, not all products are created equal. There are so many choices on store shelves that it may be confusing to know which ones will provide you the most benefit. Read below to help you choose the right prebiotic for you and your gut.
Prebiotics are in certain plant-based foods like fruits and veggies as well as supplements. Foods that contains prebiotics include:
- Bananas (especially green bananas)
- Whole-wheat products
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichokes (also known as a sunchoke)
Chicory root, dandelion greens and Jerusalem artichokes are less familiar foods that can provide great nutrition. Chicory root comes from a plant in the dandelion family and is known for it’s coffee-like flavor. As it lacks caffeine, it is a great hot drink alternative when looking for a non-stimulating beverage.
Dandelion greens can be found in the produce department and solid in bunches much like spinach. They can be tossed in a salad or sautéed in olive oil.
Finally, Jerusalem artichokes, also known as a sunchoke, look like a ginger root on steroids. They are a low-carb potato alternative and can be eaten raw or cooked. Any way you normally prepare root vegetables: roasting, steaming, sautéing and frying are all fair game. Or they can be consumed like jicama.
When it comes to prebiotic supplements, you may see certain compounds in such products as:
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
- Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
- Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOS)
By feeding probiotics with prebiotic fibers, many symbiotic health benefits arise. In fact, research shows that prebiotics may help reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. Also, they may also improve bone health by increasing how much calcium is absorbed in the body. These fibers may also help strengthen the immune system.
Most people can benefit from prebiotics, but there are some people that may not tolerate them well. In fact, health experts report that prebiotics may worsen symptoms for those with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
People with IBS cannot tolerate FODMAPs, or certain sugars that aren’t completely digested or absorbed by the intestines. Consuming such compounds will cause them symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Prebiotics like onion, garlic, artichokes, chicory root, wheat, and asparagus are high in FODMAPs.
How Women Uniquely benefit from prebiotics
Most people can benefit from prebiotics in their diet. However, women can reap unique health benefits. For example, many women can relate that yeast infections are the worst. They are painful, itchy, and uncomfortable. Having such an infection can really stop your day in its tracks.
However, recent research shows that nourishing probiotics with prebiotics may help balance the gut and in turn reduce such infections. Not to mention that they may lower risk of urinary tract infections, help manage osteoporosis, and reduce menopausal symptoms. Therefore, aside from just gut health, prebiotics can support other important aspects of health in women.
Why Do We Need Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a vital part of a gut health. Besides improving digestion, they also strengthen the immune system and can help with bone health and lower the risk of certain conditions that especially affect women like UTIs and PMS.
You can consume prebiotics through certain foods or through a daily supplement. When looking for a prebiotic consider taking one that includes a probiotic as it’s typically formulated to work symbiotically with each other.
Since prebiotics may not benefit everyone, it may be best to try out certain prebiotic foods in small amounts before buying a supplement. You can also ask a qualified gastroenterologist to answer any questions you may have about prebiotics.