What are pre-biotics, and do I need them?

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The word “prebiotics” can often get confused with the word “probiotics”, but they play different roles within the body. Both the pre- and probiotics are located within the digestive tract, or gut, and play a really beneficial part in in not only digestive health, but overall health too.

Prebiotics in simplest terms, are the food that feed some of the bacteria that live in our bowel (in total, there are over 100 trillion of them living in there!). Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres, which mean they can’t be broken down. They go on a journey from our mouths through to the other end, and stimulate the growth and activity of probiotics along the way – the good bacteria within our guts!

So like ourselves, we want to give our gut bacteria the best source of fuel so they can keep working hard and are in a happy balance living in our gut. The balance of these bacteria can change very quickly, so giving them a consistent source of good fuel is important.

Foods provide the greatest source of prebiotics, they are not commonly available in a supplement form, and it is best to get the prebiotics from food sources. Sources of prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (such as legumes), and inulin (a plant based source of fibre)

Food sources of prebiotics include:

  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • Honey
  • Beetroot
  • Butternut pumpkin
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Wheat bran
  • Pasta
  • Legumes – canned chickpeas or lentils
  • Maple syrup
  • Almonds and hazelnuts
  • Red wine

There is a huge variety of foods beyond this list which are also prebiotics, and they are all great options to include as part of your regular intake.

Resistant starch is an important type of fibre which is beneficial for prebiotic growth! This includes foods such as oats, cooked and cooled rice and potato, legumes, green bananas, and other types of grains which are rich in fibre.

For more information on prebiotics, or to make an appointment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian to review your intake, please contact us.