Prebiotics are one of the newest trends making their way across health websites and media outlets. You may have wondered about them: Are they different than probiotics? Are they as good for you as people say? How do you take them?
Prebiotics are much more than just a health buzzword; these powerful fiber compounds play a vital role in the body’s immunity, digestive health, and overall well-being.*
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
They may sound similar, but probiotics and prebiotics are actually quite different.
Probiotics are live microorganisms like bacteria and yeast that are good for your health. They live in your body naturally, especially in your digestive system, but can also be added through powder or liquid supplements and certain foods. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha and kimchi are especially rich in probiotics. Consuming probiotics through food or supplements can help replace good bacteria that may be missing from your body due to illnesses or medications, such as after a round of antibiotics.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a type of nondigestible plant fiber that helps the good bacteria in your body grow and stay strong; essentially, it’s fuel for your body’s healthy bacteria (including probiotics). Whereas supplements and foods with probiotics can help add new bacteria to your system, prebiotics strengthen and maintain what’s already there.
Health Benefits of Prebiotics
Improved digestive health is one of the major benefits of adding more prebiotics to your diet. The digestive tract is lined with beneficial bacteria that help break down and absorb food, but various illnesses and medications can wipe out those healthy bacteria. Consuming foods or supplements with prebiotics can help strengthen your digestive tract’s beneficial bacteria.
Prebiotics are also thought to reduce inflammation – one of the core causes of disease – and boost the body’s immunity. Some researchers also believe prebiotics can help aid in weight loss, reduce the risk for heart disease, promote bone health, and regulate hormones.*
Best Prebiotic Foods and Supplements
There are a number of ways you can add more prebiotics to your diet, from consuming foods that are naturally rich in prebiotics to taking prebiotic supplements.
Raw chicory root is considered to be one of the best natural sources of prebiotics. It can be taken as a supplement, and is also commonly found in foods like bread and cereal.
Agave inulin is a carbohydrate and natural sweetener that has been dubbed a “super fiber.” It’s often used as a replacement for sugar in desserts and beverages, but is also a popular raw supplement. Agave inulin is featured in our Organic U•Matcha® Single Sips, part of the new line of single serving tea packets.
Raw garlic is one of the most attainable sources of prebiotics out there, since you can pick it up at just about any grocery store. Use it to make homemade guacamole, salsa or hummus, or for seasoning pasta dishes or mashed potatoes. Raw garlic has a much stronger flavor than cooked garlic, so experiment to find the right quantity for your dishes.
Onions are also abundant in prebiotics and easy to add to your diet. While raw onions are ideal for maximum benefits, cooked onions are still high in prebiotics as well. Raw onions can be used to add flavor to burgers and salads, while cooked onions can be used in omelets, stir frys, and other hot dishes.
Dandelion greens are another flavorful food that’s rich in prebiotics and can be consumed raw. You can find them at many specialty grocery and health food stores; simply chop them up and add them to a salad to add rich, earthy flavor.
However you prefer to consume them, prebiotics can serve as a powerful tool for preventing – rather than simply treating – diseases and illnesses.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.