I usually write about acupuncture, but I want to tell you about something, some research I’m very excited about. I am sure you have heard about the health benefits of a healthy microbiome, which is a term encompassing the healthy bacteria that live in our guts. Some fun facts:
- the human body is made up of one trillion cells, while our microbiome consists of 10-100 times that number
- the number of genes in our microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome
- scientists have shown that our microbiome influences our metabolism, physiology and gene expression influencing our mood, energy and immune function
In the late 1990s, information began surfacing about the benefits of probiotics to the microbiome. Years of using antibiotics have wiped out bad bacteria, but they have also killed off our beneficial bacteria. Many of us have incorporated these beneficial bacteria back into our diet, either through supplements or a healthy dose of probiotic rich fermented foods.
So, once we have introduced these good buggers into our diet, how do we keep them strong and healthy? New evidence is showing a diet rich in prebiotic foods is as important as probiotic rich foods. Prebiotics are defined as foods that do not break down in the small intestine, making their way to the large intestine where our gut bacteria break them down and produce short chain fatty acids that help us in many ways.
Prebiotic rich diets also been shown to help
- improve our immune function
- lower inflammation
- help with weight loss or maintenance
- reduce the risk for heart disease
- improve mood disorders
- decrease stress hormones in the body
Have I convinced you yet? Ready to add them to your diet?
Here is a list of prebiotic rich foods:
- raw or cooked onions
- raw garlic
- raw leeks
- bananas that aren’t fully ripe
- raw jicama
- raw asparagus
- raw dandelion greens
- raw chicory root
- acacia gum
The list looks a little daunting, but including these foods can be easy. Always try to use onions, keep some slightly underripe bananas around, have dandelion green salads, snack on jicama, and trying making homemade cultured veggies and fermenting your own asparagus.
Supplementing with a quality probiotic is good, but getting prebiotics and probiotics from real food is even better. Here’s to a happy gut!
[written by Julie]