Probiotics are all the rage these days—from kombucha tea to probiotic yoghurts to kefir to sauerkraut, people love to talk about probiotic foods. After all, they contain live bacteria, so they are totally awesome for our digestive health, immune function, and more. But you may not hear as much about prebiotic foods, the foods that FEED the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. These foods contain healthy fiber that encourages the growth of the good bacteria, making your body better-able to control bad bacteria and germs.
Here are a few of the best probiotic foods to eat now:
- Chicory root – Chicory is, hands down, the best source of prebiotics. It contains a lot of a fiber named inulin, which feeds the gut bacteria and encourages them to grow. You’ll find improved digestion and reduced risk of constipation, as well as an increase in bile production, thanks to the inulin in chicory root.
- Jerusalem artichoke – You may never have heard of this food, but if you can find it, it’s totally worth eating. Also known as an “earth apple”, this artichoke contains 2 grams of fiber per 100 grams of vegetable. 76% of that fiber is inulin, which makes this one of the best prebiotic foods around.
- Dandelion greens – This is one food you won’t find in the supermarket, but you can gather them in the wild and eat at home or on your camping trip. Dandelion greens contain 4 grams of fiber per 100 grams of greens, and a lot of that fiber is inulin, the prebiotic. These greens are amazing for promoting healthy digestion and elimination of wastes, as well as improving your immune system.
- Asparagus – These little veggie spears are one of the best vegetables to eat, and not just thanks to its prebiotic content. In addition to providing a lot of fiber (2-3 grams of inulin per 100 grams of asparagus), these veggies provide antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and improve your overall health.
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- Onions – Onions rank at the top of the list of prebiotic foods, thanks to its high inulin content. They also are loaded with fructooligosaccharides, another prebiotic nutrient that adds flavor and improves gut bacteria. It’s even useful for the breakdown of fat, and can increase nitric oxide production. Definitely a food to add to your diet!
- Garlic – Garlic also contains a lot of fructooligosaccharides, which is why it gives a sort of sweetness to your food. The inulin content of garlic rivals that of onions, making it a highly effective food to improve your gut health. It’s also useful for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. It’s highly efficient at killing off disease-causing bacteria.
- Leeks – Just like onions (leeks and onions belong to the same family), leeks are an amazing source of inulin fiber—16% of the fiber content is inulin. The fiber will promote the breakdown of fat in your body and can increase production of the important gut bacteria. You also get a lot of Vitamin K, which will improve bone and heart health.
- Bananas – Finally a fruit makes it onto the list! Bananas are loaded with dietary fiber, including a fairly small quantity of inulin. There’s also a resistant starch found in green bananas that will act like a prebiotic and nourish your gut bacteria. Not only can the fiber and starch in bananas improve your gut health, it will also reduce bloating and improve digestion and elimination of wastes. Definitely a good reason to add more bananas to your diet!