Have you ever experienced indigestion? Maybe a little heartburn or acid in your stomach? We all have at some point in our lives and we will certainly experience it more as we age. But did you know that a lack of prebiotics in your diet can make the symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and stomach acid worse?
Well … It can! It’s bad enough on its own, but lacking the proper amount of prebiotics in your diet can make your symptoms more on the severe side. You’ve no doubt been told that you need a good amount of probiotic foods in your everyday diet, but you also need PREbiotics to help the PRObiotics in your food better protect your overall gut health. When you consume them together, you increase your chances of having a more healthy gut, as well as a healthier lifestyle.
You may be wondering just what are prebiotics exactly, and how are they going to help with digestive issues. Simply put, prebiotics are a non-digestible fiber compound. When you take prebiotics, they are not digested by your body as they make their way through.
When they reach your colon, they are fermented by the microflora in your gut. By remaining undigested, the prebiotics are able to work together with the probiotics in your system and keep your digestive tract in balance and working in your favor. Balance is a beautiful thing.
When prebiotics and probiotics get together, they can improve the overall health of not only your gut, but also your health in general. They help your body to maintain the balance and diversity of good bacteria in your gut. You do not want to have too much bad bacteria in your gut, and just the same, you do not want to have too much good bacteria in your gut.
Both of these can cause digestive problems and lead to other health issues if they are left untreated. The overall health of your gut is closely linked to the health of your other organs and bodily functions. By maintaining good overall gut health, you can lower your risk of disease and also any inflammation that you may be experiencing.
Benefits of Using Prebiotics
When you add prebiotics into your diet, you are getting a good amount of health benefits from them. Just by adding more prebiotics into your diet, you will begin to notice these health benefits:
- Lower stress response
- Lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases
- Better cholesterol levels
- Improved overall gut health
- More level hormone balances
- Less digestive issues
- Improvement function in your immune system
- Reduction in inflammation
- Lower autoimmune reactions
- Lower risk of becoming obese
- Less weight gain
All of these are diseases or health issues that you may face, or will probably face at some point in your life. And by simply adding prebiotics to your diet to help the probiotics in your system, you can greatly decrease your chances for the diseases and health problems, and increase your ability to have better health overall.
It is certainly important to include prebiotics in your diet if you have a family history of some of the health issues listed above. If you have a direct relative with any of those issues, you are more likely to develop them than if you have no family history of those issues.
Now the question is, what other benefits can you receive from prebiotics and why is it so important that you have them in your diet. There are 7 main reasons why you need to add prebiotics into your diet, we have discussed some of them, but let’s take a closer look.
Improved Digestion and Gut Health
Prebiotics can help to stimulate the growth of probiotics in your system naturally. By consuming prebiotics, you can increase the number of probiotics in your system that help with your gut health. They can help to keep your digestive tract in balance and prevent you from experiencing those nasty symptoms that are associated with indigestion and stomach pains.
Adding prebiotics to your system will help your gut be able to grow the good bacteria that your body needs in order to pull the fiber from the foods you eat and turn them into the fuel and energy that you need. It can also produce short chain fatty acids which will help to regulate the electrolytes in your system.
You may have been told to increase the amounts of electrolytes in your body while you are sick to help keep the bad bacteria and viruses at bay. This is what the prebiotics are striving to create. That way you will experience less bouts of indigestion and be less likely to contract a stomach bug.
Prebiotics can also work with probiotics in improving your bowel movements and making it easier for you to go. Taking probiotics, you may also notice an improvement when it comes to common digestive problems such as diarrhea caused by antibiotics, symptoms of Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Improved Immune Function and Cancer Protection
Prebiotics have been shown in research studies to help improve your immune system and also to reduce the concentration of cancer promoting enzymes in your body. Taking them can also help your body to naturally improve your stools, which can help prevent you from having bowel infections and other gastro related diseases and infections.
When combined together, prebiotics and probiotics can boost your immune levels and allow your body to absorb the right amount of nutrients from your food. Prebiotics also help to keep your pH levels in balance, which can help to keep viruses and bacteria out of your gut.
Some research studies have indicated that when you consume prebiotic foods along with probiotics, you can reduce the incidence of tumors and cancer cells in your body. More research needs to be conducted on that particular part to find the exact cause of this and how it can better help the general public.
Inflammation is one of the main causes of diseases today, and it is also the main cause of heart disease which is the leading killer of men and women. Research studies have indicated that if you are consuming a high fiber diet in addition to prebiotics, then you will have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular diseases and inflammation.
Combining prebiotics and probiotics can also improve your chances of not developing inflammation-related diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Both of these are linked to poor gut health, which can be improved significantly with prebiotics being added to your diet.
It can also help reduce inflammation around your arteries and allow more oxygen and blood flow into your veins and organs. Your body needs that oxygen to help your blood pump correctly and produce the right amount needed to keep you healthy.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
With heart disease being the number one killer of both men and women, researchers are trying to assess medications and techniques that can help to reduce our chances of developing this disease. Prebiotics can also lower insulin resistance and the triggers that can cause inflammation in and around the heart.
Prebiotics also have the ability to prevent ischemic heart diseases. They can also help to balance electrolyte and mineral levels which can help you to control your blood pressure. Reducing the amount of blood pressure spikes that you have can lower your risk of heart disease so it’s very important.
At some point in many of our lives, we are looking at trying to shed those unwanted pounds, whether they snuck up on us or we’ve been packing them on for years. Everyone wants to lose at least a small amount of weight to get back into shape or to become a healthier person in general.
People who have a lower intake of prebiotics in their diet, have a greater chance of becoming obese and suffering from obesity related diseases. Prebiotic foods can actually work in your stomach and gut to make you feel fuller a lot faster than other foods. By doing this, the goal is to limit the amount you are eating, not only in one sitting, but also in your entire day.
Your body will be able to protect you against obesity when you eat a diet that is rich in good fibers. Meaning, stopping at the drive thru everyday isn’t going to count when it comes to fiber-rich diets. You need a diet that has good and natural fiber in it to help protect you from obesity.
Also, eating foods that are rich in prebiotics and combining them with probiotic foods or supplements can help you lose weight and maintain that weight loss. While you still need to be eating and consuming the recommended daily calorie intake, making sure that you are eating the proper foods and taking the prebiotic and probiotic foods is essential when it comes to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. More importantly, your weight is linked to numerous health problems and diseases that can be prevented simply by adding the prebiotic to your diet.
Improved and protected bone health
As we age, our bones start to deteriorate and become brittle. You may notice that your bones ache and break more easily as you age more into your 60s and 70s. Everyone will go through some form of bone loss at some point in their lives.
But there is something that you can do to help increase the strength of your bones and also the bone density. Research studies have shown that simply adding prebiotics into your diet can help allow your bones to absorb the nutrients and minerals that they need in order to stay strong.
Your bones need magnesium, iron and calcium to remain dense and strong. These are also important when it comes to preventing osteoarthritis and other bone related diseases. Research studies have shown that people who consume around 10 grams of prebiotics on a daily basis can increase their calcium intake which will cause the bones to become dense.
While studies have been conducted in this area, more are still needed in order to give a definitive answer on how prebiotics actually work in regards to hormone regulation. Researchers have found that gut health is directly linked to hormone imbalances. If you are someone who has poor gut health, then you may notice more hormonal changes than that of someone who has a healthy gut.
If your gut is not getting the proper amount of prebiotics that it needs, it is unable to help you control your mood and reduce the amount of stress that you are experiencing. Research studies have indicated that mood disorders could be directly linked to your gut health, though these studies are still new and have not been fully tested.
Prebiotics can also help to level out your cortisol levels and keep you from experiencing a rise or fall in those levels. More studies are being planned to find out exactly how prebiotics can help with hormonal imbalances and even bouts of mood swings. But the cases that they have studied so far, are showing extreme promise in having prebiotics and probiotics help improve the moods and hormones in people who are experiencing issues.
Sources of Prebiotics
Now that you have a better understanding of what prebiotics can do for your overall health, you may be wondering where you can get prebiotics, the answer: your supermarket. Prebiotics can be found in supplements, but those supplements are not going to give you the recommended amount that you need to continue improving your health.
You want to look at your local supermarket and find those foods in their natural states and consume your prebiotics in that way. You are going to find prebiotics in foods like, vegetables, whole grains, and even honey. Your best bet foods for prebiotics are listed below:
- Raw Chicory Root
- Raw garlic
- Raw leeks
- Acacia gum also known as gum arabic
- Raw dandelion greens
- Raw and cooked onions
- Under ripe bananas
- raw Jerusalem artichoke
- raw jicama
- raw asparagus
You will notice that most of these foods are in their raw state and the reason for that is you will be able to get more prebiotics in the raw state than you will in a cooked state. Though the onions listed will have about the same, whether they are raw or cooked. Some of these foods may not be on your current grocery list, but they should be added to help you get those prebiotics that you need for your digestive health.
You can also look at adding raw honey, whole grain wheat, and whole grain corn to your menu as well. It is important to remember that you are going to want to shop at a supermarket that carries these products and has them as fresh as you can get them. This will insure that you are receiving the proper amount of prebiotics and that you are not contributing to any gut health issues by eating foods that are not fresh.
You can also ferment some of the above listed foods if you are not too keen on them in the raw state. You can even add them into fermented dishes such as kimchi, yogurt, and cultured veggies to help you get started. Fermented foods are what allow the prebiotics to thrive and to work hand in hand with probiotics to help keep you healthy.
If you are having a hard time finding foods that are rich in prebiotics, or you are trying to include them in your diet over a certain time period, you can supplement with prebiotic pills. The supplements that give you prebiotics should only be used for a short amount of time, as they will not give you the required amount that you need to be consuming on a regular basis.
If you are having trouble getting started with adding more prebiotics to your diet, you can ask your medical doctor for a referral to a nutritionist who can help you. The nutritionist and your medical doctor will be able to answer your questions about not only adding prebiotics into your diet, but also in how they can help you throughout your life.
There are many online resources that you can check out that can help you lay out a meal plan and a game plan on how you can get started adding those prebiotics into your diet. Not only will it allow you to try new foods, but those resources will give you the step by step process that you need to follow.
You can also talk with your doctor about what they suggest in terms of getting started if you are not used to those foods that have high levels of prebiotics in them. Gathering all of the knowledge that you can and forming a game plan with a team of experts who know your medical history can do wonders for your long term success, and allow you to ease into this new stage in your life.