Free Ebook

Simply subscribe to ZoeBingleyPullin.com and we will send your eBook directly to your inbox.
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Your email will never be shared
was successfully added to your cart.

Cart

Health Tips

A closer look at pre and probiotic foods

By 21/11/2016 No Comments

‘Gut health’ is undoubtedly an on trend topic in health circles and for good reason.

Research is continually drawing a link between optimal gut health and decreased risk of disease. When talking good gut health, you will hear the words ‘prebiotics’ and ‘probiotics’ being used. So while we know prebiotic and probiotic foods are essential for a healthy digestive system, what exactly are they and how do I include them in the diet?

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are carbohydrate-containing foods known to resist digestion in the small intestine and therefore reach the colon where they are fermented by gut flora. In fact, prebiotics can favourably alter the composition of gut bacteria, specifically, the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, two beneficial probiotic strains. Prebiotics also:

  • support the production of short chain fatty acids, important to protect against colon cancer; and
  • reduce the ability of bad bacteria to grow; and
  • increase uptake of minerals such as calcium; and
  • may improve overall immunity.

Dietary sources of prebiotics:

Psyllium

Psyllium is derived from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant’s seeds and can be purchased from health food stores or the supermarket. Psyllium is also an ingredient in off the shelf fibre supplements such as Metamucil.

If introducing psyllium into your diet start small with ½ – 1 tsp. daily with lots of water and away from medication, as it can have a binding effect.

Add to smoothies, sprinkle on cereal, yoghurt or use in baking such as seed crackers or biscuits.

Leeks

Leeks are a vegetable similar to shallots, garlic and onion and when cooked offer a slightly sweet taste. Remove the outer casing and green stalk before cooking. Leeks can be used to replace onions and shallots in cooking or roasted on their own.

Asparagus

 Asparagus is a popular spring vegetable and can easily be incorporated into the diet. Try steaming, adding to stir-fry’s, adding to roasted vegetables or frittata mixes.

 Garlic/Onion

If you already have garlic and onions in your pantry and consuming them on a daily basis, continue to do so! Try adding raw garlic to salad dressing, dips and even scrambled eggs for a daily prebiotic hit.

Oats

Oats are a great source of fibre and prebiotics. Try adding 1 tbsp. to smoothies, starting the day with bircher muesli using ½ cup soaked oats or make an oat based porridge.

Probiotics

Probiotic rich foods contain live microorganisms, which offer many benefits to health. Probiotic’s are also available in capsule form and are often prescribed after a course of antibiotics to repopulate the good bacteria, which has been wiped out or to assist gastrointestinal symptoms. Probiotics are known for their role in immunity, inflammatory conditions, skin health, and IBS.

Dietary sources of probiotics:

Kimchi

 Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish made from vegetables, salt and spice. Kimchi is usually cabbage based and once prepared set aside for a few days to ferment. The fermentation process produces healthy bacteria. Try making your own or purchasing from an Asian grocer/health food store and use as a condiment.

Sauerkraut

 Sauerkraut is a popular condiment widely known for its gut soothing effects. Similar to kimchi, it often has a cabbage base but can also be made with added carrot and beetroot. When purchasing opt for a raw version which hasn’t been heat treated. Heat can kill off the live enzymes and bacteria. Use as a condiment, or if game, straight from the spoon as a snack!

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink, similar to yoghurt and has a tangy flavour. Kefir is made by adding ‘kefir grains’ to milk and letting the milk ferment over the course of a few days. Try making at home or you will find in health food stores, use in replace of milk and yoghurt or simply take as a daily shot.

Tempeh

Tempeh originates from Indonesia and is made from fermented soybeans. It differs from tofu as tofu is not fermented but instead made by curdling soymilk with a coagulant. Accordingly, tempeh offers a probiotic rich alternative to tofu. Tempeh can be used in the same manner as firm tofu and can be purchased at health food stores or Asian grocers.

 Natural yoghurt

Yoghurt is famous for its probiotic benefits. When selecting yoghurt, look for organic full-fat natural yoghurt with a high probiotic count, the ingredients list should have ‘live cultures’ listed. Eat daily with fresh fruit as a snack, add to smoothies, serve mixed with spices as a dip or add a dollop to spicy dishes.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink, made using a starter culture, known as a scoby. You can easily make your own kombucha or purchase, bottled kombucha from health food stores. It has a sweet fizzy taste and is available in a variety of flavours.

 References

 Slavin, J 2013, ‘Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanism and Health Benefits,’ Nutrients, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 1417-1435.