Unhealthy digestive system? Include prebiotics in your diet
Prebiotics are a type of soluble fibre which can only be digested by our gut. Their main function is to provide nourishment for the healthy bacteria.health and fitness Updated: Oct 27, 2015 15:23 IST
Most of us are aware of what probiotics are; they are good bacteria which are required by our body to keep our digestive system healthy. Probiotics control the growth of harmful, infection-causing bacteria in our gut. They also help the food move smoothly in the gut. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yoghurt and soft cheese like Gouda. However, probiotics are not to be confused with prebiotics. Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics and reduce the amount of damaging bacteria in our colon which improves the ph level in gut. They also boost the immune system. So, include these food items in your daily diet to everyday food choices.
Everybody loves bananas, even your gut. Bananas are one of the best sources of prebiotics, they make sure that your gut membrane functions smoothly. Bananas are high in fibre and potassium. Go for riper bananas instead of yellowish green bananas, as they may have higher starch levels and could be hard to digest.
Your cheapest and easiest way to get your daily dose of prebiotics is to consume onions. They contain inulin, a type of a dietary fibre, which is essential for cleansing the gut and to promote the growth of good bacteria. Onions are essential for boosting the immunity of gut.
One of the best natural sources of prebiotics is cabbage. And this is precisely the reason why it is used in dishes such as sauerkraut and kimchi salad. Sauerkraut is a German word for fermented cabbage. Fermented cabbage is an excellent choice for prebiotics as it fuels the growth of healthy gut bacteria and is also required for proper functioning of the bowel movement.
Easy to digest, and just as nutritious, legumes such as lentils, chick peas and green peas are the ideal choice for your natural source of prebiotics. They have the right amount of fibre and natural sugar to boost gut bacteria and keep your gut safe from infections. For optimum digestion, soak your lentils a night before consumption. Opt for red lentils as they are thin and easier to digest as compared to other varieties. They are sweeter in taste.
Whole grains such as oatmeal, barley and wheat are rich in prebiotics. They are light on the stomach, easily available and help you satiate much faster. Prebiotics in whole grains also improve your ability to absorb calcium and prevent bloating.
Beans are strong digestive boosters. However, for easy digestion, make sure they are properly soaked and well cooked. Incorporate them in your diet to get your daily dose of prebiotics. They contain oligosaccharides, which are a form of carbohydrates required for feeding the good gut bacteria.
An apple a day is the key to a healthy stomach. Rich in prebiotics, it contains pectin, which prevents the growth of bad bacteria in the stomach and control the pH level. It also prevents acidity and aids in healthy bowel movements.
Inputs by nutrionists Kanchan Patwardhan and Tripti Tandon.