Prebiotic supplements are some of the most exciting products on the market right now. They are used by people all around the world to promote gut health. But you can help your gut bacteria by eating more prebiotic foods. So what foods are prebiotics? Let’s find out!
What are prebiotic fibers?
Prebiotic is the name we give to certain non-digestible fibers which feed your gut bacteria.
Most people today know prebiotics as supplements. The word prebiotic is often conflated with probiotic, and both are synonymous with dietary supplements.
But prebiotics are not only obtained through supplements.
Many foods contain prebiotics; some are found int he normal human diet, others are not.
These prebiotic fibers are usually water soluble fibers that are essentially untouched by the stomach and the small intestine. They pass through your digestive tract unaffected by bile and your various digestive enzymes.
That is until they reach the colon.
Once in the colon, these fibers act as a substrate for the growth of bacteria. Bacteria like Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli do not derive energy from the same food sources as you. Instead, your gut bacteria ferment these non-digestible fibers; the bacteria breaks down these fibrous substrates and use the products for growth and energy.
In the case of Bifidobacteria, the product of the breakdown of prebiotic fibers is normally short-chain fatty acids. Bifidobacterium contain specific genes for breaking down oligosaccharides into short-chain fatty acids; genes which other bacteria do not possess.
Prebiotics vs other fibers
Not all fibers are prebiotics.
Similarly, there are substances which promote the growth of Bifidobacterium speficially. These substances are called bifidogenic factors. Bifidogenic factors and prebiotics have some overlap, but they are not identical.
Prebiotics have a very specific definition.
To class as a prebiotic, a compound must be:
- Non-digestible and unaffected by stomach acid or digestive enzymes
- Fermented by gastroinestinal bacteria
Some people have more stringent criteria for what classes as a prebiotic.
For us, to class as a prebiotic, a fiber must meet at least one more very important criteria:
- Selectively feed beneficial gut bacteria
In our opinion, a true prebiotic must only promote the growth of benficial, healthy gut bacteria. We don’t want to be consuming something which feeds the least healthful strains of bacteria as well as the good bacteria – that wont help our digestive health at all!
So when we’re lookng for a prebiotic, we only want something which will act as a substrate for the gut bacteria which are most beneficial to health and performance.
This is our big problem with prebiotics like PrebioThrive, which contains several fibers that don’t selectively feed the most healthful bacteria strains.
So what foods contain genuine prebiotics?
What foods are considered prebiotics?
There are several foods which contain large amounts of excellent prebiotic fibers.
Some of these foods are easy to include in your normal diet. Some of you may already eat plenty of these foods on a regular basis (but if you did you probably wouldn’t be on this page).
More likely, most of you will benefit enormously from including more of these foods in your regular diet.
If you don’t want to eat more of these foods, then a prebiotic supplement might be the right call for you.
Here are the 20 best food sources of prebiotics:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Chicory root
- Jicama root
- Konjac root
Eating these foods on a regular basis will dramatically improve your digestive health, as well as your cognitive performance, mood, and immune system.
If you will struggle to eat a lot of artichokes or asparagus on a regular basis, then a good quality prebiotic supplement might be a good idea.
To learn more, take a look at our list of the best prebiotics on sale right now.