What Are Prebiotics?

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Though they often get a bad rap, some bacteria are beneficial. Good bacteria you’ve likely heard of include probiotics—microbes that help to digest food and support a healthy gut environment called a microbiome. Just like we can’t exist without eating, neither can probiotics. That’s where prebiotics come in.

Think of prebiotics as the buffet for the healthy gut bacteria. Found in foods, prebiotics help the growth of good gut bacteria by providing nourishment for them. It’s likely you’re already consuming prebiotics, they’re the fiber in some vegetables and grains.

What are prebiotics, asparagusPrebiotic Foods

Inulin is a soluble fiber found in plants. Because of its molecular make-up, inulin cannot be digested by your small intestine—that’s how it continues on to your large intestine to become fuel for beneficial bacteria. If you read food labels, you may have seen inulin listed, that’s because it is added as a source of fiber in things like nutritional bars, yogurt and baked goods. (Chicory root is a major source of inulin and you may have seen that listed in the ingredients as well.) Here are some veggies that contain inulin fiber:

  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Jicama
  • Onions
  • Leeks

Other foods that contain prebiotic fiber include:

  • Barley
  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • Apples
  • Flaxseeds
  • Wheat bran
  • Seaweed