20 Prebiotic Foods for Gut Health

Prebiotics are fiber-rich food sources that cannot be broken down by human enzymes in the digestive tract.1

Prebiotics are instead used as food for our microbiome and are fermented by the bacteria in our large intestine to help strengthen the digestive system. Prebiotics help boost colon health and help our gut lining to absorb nutrients and minerals.2

As prebiotics stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, it has been shown to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, enhance immune health and even improve metabolic function.3

See below list of prebiotic foods!

20 Prebiotic Foods for Gut Health

1) Garlic

Garlic, rich in prebiotic Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by reducing triglycerides and cholesterol, as well as boosting digestive health by relieving the symptoms of constipation.4

Allicin, an enzyme released when crushing garlic, has antifungal and antiparasitic benefits.5

2) Asparagus

An abundant source of prebiotic-rich fructans, asparagus has been shown to promote the growth of beneficial strains of bacteria Prevotella, Megamonas, and Bifidobacterium while reducing Haemophilus, a potentially harmful bacterium.

3) Oats

Beta-glucans, known for their powerful immune-modulating properties are a rich prebiotic source found in oats.6

A study showed Beta-glucans performed similarly to inulin (a potent prebiotic) in the gut by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium and inhibiting the growth of harmful gut microbiota.7

4) Dark Chocolate

Cocoa, found in dark chocolate, has been studied for its extensive health benefits, from blood pressure regulation to insulin stabilisation, antioxidant benefits, and lipid metabolism.8

The polyphonic properties of cocoa make it a potent prebiotic by reducing inflammation in the gut along with helping to reduce the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria.9

5) Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem Artichoke contains inulin, a well-known and well-researched prebiotic known for its glucose regulating abilities, as well as its antifungal, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-constipation benefits.10

6) Dandelion Greens

Rich in antioxidant flavonoids, dandelion greens have been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive tract.

Dandelion greens have also been shown to stimulate pancreatic enzymes, which stimulate digestive function and reduce constipation.11

7) Chicory Root

Chicory root is another FOS-containing food source, known to support a healthy microbiota by improving the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut.12

A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial showed a significant improvement of bowel function in patients when consuming chicory root. Regularity of bowel function was improved along with fuller formed stools.13

8) Onions

Onions, which contain fructans, have been shown to strengthen the digestive system through their immune-modulating benefits.14

This sulfur-rich food source is also known for its anti-cancer, antibiotic, and antithrombotic activity.15

9) Apples

Full of polyphenic proanthocyanidins, apples have powerful antioxidant and inflammatory properties.16

Pectin, the most abundant fiber found in apples, is a gelling agent for the gut and improves transit time, nutrient absorption, and stool frequency.17

10) Bananas

Bananas contain considerable amounts of fiber-rich ingestible carbohydrates. Bananas have also been shown to, when eaten daily, potentially reduce gut disturbances such as bloating and contribute to healthy weight management.18

11) Chickpeas

Chickpeas contain up to 22g of insoluble fiber per 100g as well as containing an impressive mineral nutrient profile, which is great for colon health.19
The fiber content of chickpeas helps to reduce insulin resistance and stabilise blood glucose levels.20

12) Tomatoes

Flavonoid-rich tomatoes have been shown to repair cells that line the digestive tract, reduce inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines and modulate the immune system.21

13) Brown Rice

Daily intake of brown rice has been shown to help with weight management, glucose tolerance, and reduced dependence on fatty foods. 22

14) Leeks

Leeks are another food source rich in FOS and are beneficial for colon health by speeding transit time, increasing calcium absorption, and bulking out stools.23
Leeks have also been shown to increase beneficial bacteria Bifidobacteria in the colon.

15) Konjac Root

Part of the tuber family, konjac root contains 40% glucomannan fiber, a highly rich source of insoluble fiber.

Konjac root draws water to the colon, to help bulk stools and reduce constipation. It has also been shown to positively impact gut microflora by increasing beneficial bacteria species in the large intestine.24

16) Berries

Berries are an abundant source of antioxidant-rich polyphenols, studied for their beneficial impact on the cardiovascular system as well as reducing diabetes by helping to regulate blood glucose.25

Due to their antioxidant mechanisms, polyphenols have been shown to reduce inflammatory digestive diseases, modulate the immune response and improve intestinal permeability.26

17) Flaxseed

Flaxseed is a seed that contains lignans, plant compounds that have potent antioxidant and oestrogenic effects.27

They are most studied for their anti-cancer properties along with helping to reduce constipation and manage blood glucose levels.

18) Seaweed

Seaweed is surprisingly rich in proteins and contains antioxidant polyphenols which have been shown to reduce gut inflammation.28

This iodine-rich source has also been studied for its antidiabetic and weight management benefits.

19) Lentils

Lentils contain 2-3 times more dietary fiber than cereal grains and are recommended for obesity management, due to the satiating nature of the fiber.29

Part of the pulse family, lentils help to improve the gut microbiota by increasing populations of healthy bacteria volume and species diversity in the colon.30

20) Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage, also known as curly cabbage, is part of the brassica family, is known for its liver detoxifying capabilities.

This vegetable contains phytochemicals known for their gut-friendly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.31

References

1. Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota - PubMed (nih.gov)

2. Prebiotic diet - FAQs - Department of Gastroenterology (monash.edu)

3. Potential Benefits of Dietary Fibre Intervention in Inflammatory Bowel Disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

4. Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health - PubMed (nih.gov)

5. Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic - PubMed (nih.gov)

6Immune-modulatory effects of dietary Yeast Beta-1,3/1,6-D-glucan | Nutrition Journal | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)

7. Yeast β-glucan, a potential prebiotic, showed a similar probiotic activity to inulin - PubMed (nih.gov)

8. Chocolate, "Food of the Gods": History, Science, and Human Health - PubMed (nih.gov)

9. Cocoa Polyphenols and Gut Microbiota Interplay: Bioavailability, Prebiotic Effect, and Impact on Human Health - PubMed (nih.gov)

10. Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) as a medicinal plant and its natural products - PubMed (nih.gov)

11. Mechanistic study on inhibition of porcine pancreatic α-amylase using the flavonoids from dandelion - PubMed (nih.gov)

12. Inulin-type prebiotics--a review: part 1 - PubMed (nih.gov)

13. Effect of consumption of chicory inulin on bowel function in healthy subjects with constipation: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial - PubMed (nih.gov)

14. Structural analyses and immunomodulatory properties of fructo-oligosaccharides from onion (Allium cepa) - PubMed (nih.gov)

15. Onion: nature protection against physiological threats - PubMed (nih.gov)

16. Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration? (nih.gov)

17. Effect of purified cellulose, pectin, and a low-residue diet on fecal volatile fatty acids, transit time, and fecal weight in humans - PubMed (nih.gov)

18. Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomised, controlled trial - PubMed (nih.gov)

19. Full article: Benefits of pulse consumption on metabolism and health: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials (tandfonline.com)

20. Rebelling against the (Insulin) Resistance: A Review of the Proposed Insulin-Sensitizing Actions of Soybeans, Chickpeas, and Their Bioactive Compounds - PubMed (nih.gov)

21. Flavonoids from Engineered Tomatoes Inhibit Gut Barrier Pro-inflammatory Cytokines and Chemokines, via SAPK/JNK and p38 MAPK Pathways - PubMed (nih.gov)

22. Brown rice-specific γ-oryzanol as a promising prophylactic avenue to protect against diabetes mellitus and obesity in humans - PubMed (nih.gov)

23. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11953920/

24. Konjac acts as a natural laxative by increasing stool bulk and improving colonic ecology in healthy adults - PubMed (nih.gov)

25. The role of polyphenols in modern nutrition - PubMed (nih.gov)

26. Benefits of polyphenols on gut microbiota and implications in human health - ScienceDirect

27. Changes in 2-hydroxyestrone and 16alpha-hydroxyestrone metabolism with flaxseed consumption: modification by COMT and CYP1B1 genotype - PubMed (nih.gov)

28. Seaweed and human health - PubMed (nih.gov)

29. Pulse Crop Effects on Gut Microbial Populations, Intestinal Function, and Adiposity in a Mouse Model of Diet-Induced Obesity - PubMed (nih.gov)

30. A systematic review of the effect of dietary pulses on microbial populations inhabiting the human gut - PubMed (nih.gov)

31. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata) phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential - PubMed (nih.gov)

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