The Power of Prebiotics
Many of you are probably familiar with probiotics – the friendly bacteria in our gut that help our digestive system function properly. Probiotics are found in fermented foods, like yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, and sourdough bread. But have you heard of prebiotics?
Prebiotics are dietary fibers that resist digestion in the small intestine and are selectively fermented in the large intestine by colonic flora, supporting the good bacteria. Not all dietary fibers are considered prebiotics. One of the most recognized prebiotic is inulin. Inulin can be found in onion, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, bananas, wheat, dandelion greens, and chicory, to name a few. By increasing your consumption of these foods (gradually!), you can help support your good gut bacteria.
Eric Garza taught a community class with us, “Magnificent Microbes, Healthy Guts,” which focused on the role good bacteria plays in our health. At that class, participants sampled raw root vegetables and went home with this Raw Root Vegetable Salad:
1 small red onion (or white, if you prefer)
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 very small piece of fresh turmeric
1 small potato, any variety, (steamed, if you are concerned about stomach upset)
1 small Jerusalem artichoke (steamed, if you are concerned about stomach upset)
1 small tender burdock root
1 small red beet (or another color, if you prefer)
1 small celeriac root
1 small carrot (any color is fine)
A handful of olives
Fermented veggies (carrots, beets, cabbage, etc)
1 cup young leafy greens (lettuce, mustard, arugula, spinach, mesclun mix, etc)
Red wine vinegar
Thinly slice the greens and add to your favorite salad bowl. Chop or grate amounts of each of the root vegetables and layer on top of the greens starting with the plain-colored celeriac on the bottom and ending with the bold colored beets and carrots at the top and center. Top the salad with thinly sliced olives, a few teaspoons of fermented vegetables and drizzle with red wine vinegar for a delicious, texturally diverse salad sure to please your gut microbiome. If you want to add a savory taste to the salad to balance out the root vegetables’ fibrousness, the vinegar, and fermented vegetables’ bite, a spoonful of tuna, chicken or egg salad can work marvelously!
So, keep eating those veggies and fruit, and if you want to support your gut bacteria, try increasing your prebiotic intake. In addition to consuming more plants, you can also find prebiotic supplements in our Wellness Department. Need some ideas for recipes that incorporate ingredients high in inulin? Check out our recipes (did you know you can sort by ingredient?!).