The microbiome is becoming quite the hot topic these days with its association with optimal health. You have likely heard of probiotics, the living microorganisms that supports a healthy digestive tract, but prebiotics are not as well known, yet are so very important!
Prebiotics are substances that are used in the body by microorganisms inside the body for health purposes. They way I like to teach it is that prebiotics are the food for probiotics. They stimulate the good microbes to grow, thus making the gut very happy. Easy peasy.
Most prebiotics are fiber but not all fiber rich foods are prebiotics. I know, a bit confusing but it comes down to the type of fiber here. Soluble and insoluble are the two types of fiber and the former is fermented by the gut bacteria and as such, are considered prebiotics. Insolube fiber, while still a beneficial fiber, is not fermented.
Prebiotics are often overlooked merely because most individuals have no idea not only what they are but more importantly, what foods contain them. Speaking of which, here is a short list of solid prebiotic food sources:
and why yes, cocoa!
Aim for getting most of your prebiotics from food and not supplements. A few servings per day will make your gut happy!
Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, METS II
Co-Founder/Owner, Birota Foods
Founder/Owner, eNRG Performance