Everything You Need To Know About Prebiotics + How To Get More Of Them For Your Health

Dr. Will Cole, leading functional-medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing health programs for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders, and brain problems.

Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional-medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is a health expert and course instructor for the world’s largest wellness brands such as mindbodygreen and goop. He recently shared this blog post about the benefits and importance of prebiotics. Read on for some extra knowledge on taking care of your body.

When it comes to gut health, probiotics are all the rage. But what about prebiotics? In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I talk to my patients day in and day out about the importance of a healthy gut for overall health - and that can’t happen without both probiotics and prebiotics.

What are prebiotics?

First, let’s take a look at what makes probiotics and prebiotics different from each other. While equally important, they both have different roles:

  • Probiotics: These are live bacteria that reintroduce new, good bacteria strains into your gut.
  • Prebiotics: These are a form of dietary fiber found in certain foods that are digested slower by your body and act as a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria so they can multiply.

When you eat foods rich in prebiotics, you are providing just the right kind of fuel your gut needs to thrive. However, it’s not enough to eat only probiotics or prebiotics, your gut needs a healthy balance of both in order to keep your microbiome balanced. 

Benefits of prebiotics

While maintaining a diverse microbiome is going to be beneficial for your overall health, prebiotics have some specific health benefits that are important to highlight.

     1. Encourages regular bowel movements 

Prebiotics help add bulk to your stool to help you avoid diarrhea and alleviate constipation to maintain normal, regular bowel movements.

     2. Promotes stable blood sugar

High blood sugar is linked to all sorts of metabolic health problems including weight loss resistance, insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes. Eating prebiotics have been shown to help slow the rate at which certain foods spike your blood sugar for more balanced blood sugar over time.

     3. Supports immunity

Did you know that approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? When you eat prebiotics they produce short-chain fatty acids - by products of the fermentation of prebiotic fiber in your gut - that have been shown to support healthy inflammation levels and promote a strong immune system. This is because short-chain fatty acids are one of the main sources of fuel for the cells in your digestive tract that keep your gut barrier strong to avoid leaky gut syndrome.

What foods contain prebiotics?

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to get enough prebiotics through food. Exactly how much you need every day is going to vary for each person and whether or not you are dealing with an underlying gut problem where you could benefit from additional prebiotics. Some of the foods that contain the highest amount of prebiotics include:

  • Garlic
  • Apples/Apple cider vinegar
  • Chicory root
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Dandelion root
  • Oats
  • Legumes
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus

How do I get more prebiotics?

Other than eating more of these prebiotic-rich foods, there are quite a few prebiotic supplements on the market. And since more and more people are realizing just how important they are for overall health, many brands have gone on to add prebiotics to their food.

One of my favorite examples of this is Poppi. Their line of delicious sparkling prebiotics sodas are truly changing the soda game and the functional food market. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good soda, but I don’t get to indulge because of how many unhealthy ingredients there are in most conventional soda brands. But unlike the others, Poppi takes out all the added fake stuff and only includes what is beneficial to your gut.

Each can contains less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and is infused with apple cider vinegar to deliver one of the best sources of natural prebiotics. But don’t worry, Poppi has cracked the code on ACV’s strong flavor and made it pop with natural sweeteners and fresh fruit, so you can get all the benefits of ACV without the overpowering taste.

In fact, you won’t be at a loss for flavor when it comes to what they offer. You can choose from specialty flavors like Raspberry Rose, Strawberry Lemonade, Ginger Lime, Orange, or Watermelon, or go for their line of classic soda flavors like Root Beer, Doc Pop, and my favorite - Cola.

So instead of taking yet another supplement or overloading your plate, Poppi has made it fun and easy to get the prebiotics your body needs to boost your immunity at the source.

That's what I call bubbles with benefits.

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