People concerned with obesity are actively taking care of their gut health by managing their microbiome. Thanks to popular podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience or the trendy Butts and Guts Podcast, a growing number of consumers in America are incorporating probiotics in their diet and supplementation to optimize their immune function, mental health, and body weight. However, one thing that is often overlooked in maintaining a healthy digestive tract is prebiotics.
What Are Prebiotics?
Wait, what? Now you’re probably thinking, “What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?” Probiotics are the good bacteria found in your body that aids in good digestion. However, since these bacteria are also living creatures, they need sustenance to live and do the job of helping your digestive tract. Prebiotics are the specialized plant fibers that act as fertilizers for probiotics. These prebiotic fibers are non-digestible carbohydrates that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. So to put it simply, prebiotics is the “food” of probiotics.
Can Prebiotics Help with Obesity?
For individuals looking to manage their body weight, one key area of focus is gut health. People are now choosing to prioritize probiotic foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha. These probiotic-loaded guts would be healthier when paired with the crucial prebiotics that nourishes the little gut helpers living in our digestive tracts.
Researchers are still examining the exact link between the high-fat Western diet and poor gut health. Currently, the working theory finds that changes at the microbial community-level impact obesity. While the role of the gut microbiota as a factor in obesity isn’t fully understood at the moment, the evidence strongly suggests a linkage between the presence of prebiotics and probiotics with decreased levels of obesity.
5 Prebiotic Snacks That Can Clean Your Gut
To help you out, we decided to round up five delicious prebiotic snacks that can help you power the probiotic symbiotes cleaning out your gut:
While known as a probiotic snack thanks to the fermented soybean paste and koji (enzymes created by a rice mold), the comforting soup is also rich with prebiotic vegetable fibers. Remember not to serve at boiling temperature so that the prebiotic elements of the dish stay alive.
Chicory Root Coffee
Chicory root is almost 70% inulin, a fiber that the human body can’t digest. This makes it perfect for feeding the good bacteria in your gut so that you can keep things moving. In addition, the root has a taste and flavor profile similar to coffee, albeit certainly woodier. In New Orleans, mixing chicory coffee was originally a way of saving coffee beans; today, however, it’s an option for people trying to lessen their caffeine intake and meeting their prebiotic needs. So, while chicory root is popping in several dishes today for its many benefits, the high dietary fiber content makes it a go-to for gut-health-minded coffee drinkers.
A recent study in mice showed that flaxseed fiber ferments in the gut improve health and reduce obesity. Flaxseed is fantastic for prebiotic health and has numerous other benefits, such as being high in protein and rich in Omega-3s. While flaxseed is popular in baking, an overlooked culinary option is flaxseed as a breading on chicken or seafood. In a pinch, it’s super simple as a topping on a dessert or just blended in with a smoothie. Just be sure to store it properly in the freezer for a longer shelf life.
Not everybody is a wiz in the kitchen or has the time to cut their artichokes for snacks. But if you look for canned or frozen artichoke hearts, you get almost all of the prebiotic benefits with a lot less hassle. Sauteed or roasted with olive oil can be its little snack, but it can also enhance any dish or salad as a vegetable side.
Pistachios are one the most accessible snacks to get a good amount of prebiotics without any prep. These legumes are considered a tremendous prebiotic snack because they are loaded with fiber and polyphenols. At the same time, you get many other benefits in this nutrient-dense nut, such as unsaturated fat, protein, and antioxidant compounds. It’s tasty on its own, but you can always use it as a topping on yogurt or mixed in with a dessert.
So you see, it isn’t hard to incorporate prebiotics into a nutritional diet at all. Plus, there are still so many tasty and prebiotic-rich snack options that we didn’t get to include on this list. If you want to improve your gut health or know someone struggling with obesity, you might want to try substituting your next bag of potato chips into one of these yummy good-for-your-tummy snacks.
Parnell, J.A. &Reimer R.A. (2012). Prebiotic fiber modulation of the gut microbiota improves risk factors for obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Gut Microbes. 3(1): 29–34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827018/
American Physiological Society. (2019). Flaxseed fiber ferments in gut to improve health, reduce obesity. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. From https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205090541.htm
Ramnani, P., Gaudier, E., Bingham, M., et al. (2010). Prebiotic effect of fruit and vegetable shots containing Jerusalem artichoke inulin: a human intervention study. 104(2):233-40. doi: 10.1017/S000711451000036X. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20187995/