The last post dealt with ways to damage your microbiota. Taking antibiotics, eating highly processed, high carb foods, artificial sweeteners, osmotic laxatives such as miralax and stress are some of the worst. Because of their vulnerability, it’s natural to wonder how to restore or preserve these healthy bugs. Many reach for probiotic pills to accomplish this which bypasses two important steps. The first and perhaps most important is prebiotic foods. Simply eating these foods and avoiding harmful foods without any replacement of gut bacteria has shown significant restoration of a healthy gut flora.
What foods am I talking about? First, beware of companies attempting to sell prebiotic supplements. They will often publish a list which includes mostly obscure foods like chicory root or high carb foods like banana leaving the impression that prebiotic supplements are mandatory. Any food which contains soluble fiber can act as a prebiotic. Such fiber is not digestible by humans but serves as nourishment for our healthy gut bacteria. The best of these are vegetables including asparagus, artichokes, garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, turnips, tomatoes, spinach, kale and dandelion greens. Also included are starchy veggies like carrots, peas and sweet potatoes and various beans which are healthy in smaller amounts. Fruits such as small apples and pears as well as various berries and tree nuts like walnuts and almonds are also good sources of soluble fiber. Finally are whole grains with which we have to exercise the most caution due to high carb counts and various issues of intolerance such as gluten sensitivity.
“Raw” advocates and others have suggested that cooking diminishes the amount of fiber. That is true but only by about 10%. Given that cooking renders certain nutrients more bioavailable and certain foods more tasty, it’s worth it to eat some veggies raw and some cooked. Tonight my wife fixed a wonderful prebiotic rich VitalMeals recipe: a side of mustard greens, kale, onions and garlic. I asked her if she ever adds chicory root, which is 64.6% prebiotic fiber by weight, to dishes and she said no. Maybe VitalMeals will soon add such a dish.:)
Next post: Fermented foods