By Librarian101 ~ November 12th, 2012. Filed under: Education, Food & Body, Health.
We all learned in elementary school science class that all living things need nourishment to survive. That includes the most enormous creatures down to the tiniest, microscopic organisms.
The beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that live in our intestines and make up 80% of our immune system are no different. They need to be fed the nutrients that make them thrive. And they need a lot of food because there are literally trillions of probiotic bacteria inside us.
Food for PRObiotic bacteria is called PREbiotics. The more we nourish the probiotics in our gut, the better they will survive and ward off dangerous pathogens that we ingest, and the healthier our immune system will be.
This not only means that you will be less likely to catch colds and flu, but it also means your body will be stronger to fight and resist major diseases like cancer.
And here’s more great news…
Many prebiotics come from delicious foods and drinks.
Here’s 8 foods & food types that contain high amounts of prebiotics:
1- Fresh fruits and vegetables–unpeeled
Antioxidant compounds called phenols are found just under the skins of fruits and vegetables, and probiotics LOVE to eat phenols. Plus, fruits and vegetables also contain soluble fiber which helps you in two ways…
First, your beneficial bacteria feed off the fiber. Then they produce short-chain fatty acids as wastes. These short-chain fatty acids slow the growth of dangerous bacteria such as E. coli.
Second, you have a much easier time when nature calls.
2- Trail mix
A blend of nuts and seeds is the perfect prebiotic. The nuts and seeds are great sources of fiber, protein and dietary phenols.
Just make sure to stay away from mixes that have candies or yogurt-covered nuts, because they add refined sugar (which ends up being food for the harmful bacteria in your gut). That defeats the purpose.
3- Dark berry juices
Juices that contain good levels of dietary phenols include those made from blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, and purple grapes.
Just be sure you’re buying real JUICE — not a “juice drink” which can contain little or no real juice. Read the label if you’re not sure. If the first and second ingredients are water and sugar, forget it. It’s not juice.
The only exception is cranberry juice cocktail. Pure cranberry juice is quite tart, and the added water and sugar make it tasty without completely compromising the quality of the phenols from the cranberry juice.
4- Herbs and spices
Practically every herb and spice contains dietary phenols (and they’re alkaline — another big PLUS for your body), so spice things up all you want!
The herb with the highest phenol count is oregano, so if you like pizza you’re in luck. It’s also delicious sprinkled over shrimp scampi or sautéed fish or chicken.
Fresh herbs and spices have more dietary phenols than dried, but both are good food for your beneficial bacteria.
Oats are loaded with beta-glucan, which is a soluble fiber and an excellent prebiotic.
But all oats are not created equal. Stay away from those flavored instant oatmeal packets because they’re typically loaded with refined sugar. You don’t want to turn your meal for your friendly bacteria into a feast for the UNfriendly ones.
Legumes include beans, lentils and peanuts. They’re loaded with soluble fiber (as well as protein and minerals).
The dietary phenol count of beans is one of the highest per weight of any food in existence.
So go ahead and make some split pea soup, a batch of hummus or a pot of chili and feed your friendly microbes.
7 – Red wine
I just made your day, didn’t I?
Moderate consumption of red wine (1-2 glasses per day) not only helps reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, but red wine also has one of the highest phenol contents of any food or drink.
That’s because red wine is made not only with the pulp of the grapes, but also the skin and seeds. White wine uses only the pulp, so it’s not beneficial like red.
And the ultimate dream come true:
8- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are excellent sources of probiotic-nourishing dietary phenols. (Skip the milk chocolate because its processing decreases the phenol content.)
The higher the cocoa content, the higher the phenols.
Now, this is NOT an endorsement for having a Hershey’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. But an occasional treat of a nice piece of dark chocolate will make your tongue dance AND your beneficial bacteria sing.
So now you have the best of both worlds.
Probiotics & Prebiotics
In addition to these 8 foods, it is good idea to take some medical-grade probiotic because it will beef up the population of beneficial bacteria in your gut and keep your flora balanced. Probiotic bacteria will help ensure that your army of good guys and your immune system stays strong.
Remember, healthy diet is good, but very few people have a healty diet that is THAT good. There are just too many foods today that kill off the good bacteria in our guts. So taking prebiotics is very important! A healthy dose of Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which are a type of fiber found naturally in most plants, have been credited with providing health benefits like lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels, stabilizing blood sugar, improving mineral absorption and insulin response. FOS are ideal prebiotics because they reach your large intestine virtually untouched since humans don’t have the stomach enzymes to break them down. That means a full buffet for the friendly bacteria to feast on once the FOS reach your large intestine.
The right foods with the right probiotic formula are the way to go to keep your immune system in proper order and your gut feeling great.
Did you know that taking acid reducing medicines long term also can impair your body’s ability to produce enzymes? Insufficient enzymes can cause poor digestion and contribute to acid reflux problems and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.