Digestive disorders of one kind or another including chronic constipation, malabsorption or acid reflux disease are a widespread problem. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) estimates that 10-15% of American adults suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) alone. And this is an issue of real concern, since such digestive disorders can also lead to another health problems.
Approximately 80% of the body’s immunity resides in the gut and in the healthful colonies of bacteria which reside there and keeping them healthy is vital to overall continued wellbeing. Prebiotic foods, rich in fiber, are able to nurture these colonies and keep them functioning so that the immune system is not damaged. Five of the best prebiotic foods are discussed below.
Raw Chicory Root
This is a rich source of prebiotic fiber but also of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), prebiotic sugars which also nurture the healthful bacteria in the gut and maintain strong immunity. They can be chopped up and added to salads and other cold vegetables dishes as an easy way to include them in the diet. (1)
Dandelion greens, like chicory root, are a great source of both prebiotic fiber and FOS. They are best if harvested in the spring when the leaves are still young and tender and can be easily mixed into salads or even sautéed like mustard greens for full effect. (2)
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions are botanically related, both being members of the allium family and well-known for their healing properties. Both also contain FOS and prebiotic fibers to help support a healthy and nourished colony of beneficial bacteria. They also have the advantage of being incredibly versatile, and can be added to soups, salads, casseroles or pasta dishes.(3)
Yogurt is an excellent source of another compound known to promote the health of the gut. It is known as galacto-oligosaccardes (GOS); it is often found in fermented dairy products and is very nourishing to the bacteria in the gut. It can be eating as is (with fresh fruit for added benefits) or added to a variety of smoothies.(4)
Buttermilk, like yogurt, is a fermented dairy product and as such is also a great source of GOS. Buttermilk, though not quite so versatile as yogurt, can be drunk plain, added to cold summer soups, or even be used to make recipes like buttermilk pancakes.(5)
Whichever way someone chooses to add these foods to their diet, the health benefits are incredibly important. Prebiotics help to encourage a healthy balance of probiotics in the intestines and can improve the absorption of important nutrients like calcium and iron, thus reducing the risk of chronic conditions like osteoporosis and anemia. And, of course, is plays a strong role in the immune system, which in turn can protect the body from illness and disease.
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