Do you know the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? We all hear a lot about probiotics. They are live bacteria that are in yogurt, kefir, and kimchee. They’re good at fighting stomach troubles, but when it comes to weight loss they aren’t that big a help. Prebiotics, on the other hand, can make a big difference. So, what are they?
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are high fiber foods that we don’t digest. Instead, they are eaten by the microflora in our colon and large bowel. This improves the balance of good microorganisms to bad ones. When you are eating probiotics and adding them to your gut, prebiotics are what feed them and keep them healthy.
Not all high fiber foods prebiotics. In order to be a prebiotic, the food has to pass through our small intestine undigested and ferment in our colon.
You can find prebiotics in the following foods:
- Raw chicory root
- Raw Jerusalem artichoke
- Raw dandelion greens
- Raw garlic
- Raw leeks
- Raw onion
- Cooked onion
- Raw asparagus
- Unripe banana
Prebiotics for Weight Loss
Studies have shown that prebiotics can help you lose weight. They do this a few ways. One is by stopping us from absorbing the fat that is in the food we eat.
According to a researcher Peter Jones of the University of Manitoba in Canada, “Normally we digest all the food and absorb all the calories. We think the prebiotic fiber interfered with the absorption of those calories, so that more calories went out the tailpipe and there were fewer calories to pack on abdominal fat.” Plus, any type of high fiber food is going to make you feel full, keeping you from eating too much.
In addition to blocking fat absorption, prebiotics help us lose weight in other ways. One of the most important is that they can help stop cravings. They do this by cutting down on the blood level of the hunger hormone made in our stomachs. This hormone tells us that we’re hungry.
The prebiotics also boost the levels of a different hormone made in our small bowel. That hormone tells our brains that we are full and should stop eating. This combination is the perfect recipe for helping to lose weight.
Other Health Benefits from Prebiotics
On top of helping us lose weight and improving our gut health, prebiotics have other benefits. These include:
- Lowering our risk for heart disease
- Improving our cholesterol levels
- Improving digestion
- Lowering stress response
- Improving hormone balance
- Boosting our immune system
- Lowering inflammation
How to Eat More Prebiotics
It’s not hard to boost your intake of prebiotics. Here are some ideas:
- Chop up dandelion greens, avocado and artichokes and put them in your salad
- Use greenish bananas in your smoothie
- Add cooked onions to your food
- Add raw garlic to dips