When it comes to optimising our gut health, nutrition plays a key role. Three areas of focus that can help to build better gut health are prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics. Let’s review what prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics are and cover off 10 staples that contain them to help you build better gut health.
Firstly, some definitions
You may have heard the terms prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics thrown around but understandably feel a little confused as to what they actually are. Let’s go through some definitions of each below:
- Prebiotics – act as a fuel source for our gut bacteria, think of these as fertiliser. Prebiotics come from plant foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes) and are also available in supplemental form.
- Probiotics – bacteria which live in our gut, think of these as the plant. Probiotics are the live bacteria in our gut, but are also available to consume as either supplements or in food products (such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh).
- Postbiotics – the bioactive compounds produced by the probiotics after they consume prebiotics, think of these as the beautiful flowers on the plant. Postbiotics are a beneficial byproduct from eating prebiotic-rich foods but are also available in supplemental form.
Why are the beneficial for gut health?
Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics have all been shown to have beneficial impacts on the gut. They can assist with improving the balance of bacteria in the gut which can result in an improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, wind and abdominal pain. Improving the balance of bacteria in the gut can also have other health benefits such as improved skin health, better immune health, and even reducing the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Top 10 staples to include
P3 Gut Builder
Meluka Australia's P3 Gut Builder is a triple-action Postbiotic Tonic that combines prebiotics raw honey & inulin, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Beebiotic MAP01® probiotic plus 7 multi-strain probiotics and 2 postbiotic strains. The fact that it contains prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics is a big win – three birds, one stone (or delicious drink!).
Legumes are an excellent source of prebiotic fibre which have been shown to have a multitude of health benefits including reducing inflammation and optimising the gut microbiome. Tinned varieties are a great option to keep in the pantry due to their long-shelf life and better tolerability. Simply rinse under cold water to assist with reducing gut symptoms like bloating and add to your favourite meals! They’re a perfect winter staple as they go beautifully in dishes such as stews, soups and curries.
Onion and garlic
Onion and garlic are both rich sources of prebiotics and make everything taste better. Prebiotic rich foods such as onion and garlic can cause some bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort, which is a sign our gut bacteria are fermenting them and producing wonderful postbiotics. It’s important to remember that this is a normal thing to experience, it’s when it’s excessive that it’s time to discuss food intolerances with a dietitian.
Kefir is the best food source of probiotics to include as a staple. It’s a fermented milk drink, a bit like a runny yoghurt, and is a tasty way to increase your probiotic intake through food. It’s also low in lactose due to the fermentation process it’s undergone, so is well-tolerated by most. Try adding some to a smoothie, enjoying with some granola and fruit, or sipping on it as is.
Cashews are a good source of prebiotics. They’re also an excellent source of healthy fats, which are important for a healthy gut. Include a handful as a snack, add to your porridge/cereal, or pair some cashew butter with sliced apple and cinnamon.
Pearl barley is an incredibly affordable staple to keep on hand to support gut health due to it’s prebiotic content. Enjoy it in place of brown rice, add to a warming winter soup or make a delicious pearl barley risotto!
Rye or wholegrain sourdough
Rye and wholegrain sourdough are both excellent sources of prebiotic fibre. Due to the fermentation process rye and wholegrain sourdough undergo, it’s typically tolerated better by those who find bread causes some digestive discomfort. So yes, bread can be incredibly nutritious for you and your gut when you choose the right type!
Bananas are another affordable staple that most of us can access all year round. They’re a great source of prebiotic fibre, and unripe varieties are rich in resistant starch, which is also wonderful for gut health. Keep some bananas on hand and freeze over-ripe ones for adding to smoothies or baking a delicious wholemeal banana bread.
Miso is a Japanese condiment made from soybeans. It contains the probiotic strain A. oryzae which may assist with reducing digestive symptoms including those associated with Inflammatory Bowl Disease (IBD). It is delicious for making miso soup or adding to a marinade or dressing!
Similar to cashews, pistachios are another nut that is rich in prebiotics. They can be enjoyed as a simple and nourishing snack, added to yoghurt with some berries or drizzled as a nut butter on some seeded sourdough with banana!
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