Oatmeal is one of the quickest and easiest breakfast foods you can make, and your gut will thank you for it throughout the day. Oats have resistant starch, which is not digested and passes somewhat intact down to your colon. The bacteria in your microbiome then feast on it all day long and get super happy. The result is a laxative effect, sweeping your colon out and keeping it nice and healthy. Use fruit, chia seeds, flax seeds, and/or some nuts for added benefit. Ensure that you are eating unprocessed oatmeal, not the ready-mix packets loaded with sugar and so processed that the resistant starch is ineffective.
Experts recommend eating bananas regularly to help boost your gut health because they have prebiotics that helps feed your microbiome. You may be used to waiting until the banana is yellow and maybe with a couple of brown spots on the peel to eat it, but some doctors recommend eating them while they are still green. Unripe bananas are low in sugar, so they feed the bacteria in your gut without any build-up of carbohydrates that can lead to weight gain. The starch in bananas also helps you feel full longer, causing you to eat less. If you can’t stomach the idea of unripe banana, add one into a smoothie for breakfast a few times a week.
You may think of dandelions as weeds that you have to get rid of, but don’t bring out the Round-Up yet! Dandelion greens, the green part of the plant, are super nutritious and can be eaten much the same way you would eat lettuce, kale, or spinach. They lower the levels of bad lipids in your bloodstream, fight inflammation, and neutralize free radicals. You can harvest them straight from your yard, as long as you haven’t been treating your yard with chemicals that you don’t want to put inside your body. You can even use the flowers themselves in salads or teas. If you don’t have dandelions in your local area, you can buy teas or even fresh greens at a health food store.
Popeye may have popularized this vegetable by eating it out of a can to gain instant strength, but there are plenty of other ways to eat spinach and become a superhero. You don’t have to open a can; you can eat fresh leaves as the base for a salad, as a topping for a sandwich, or as an addition to just about any soup. Put simply; spinach is one of the healthiest foods that you can eat. It has tons of vitamin C and vitamin K, as well as fiber and phytochemicals that benefit your eyes. Be like Popeye and eat more spinach!
Chocolate lovers and women experiencing PMS can rejoice that dark chocolate made its way onto the list of foods loaded with prebiotics that you should be eating more of. Notice that this is not milk chocolate or white chocolate, both of which have the nutritional content of the cocoa bean stripped out by too much processing. Dark chocolate is more expensive and has a stronger flavor. Cocoa beans have polyphenols, an antioxidant that feeds the good bacteria in your microbiome. Studies have proven that people who regularly eat dark chocolate with high polyphenol content have fewer bad bacteria and more good bacteria. Anything above 70% cacao will be bitter and possibly difficult to eat, but experts recommend at least 85% cacao.
Yes, asparagus makes your pee stink, but you can help mitigate that effect by drinking plenty of water before and after eating. Asparagus is full of anti-inflammatory agents that neutralize free radicals, which zip around your body, wreaking havoc on your cells at a molecular level. If you find yourself having difficulty with the taste of asparagus, you may just be eating it wrong. Instead of opening a can of asparagus, try making a soup or stew out of fresh stalks that you buy at the grocery store or local farmers’ market. If you love the taste of asparagus, then, by all means, add it to your salads, sandwiches, omelets, everything.
Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem nor true artichokes, but they are super healthy for your microbiome. Did you know that Jerusalem artichokes are part of a sunflower that grows in the Americas? However, they taste like mild artichoke mixed with a potato. You can even eat them like potatoes by baking them in their skin and eating them with sour cream and other toppings you would normally eat on a baked potato. Jerusalem artichokes have a lot of fiber, making them great for boosting your prebiotics. They have also been linked to better managing diabetes, increasing iron intake, and boosting calcium absorption.
Did you know onions would be on a prebiotic list? Onions are health superstars. They have a lot of prebiotic fiber, especially before cooking them, so load up your veggie burger, salad, and vegetable-based chili with cut-up onions as toppings. They also contain a compound known as quercetin, which has antioxidant and anticancer properties. Look for recipes that use an onion base to incorporate more of these heart-healthy, gut-friendly vegetables into your diet. A word of caution: While a blooming onion may sound like an easy way to get more quercetin and prebiotics into your diet, these dishes have bad fats from the frying and dipping sauces. A blooming onion should be a treat that you share with a crowd; don’t trick yourself into thinking that it is healthy.
If you haven’t been able to tell yet, prebiotics are great for your stomach and gut. Moreover, when you saw “garlic” listed as a good prebiotic, you may have shaken your head for a second. Really? That pungent spiciness is supposed to help get your stomach feeling better? Not worse? Yes. Garlic has an indigestible carbohydrate known as inulin; it helps promote the growth of the healthy bacteria in your microbiome. Garlic has tons of antioxidants, along with antimicrobial and anticancer properties. If you have been sluggish and bloated, garlic may be what the doctor ordered. But be careful. If you suffer from IBS or are on a low FODMAP diet that severely restricts indigestible carbohydrates, garlic could be a trigger for gastric distress.