Diet & Nutrition

What You Need to Know About Prebiotics and Probiotics

With summer right around the corner, you may be starting to think about “suiting up,” and shed those  few pesky pounds that just won’t go away, but most likely won’t succeed. Clearly, this has become an increasing source of frustration for many Americans. In fact, a recent report emphasizes just this. The incidence of obesity in the general population in the United States is steadily rising but fewer and fewer adults are attempting to moderate their weight. It seems as if a significant segment of our population has given up on dieting. Yet, how can we blame people for not persisting in a repeated pattern of failure. Typical diets that only concentrate on portion control or a limited food palette consistently fail and the reason is that these measures don’t address the entire story.

Your Microbiome and Weight Control

New research has revealed a number of surprises about weight control. The greatest of these has been the realization that on a biological basis, we are not the single creature that we assume. Instead, our bodies are an astounding combination of our own innate cells and a vast number microbial inhabitants. And these microbes are not just passive hanger’s on. Our microbes form essential aspects of our gut, respiratory system, and skin and outnumber our own personal cells by a factor of 10 to 1. This later fraction is our microbiome and recent studies are revealing an extensive metabolic interplay between these crucial microbes and our own cells.

Contemporary research has revealed that our microbes make a significant contribution to our subjective responses to food and sensation of satiety that directly influence obesity. For example, there are differences between the microbiomes of lean and obese individuals. Overweight adults and children tend to show a decrease in microbial diversity compared to leaner individuals. Certain foods can influence this crucial gut microbial composition and some supplements, called prebiotics and probiotics, can do likewise.

Introducing Prebiotics and Probiotics Into Your Diet

Prebiotics are typically non-digestible fibers, such as oligofructose or inulin that beneficial microbes can utilize for their metabolism. Examples of prebiotic foods, which contain these fibers, include:

  • Raw chicory root
  • Bananas
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Wheat bran

Probiotics are those foods that directly add some useful strains of bacteria that are elements of a healthy gut microbiome. These include:

  • Natural Yogurts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Miso