We hear quite a bit about probiotics these days. Everyone recommends we eat them, but what, if anything, do THEY find to eat in there...?
One of the lesser-known elements of a healthy gut is the quiet, unassuming, often overlooked prebiotic. Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that act as a food source for the probiotic gut bacteria that populate our digestive systems. They help promote the growth of these beneficial microorganisms, so having both probiotic and prebiotics is equally important.
Most prebiotics are Fructo-oligosaccarides (FOS) or fructans as well as Galacto-oligosaccardes (GOS). In the FOS family, the most common one is inulin, a type of soluble fibre found in many plants. Because it is a fructan, the molecules are linked together in such a way that it cannot be broken down by your small intestine. As a result, the inulan survives into the lower intestine where your gut bacteria break it down into short-chain fatty acids, effectively transforming it into their preferred food source. Here's a link to an article about prebiotics and skin health.
This probably sounds more complicated than it needs to. Let me distill it down to one cleverly crafted sentence: eat soluble fibre. It absorbs water during the digestive process, forming a gel-like substance that bulks up stools and aids in elimination.
Some excellent natural sources of soluble fibre are:
Endive (part of the chicory root family)
It is also present in whole grains and certain roots such as Dandelion and Chicory (which is one of nature’s highest concentrations of inulin). If you would like to add a little extra soluble fibre to your diet, you can also take a supplement such as BeneFibre or simply add some psyllium husk to some to your morning porridge. So, predictable, once again, the upshot of my long research project on prebiotics tells me nothing more than what we all already know: eat your vegetables and whole grains every day.
And maybe try Endive boats with Save-The-Tuna-Salad for a simple weekend lunch.
8 Endive leaves
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned are totally fine, drained and rinsed)
2 Tbls mayonnaise
2 garlic pickles, diced
1 Tbls capers
1 Tbls minced banana peppers or pickled peppers of your choice
1-2 Tbls minced onion
Salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: anything else you would normally add to tuna salad.
Place the chickpeas into a medium-sized bowl and mash coursly with a potato masher or fork.
When you reach your desired consistency, add everything else, mixing together until evenly coated. This tuna-fish salad alternative is delicious and high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. Pile it into your endive boats (one of nature’s highest sources of inulin, a fact which, while interesting, will not in any way alter the amazing flavour and texture of this wonderful vegetable) and serve chilled.