Bariatric Surgery Success
#68 5 Surprising Foods That Contain Powerful Prebiotics
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When I say the word probiotics, what’s the first food that comes to your mind? Yogurt maybe? But what about the word prebiotics? How are they different from probiotics? After all, they’re spelled almost the same. Stick around and let’s talk about five surprising foods that contain powerful prebiotics and the benefits to your body.
Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Bariatric Surgery Success podcast episode number 68. Most of my career I’ve worked in some type of media, particularly radio where I did morning drive nutrition spots for over 18 years. That’s what lead me to start podcasting and ultimately to you. I created Bariatric Surgery Success to provide you with life-changing information based on science along with simple strategies and tools to help you be successful in your transformation and your entire journey. So happy you’ve connected with me. You’re in the right place and I’m glad you’re listening.
I want to give a shout out to Ann who posted in the FB group: "I love having this facebook group and the podcast for support." Hey Ann, thanks for taking time to tell me. My go is for the Facebook group and podcast to work together so you listen to new information and have a place to talk about it. So glad you’ve joined in.
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Back to probiotics and prebiotics. You hear these words commonly tossed about in the supplement and food world but what do they mean anyway? Probiotics are bacteria that offer a health benefit to the body. This is a case where the word ‘bacteria’ is a good thing as probiotics may help prevent or treat certain illnesses. Its no wonder probiotics are often nicknamed “the good bacteria”. In your body, it’s a balancing act between good and bad bacteria. Think of it this way. Medications, diseases, even some environmental issues can alter this balance which is where probiotics may be helpful. Probiotics are live bacteria that occur naturally in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and other fermented foods.
But what about prebiotics? Prebiotics are a type of fiber. Think of them as fiber that acts kind of like fertilizer for the good bacteria in your body. Probiotic bacteria feed on prebiotics. Prebiotics may also support your immune system, increase how much calcium your body absorbs, reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and decrease your cholesterol level. Plus, you can’t forget the one thing that TV ads have been heavily promoting which ishelp with the ‘go’ or a way to help prevent constipation.
Prebiotics or prebiotic fiber is found naturally in quite a few foods which may surprise you. We’ll talk about these in just a minute. They’re also added to food products like cereals, breakfast bars, and breads in a form called inulin that you’ll likely see on the ingredient list. You can also find prebiotic fiber such as inulin in pill or powdered supplements. Sometimes, prebiotics are combined with probiotics to create what I call a tag-team approach or symbiotic relationship. Remember, prebiotic fibers help enhance the work of probiotic bacteria.
You might have heard that prebiotic fiber can cause gas and bloating. It can. This can happen from prebiotic food sources and especially prebiotic supplements if you take a large dose. Typically a large prebiotic supplement dose is about 15 grams but a much lesser amount could cause issues if you’ve been dealing with any gas and bloating following surgery. It’s a good time to run this by your bariatric dietitian or health care provider before you add any prebiotics in supplement form. If you ever take a prebiotic supplement it’s better to start with a small dose of 2-5 grams and assess your tolerance before adding more. Because prebiotics are classified as fiber, they count toward the daily fiber recommendations of 25-30 grams.
Here’s the nice surprise I mentioned. You’ve probably been consuming prebiotic fiber every day and didn’t know it. I love this about eating real food. Prebiotic fiber occurs naturally in many foods that you probably eat now if you’re six months to a year down the track from surgery. These 5 food sources may surprise you: apples, bananas, onions, garlic, and asparagus. You probably never associated them with prebiotics. Remember we said that the prebiotic fiber in these foods acts kind of like fertilizer for the good bacteria or probiotics in the digestive tract. So every time you add onions or garlic to a dish, you’re adding a source of prebiotics. Asparagus is a low carb vegetable that also brings prebiotics to the table. Apples and bananas, so common right, but oh so good for you. The good news about eating these whole food sources like onions, garlic, asparagus, bananas and apples for the prebiotic fiber is that these foods also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals. It’s a win-win all the way around. And typically less of a bloating and gas issue too…can’t forget that, right? The next time you slice an apple, think of all the healthy goodness it’s bringing to your body.
Other foods that contain prebiotic fiber include artichokes, barley, berries, flaxseed, leeks, legumes, and oats. These will be beneficial to your body as well as you add back foods into your daily diet. Take care of yourself and be good to you…you’re worth it.