Prebiotics: their benefits and how to incorporate them into your usual dishes

Surely you have heard of prebiotics and probiotics, two components of many foods that are favorable for our intestinal flora. Today we dedicate a few lines to the first ones, we tell you about their benefits and how to incorporate them into your usual dishes.

What are prebiotics

The term prebiotic has been used for more than 20 years, however, it was not until 2016 when 12 scientists met that an agreement was reached on the definition of prebiotic, considering as such any substrate that the host's microorganisms selectively use. to provide a health benefit.

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not live bacteria or microorganisms present in food or in our body, but are substances that serve as substrates for them and many of them are dietary fibers.

It is essential that they are substances or components that are used by our intestinal flora in favor of health, that is, that they cause benefits when used as a substrate.

The benefits of prebiotics

The beneficial effect of prebiotics is largely indirect, by favoring the care of the intestinal flora and thus benefiting health by stimulating its immune, digestive and other functions.

But also because they are not digested and receive the fermentation of intestinal bacteria, prebiotics can be helpful to regulate intestinal transit, helping not only to reverse constipation or prevent diarrhea, but also to treat intestinal diseases mediated by inflammatory processes such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease.

On the other hand, prebiotics could contribute to the prevention of metabolic diseases such as diabetes or obesity, since as a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition points out, their intake reduces blood glucose and insulin after ingestion as well as favors satiety, so its consumption could also be beneficial when losing weight.

Likewise, by influencing the composition of our intestinal flora, prebiotics could affect the absorption of nutrients and the extraction of energy, being able to help to maintain weight and avoid being overweight as well as to improve the absorption of calcium as indicated. a review published in 2010.

In this research, the consumption of prebiotics was also associated with a lower risk of allergies and eczema in children as well as with a lower incidence of cancer and infectious diseases, all of this perhaps due to its effect on our intestinal bacteria, which have a fundamental role on the defense system of the organism.

How to add prebiotics to our dishes

According to a study published in Nutrition Research Reviews, prebiotics are all those substances that:

  • They resist gastric acidity as well as gastric digestion and absorption caused by enzymes typical of mammals.
  • They undergo fermentation by our intestinal flora.
  • They stimulate the growth or activity of bacteria in our intestine that benefit health.

Compounds such as inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), lactulose and resistant starch are included under this definition, which we can incorporate into our dishes using ingredients such as those shown below:

  • Asparagus, artichoke and chicory that are rich in inulin.
  • Garlic, onion and leek that are a source of FOS and inulin for our body.
  • Banana, sweet potato and corn that are a source of resistant starch and other oligosaccharides that resist gastrointestinal digestion and absorption.
  • Legumes that are a source of raffinose and stachyose, two types of carbohydrates that are not digested or absorbed, so they are part of what we call resistant starch.
  • Whole grain wheat and derivatives such as wheat bran, wheat germ or whole wheat bread that are a source of resistant starch and inulin.
  • Oats, barley and rye that are a source of various oligosaccharides and inulin that have a prebiotic effect.

Thus, some dishes rich in prebiotics are:

  • Lentil salad with mustard vinaigrette
  • Whole wheat rye bread with sourdough
  • Chickpea cream with leek and mushrooms
  • Punching artichokes
  • Pickled onion
  • Oatmeal cookies and nuts
  • Warm green asparagus salad with poached egg
  • Onion cake and Gruyere cheese
  • Italian wholegrain oatmeal cookies

Image | Pixabay

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