What on earth are prebiotics?

Confused about PREbiotics and PRObiotics? Not sure if they are the same thing of different?

PREbiotics are in fact completely different to PRObiotics.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. In simpler terms…. they are the roughage in the gut that cannot be broken down and digested, so our gut bacteria thrives off it and grows, this is a good thing!

It is the healthy food for our good gut bugs, helping them to flourish and multiply. Having a good balance of good gut bacteria can improve IBS symptoms, reduce bloating and gas, improve bowel health, improve mood and immunity. Research is constantly showing us that there is a link between our gut microbiota and our health and disease status, so it’s important we feed our gut bugs with prebiotics to help them evolve.

So where do I find PREbiotics?

  • Vegetables
    • Garlic, onion, beetroot, fennel, Jerusalem artichoke, corn, cabbage
  • Legumes
    • Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
  • Fruit
    • Nectarines, peaches, watermelon, grapefruit, persimmon, fried fruits
  • Bread/cereals
    • Barley, rye, pasta, couscous, wheat bran, oats
  • Nuts/seeds
    • Cashews, pistachios

If you have IBS you may be looking at the above list and be thinking they are the foods you purposely avoid. A dietitian can provide guidance on how to manage your IBS, in the short term they may suggest you eliminate these foods, then with guidance, slowly re-introduce a range of prebiotics into your diet, to grow certain bacteria to help reduce your IBS symptoms in the long term.

Reference: Monash Uni Department of Gastroenterology