Holistic Approach to Wellness
Prebiotics feed the friendly bacteria in the gut allowing the good guys to grow more and kill off bad bacteria that gets in with poor diets and compromised immune systems (too many probiotics, etc. ) Incorporate the following foods to naturally support your immune system and try making your own coconut yogurt (dairy free) to put in good bacteria as well as adding a daily dosage of probiotics to keep the gut healthy.
Asparagus is packed with fiber, folate and other B vitamins With 4 grams of protein per 8 stalks you can eat it grilled, sautéed, raw, or even sneak it in your green smoothie or add a few stocks when you’re doing some juicing. It has a naturally sweet taste and is also a natural diuretic to beat bloating.
Almost everyone loves bananas, especially kids! Bananas both soothe the gut membrane and also contain natural fibers that promote good bacteria growth. This is one reason they may cause some mild rumbling. For easier digestion, be sure that you choose riper bananas instead of yellowish greenish bananas but be careful as they are higher in sugar the more ripe they are. Even though bananas have fiber therefore slow down the sugar absorption for a balanced glycemic load you want to be careful if you have candida or insulin resistance. All bananas are great sources of potassium B vitamins, and even offer Vitamin C as well. Use a few frozen pieces in smoothies, cream them into recipes to replace sugar or cover them in raw chocolate sauce and freeze. Kids will go nuts over these.
One of the least expensive staples in the pantry are onions. They are the most delicious way to flavor your food and are great for your digestion! Onions contain a natural source of inulin which the gut uses to kill bad bacteria and feed the good bacteria during the process. Onions are also packed with antioxidants and can be used in any savory recipe you choose. If raw onions give you indigestion, give yours a light sauté or boil before using to break down some of the sugars.
Garlic is a rich source of inulin as well as a great antibacterial (anti fungal) agent. It packs two punches in one by kicking out the bad guys and feeding the good guys. Garlic is a great way to flavor your foods and also a great source of Vitamin B6 to aid in metabolism and nervous system health. It’s a real superfood your whole body loves! Try it in a veggie stir-fry, hummus, or sauté into your next batch of rice or soup. I use it in everything including using it raw in salad dressings.
Cabbage is a versatile prebiotic food you can do almost anything with. Its natural prebiotics are the reason it is used in sauerkraut and kimchi as the base. Feel free to use raw cabbage wraps for sandwiches, make cabbage soup, or make a healthy dairy-free coleslaw if you wish. Cabbage is also packed with B vitamins, alkalizing minerals, and offers up a good source of Vitamin C. Making your own fermented veggies with cabbage is super easy and tastes a lot better than store bought products.
Known as a strong digestive booster, beans are packed with oligosaccharides that feed good gut bacteria (which is one reason they’re problematic for some causing gas). Though the gurgling is a good sign, it can be a little potent for new bean eaters. Soak your beans overnight and cook them extremely well (almost overdone if you need to), or add them slowly into your diet a day so your body can adapt. Beans are a good source of potassium, protein, and high in fiber so work them into your diet if you can, but if not, choose some legumes (below) instead.
A bit easier to digest than beans, but just as nutritious, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and green peas are all excellent choices of protein, iron, and B vitamins. They’re filled with just the right amount of fiber and natural sugars to boost good gut bacteria, but a bit lighter on the stomach. For easier digestion, soak your lentils, or use presoaked canned (BPA-free) versions instead. Red lentils are especially thin and easier to digest than other varieties and also a bit sweeter, so you may not need to soak them. Frozen peas are also a good alternative to raw peas and don’t need to be soaked either. Edamame and other legumes are also great choices. Just make sure your Edamame (soy) is organic.
Whether it be oat, (wheat is a bran but better to stay away from any form of gluten), rice or another type of bran, pure bran is full of insoluble fiber that feeds good gut bacteria. It helps regularity and also reduces cholesterol. Be sure to choose organic (gluten free) bran when possible to avoid genetically modified grains or go with a company that’s certified non-GMO. Oat bran lends a particularly awesome creamy texture to normal oatmeal, but with all grains, be sure you choose mostly whole varieties since the bran is only part of the entire grain. Bran can be added to muffin recipes, porridge, or used in healthy cookie recipes for a creamy, nutty, and fibrous texture.
Raw Jerusalem artichoke: (NOTE: Jerusalem artichoke is NOT the green globe artichoke you see at the store. It’s a totally different plant.) Commonly called Sunchoke. Try them in a stir fry.
Leeks are also another food to add to your list of healthy flavoring options. A member of the onion family, leeks are versatile and easy to cook with, despite looking intimidating. Leeks are commonly used in soups and stocks but can also be cut and sautéed in a stir-fry as well. They’re rich in the same benefits as onions though a bit milder in taste and higher in chlorophyll. I use them in soups all the time.
Root veggies pack a good bit of soluble fiber that your gut loves. Sweet potatoes, squash, wild yams, jicama, beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and other root veggies are all great choices. Cook them however you like and enjoy their easy-to-digest, naturally cleansing nature. If you are sensitive to sugar or have chronic candida eat sparingly.
Apples are fantastic foods for your heart and brain due to their antioxidant content, but their natural pectin fiber is the reason they’re so great for your gut. Pectin feeds good bacteria and apples are also a good source of inulin and natural FOS (a beneficial type of sugar that feeds the gut). Apples are also good for keeping you full and warding off high cholesterol. Choose Granny Smith if you’re watching your sugar intake and always choose organic since apples are high on the Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-laden fruits and veggies.
Some others to try: Dandelion Greens, Chicory Root (can get in a supplement form), any veggie in the onion family including leeks mentioned above (chives, shallots, garlic)
Remember to include a variety of produce such as leafy greens broccoli, berries, celery, and a variety of nuts, beans, legumes, and seeds in your diet as much as possible. These all contain fibers that will also feed the gut and assist in digestion. Choose the option that works best for you and expand to newer options as your body allows. For more optimal foods including info on fats visit our optimal food page.