Prebiotics are literally the food for your gut. Last week, I wrote about probiotics and the importance of these in gastrointestinal health. These healthy bacteria need food so they can function properly. Prebiotics are this food.
So, what are they? Prebiotics include onion, garlic, leek, asparagus and artichoke. These foods all contain a type of fibre called inulin, which the body is not able to digest. Inulin, in it's synthetic form is also often added to foods, such as yoghurt and some drinks.
I can hear those of you with IBS saying 'but they're all high FODMAP foods'. Yes, they definitely are! There is emerging research about the importance of including prebiotics in your diet, as long term avoidance may in fact result long term, undesirable changes to gut flora. We don't yet know if all need to be included, or how much is necessary. At this stage, it simply further documents why it is so important to not completely avoid these foods long term; determining your tolerance levels (especially to these foods) is essential.
Further to this, research is linking a variety of conditions, including some forms of inflammatory arthritis to the health (or lack there of) of your gut.
Regular inclusion of prebiotics, such as onion, garlic, asparagus, leek and artichoke should be a staple part of your diet. Your gut will thank you for it!
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.