Prebiotic Foods For Your DietDo prebiotics work? Or are they just a new buzzword, designed to sell more products and boost food company bottom-lines? Studies seem to indicate that they do. For instance, Gemma Walton, a PHD student at the School of Food Biosciences at University of Reading, studied the diet of eight cowboys. Half were put on a prebiotic diet and the other half on a probiotic diet and their excreta was examined every day. The prebiotic group managed to boost their good bacteria by 133 million! The probiotic bunch saw little to no difference (although Ms Walton is quick to specify that there is evidence to show that over a longer period of time, probiotics can make a difference).To get enough prebiotic into your belly, you may have to pop a supplement. But for most of us, a healthy, varied diet that has enough fiber, should do the trick. Remember though, not all fibrous foods have prebiotic properties. So which are the ones richest in them? Let us turn to Joanne Slavin, who wrote a paper on Fibre and Prebiotics. She tells us that it can be found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey (especially Manuka honey from New Zealand), artichokes, leeks, asparagus, chicory, wheat, oats, and soybeans. And apparently, potato skins, avocado and apple cider vinegar also contain inulin.
Eating Prebiotic FoodsSome of those are a little hard to get here. For instance, where in Mumbai does one get artichokes? But for the rest, it's not really that hard to incorporate them into our diets - chances are, you already cook with most of them. However, the one thing to remember is to try eating them raw or as lightly cooked as possible. Once they are cooked, they lose their indigestibility, the very property that makes them prebiotic.1. For BreakfastLet's begin with breakfast. Start the day with a boost of prebiotics with a bowl of whole-grain wheat breakfast cereal or oats; that's been shown to have a substantial prebiotic effect. Adding a banana to your breakfast will also help the good bacteria to grow, and having two a day as pre-meal snacks will administer a double-dose of prebiotics; a study found that women who ate bananas twice daily before meals, for 60 days, experienced a spike in good bacteria and a subsequent reduction in bloating. It also helps to pick bananas that are not quite ripe.If you aren't vegetarian, make a masalaomelette and then toss in a few chopped onions or garlic, tomatoes and green chillies.
Luckily, as Indians, we already consume a fair amount of onions and garlic in our food - both of those have high levels of inulin. You could also try eating them raw in a green salad, with a honey-vinegar-olive oil dressing to cut the pungency. (When it comes to prebiotics, raw is better than cooked.) Accompany the salad with garlic bread, for a proper prebiotic kick. Raw garlic also pairs fairly well with avocado, in the form of guacamole.But if you can't stand onions and garlic raw, try lightly and quickly stir-frying them with veggies, like asparagus for more prebiotic deliciousness. Use miso paste to get some soybean goodness in - soybeans are said to have high amounts of both prebiotic and probiotic compounds.
For a snack, try roasting potato skins, until they are crisp - then make a raita and spade it up with the scoops of skin. Or try spreading avocado slices with a squeeze of lime on whole wheat bread. You could even try blending bananas into a smoothie, with some yoghurt.
About the Author:Meher Mirza is an independent writer and editor, with a focus on food and travel. Formerly with BBC Good Food India, she loves anime, animals and artsy things but also comics, technology and death metal.
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