Prebiotics: Good for the Gut

Sara Kelly - Dietitian

Sara Kelly, RD, LD
Hy-Vee West Circle

One of the questions I get asked most about in the aisles is probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract and encourage healthy gut function. Most people probably think of yogurt or kefir when they think of probiotics.

Having a healthy gut is essential for good health. Emerging research on probiotics suggests that a healthy gut can prevent certain types of cancers, kidney disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, probiotics may help with yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and may even prevent or reduce the symptoms of a cold or flu.

Most people, however, are unaware of how to build that healthy gut bacteria themselves and how to keep it healthy. The answer is prebiotics. You probably already consume some prebiotics without knowing it.  Prebiotics come from the fiber in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They cannot be digested by humans – they are essentially the “food” needed for your healthy gut bacteria to thrive.

Some good sources of prebiotics include onions, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, bananas, garlic, beans, cabbage, wheat or oat bran, whole grains, berries and apples. To ensure your diet is high in prebiotics, make sure you are consuming at least 30 grams of fiber daily. This means you should be consuming at least 3 to 5 servings of vegetables daily, and at least 2 servings of fruit.

If you would like tips on increasing your fiber intake, see your nearest Hy-Vee dietitian.