Eat Prebiotic-Rich and Fermented Foods For a Healthier Gut

Apr 06, 2016 04:37 AM EDT | By Mark Jason Alcala

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South Korean Housewives Make Kimchi For The Poor
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 15: More than two thousands of housewives make Kimchi for donation to the poor in preparation for winter in front of City Hall on November 15, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables usually mixed with chili and eaten with rice or served as a side dish to a main meal.
(Photo : Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Fermentation is a type of food processing that introduces yeasts or bacteria or a combination of both to turn carbohydrates in the food items to organic acids, alcohols, and carbon dioxide. It is a very ancient practice even predating recorded history as evidence have been unearthed suggesting the use of fermentation as early as 7000 - 6600 B.C. in ancient China.

Eating fermented food has been shown to provide a host of health benefit due to the presence of good bacteria, also known as probiotics, in these fermented food items. Fermented food is said to strengthen one's immune system because 80 percent of one's immune system is located in the gut according to an article by Dr. Mercola. Fermented foods are also known as some of the best chelators being highly potent as detoxifiers with the ability to expel heavy metals and a wide range of toxins from the body.

However, a scientist is questioning if fermented foods are reliable as delivery systems for good bacteria to reach the gut. According to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, there is the possibility that eating fermented food may not deliver enough amounts of the good bacteria to one's digestive system to have an impact on gut health. Prof Spector is also the author of The Diet Myth - The Real Science Behind What We Eat according to a BBC article by Philippa Roxby.

Although Prof Spector agrees with the potential benefits of probiotics, current studies do not conclusively show that enough of these good bacteria survive the journey to the gut. In fact, it may require regularly consuming fermented food items and in large amounts for the good bacteria to successfully breed in one's digestive system according to the same BBC article.

Prebiotics Could Be the Solution

A solution to have a healthy level of good bacteria in one's gut could be to take prebiotics. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria or probiotics helping them grow in numbers. According to Dr, Gemma Walton, a Reading University gut microbiologist, there is evidence that a prebiotic diet increases the good bacteria population in the gut.

So what foods are prebiotic or promote good bacteria growth? Dr Walton said that breast milk is a good prebiotic because it supports the growth of good bacteria. Other prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, asparagus and chicory.

And a banana is a prebiotic food too. However, one might balk at the recommended number of bananas one needs to eat to deliver enough amount of prebiotic. How many bananas to eat exactly to get enough of the compound? Dr. Walton states that one needs to eat 10 bananas a day. Wow, that sure is more than a mouthful.

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