Foods High in Dietary Fiber (Prebiotics) and Probiotics
Importance of a Diet High in Fiber
I wanted to put together a weekly menu high in dietary fiber that is also gluten-free. But still using our favorite comfort food recipes. Just made a little healthier and cleaner.
First, I want to sum up some of the research and information I’ve been studying while reading The Good Gut by the Drs. Sonnenburg.
They are a husband and wife team at Stanford that have researched gut microbiota for years. They share so much information and research about our gut microbiota in this book.
It is crazy how important gut microbiota are and how intricately they are linked to our immune system and brain. We need to feed them lots of dietary fiber (much more than consumed in a typical Western diet).
Especially, if you’ve taken broad-spectrum antibiotics. Because they likely wipe out some of your native gut microbiota. And in turn need to rebuild your gut bacteria to a healthy state of being.
One of the things I found most interesting was that bacteria in probiotics don’t replace our own native bacteria in our gut.
They just pass through because they can’t live in our gut environment. Which I did not know. However, the presence of the bacteria in probiotics do help the immune system fine-tune itself.
So even if you take or eat probiotics, we still really need to increase the prebiotics we eat. What’s the difference?
In The Good Gut, probiotics are defined as “consumable bacteria that may provide a health benefit or are marketed as providing a health benefit.”
Most types of probiotics are fermented foods or certain bacterial strains sold in the form of a supplement.
- Probiotic supplements
- Kimchi and sauerkraut
- Raw goat’s milk cheese
- Fermented pickles
- Sourdough bread
The microbes in fermented foods can’t survive in the atmosphere of our gut.
But they do help reduce the simple sugar content of the food itself (like lactose in yogurt) as well as interact with the gut microbiota.
They help the immune system recognize good versus bad bacteria.
And they especially help after taking antibiotics by taking up space that might allow bad bacteria to grow while your gut microbiota start to rebuild.
So although they don’t take up permanent residence in the gut, probiotics do help boost the immune system.
Most prebiotics are not consumable bacteria, but actual food. And these are the foods high in dietary fiber!
They contain long chains of sugar molecules known as complex carbohydrates, which is a form of dietary fiber. They are different than the simple carbohydrates, such as glucose or fructose, which can be absorbed directly into the blood stream.
Humans can’t absorb or digest these long chain complex carbohydrates. They do however feed our good gut bacteria.
They pass to the distal end of our gut where the gut bacteria can ferment them. In turn, the bacteria produce products like short chain fatty acids that we absorb to our benefit.
They greatly help reduce gut inflammation and play a role in regulating our immune system.
Prebiotics are naturally found in foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.
Diversity is key – you want to eat as many different types as possible. Here are some foods known to be high in dietary fiber:
- Onions and leeks
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Lentils, beans and legumes
- Wild rice
- Organic oats
- Ancient whole grains
- Coconut meat and flour
Fiber that would normally come from grains like whole wheat, rye and barley are not an option for people on a gluten-free diet.
Millet, sorghum, oats and other grains make great substitutes.
Although certified gluten-free oats contain dietary fiber – beware. Some people with celiac disease react to oats. And recently there are reports of oats being sprayed with glyphosate before harvesting. No bueno.
So it would be better to choose organic oats if possible.
Okay so now that we know what probiotics and prebiotics are, we are going to try to up our fiber intake and diversity. From soups to salads to adding lentils to everything.
Here is our healthifed comfort food menu for the week!
Gluten-Free Menu with Foods High in Dietary Fiber
Monday – Red Lentil & Wild Rice Soup
Tuesday – Salad Niçoise
Wednesday – Turkey Stuffed Peppers with Lentils
Thursday – “Healthified” Fried Chicken Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing
Friday – Chipotle Curry Chicken Salad
Saturday – Bison Enchilada Soup
Sunday – PF Chang Style Lettuce Wraps