Basically (and that’s the level my understanding reaches on these matters – basic – as I don’t have a science background) prebiotics are food for the microbes that live in our guts, as opposed to probiotics, which are the microbes ingested through food that also support gut health by repopulating our gut flora.
I find it fascinating to think that I’m really an ecological community of different colonies of microorganisms, it confuses my sense of self in a good way. We are walking gardens for our microbiota and we need to find ways to tend to our garden to support a diversity of healthy microorganisms, all the while living in the modern world which does everything it can really to discourage us from keeping our gardens healthy.
Plant fibre is awesome for our guts. The more plants we can eat the better. Jeff Leach of the Human Food Project suggests eating 30 to 50 plants a week, and eating all of the plant if possible. Obviously, the greater diversity of plants you can eat the better too.
There are some plants, though, that have high levels of fibre which can’t be digested by our bodies. This fibre instead ferments inside our bodies are provides food for our gut microbes.
The following is a list of (relatively) easily available foods high in fermentable fibres (or prebiotics). It’s worth making the effort to try to include a few of these in your weekly does of 50 plants.
- The Allium family of plants, including garlic, onion and leeks;
- Jeruselum artichokes (or sunchokes);
- Asparagus (one to bear in mind when spring comes around again);
- Chicory root;
- Apple cider vinegar;
- Avocado; and
- Dandelion greens.
I was getting frustrated by walking passed many dandelion plants in nature strips that probably weren’t safe to pick due to a high risk that they’d been sprayed. But I thought I’d try replanting a few of the plants in our garden to see what happened. Interestingly, all their original leaves died and I didn’t hold out much hope of the plants surviving, but they’ve all grown new leaves and look healthy so I’ll be adding some to our salads soon!