6 Food Combinations That’ll Boost Your Gut Health
Prebiotics and probiotics are key players in optimizing gut health and managing symptoms of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune disorders. Prebiotics are components of certain foods (such as garlic and onions) that serve as the fuel for probiotics—the “good” bacteria, or live cultures—found naturally in your gut and also in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.
Prebiotics and probiotics work in tandem, creating a symbiotic effect that fosters the growth and activity of good belly bacteria that can help strengthen immunity, aid in digestion (which in turn improves nutrient absorption), and even boost your mood. You may notice bottles of pills marketed as “synbiotics” in the cooler case of your health-food store, but there’s no need to seek out supplements. With these six delicious recipes that incorporate pre- and probiotic ingredients and are designed to garner all those good-bug benefits, we prove that achieving bacterial synergy is easier (and tastier) than you think.
1. Grilled Caesar Salad with Sourdough Breadcrumbs
Greek yogurt and sourdough bread lend a natural dose of probiotics to our riff on Caesar salad (above). Alliums such as garlic offer prebiotic fuel to help the good bugs thrive.
View the recipe: Grilled Caesar Salad with Sourdough Breadcrumbs
2. Sesame Salmon with Kimchi-Miso Butter Recipe
Salty-sweet miso and tangy kimchi are the probiotic stars here. Ginger, garlic, and scallions are their prebiotic food. Serve with bok choy for an extra dose of prebiotics.
View the recipe: Sesame Salmon with Kimchi-Miso Butter Recipe
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3. Broccoli-and- Kraut Slaw Recipe
This refreshing slaw is jam-packed with probiotics (Greek yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut) plus plenty of prebiotics (broccoli, garlic, and red onion) to bolster them.
View the recipe: Broccoli-and- Kraut Slaw Recipe
4. Early Summer Salad with Tempeh Croutons and Beet Dressing
Asparagus and garlic lend a prebiotic boost to probiotic-rich beet kvass (a briny, fermented beverage) and tempeh, which studies show may still offer its good-bug benefits after baking.
View the recipe: Early Summer Salad with Tempeh Croutons and Beet Dressing
5. Spiced Chicken Tacos with Lime- Cabbage Slaw Recipe
Cabbage and red onion offer plenty of prebiotic fodder for the probiotics in Greek yogurt to flourish. Use the spice rub on tofu or tempeh for a plant-based option that also boosts fiber.
View the recipe: Spiced Chicken Tacos with Lime- Cabbage Slaw Recipe
6. Kombucha Granita and Berry Parfaits
Summer raspberries are rich in fructans, a type of gut-friendly fiber that feeds probiotics (such as those in kombucha and Greek yogurt).
View the recipe: Kombucha Granita and Berry Parfaits
The Pros of Prebiotics
All types of fiber are healthy, but our gut is partial to two: fructans and cellulose. Both bypass digestion in the upper GI tract and reach the colon still intact, where they ferment and feed our good bacteria.
Fructans are found in many plants—from artichokes and onions to raspberries. Some food manufacturers add a certain type of fructan called inulin (often extracted from chicory root) to food products to add prebiotics, improve structure and/or taste, and boost fiber.
Cellulose is found in celery and the parts of produce we tend to discard (such as the fibrous stalks of broccoli and stringy bottoms of asparagus).