Here are some ideas:
- Build your meals and snacks around plants, filling 75% of your plate with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Choose a wide variety of different types of plant foods to gain the benefits of a diverse range of prebiotics as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals commonly found in plant foods.
- Prebiotics aren’t destroyed by cooking or freezing, so you can enjoy both raw and cooked vegetables as well as frozen fruit or vegetables (choose options without added sugars or salt).
- Replace animal proteins with plant proteins more often. Try a veggie burger made with legumes and vegetables instead of a hamburger, use tofu in stir-fry instead of chicken or pork, make a sandwich with hummus or nut butter instead of lunch meat.
- Instead of packaged snacks that usually contain added sugars, salt, unhealthy types of fat and preservatives, choose whole foods. Replace potato chips with air-popped popcorn, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit instead of candy or cookies, snack on roasted nuts and seeds.
- Add whole plant foods that contain more fiber and prebiotics gradually and make sure to drink more water so that your digestive system becomes used to them (and you avoid being bloated or gassy).
- People with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease may have trouble digesting certain types of plant foods and need to talk with their physicians before making any changes to their diets.
By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CPT, CHWC
- Elizabeth Thursby, Nathalie Juge; Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochem J 1 June 2017; 474 (11): 1823–1836. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20160510
- Cleveland Clinic. What are Prebiotics and What do they do? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-are-prebiotics/ published 3-14-22; accessed 9-26-22
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Microbiome https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/ accessed 9-26-22
- John F. Cryan, et.al The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Physiol Rev. 2019 99:4, 1877-2013
- Sabater-Molina M, Larqué E, Torrella F, Zamora S. Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health. J Physiol Biochem. 2009 Sep;65(3):315-28. doi: 10.1007/BF03180584. PMID: 20119826.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.