‘Tis the season for good intentions to fall by the wayside, but results of a new study may offer a helpful tip for keeping your waistline in check during the holidays and throughout the year. Researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain recently found that eating a diet rich in prebiotic foods may help protect against weight gain.
They followed more than 8,500 adults for nearly a decade before determining that those who ate the most prebiotic foods were less likely to put on excess pounds over time—even when taking into account other diet and lifestyle factors.
Findings from the study, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, point to the fact that prebiotic-rich foods help feed the good bacteria in the gut called probiotics. This triggers the production of short-chain fatty acids, which in turn release hormones that help control appetite. In previous studies, SCFAs have also been shown to help burn more calories.
So just what are prebiotics? By definition, they are non-digestible (or partially digestible) food ingredients known to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, where up to 80% of the immune system can be found. They are found naturally in many foods with a high fiber content, including asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, bananas, and—more recently—almonds.
Adding more prebiotic foods to your diet or taking a prebiotic fiber supplement can help keep your beneficial gut bacteria flourishing all year long, which not only supports optimal digestion and immune health, but may help keep off those unwanted pounds. Sounds like a win win!