Researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain have found that eating a diet rich in prebiotic foods may support healthy weight management. 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 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 at least 70% 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.