There has been much written in the press recently about probiotics, and whether consuming 'good' bacteria in bio-yoghurts or drink supplements can really improve our digestive health (with some nutritional scientists suggesting that probiotics may be destroyed in the stomach's strongly acidic digestive juices, long before they reach our intestines). Prebiotics are less widely known, and their nutritional benefits even more under-appreciated, but with the spotlight starting to shine on gut health, prebiotics is the newest nutritional buzzword.
What are prebiotics - and how do they differ from probiotics?
For those unfamiliar with them, prebiotics are undigestible dietary fibres that act as food for intestinal (gut) bacteria, promoting the growth of beneficial micro-organisms. Prebiotics also aid digestion, enhance the body's production of vitamins, and help the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are non-living organisms, but their presence helps gut bacteria colonies in our intestines to flourish. Science is now recognising that the health of our guts can influence everything from our immune systems to hormones, as well as inflammatory reactions to allergy triggers.
How can garlic help gut health?
The good news is that garlic is a natural prebiotic - though like all of garlic's nutrients, you will enjoy the maximum goodness from it the less it is cooked. When we are cooking a dish ourselves, we often add our garlic in two stages: once early on to let garlic's sweetness infuse the food with delicious flavour, then again just before serving to harvest its valuable health benefits.
How can I eat more prebiotics?
To enjoy garlic raw, balance the crushed cloves with some creamy avocado in a Green Garlic Guacamole dip - for a milder flavour, use our early harvested Green Garlic when it's in season (usually in June, before the main garlic harvest). Alternatively slice garlic cloves finely into salads, rub onto toasted bread for bruschetta, or chop for a piquant garnish on soups and stews. Fermented foods are another rich source of prebiotics, and pickled garlic is a great way to up your intake - our recipe will show you how to make this tasty pickle. Or try making a garlic-rich Kimchi paste to serve with fermented vegetables for a spicy side dish that is as delicious as it is nutritious. We run regular fermentation workshops throughout the year, so do check our Events page if you want to find out more about fermenting your own food, including making kombucha, garlic kimchi and milk kefir.