FIRST, let’s get down and dirty with prebiotics vs. probiotics. THEN, enjoy a healthy, comforting chili recipe high in prebiotic resistant starch.
Did you know that about 90% of the cells that make up your body reside in your digestive tract? That’s right! According to The Journal of Nutrition about 90% of the cells in our body are gut bacteria and the other 10% are human cells (1). That’s about 100 trillion (good) bacteria swimming around, mostly in your large intestine, which is toward the end of your digestive tract. More and more studies are showing that good gut health can be linked to better immunity, decreased bowel disease and intestinal issues, and even better mood (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). So how can we eat in a way that will better affect our gut health?
Bacteria are living creatures and need to eat to survive, just like we do. That means you can take all the probiotics you want (via pills, yogurt, kefir, or fermented foods), but if you don’t feed them (by eating to supply your colon with prebiotics, the bacteria’s food of choice) you might be flushing some of your money down the toilet… literally. In fact, for some people, eating prebiotics might have a more positive impact on the gut bacteria environment than just adding probiotics alone. Because when taking probiotics, you’re just introducing good bacteria into the gut. With eating prebiotics like resistant starch, you’re feeding the good bacteria you already have inside you (7, 8, 9). The more you feed them, the more they grow and can multiply.
All prebiotics are types of fiber (but not all fiber meets the criteria to be called a prebiotic). One type of prebiotic that is emerging as being uniquely beneficial is resistant starch. Because resistant starch is not digested by the time it passes through the small intestine like the rest of our food, resistant starch makes it to the colon intact (10). This is important, because it is then available to feed good gut bacteria. Because resistant starch is not fully digested, it doesn’t offer as many calories or spike blood sugar. This is an additional benefit because resistant starch doesn’t promote insulin resistance. Translation: we want our body to remain insulin sensitive (not resistant) to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.
Studies show when a person takes 50-60 g resistant starch per day, excess over about 32 g/day seems to just pass through. It may also take 2-4 weeks for the benefits of the resistant starch in your colon to take effect, so don’t expect to notice the effects right away.
To sum it all up, there are many benefits of eating resistant starch-containing foods. As a result of being less digestible, they may help lower blood cholesterol and fat, decrease blood sugar, promote insulin sensitivity, help manage weight, and help stabilize appetite. Resistant starch is a prebiotic so eating more will feed the good bacteria in our gut. By feeding these bacteria, they create beneficial short-chain fatty acids (13, 14, 15, 16), trigger the release of satiety hormones helping us to eat less (17, 18, 19), decrease bowel diseases like colon cancer, diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis (18, 20, 21), decrease constipation, enhance mineral absorption (especially calcium) (7, 22, 23), promote immunity, improve insulin sensitivity (17, 24, 25), and decrease inflammation (18, 26, 27). With so many benefits, why not try adding some resistant starch-rich foods into your diet?
Now, the recipe.
This chili features Jerusalem artichokes which are also known as sunchokes.
If you know anything about me, you know that I don’t LOVE beans. I don’t dislike them, but they’re not a food I die over. I’ve made many a soup or chili that’s supposed to contain beans, but it doesn’t. Like Comfy Cozy Chili, Ham and No-Bean Soup, and White Turkey Chili with Mushrooms. I just don’t miss em when they’re gone. #sorrynotsorry
Eliminating beans in this chili created the perfect opening for Jerusalem artichokes to hop right in. Jerusalem artichokes, prebiotic powerhouses that are high in resistant starch, are fairly mild in flavor like a white potato, so they easily take on the flavors of this chili.
With that, take a break from those probiotics and get your prebiotic on!
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1 pound Italian pork sausage
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), rinsed and diced small
- 1½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
- 28 oz can tomato puree
- 14.5 oz can chicken broth
- full fat plain yogurt, greek yogurt, or sour cream
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- green onion, sliced
- In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add onion and Jerusalem artichokes. Cook stirring occasionally until soft about 8-10 minutes.
- Add beef and sausage breaking up with a spoon and stirring occasionally until cooked through, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir well and cook about 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomato, tomato puree, and chicken broth then stir to combine. Bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Serve and top as desired. I like plain yogurt, cheese, and green onion.