Why You Need More Prebiotics In Your Diet If You're Stressed

When you're stressed, sleep is one of the many things that can be negatively affected. And there may be one way to address it that you've never heard of — through increasing your intake of prebiotics.

While the use of probiotics is a fairly well-known remedy for gut health, prebiotics are not as commonly discussed. Prebiotics are the indigestible elements of food, like insoluble fiber, according to Neuroscience News. They're primarily carbohydrates and they act as food for probiotic bacteria.

Researchers have found that stress disrupts overall gut health, according to Science Daily. And a team at the University of Colorado wanted to study whether restoring digestive balance helped with recovering normal sleep patterns after a stressful event. For the study, published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, scientists tested their theory on rats, exposing them to stressors equivalent to a car accident or loss of a loved one. Rats that ate prebiotics didn't experience digestive disruptions and resumed normal sleep patterns faster than the control group.

Where can prebiotics be found?

Prebiotics are a building block of many foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. To introduce more into your diet, look for fiber-rich foods like apples, artichokes, bananas, berries, cocoa, flaxseed, beans, oats, tomatoes, and more, according to WebMD.

Better sleep isn't their only positive side effect. They help the body absorb calcium, control blood sugar spikes, move food through your digestive tract faster, and promote good health in the cells lining your gut. Studies are examining whether they might have a role in helping diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.

Overall, prebiotics are safe, and there have been no negative effects reported from their use, according to Science Daily. The only caution is for people who already have digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. In these limited circumstances, prebiotics can lead to bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or gas, WebMD reports.

For everyone else, reach for an apple instead of the Cheetos next time you're stressed. You just might find yourself sleeping — and feeling — a lot better.