What are Prebiotics?

There is a lot written about probiotics and probiotic supplements. Maybe you’ve taken probiotics at some point? Probiotics are the friendly or “good” gut bacteria in your GI tract.

However, have you ever heard the term prebiotics?

They’re the food that we feed our probiotics in order to keep them healthy. Our gut microbes feed on prebiotics which include dietary fibre and resistant starch.

  • Fibre keeps us feeling full, slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular.
  • Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids.

A prebiotic:

  • Needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact
  • Needs to be digested by our gut microbes, and,
  • Needs to stimulate health-promoting good gut microbes.

If we equate your GI tract with our lawn care, adding probiotics would be like over seeding, while adding prebiotics would be like fertilizing. Make sense?

Health Benefits

Prebiotic fibre helps keep us regular. It gives it bulk so our stool is properly formed. In fact, because of this more fibre is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhea. It is like a broom that sweeps food through our gut, and can even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.

When our friendly gut microbes eat and digest the prebiotic fibre, we get even more benefits such as when our good gut bacteria use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs such as butyrate that feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. They also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral absorption.

What food contain prebiotics?

Dietary fibre and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.

Fibre is found mostly in whole fruits and vegetables (i.e. not juice) such as:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Pears

Resistant starch helps to keep us full because it isn’t broken down by our digestive enzymes. Resistant starch is found in:

  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Green bananas

Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e. more resistant).

Bottom Line

Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.

Have you tried some of these tips and still have digestive issues you want to discuss. Book a free call with Bonnie here to discuss in more detail.

Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that healthy prebiotic fibre in a delicious way.

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