Go to the shelves! Everywhere you look there are products. But which one is the right one? Which one is first? PRE or PRO? We know its a very difficult question. So if this is also a dilemma you’re facing, take it from Dr. Will Bulsiewicz:
"I start with prebiotics first. If I can only have one supplement, it's going to be a prebiotic supplement. That's where I begin."
Probiotics vs Prebiotics: What’s The Difference?
While there are proven short-term benefits of targeted probiotic supplementation, studies have shown that the species consumed in most probiotics fail to establish colonies in the gut.
Researchers speculate that few of the living organisms make it to the colon intact. Also, the number of probiotics in supplements is too insignificant in contrast to the trillions of microbes in the gut to shift the composition of the microbiome.
Prebiotics, on other hand, have been shown to effect significant, positive changes in the microbiome (these are the good noo noo's in the tummy). That’s because prebiotic fiber cannot be broken down and absorbed by our digestive tract. Instead, it travels to the colon where it serves as food for health-promoting species in the gut.
When we consume prebiotic fiber, desirable populations grow and problematic pathogens and bacteria are reduced as the microbiome achieves a healthy balance.
The Benefits of Prebiotics For Your Gut
Without prebiotics, your gut bacteria won’t be able to perform the host of functions they play in your health, including reducing inflammation and improving your immune system.
With prebiotics in your gut, they can help with:
Relief of constipation and diarrhea
Improved gut barrier function
Enhanced immune performance
When you feed your gut microbes (noo noo's) prebiotic fibers, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The SCFAs acetate, propionate, and butyrate are the main metabolites produced in the colon by bacterial fermentation of dietary fibers and resistant starch.
What Are The Different Types Of Prebiotics (And Which Foods Have Them)?
Not all prebiotics are the same and some are more targeted in the type of bacteria they feed. The main types of prebiotics include:
1. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) or Fructans
Fructo-oligosaccharides are a type of medium and short-chain sugar molecule that your body is unable to digest. It is produced using enzymes and helps to improve and maintain regularity.
One of the most common types of FOS is inulin. Inulin is fermented by bacteria that normalise the colon and increase the number of good bacteria in the gut.
You can find FOS naturally in the following foods:
2. Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
GOS are available in two forms. The most common form is produced by an enzymatic reaction using lactose as the starting material. GOS may also be produced from plant fibers linked in a chain of galactose units.
GOS provides a good source of food for lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and other health-promoting types of bacteria. They indirectly increase the levels of these good bacteria in your gut which, in turn, inhibits the survival of potentially harmful bacteria including salmonella, Escherichia coli, and clostridia. They also reduce your chances of being infected.
GOS supports your immune system through antimicrobial substance production that results from GOS fermentation. GOS also helps to reduce the risk of developing yeast infections such as candida.
Plant foods rich in GOS include:
3. Resistant Starch
Resistant starches resist digestion in the small intestine. They make their way to the large intestine where they act as prebiotic fibers and serve as food for your microbes. Resistant starches nourish bacteria (like Ruminococcus bromii) that, in turn, produce fuel for butyrate-producing bacteria (like Faecalibacterium prausnitzii).
Incorporating them as food in your diet is key to maintaining diversity in your gut. They also enhance insulin sensitivity, increase metabolism, and assist with weight loss.
Foods high in resistant starch include:
Wholegrain cereals such as oats, millet, bread, and pasta
Cooked and cooled rice
Legumes such as chickpeas, red kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans
Nuts and some seeds
Starchy vegetables e.g. sweet potatoes, yams, and corn
Raw potato starch as well as cooked and cooled potatoes
Unripe green bananas
But Is Eating The Right Food Enough To Get Your Prebiotics? And what if the above foods create inflammation for your gut?
Eating more prebiotic-rich foods isn’t always easy for those who are highly reactive to fermentable fibers. That includes people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Large amounts of prebiotic fiber provide an abundance of food for a range of gut bacteria. When utilised, this can result in an excess of gas in the intestine, causing abdominal bloating and discomfort.
If this is you, often supplementation with a well-tolerated, shorter-chain prebiotic, such as Inulin and Guar Gum is the best place to start
Partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) is one of the best options for those who are sensitive to bloating and gas from fermentable fibers. This is a prebiotic powder that you can add to your smoothies that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and works effectively to regulate bowel motions. It has also been found in the research to improve the effectiveness of rifaximin in SIBO treatment.
The Right Way To Take Our Prebiotic Supplement
While fiber-containing foods such as onions and mushrooms have significant prebiotic effects, there are also some great prebiotic supplements you can take. Supplemental prebiotic fiber is an important component of a gut-healing regimen.
When introducing any prebiotic fiber, start with a low dose and slowly increase the amount over a number of weeks to build tolerance, monitoring your symptoms as you go.
Prebiotic supplements can be taken regularly to help increase and drive the growth of good bacteria in your gut. They are highly stable and are resistant to the body’s enzymes and gastric acids. Thus, they are not destroyed, digested, or absorbed as they travel through your digestive tract and reach the colon intact.
And the great thing about this supplement is… They can also be added to almost every type of food, drink, or supplement without compromising their effectiveness!
Our Inulin Gut Prebiotic Fibre can help:
Relieve constipation and diarrhea
Reduce gas and bloating
Enhance nutrient absorption
Reduce leaky gut
Improve the microbiome
Improve immune status
Our Inulin Prebiotic literally flew off the shelf last year so we will be getting our new stock in February. To order contact 083 654 9943 or go shopping online on www.essential-nutrition.co.za shop