Probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) are the hottest term in the supplement industry right now. Rightfully so – they control many aspects of health as I discussed in a previous post. But there’s a lot more to the story then just popping a few capsules of probiotics. Probiotics have to be “fed” in order to survive. That’s where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and maintenance of our beneficial gut flora.
Properly feeding the good bacteria may prevent bad bacterial overgrowth, resulting in improved health. Recent research by academic and industry experts suggests that supplementing with or consuming prebiotic-rich food may be more important than taking probiotics.
There are 2 known forms of prebiotics: soluble fiber and resistant starch.
Soluble Fiber Soluble fiber is indigestible by humans but serves as a great form of prebiotics.
Some forms of soluble fiber are inulin and oligofructose, along with fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), other oligosaccharides and pectin. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great source of soluble fiber as well.
Here are some examples with the amount of food required to obtain 6 g prebiotic fiber (the minimum effective dose): •Chicory root – 41.6 g/22.9 g •Jerusalem artichoke – 18 g/13.5 g •Dandelion greens – 13.5 g/10.8 g •Garlic – 12.5 g/5 g •Leek – 6.5 g/5.2 g •Asparagus – 2.5 g/2.5 g •Banana – 0.5 g/0.5 g
Resistant Starch Emerging evidence has revealed that resistant starch may be a great way to get prebiotics into our diet. Starchy vegetables and fruits (such as bananas) are good sources. Surprisingly, white potatoes and white rice that have been cooked and cooled, are also high in RS. You can try incorporating hard-boiled or converted rice like Uncle Ben’s original which tends to be higher in RS then other forms of rice.
Potato starch is another inexpensive and easy to use option. One tablespoon contains about 8 grams of RS. It’s mixes easily and doesn’t have much of a taste. Start with 1 tablespoons of potato starch in yogurt or a smoothie and increase up to 4 tablespoons a day. You may experience some gas in the beginning but this will subside as your gut biome becomes healthier. We recommend this brand of potato starch.
Benefits may be seen from as little as 6-12 grams/day of RS, but closer to 20 grams/day might be ideal. Potential effects of increasing RS include reduction in appetite, weight loss, lowered fasted blood glucose, and even lucid dreams!
If you decide to supplement with probiotics, ensure it has some type of prebiotic as well. When we developed eWhey, we included several forms of prebiotics to further enhance its healthfulness.
Feed your healthy gut bacteria for a month and see if you notice a difference.