Last week we took a look at fiber, so this week keeping with gut health I want to take a closer look at prebiotics. It is easy to confuse prebiotics and probiotics but there is a huge difference. Prebiotics are naturally created from plant fibers and feed bacteria promoting their growth. Probiotics are living strains of bacteria. Both work together in maintaining a healthy gut flora called the microbiome. READ ON to learn more about prebiotics and three instances you do NOT want to take them…..
A prebiotic is considered anything that is a food source for the bacteria in your gut. We discussed a type of fiber called Inulin last week which is a type of prebiotic. There are many other sources with the most common being FOS (fructooligosaccharides- now you know why you see it as FOS). There are also other types including GOS (galactooligosaccharides), XOS (oligofructose) and Chicory fiber. Each of these feed a different group of bacteria in your gut so when looking at prebiotics is it usually beneficial to pick one that has a few different strains for optimal results. Prebiotics can be found as a stand alone product but they are often paired with a probiotic. The idea with these products it to provide a built in food source for a specific set of bacteria so they will flourish. There is a lot of science that goes into which strains of prebiotics to pair with which probiotic.
While there are many supplements available that are prebiotics or combination pre/probiotics the best way to get prebiotics is to eat them! Foods like apples, asparagus, bananas, berries, cocoa, dandelion greens, flax, garlic, most green veggies, leeks, onions and many more are terrific prebiotics so stock up. Eat a mixture of these type of foods for optimal gut flora. Recommendations for the amount of prebiotics to consume is about 5 grams. More than this can lead to bloating or gas.
Avoid prebiotics if you have these conditions:
2. SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth)
3. Fodmaps diet
This is because prebiotics will feed an already imbalanced system that has bacterial overgrowth to begin with. When you feed them the bacteria flourish making your symptoms worse.
Side effects of prebiotics can include:
If these occur then stop them and explore your gut for imbalances and overgrowths.
To your health,