I know you’ve heard about probiotics (see my blog post about them here). But how about prebiotics?
Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria. PREbiotics are food for those healthy gut bacteria. And while it’s important to have a rich variety of bacteria in our gut, it’s just as important to feed them so they’re happy and active!
Our microbiome is thought to impact many aspects of the body, but research on the microbiome is still very much in its infancy.
Having a healthy microbiome can also help us stay regular, and keep our digestive system running smoothly. For those of you who suffer from occasional constipation, prebiotics may be able to help.
Constipation is generally defined as having fewer bowel movements than what is normal for you, as well as having trouble passing stools.
Occasional constipation is common. Some of the most common causes are travel (not that anyone is doing that right now), a low-fibre diet, medications, dehydration, hormones, and stress.
A diet high in fibre and fluids can help with constipation, but prebiotics are also a good way to alleviate constipation – inulin fibre has been associated with softer stools and maintaining gut health.
There’s a lot we don’t know about the gut, but we do know that when we feed our gut bacteria, good things happen.
Let’s talk a bit about prebiotics.
Why are prebiotics important?
The most common prebiotic types are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and fructans, like inulin.
Prebiotics are found in undigestible carbohydrates like fibre. They travel down to the gut, where they act as a delicious buffet for our gut bacteria.
When our gut bacteria consume the prebiotics we eat, they produce short chain fatty acids, otherwise known as SCFA. The most common types of SFCA are acetate, butyrate, and propionate.
Butyrate is the favourite food of the cells in our colon. The SCFA that aren’t used by the gut travel in the bloodstream to other areas of the body, where they’re involved in other processes.
It’s not really important that you know short chain fatty acids by name, only that we believe that they’re important for overall health.
Resistant starch is a type of prebiotic fibre that ferments in our colon. Like other prebiotic fibres, it nourishes the cells lining the colon.
Resistant starch is interesting because while there are 5 types (which are a whole other blog post), some of them are found in foods that are cooked and then cooled.
These include potatoes, rice, and pasta.
When these foods are consumed in their cooled state, they become less digestible, meaning that we absorb fewer calories from them than when they are heated.
Other sources of resistant starch are green banana (commonly used as flour), and raw oats.
I love resistant starch because it’s very filling!
Which foods are good sources of prebiotics?
Eating a diet rich in fibre is the best way to get your prebiotics.
The most prebiotic-rich foods are:
Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans
Fruits: watermelon, grapefruit, pomegranate, dried fruits, nectarines
Vegetables: onions, garlic, corn, green onions, fennel, leeks, shallots, and Jerusalem artichoke
Grains: barley, rye, oats, and wheat
Prebiotic fibre supplements
I always recommend getting your fibre – including prebiotic fibre – from food. But, if you don’t think you’re eating enough fibre, a fibre supplement like RestoraFIBRE®daily gummies can help top up your intake.
These portable, fruit-flavoured gummies are delicious, and they contain less than 1 gram of sugar per dose.
A daily amount of 4 gummies – 2 taken twice daily – contains 8 grams of prebiotic inulin fibre.
Not only do RestoraFIBRE®Daily Gummies help stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, they also help provide gentle relief of constipation and irregularity. You can find out more about RestoraFIBRE®Daily Gummies here.
This post is sponsored by Bayer but all thoughts and opinions are my own. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label. RestoraFIBRE®serves as a supplement to help fill fibre gaps when diet is not enough.