Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Prebiotics are essentially foods that contain certain types of fibers called ‘prebiotic’, which promote the growth of good bacteria in your body. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for our health and can be found in pre-fermented or fermented foods.
The good bacteria in probiotics help break down the food and stimulate the growth of other good bacteria (probiotic) in our body. Prebiotics help support the growth of good bacteria by acting as a food source for these helpful microorganisms.
They also assist with various other processes including improving immune response, reducing inflammation, and lowering pH to prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria. Because prebiotic fibers cannot be digested by our bodies, they remain intact until they reach the colon where they become accessible to probiotic bacteria as an energy source.
What are the different types of prebiotics?
There are many different types of prebiotics, but the most common and well-researched is Inulin. Unlike other prebiotics, inulin is not found in any specific food, but is extracted from certain types of plants including chicory root, dandelion root, and agar.
Other types of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and oligofructose. FOS and GOS are found in various foods including wheat, asparagus, and artichokes, while oligofructose is found in soybeans, wheat, and garlic.
What are the benefits of Prebiotics
There are multiple benefits from consuming prebiotic foods including enhanced immune system, improved gut health, reduced inflammation, and decreased risk for certain diseases. Prebiotics can help to boost the immune system by increasing the levels of good bacteria, which fight off harmful bacteria preventing infection and illness.
They can also reduce the risk for allergies by keeping the immune system balanced and preventing inflammation. When your body has an excess of bad bacteria, it can lead to the production of toxic chemicals called endotoxins.
This can cause inflammation, which is thought to be responsible for many diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, obesity, and diabetes. Prebiotics are also known to improve gut health by promoting the growth of good bacteria, which break down food and stimulate healthy bowel movements. They also regulate pH levels, which can prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Side effects of Prebiotics
While prebiotics are generally considered safe, consuming too much can cause gas and bloating due to the excess amount of fiber. While prebiotics are not absorbed by our bodies, they can be fermented by the bacteria in our gut, producing gas as a byproduct. Some people with sensitive stomachs can also experience minor side effects such as cramping or mild diarrhea, but this is usually not serious.
How to Select the Right Prebiotic Food?
Between the two types of prebiotics, there are several considerations to keep in mind. First, you must consider the source of the food. Some foods contain more prebiotic fibers than others, so it's important to select products that are high in fiber. Some examples include oatmeal, beans and lentils, brewers yeast, and bran.
Second, you must consider the type of food. While all types of fiber are prebiotic, some types may be more effective than others. In general, soluble fibers are the most effective type of fiber for supporting healthy gut bacteria. Examples include oats and barley. Soluble fibers can also help promote digestive health by reducing gas and constipation.
Finally, you must consider your stomach type. Fiber digestion is highly dependent on your digestive system. If your system is not functioning properly or has been compromised by certain medications or conditions, you may not be able to digest or absorb certain types of fiber as effectively as others.
How much prebiotic should we include in our diet?
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, the recommended daily intake of prebiotics is between 5-10 grams per day, which can be obtained from a variety of sources.
However, these are just recommendations, so you may want to consult with your doctor on the ideal amount for you. Prebiotics are generally safe to consume during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but it is important to check with your doctor first. It is also recommended to be careful with portion sizes as too much prebiotics can cause bloating and gas.
Wrapping up Prebiotics
Prebiotics are dietary fibers found in many different types of foods, and are primarily beneficial for health when consumed in high amounts. Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in our bodies while remaining indigestible until they reach the colon. There, they become accessible as a food source for bacteria, which can help improve many aspects of health, including immunity, inflammation, and the health of the digestive system.
Disclaimer: Body Health Outlet nor the author of this blog own the product reviewed above. Nor should the contents of this blog be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician before making changes in your diet plan. This blog should be used for informational purposes only.