Prebiotic fiber, the straight scoop.

The last 15 years have seen an explosion of research demonstrating the importance of dietary fiber, and especially fermentable prebiotic fiber that benefits friendly bacteria in the bowel. In this post you’ll learn 8 plus compelling reasons to get that goodness in you NOW.

What is Prebiotic?

Prebiotic fibers are food ingredients that feed, grow or activate beneficial microorganisms. The most common example is in the gastrointestinal tract, where prebiotics can enhance the populations of friendly organisms in big ways.

Although all prebiotics are fiber of some kind, not all fiber is prebiotic. According to Joanne Slavin,  classification of a food ingredient as a prebiotic requires scientific demonstration that the ingredient;

  • Resists digestion and absorption in the upper gastrointestinal tract (small intestines);
  • Is fermented by the intestinal microflora;
  • Selectively stimulates the growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria potentially associated with health and well-being.
To learn more about the discovery of Prebiotics and where to find them in our food supply, read Prebiotics (What Are They And Where To Find Them)

Prebiotics as old as time…

best prebiotic foods

Prebiotic fiber comes from plants, but not all plant fiber is prebiotic. What makes fiber “prebiotic” is it’s beneficial effect on your friendly intestinal bacteria.

While the concept of prebiotics is relatively new, foods high in prebiotics have been consumed since prehistoric times. Archaeological evidence from dry cave deposits in the Chihuahuan Desert show intense use of desert plants that were high in the plant fiber inulin. Analysis of well-preserved fossilized stool samples suggests that dietary intake of inulin was about 135 g/day for the typical adult male hunter-forager. Today, it’s estimated that Americans get only 15 grams per day.  So, here are 8 really good reasons to get more prebiotic fiber in you right away.

Reason #1 – Prebiotic Fiber Prevents Constipation

Prebiotic fiber found in whole grains, vegetables, coconut flour and supplements galore, is widely acknowledged for its constipation-preventing characteristics. Because insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, it passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact. So, it can be helpful in promoting regular bowel movements by retaining water and encouraging the passage of food and waste through the intestines. The net effect is speeding up the bowel.  

Reason #2 – It Cleanses and Detoxes the Body

By promptly absorbing and removing irritating agents, carcinogens and even parasites, insoluble fiber systematically cleanses and detoxes the body. What’s only recently been discovered is that some of these insoluble, non-digestible sources of fiber, also assist your friendly bacteria in doing that thing they do best – lactofermentation. Even psyllium husk (“intestinal brooms”) it’s been discovered, has some prebiotic effect by providing a substrate for fermentation of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria.  In addition the insoluble kind of prebiotic fiber bulks up bowel movements and expels them easily from the body.

Reason #3 – Prebiotics Soothe and Slow Down Diarrhea

Soluble fibers are a food group whose unique composition breaks down and ferments in the colon. Often this fermentation morphs into a gel-like substance that lubricates the gastrointestinal tract and slows down the bowel to allow for maximum absorption of nutrients. In addition, soluble fibers contain special prebiotic compounds– the ingredients that the probiotic bacteria in the colon use as “food” or fuel. 

Reason #4 – Prebiotic Pectin Lowers Cholesterol

Newly identified as “prebiotic”, researchers have long known that pectin can help to lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL) particles which gets converted into low-density lipoprotein (‘bad’ cholesterol) in the blood.

Reason #5 – Prebiotics Boost Immunity

In preliminary Immunity research, prebiotics boost white blood cells and killer T cells, and may even improve your body’s response to infections. Children in one test group who ate yogurt containing inulin had fewer daycare absences, fewer doctor visits and took fewer antibiotics.

In 2010, a team of scientists from University of Illinois suggested that citrus-based pectin is also capable of turning angry, inflammatory immune cells into anti-inflammatory, healing cells that speed up recovery from infection.

Reason #6 – Prebiotics Prevent Inflammatory Disease

One scientific paper published in Advanced Immunology in 2014 suggests that prebiotic fibers contribution to the production of vast amounts of short chain fatty acids make it a major player in the maintenance of gut and immune homeostasis. “Given the vast beneficial effects of these short chain fatty acids [produced by prebiotic fiber in the gut], and that their levels are regulated by diet, they provide a new basis to explain the increased prevalence of inflammatory disease in Westernized countries.”

Reason #7 – Prebiotics Boost Heart Health

Another benefit of upping your intake of prebiotic fiber is heart health. Prebiotic inulin may be able to moderate cholesterol and triglyceride levels- both indicators of heart disease. Specifically, one study shows that inulin can reduce artherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries by 30%. In the large intestine and colon, microorganisms degrade pectin and liberate short-chain fatty acids that have positive influence on overall health.

Reason #8 – Prebiotics Help Maintain Your Ideal Weight

According to the results of a study at the University of Calgary in 2015, prebiotic fiber supplements allowed rats to gain 1/3 less weight than their peers on the same high sugar diet. The study included rats who received a prebiotic fiber supplement along with their high fat and high sugar diet alongside a group eating the same diet minus the prebiotic fiber. According to the results of the study shared by CBC, “Animals given fiber supplements had 35 percent less weight gain than those who were not given fiber supplements.”

New Gastroenterology research in 2017 found that prebiotics prevent obesity in children by altering the gut microbiome (composition of bacteria).  The research published in Gastroenterology, suggests there may be new tools coming in the fight against childhood obesity, one of the most prevalent and costly conditions afflicting children in the developed world. Read more HERE.

Benefits that go beyond…

best prebiotic foods feed friendly bacteria

New research indicates that having plenty of plant based prebiotic fiber in your diet supports overall health in multiple body systems, beginning in the intestines.

Because prebiotics act in your intestines, they have a profound effect on the pathogens and bad bacteria in your body that can cause disease. Not only is prebiotic fiber now being used to treat childhood obesity, but also Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease. It may also prove useful for treating cancer, osteoporosis and  other diseases connected with the functionality of the gastrointestinal tract.

Upping the Intake

Studies have shown that Americans have a very low average prebiotic intake, with most of what we get (70% of it) coming from allergenic wheat-based sources, and another 25% from onions. Expanding our diet to include more fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds is the optimum way to boost your stack of prebiotic fiber.  Keep in mind that cooking foods appears to reduce existing prebiotic content by 25-75%, so consuming foods in a raw state is the better way to go.

So, take a fresh look at what you’re feeding your kingdom within, and consider upping your prebiotic fiber intake. Exodus Prebiotic GI Sponge is our recommendation for upping your intake of prebiotic fiber and strengthening your overall health. Read more about it HERE.

Your whole microbiome (700 trillion microscopic hitchhikers) will thank you.

 

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