The scientific definition of a prebiotic is “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”. Prebiotics are most often soluble fibers. However, not all soluble fibers are prebiotics. Indeed, prebiotic fibers are those that cannot be digested, serving as food for the good intestinal flora.
What is a prebiotic?
What is a prebiotic?
What is the difference between a prebiotic and a probiotic?
Prebiotics are plant and animal substances that feed probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial to the body. Without a balanced and varied intestinal flora there is no salvation! Mean by this that it is now recognized that a healthy microbiota contributes greatly to overall health, and not just to digestive well-being.
But without material to feed it, the bad bacteria often take over the good ones, porosity sets in and this is the beginning of the vicious circle.
In recent years the public has gradually understood the importance of good flora, hence the consumption of probiotics (mainly lactobacillus, alas). The vital need for a fertile ground is for the moment too little known and yet… you can take hundreds of probiotics but as long as your intestine cannot nourish them, it will be a waste of time. Especially, and we will come back to this in a future article, that probiotics are often either not suitable or do not remain in your body (your servant speaks from experience, hence the fact of having created I've gut thepower ).
What are dietary fibers?
Dietary fiber includes the parts of plant foods that your body cannot fully digest. Instead, they pass relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of your body.
There are two main types of fiber, with different effects:
- Soluble fibers : they dissolve in water to form a kind of gel. In particular, they can help lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Soluble fibers are found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, psyllium, green banana, acacia fiber or in baobab fruit.
- Insoluble fibers : they promote digestive peristalsis and increase stool volume. They may therefore be beneficial for those who suffer from constipation or irregular bowel movements. Wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables (cauliflower, green beans, potatoes for example) are good sources of insoluble fibre.
They provide a substrate for the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including propionates and butyrates, helping the intestine to maintain good health.
They stimulate the growth of certain good bacteria and slow the rate of absorption from the small intestine. Thus they reduce the glycemic and insulinemic response.
Are there benefits to consuming a high fiber diet?
For years the author of these lines ate very little of them, because he thought he could not digest them. For years, therefore, their many virtues have been dispensed with, in particular:
- Reduction of digestive problems
- Drop in blood pressure
- Better blood sugar control
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of becoming obese
- Better immunity
Prebiotics being fairly new on the market, we are only beginning to understand their potential, such as:
- Richer intestinal flora
- Better absorption of minerals
- Better blood sugar and insulin management
- Improved intestinal permeability
- Possible protection against colon cancer
- Reduced allergic reactions
How do I enrich or keep my microbiota on a daily basis?
You already know the answer if you have read what is written above: eat fiber and ideally resistant fiber on a daily basis. The intakes are approximately 25g per day for a woman and 38g for a man. It's not huge but the average in France is… 17g.
So… eat more or add prebiotics, it's simple and damn effective.
What foods are richest in prebiotics?
You will most often find them in the form of fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides, especially in:
Vegetables : Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, asparagus, beetroot, fennel, green peas, snow peas, sweet corn, green cabbage
Legumes : chickpeas, beans, soy
Fruits : nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, watermelon, rambutan, grapefruit, pomegranate, baobab, green banana. Dried fruits (e.g. dates, figs)
Bread, cereals : Barley, rye, gnocchi, couscous, wheat bran, wheat, oats
Nuts : cashew, pistachios
Note : we advise you to soak the cereals before consumption.
How to consume fiber without producing too much… gas?
During an Ayurvedic stay in India, I suddenly had to eat a lot, but then a lot, of fibers (mainly legumes, bananas and coconuts). It was a fiesta in my belly and, oh magic, a week later everything was working fine. Two solutions:
- Either you consume a lot at once and your digestive system will get used to the forceps. Not necessarily the most pleasant.
- Either you add them gradually AND regularly until the symptoms disappear. Regularity is the key word here.
How much fiber should I consume each day?
Our fiber needs change over the course of our lives and differ by gender:
- 25g/day for a woman
- 35g/day for a man
And for pregnant or breastfeeding women? Their needs are slightly higher than normal, around 28g per day.
How can I naturally increase my fiber intake?
In the morning take a high fiber cereal or, better in our opinion, no cereal but chia seeds or ground flax seeds. You will find plenty of recipes on the internet (the chia pudding with a little vanilla and dried fruit… it's delicious).
Perhaps more surprisingly, cook legumes: mung beans or coral lentils cooked in milk (vegetable or not, it depends on you) will delight young and old.
- Consume whole grains
- Eat as many legumes as possible
- Also favor fruits and vegetables rich in fiber
- Increase your intake of nuts
Note: we strongly urge you to soak and if possible germinate cereals, dried fruits and legumes (we tell you more about this in another article). Stripped of their antinutrients, they will be truly nutritious and won't hurt your stomach.
I have severe stomach issues and can't stand some of the foods mentioned
In this case, we advise you to contact a nutritionist who can help you eliminate and gradually reintroduce these foods. The goal is to temporarily reduce them and then reintroduce them as quickly as possible, as fiber is crucial for good digestion. The prebiotic mix we have created is there to help you solve these problems, by providing you with soft fibers that will help repopulate your intestine and thus be able to eat as many things as possible in a minimum of time.
The FODMAP diet can help at first but should not be followed indefinitely, otherwise your flora will decrease and your food intolerances will increase.
FODMAPs? It's what ?
It's a nice acronym that stands for, hang in there, Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols in English in the text. To put it simply, it is fermentable fibers that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine (the small one) that cause bloating, constipation, diarrhea and sometimes very unpleasant sensations in some people.
Often people with digestive problems (known under the banner of irritable bowel syndrome, which is a catchword not to say that we do not know your exact problem) do not manage to consume enough fiber, because precisely foods rich in fiber are often rich in FODMAPs, hence the vicious circle that is created: less fiber → less good intestinal flora and greater intestinal permeability → less good absorption of nutrients → more digestion problems and fatigue (not to mention the fear that sometimes accompanies meals) → elimination of good foods, etc.
This vicious circle, where you don't know where to start (probiotics then, since everyone is talking about them now? No, not necessarily and especially not in the first place). Hence the fact that we created I've gut the power, to finally be able to properly absorb food, put diversity back on our plates and create a virtuous circle. Yippee!
I am in good health and I eat well. Should I take prebiotics?
Whether you are in good or bad health, probiotics can have a positive impact on the digestive, metabolic and immune systems*. Unfortunately, even the "best" diet doesn't include enough variety or quantity of probiotic strains for optimal health. This deficiency results in particular from the modernization of our food supply (ie irradiation, pasteurization and preservation). Therefore, to achieve and maintain optimal health and proper digestive, metabolic and immune functioning, it is necessary to supplement our diet with high quality probiotics and prebiotics.
Can I consume too many prebiotics?
No, clearly not. Studies on the acacia fiber we use have shown that even 50g of consumption per day has had no side effects.
However, we advise you to start with one teaspoon a day and then increase the dose gradually for the most sensitive.