In a recent blog, I explained why it’s a good thing we humans are walking compost heaps. Along with helping our digestive system, the bacteria we carry around in our body can improve bone strength.
Now that you understand the role of your “good guy” bacteria companions — known as “probiotics” — it’s important to know how to support them. That’s where fiber comes in as a “prebiotic.”
Prebiotic vs. probiotic
Your healthy gut bacteria need to be fed! Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds that serve as a “food” for probiotics. What’s more, prebiotic bacteria-nourishing fibers may be as health-promoting as the probiotic bacteria themselves. Prebiotics work by increasing the short chain fatty acid production of probiotic bacteria. Short chain fatty acid plays many important health maintenance roles and may reduce the risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
With bolstering from prebiotics, your probiotics can get to work helping to reduce bowel inflammation, enhance digestion, increase the likelihood of immune effectiveness and support calcium and magnesium mineral absorption. Common prebiotics include FOS (fructooligosaccharides) and inulin.
You can increase the non-digestible prebiotic fibers in your diet by powering-up your intake of high fiber alkalizing fruits, vegetables, nut and seeds. Some of my favorites include:
Prebiotic rich foods
• Chicory root
• Jerusalem artichoke
• Dandelion greens
• Rye, barley and whole wheat flour
As you can see, prebiotics and probiotics provide a powerful combination for digestive and overall health.
Parvanch, K. et al., Effect of probiotics supplementation on bone mineral content and bone mass density. The Scientific World Journal, Vol. 0214 (2014), Article ID 595962
Scholtz-Ahrens, K et al., Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics affect mineral absorption, bone mineral content and bone structure”. J Nutr. Vol 137, no 3 8385-8465, March 2007.
Won, JM et al., Colonic health: fermentation and short chair fatty acids. J. Clin Gastroenterol. 2006 Mar;40(3):235-43
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.