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Prebiotics and Gut Health: A Nutritionist’s Perspective

The Cabinet — 06.22.21
by Rebecca Moragne

What are Prebiotics?  

Simply put, prebiotics are food for our good gut bacteria! The gut is filled with beneficial bacteria to break down the foods that we consume, support our immune system, and produce metabolites that our body also uses as fuel.1 You could not survive without this bacteria in your gut! In order for the gut to thrive, these gut bacteria require fuel in the form of prebiotics. To technically be classified as a prebiotic, a compound 1) needs to be resistant to the acid in your stomach and not be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, 2) needs to be broken down (fermented) by intestinal bacteria, and 3) can affect the growth or behavior of your body’s bacteria in a manner that improves host health. 


Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

 A probiotic consists of beneficial bacteria that live in our gut, while a prebiotic acts as fuel for those good gut bacteria. Probiotics and prebiotics work together to help the gut function effectively, helping the good bacteria in our guts to thrive while crowding out bad bacteria.


Where Do Prebiotics Come From?

Prebiotics are found in over 35,000 plant species. The main prebiotics include inulin, fructo-oligosacchrides (FOD) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). Excellent sources of prebiotics include apricots, dates, asparagus, garlic, almonds, rye, and even dandelion and chamomile tea. Goji berries, a key ingredient in in Hilma’s Stomach Reset, are also a source of prebiotics that are shown to support Bifidobacteroum and Lactobaccillus, two beneficial bacteria species in the human gut.

A healthy diet includes a variety of prebiotics. Prebiotic-rich foods include resistant starches like garlic and almonds, which are basically indigestible carbohydrates. While most starches are digested and absorbed as glucose, resistant starches are not digested in the small intestine and act as prebiotics in the large intestine to feed the good bacteria in the gut. There are many ways to incorporate resistant starches into your diet, but a few of our favorite resistant starches include:

During the breakdown process, gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), like butyrate. These SCFAs serve as fuel for the cells that line and strengthen the barrier of the intestine. You want a strong barrier between your intestines and your bloodstream because you only want so many things that you ingest to go directly into your blood. And when unintended compounds are able to cross the barrier, diarrhea and a host of other symptoms related to food sensitivities can occur. If you have ever heard of ‘Leaky Gut’ that is quite literally, a ‘leaky’ gut lining. Furthermore, a healthy butyrate level is thought to protect against a number of health issues, including insulin resistance (seen in diabetes) - possibly by regulating the body’s inflammatory response. Additionally, animal and human studies have revealed that prebiotics can decrease the population of harmful bacteria in the human gut. For example, mannose, a prebiotic found in cranberries, can attach itself to pathogenic Salmonella. This adhesion promotes the removal of Salmonella through your urinary tract.


Benefits of Prebiotics

When you are seeking a gut supporting supplement, one that includes prebiotics is extra valuable. Part of gut health involves the health of your gut bacteria. The addition of prebiotics supports gut health through its role as food for the gut bacteria and the products, such as fuel for the gut lining, that it may generate. In Stomach Reset, the addition of prebiotics through goji berries helps support your body when it may be under stress. This stress could look like a long flight, a time change, a hangover, or unwelcome diarrhea. The ideal way to include more prebiotics in your life is through whole foods. However, when optimizing gut health and/or seeking additional gut support, a supplement that includes prebiotics can offer strong support. In Hilma’s Stomach Reset, the addition of a prebiotic ensures that the support is covering a variety of aspects of your gut. The goji berries support the gut bacteria, the amla fruit supports the stomach lining, and the marine algae soothes the stomach.

Prebiotics are an essential component of health. And next time you are experiencing a bit of gut disruption, you may want to consider additional prebiotics as part of your plan for recovery. 

 

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/#!po=0.413223
  2. https://isappscience.org/publications/dietary-prebiotics-current-status-and-new-definition/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332219352138
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31076401/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275385/
  6. https://mbio.asm.org/content/10/1/e02566-18

Note: This information is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before treating any disorder.

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