How Much Fiber Do I Need
The last 15 years have seen an incredible amount of research demonstrating the importance of fiber to overall health.;Fiber-rich foods;arent hard to find, either green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fruit, beans, and supplements all provide excellent sources of prebiotics. Unfortunately, most Americans dont eat nearly enough fiber-rich foods, according to;WebMD. On average, adults consume about 15 grams of dietary fiber every day sound like a lot? It isnt, considering women and men should consume between 25 and 38 grams per day, respectively. And people who have an aversion or allergy to certain foods,;such as wheat, have an even more difficult time ingesting their daily requirement.
To put these numbers into perspective, consider;how much fiber is contained in the average serving size of common foods;such as bananas, cereal, and almonds. Eat a whole-grain bran cereal for breakfast and consume only 5 grams of fiber. Add a banana to your bowl and reap another 3 grams. Ready for a mid-morning snack of 24 almonds? You just added 3.3 grams of fiber, according to WebMD. The point is, eating enough fiber cant be left to chance making it a habit requires consciously eating fiber at every meal;because getting to a minimum of 25 grams takes a lot of careful planning.
What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.
However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.
Heres What You Need To Know About Prebiotics And How They Help Your Own Microbes
Our food choices depend on so many things culture, preferences, momentary cravings but perhaps we should consider what our microbial partners like to eat.;
Gut microbes help us metabolize food, protect against pathogens, and bolster our immune system. Although the science linking gut microbes to health and disease still has a way to go, researchers are learning that beneficial gut bacteria have nutritional preferences of their own. Appealing to our gut microbes by including foods they prefer in our diets can expand communities of beneficial gut microbes.;
We hear so much about probiotics, but not as much about prebiotics, so dont be surprised if youre confused. Dietary scientists have kept the definition broad because researchers are still adding to the list prebiotic foods, but basically prebiotics are substances selectively used by certain groups of microbes that benefit the host.;
Heres an easy way to tell the difference: Probiotics are live bacteria, like what you find in yogurt. Prebiotics are dead material, most commonly dietary fibers, which enrich organisms already in your gut. Gut bacteria can ferment some, but not all, fibers. Fermentable fibers are considered prebiotics only if microbes produce byproducts beneficial to health.;;
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How To Incorporate Prebiotics And Probiotics Into Your Diet
Prebiotics and probiotics you know what they are, what they do, where to find themso now what?
Start by thinking about your current diet. Which of the foods on the prebiotic and probiotic lists do you currently consume? Which foods could you easily add to your diet? Are there any foods that you have never eaten but would like to try?
If you do not currently consume a lot of fiber-rich foods, we recommend making changes slowly at first. Incorporating too much fiber too fast can cause intestinal discomfort gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Start by making one dietary change each week. For example, instead of starting your morning with sugary cereal, make a batch of overnight oats for an easy and healthy breakfast. Or instead of using protein powder in your smoothie, use Greek yogurt.;
For more personalized guidance on incorporating gut-friendly foods into your diet, visit a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you make changes that will best suit your needs, preferences, and lifestyle.
Want some prebiotic and probiotic recipes? Check out these base recipes, then get creative customizing them to your taste!
Kefir Smoothie Base Recipe
Should I Take Probiotic Supplements
Probiotic supplements are pills, powders, or liquids that contain live beneficial bacteria or yeast.
Theyre very popular and easy to find, yet not all of them are worth your money. They do not all have the same types of bacteria or the same concentrations. There are also many products on the market making claims with no proof of efficacy .
They also usually do not come with fibrous food sources for the bacteria to eat, which can hinder their effectiveness if someone isnt also eating those foods.
Some probiotic supplements are designed to carry the bacteria all the way to your large intestine for better effects, while others probably dont make it past your stomach acid .
There are some individuals who should not take a probiotic, or who may experience worsened symptoms if they do, such as people with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or people sensitive to ingredients in the supplement.
However, the right strains of probiotics can be incredibly beneficial for some people. It depends on the type of strain, product formula, the quality of the product, and storage. (
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Take Care Of Your Gut And It Will Take Care Of You
Your gut microbiome is a living, complex thing. It has so many functions that many scientists think of it as an organ in its own right. Its dynamic and ever-changing factors like the environment, diet, and medicine can all change its composition.29
This is all to say that its never too late or too soon to take care of your gut. No matter what its current status, it may be worth looking at prebiotics vs probiotics vs postbiotics to see what might help you. Talk to your doctor if youre ready to boost your gut health.Sources
How They Work With Probiotics To Improve Health
While;probiotic benefits;have become more widely known in recent years, especially with the growing popularity of;fermented foods;like sauerkraut, kombucha and;kimchi, prebiotics still remain under the radar.;All types of fiber that we get from eating whole, plant foods play a major role in nutrient absorption, gut and digestive health.
Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together?
Yes, and you should. Prebiotics, together with probiotics,;open the door for heightened levels of health in general, so nearly everyone can afford;to include them in their diets more often.
As prebiotics make their way;through the stomach without being broken down by either gastric acids or;digestive enzymes, they bring about positive changes in the digestive tract and organs. Essentially, prebiotic compounds become nutrient sources, or fuel, for the beneficial bacteria housed within your gut.
Prebiotics work together with probiotics to allow specific changes to take place, both in the composition and activity of the gastrointestinal system.;They play a fundamental role in preserving health by maintaining balance and diversity of intestinal bacteria, especially by increasing the presence of good bacteria, such as;Lactobacilli;and;Bifidobacteria.
Because the health of the gut is closely tied to many other bodily functions, prebiotics and probiotics together are important for battling inflammation and lowering overall disease risk.
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Can You Take Too Many Probiotics
Taking too many probiotics is not a common issue. For those who have taken too many probiotics , they will likely experience gut disruptions and gastrointestinal side effects.
Probiotics are generally safe regardless of the amount taken, and any side effects are generally mild. It is impossible to take a toxic level of probiotics. The most common side effects of taking more probiotics than you can tolerate are gas, bloating, and diarrhea. These side effects can be treated individually and are generally corrected after 24 to 48 hours and stopping the probiotics until they are resolved.
It can be tempting to discontinue probiotic use altogether after a negative experience out of fear of another bad reaction, but simply reducing your dose and taking your probiotic as directed should prevent further issues. It is important for those with a weakened immune system or serious illness to discuss probiotic use with their healthcare provider before starting a probiotic regimen.
Soluble And Insoluble Fibers
Medical scientists and nutritionists categorize dietary fiber into two classifications.;Soluble fiber, as the name suggests, dissolves easily in water. Plants such as beans, greens, and other complex carbohydrates contain soluble fiber; some foods, such as the potato, contain a mix of insoluble fiber and soluble fiber . The human body breaks down these complex carbs into a gelatinous, viscous byproduct that the large intestine turns into gasses and acids that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the lower gut. These bacteria positively affect several essential bodily functions and overall health.
Insoluble fiber wont dissolve in water but is just as important to overall health and well-being as soluble fiber. We can further classify insoluble fiber into two types: fermentable and non-fermentable. Non-fermentable insoluble fiber is known primarily as a bulking agent, and consuming adequate insoluble fiber keeps people regular. Fermentable insoluble fiber such as resistant starch produces the same healthy gasses and acids in the large intestine that soluble fiber does. One important difference between the two types of fibers is that soluble fiber tends to slow digestion while insoluble fiber speeds it up.
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Supplements And Dosage Recommendations
Some prebiotics are added to some foods artificially and can often be found as dietary supplements, such as Prebiotin, which is a prebiotin fiber that can be sprinkled on foods and dissolved in drinks. While many food manufacturers now produce foods that are high in fiber, many use isolated fiber sources that are difficult to digest, and some might even have mild laxative effects.
What is the best prebiotic to take?
The best prebiotics come from whole food sources and foods containing prebiotics, like raw chicory root or onions. Not only do these foods supply a concentrated amount of prebiotics, but they are also rich in other important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help optimize your health.
Focus on eating plenty of fiber-rich foods, aiming to get 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day from a variety of whole foods.
That said, if youre unable to meet your needs through food alone, you may want to consider prebiotics and probiotics supplements. Look for a supplement that contains real prebiotics instead of compounds with prebiotic-like effects, and be sure to buy from a reputable retailer with high-quality standards as well.
Additionally, its important to stick to the recommended dosage to avoid adverse symptoms and gastrointestinal problems. You may also want to start with a low dose and gradually increase your intake to assess your tolerance and minimize the risk of side effects.
How long do prebiotics take to work?
Prebiotics Reduce Your Risk For Obesity
Studies show that prebiotic consumption can dramatically improve your metabolism and prevent certain bacteria from converting food into fat. Prebiotics accomplish this by altering the gut microbiota and altering bile acid composition, which alters metabolic activity. This causes positive effects on insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism.
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What To Know About Inulin
Inulin, on the other hand, is a larger, more complex molecule.;Because it takes the colons bacteria much longer to ferment inulin, there is more available to the bacteria that reside in the rest of the colon, mostly on the left side. Like oligofructose, inulin is somewhat effective on its own but really needs another quick-fermenting fiber to provide the optimal beneficial health effects. Unfortunately, foods with these prebiotics are rather low in the oligofructose component, so an ideal formula would be one where the basic inulin would be enriched with oligofructose.
Inulin;and;oligofructose;are the two most natural and beneficial prebiotics we know.
Are Probiotics The Key To A Well
Whether your diet is out of whack or you live with a chronicdisease, a probiotic supplement has the potential to help restore your gut tooptimum health. There are supplements commercially available that deliver bothLactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, as well as other probiotic species.
For most people, taking a probiotic is safe, says Dr.Cresci. I recommend people living with a chronic disease or who have asuppressed immune system discuss with their doctor about adding more probioticsto their diet to make sure that taking a probiotic is something they shouldconsider doing.;
Since probiotic supplements can be hard on your wallet, Dr. Cresci recommends other ways to build your gut army, such as eating fermented foods like:
- Yogurt that contains added Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium strains.
- Kombucha, a fermented tea.
- Sauerkraut, fermented cabbage.
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Should You Take A Prebiotic Supplement
The truth is, research on prebiotic supplements is still in its early stages, and many of the benefits are still largely theoretical. For those reasons, and because potentially helpful prebiotics can be found readily in many fruits and vegetables, its best to consume your prebiotics naturally whenever possible.
The Role Probiotics Play In Your Health
Up until the past few years, scientists in the medical profession paid little attention to the colonies of bacteria that live in the lower gut. Today, we know maintaining a healthy balance of good versus bad bacteria is important because people with more beneficial bacteria are less likely to suffer from a wide range of diseases and conditions.
Once GI experts realized there is more to the lower gut than first assumed, the push to understand the diverse roles these bacteria play became urgent. Many mysteries still need solving, but clinical evidence increasingly indicates that people in good health should optimize lower gut bacteria. You can accomplish this by eating prebiotics to encourage the growth of your existing gut microbes, and probiotics to add to the ones that are already there.
The science on what probiotics do is still emerging. There is some hard evidence that suggests eating probiotic foods and supplements can have a beneficial effect on health. Other evidence suggests probiotics benefits are limited to those individuals in good health and should be avoided by those who suffer from certain serious health conditions. There is no research that demonstrates the risks or the benefits of;probiotic supplements;on children.
Yogurt and supplements arent the only places you can find probiotics. More foods that contain probiotics include:
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Whats The Difference Between Prebiotics And Probiotics
Probiotics are bacteria that live in the human gut and benefit the entire body. They are found in fermented foods and in supplements.
Prebiotics are specialized plant food that probiotics need to survive and thrive in the intestines. Prebiotics can be found in foods like beans, leafy vegetables, grains, and oats.
Somewhere along the way, the lovely little bacteria we call probiotics discovered that they could live off the excess fiber in our intestines. But they didnt just come for a free ride.
Probiotics provide us with so many health benefits that we cannot live without themat least not in a healthy way. Both probiotics and prebiotics are essential to a healthy body and mind. We need the right balance of each one in order to ensure the gut can function optimally.
All Probiotics Are The Same And Are Created Equal
You may have been told by your doctor to get a probiotic for digestive issues. When you’re standing in front of the probiotic supplements aisle at the grocery store or pharmacy, it can be challenging to know which one is best for your health.
Know this before you go buy probiotics. Each probiotic strain has a different function that it carries out in the body. Numerous studies have indicated that multi-strain probiotic products are more effective than a single strain product.
One of the critical points about a probiotic supplement is that its bacterial strains need to be combined in a way backed by science. The effects of multiple strains need to be tested as a whole for efficacy before you can say itâs an effective product–therefore, there are many factors involved in determining whether or not a product will work effectively.
For optimal results, search for a high-quality probiotic that contains multiple strains of bacteria, and is tailored to your specific health needs.
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When Oligofructose And Inulin Work Together
The past 15 years, and particularly the past two years, have seen an incredible amount of independent research support the theory that prebiotic fiber is as essential for overall health as it is for healthy lower;gut microbiota;development.;Working together, inulin and FOS nourish the bacteria in the entire length of the colon.
As some experts long suspected, a healthy bacterial mix in the gut positively affects a diverse variety of health conditions from obesity to hardened arteries to bone strength to lower gut problems.
What the scientific community is now realizing is a healthy balance of gut bacteria can play a direct role in your;mental health;as well. Neuroscientists studying stress hormones in mice with regards to anxiety and depression found these levels were directly affected by changes in the bacterial balance of the gut. In particular, they found that mice exhibiting autism features had substantially higher levels of a certain bacterial metabolite. After injecting this same metabolite into unaffected mice, these mice began to exhibit the same symptoms.
In another study, participants took either a placebo or prebiotic every day for three weeks. The results of the study showed that individuals who took the prebiotic experienced less anxiety than people who took the placebo. They also found that individuals who consumed the prebiotics had lower cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are known to be a factor in anxiety, stress, and depression.