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Prebiotics – what are they?

I’ve been reading a lot about prebiotics recently and I wanted to share this information with you. We tend to focus a lot on probiotics. Even the media is going crazy at the moment, talking about how important probiotics are, offering all kinds of yogurts and supplements. However, there is not a word about prebiotics. Prebiotics are just as important, if not more important than probiotics. Let me tell you why.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are actually soluble fibers that stimulate the growth of the good bacteria i.e. probiotics, that colonize the large intestine. In actual fact, they act as substrate for them.

So they’re the ones that nourish the good bacteria that everyone already has in their gut. They provide a wide range of health benefits to everyone, even healthy people, with a lot of clinical research to support their efficacy.

The additional good news about prebiotics is that they are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time and can definitely be helpful for all sorts of digestive complaints, like IBS, gastritis, and IBD or inflammatory bowel disease. I’ve spoken about probiotics of decades now. I have stressed how important they are for helping the digestive system stay in balance, which is turn plays a very important role in overall health.

We know that the good bacteria found in the intestines strengthen the bowel wall as well as improve mineral absorption and also help in the regulation of hormone production. Now we need to look at prebiotics as well because they are the ones that literally ‘fertilize’ these good bacteria while they crowd out bad, pathogenic bacteria.

Benefits of Prebiotics.

When taking a closer look you will see that probiotics provide many benefits.

  • Prebiotics are regulating fiber in that it not only helps with constipation, but can also help with diarrhea as well as it returns stool content to a normal healthy state.
  • Because its not soluble prebiotics will not cause any diarrhea when used frequently.
  • It’s well tolerated and does not result in any bloating, cramping and gas which often happens when you take other fibers. And …
  • Its 100% Gluten free.

Where to find Prebiotics

Garlic contains prebiotics


The most common type of prebiotic is from the soluble dietary fiber called inulin. Inulin is common in many plants that contain fructan. Many of these plants are often common vegetables that we often eat like asparagus, garlic, leek, onion and artichokes. Here’s a list of the top 10 foods that are high in prebiotics, together with the percentage of prebiotics contained in each food:

  • Raw Chicory root: 64.6% prebiotic fiber by weight
  • Raw Jerusalem artichoke: 31.5% prebiotics by weight Please note that Jerusalem artichokes are not the green artichokes you find at the veggie counter – ask for Jerusalem archichoke specifically.)
  • Raw Dandelion greens: 24.3% prebiotic fiber by weight
  • Raw Garlic: 17.5% prebiotics by weight
  • Raw Leek: 11.7% prebiotic fiber by weight
  • Raw Onion: 8.6% prebiotics by weight
  • Cooked Onion: 5% prebiotic fiber by weight
  • Raw Asparagus: 5% prebiotics by weight
  • Raw Wheat bran: 5% prebiotic fiber by weight
  • Wheat flour, baked: 4.8% prebiotics by weight
  • Raw Banana: 1% prebiotic fiber by weight.

and Guess What? Even Dr Oz suggests a Probiotic Shake.
Here it is:
10 oz almond milk
1/2 cup blueberries
1 medium banana
1 scoop plant-based protein powder (rice or hemp)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy!

Here’s a probiotic supplement that contains prebiotics: Spectraprobiotics

Treating Crohns Disease With High Fiber foods

I read this interesting forum in crohnsforum.com about how high fiber foods could naturally stop crohn’s flare ups.

They say that it has been several years since researchers published findings that eating broccoli and plantains could be good medicine for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

But…the question is,  how many doctors have recommended the food as a dietary approach to control symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBD)?
They talk about diet and treating IBD, but neglect to talk about the importance of eating specific foods. I for one, found this fascinating.

Kathleen Blanchard from EmaxHealth reports about what fiber does for the gut and how it can help IBD.

She says, that fiber is suggested as an important dietary intervention for anyone dealing with Crohn’s disease. Not only does fiber add bulk to the diet to help keep bowel movements formed, but it also can prevent constipation. She goes on to say that people who suffer with crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) know that not all fiber is created equal and that it can also cause pain as well as bloating.

In 2010, researchers published findings in the British Medical Journal, that fiber in broccoli and plantains can stop relapses of Crohn’s disease. The fibers halt translocation of gut bacteria known as E. coli that typically invades cells in the intestines to lead to Crohn’s disease symptoms.

When apples and leeks were tested, the fibers had no impact on the bacteria, which helps explain why not all fibrous foods are beneficial for people suffering from IBD.

The research was performed in the lab on cell cultures and the amount of broccoli and plantain fiber used was 5 mg/ml. The food stopped translocation of E. coli by 45% to 82 %.

Researchers then confirmed their findings by taking tissue samples from patients undergoing surgery for other disorders of the intestines. Another interesting finding from the same study  was that the emulsifiers polysorbate 60 and 80 increased the movement of E.coli into cells.

The authors suggested many enteral nutritional products that are liquid given through a tube or consumed  by mouth contain the emulsifiers which could explain why only some people with CD and UC respond to liquid feedings.

Based on the study finding, plantain & broccoli could be a helpful addition for treating Crohn’s disease. The authors of the investigation hope to develop other food based therapies for helping people diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Disease.

Read the full study on Broccoli, Plantains and Crohn’s Disease in Emaxhealth.com

Copyright © 2017 Good Gut Solution.

Dr. Pamela Nathan DHM August 29, 2014