Let’s talk about prebiotics and your health. This is one of my most favorite areas because I got significant results with the addition of prebiotics to my diet.

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Prebiotics, what are they? Technically, prebiotics are really just the food that the probiotics or the microorganisms need to eat. Anything that’s acting as a food source or a nutrient source for these probiotics is considered a prebiotic.  Prebiotics and your health are essential!

Just to give you some examples of what this food especially the bacteria in our microbiome like to eat, they are things like plant fibers, fruit fibers, and then cellulose, which is another more coarse fiber that comes from especially those tough greens that we’re eating and a lot of these other non -digestible, complex carbohydrates.

You can even lump them into that last major class. These are all technically carbohydrates.

What is a carbohydrate?

A carbohydrate is just sugar. Complex carbohydrates are a string of sugars that are hooked together.

We are used to getting carbohydrates from the calories in our food, the difference is they have different chemical bonds that link these sugar molecules together.

It turns out that we do not have the enzymes required to be able to break those bonds and liberate those sugars and utilize them in our own metabolism, whereas these different microorganisms living in us or on us actually do produce these enzymes.

They can literally take waste products, the fiber that we cannot digest, and they will utilize them for their own fuel, their own nutrients, and then in the course of doing that, it turns out they provide a whole host of different health benefits.

Does that mean that a high fiber diet is mostly to support the bacteria in our microbiome?

There’s a lot of health benefits to eating fiber. Definitely feeding the microbiome is one of those healthy aspects. But because we can’t digest fiber and because our chewing ability is only so good with the teeth that we have, we don’t really get them into microscopic molecules. They’re still pretty large as they enter our digestive system.

One benefit that eating fiber can have is it’s almost like you’re swallowing little brushes and they’re going down and literally scrubbing the walls of that epithelial lining, those cells that are lining our digestive tract, and they’re removing cells that might be compromised a little bit, they might be entering the end of their lives, and they’re also going to help scrub some of the physical waste products that we want off of the inside of our digestive tract.

There’s a physical component to it, but then there’s, these metabolic components that come in when the microbiome starts to feed on these different fibers.

Does that mean that most, if not all, prebiotics are plant-based carbohydrates?

Not exactly but most of them are carbohydrates. Maybe just a couple other examples of some of these complex carbohydrates that you’ve heard of are things like inulin, pectin, really just another fiber, and various gums like Xanthum.

Prebiotics and your health are essential but what kind of prebiotic do you want? There are bulking agents, like Metamucil.  However, a specifically designed product that delivers the food to the digestive tract bacteria is more efficient.   That way it’s paired or formulated to work perfectly with a probiotic product.

Think of it this way.  You want to start a zoo so you bring in a bunch of animals.   They’ve got to be fed, right.  You wouldn’t feed a lion the same thing you’d feed a parrot, would you? Of course not!   You must feed them the right food.

Our microbiome works exactly the same way.  We need the food source the microbiome to be able to grow and thrive. We also want to facilitate a healthy population of probiotics or healthy bacteria that live inside our digestive system.

I hope this helps you understand prebiotics and their relationship to probiotics and your gut.  If you struggle with digestive issues and find value in learning and implementing a gut program, please share. For more information on the products, I use contact me through the Living Healthy List or Hack your Way Well on Facebook.