With the holiday festivities already starting (oh yes, Christmas parties and parades all over the place!), most of us are eating the goodies that we love but our digestive systems don’t. It’s the food we love that allow all the harmful gut bacteria to flourish. I’m pleased to present today’s guest blogger, Frank W. Jackson, M.D., on the importance of prebiotic fiber, and how to get more of it!
Prebiotics are soluble fibers that provide a range of important health benefits. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not eat enough prebiotic fiber — in fact, they may not be aware of where to find them, why they are necessary for a well balanced diet, or how much of them to eat. The good news is that not only is getting enough soluble fiber easier than ever before, but with every passing year we understand more about how these fibers affect our overall well-being.
Oligofructose and Inulin
Inulin and oligofructose are prebiotic fibers that come from certain plants. As soluble fibers, they dissolve in water, and inside the colon they produce certain beneficial gases. Certain foods contain high percentages of prebiotic fiber: chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke are the two most well known. Other more common foods such as garlic, onions, bananas and whole wheat bread also contain prebiotic fiber. If you’re thinking, Great! I’ll just eat an extra banana every day and get my fiber intake, unfortunately, you’ll have to think again.
It is necessary to consume at least 25 grams of dietary fiber every day in order to reap the benefits of a high fiber diet. Unfortunately, most Americans only get about 15 grams, which is not nearly enough. In addition, the fiber content of foods is often lower than most people expect. For example, one medium-sized banana contains about 3 grams of fiber. A slice of whole wheat bread contains about 2 grams. Beans are an excellent source of fiber; one cup of cooked black beans contains 15 grams.
What Prebiotics Do
In the human body, prebiotic fiber dissolves in water and produces gas that fertilizes the healthy bacteria living in the lower gut. Until recently, medical science didn’t know what to make of the millions of bacteria living on and in our bodies. We now know that healthy gut bacteria have a tremendous effect on a range of health issues, including:
- Strengthening the immune system
- Improving bone density and mineral absorption
- Enhancing hormone production, resulting in better weight and appetite control
- Reducing risk of precancerous growths
- Reducing noxious flatus odor
- Improving leaky gut syndrome
- Improving the factors that affect diabetes
- Improving blood triglycerides levels
- Relieving inflammatory bowel disease
The bottom line is that every day more and more research develops proving the link between a healthy mix of gut bacteria and better overall well being. Prebiotic fiber, unquestionably, enhances the body’s production of these good bacteria.
Where to Find Prebiotics
Foods such as certain vegetables, grains, garlic, onions and bananas all contain small amounts of prebiotic fiber (remember, fiber totals include both insoluble and soluble fibers, not only soluble prebiotic fiber). Unfortunately, the amount a person would have to eat to gain the health benefits of prebiotic fiber is, frankly, unappetizing. If eating cups of onions and garlic every day doesn’t sound appealing, a prebiotic fiber supplement may provide an easier — and more palatable — solution.
Oligofructose-enriched inulin is particularly beneficial because it provides a full-spectrum colon health solution. This supplement has a slightly sweet taste and is easily added to cereal, water or other foods. Check with your physician before adding an oligofructose-enriched inulin supplement to your diet, especially if you have a lower gut health issue.
About the Author
Frank W. Jackson, M.D. is the chairman and founder of Jackson GI. Educated at Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania, his prebiotic fiber formula is widely accepted as the most medically researched prebiotic supplement available. To learn more about the many other health benefits of prebiotics or to purchase prebiotic fiber visit Prebiotin.com.
Will you be booking an appointment with your doc to ask them about prebiotic supplements?