Prebiotics and Probiotics

As we described in an earlier blog “Probiotics – what’s best for IBS?“,  PRObiotics are microscopically tiny bacteria (or yeasts or other helpful critters) that have been scientifically proven to benefit your health. They can be similar to the “good” bacteria already in your body, particularly those in your gut. So remember PRO = good OR promoting, and BIOTIC = life of bacteria.

From a dietary view, PREbiotics are the part of a food that gets “fermented” (broken down) to increase or change helpful gut bacteria. So the PREbiotics feed the PRObiotics. Does that make sense?

Dietary prebiotics are typically fibres that pass through the stomach and small intestine and feed the helpful bacteria that live in the large intestine. An unintended and potentially negative consequence of a low FODMAP diet is reduction in the “food” for healthy gut bacteria.  FODMAP prebiotics promote growth of ‘good’ bacteria that are associated with health benefits, e.g Bifidobacteria and butyrate-producing bacteria (F. prausnitzii, C. coccoides).

BUT, owing to the very nature of prebiotic FODMAPs, they can cause IBS symptoms. So, what can you do to “have the best of both?”

* Include adequate fibre from low FODMAP fruits, vegetables and grains. Fibres feed some gut bacteria.

* Re-introduce FODMAP containing foods to your “threshold” as soon as possible (see Stage 2 of Gut Feelings).

* Avoid food products that use inulin or FOS to supplement “fibre”.

* Ensure that you consume food-containing and supplementary probiotics while on a low FODMAP diet.

* Avoid overuse of antibiotics. For example, minimise risk factors for urinary tract infections or diverticulitis.

* Include resistant starches (RS) that have low impact on IBS symptoms (made up of glucose instead of fructose, so more easily broken down in large intestine). If you take prescription medications, check with your doctor before using psyllium or other fibre supplements, in case the fibres reduce the effect of the medication.

* Include some pectin (apple cider vinegar) and soluble fibre (psyllium) to bind unhelpful “waste” products.

Stage 3 of the Gut Feelings program guides you to optimise PREbiotics and PRObiotics in your diet and gut.

Blogged by Kerith Duncanson – May 2015


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