What is a prebiotic and are they good for you?
One of the most common questions asked about our soluble tapioca fiber is: what exactly is a prebiotic?
All about prebiotics:
What is a prebiotic?
According to the Mayo Clinic, prebiotics are specialized plant fibers which act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. They are not digested by your body, and so they make a very effective source of food for the good bacteria found in your gut. The list of benefits involved in consuming prebiotics is extensive and growing. There are currently no official recommended servings of prebiotic fiber, though it is thought to be about 5g. The recommended daily consumption of dietary fiber is 28g per day.
In 2016, a panel of top scientists and doctors met to create a definition of prebiotic. It goes as follows:
"a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit." (more)
This means that, although we may be fearful of bacteria, we actually need to feed the healthy ones in our gut to optimize health. It also means that a food must have documented health benefits before it can be labeled as prebiotic.
The research linking gut health to physical and emotional health is constantly evolving. As our understanding of prebiotic fibers evolves, so will the list of their health benefits.
The benefits of consuming prebiotics:
The same doctors and researchers who defined prebiotic also discussed the scientific studies purporting their benefits. They came up with a list of scientifically supported benefits related to the consumption of prebiotic fibers. Many of these are interlinked. Here are a few:
The table lists more than 10 studies that discuss the use of prebiotics to benefit metabolism. Problems surrounding poor metabolism are extensive, from obesity, to inflammation, to symptoms of type 2 diabetes. In essence, the research shows that prebiotics help the body to digest food more efficiently, overall producing a boost in metabolism. Increased metabolism can lead to weight loss, decreased inflammation, and even a boost in energy levels. Prebiotic fibers can also help with blood sugar control, reducing the body's sensitivity to insulin.
Satiety, when discussed in nutrition, is the state of feeling full. Human trials have shown that prebiotics help the body to feel more full. This is a huge benefit for people who are trying to lose weight by restricting their caloric intake. Since the body is digesting its food more efficiently, it does not need as much food to create energy.
Many of the bacteria in your gut are responsible for producing neurochemicals that cause feelings of happiness, wellbeing, and energetic. Prebiotics are consumed by these bacteria, helping them to create more neurotransmitters. Since these neurotransmitters are produced in the gut, it's important to ensure that you prioritize your gut health. Some of the research linking prebiotics and mental health shows that regular consumption over the course of weeks or months can reduce stress.
Research has shown that prebiotics are quite beneficial to the body's immune system. Your immune system is what helps the body to fight off infections, build immunity to illnesses, and is responsible for the efficacy of vaccines. Promoting healthy bacteria in your stomach aids the immune system in fighting off illnesses, infections, and other dangerous bacteria. Allergies are also often caused by an immune response, and a prebiotic may help your body's reaction to allergens. A healthy immune system also plays an important part in keeping your skin look healthy and free from acne.
There is some research that supports the beneficial use of prebiotics in aiding bone health. As we all know, calcium is key to your bone health. Prebiotics can help the body absorb calcium. This research is limited, and prebiotics may not be as effective at promoting bone health in certain people depending on age and overall health.
Since the only known prebiotics are also dietary fiber, this benefit may be obvious. Dietary fiber helps the body's regularity. Prebiotic dietary fiber, however, can benefit your bowels even further. Research shows that prebiotics can help symptoms of IBS, IBD, constipation and diarrhea. Please consult your physician before using a prebiotic to treat a diagnosed illness.
The full list of reviewed benefits and their linked studies is available here
What foods contain prebiotics?
Many of the fruits and vegetables you eat in your everyday life are probiotics, such as sweet potatoes and bananas. The list of fruits and vegetables which are prebiotic is extensive, but it can be difficult for someone to consume large enough quantities of these that they get a meaningful amount of prebiotic fiber. Supplement companies have built an extensive catalog of prebiotic supplements, but a small pill or tablet likely does not contain enough prebiotics either.
Some foods that rank highest in prebiotics are:
1) Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens also contain antioxidants, which have a range of health benefits. They contain roughly 3g of prebiotics per 100g of greens.
Garlic contains fair amounts of prebiotics and also offers many other health benefits. Garlic is the most helpful to your body when consumed raw.
Onions contain large amounts of prebiotics, flavonoids, and antioxidants, which all have health benefits.
Bananas are a great source of dietary fiber, prebiotics, and other important vitamins and minerals.
5) Whole oats
Whole oats contain resistant starch, which is very similar to resistant dextrin and functions as a prebiotic. Oats also contain beta-glucan fiber, which is great for digestion.
Unfortunately, significant amounts of these foods need to be consumed for someone to get a fully daily helping of prebiotics. Who wants to eat cloves of raw garlic anyways?
KetoGoods sources its prebiotic fiber, or resistant dextrin, from the cassava root, which is very similar to a sweet potato. Cassava is also commonly called tapioca. Resistant dextrin can also come from corn, but the end product is the same.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics:
You've heard a lot about prebiotics at this point. Probiotics are very different. Probiotic supplements and foods are foods that actually contain living bacteria. Both of these promote a healthy gut, aid in digestion, and more. Probiotics have been shown to improve digestive health, mental health, gastrointestinal health and general health. People with certain illnesses may experience adverse events when consuming probiotics. Foods that are high in probiotics are often fermented, such as yogurt.
Prebiotics and probiotics may have a symbiotic effect. Probiotics help the gut to replenish healthy bacterium, and prebiotics provide the food necessary to maintain their environment.
Why you need a prebiotic:
Prebiotics are an excellent way to improve the way your digestive system functions. They do so by promoting the microbiome in your gut. The benefits of a health digestive system go beyond the stomach, and prebiotics have been shown to improve metabolism, boost energy levels, decrease hunger, lower stress and strengthen bones. Improvements to immune health can help the body to fight off infections, improve immunity with the help of vaccinations, and kill bacteria that cause acne. Of course, since they are also dietary fibers, they can provide a range of benefits directly to your stomach's wellness.
Where can I get prebiotic fiber?
KetoGoods offers a zero-glycemic-impact, low carb, low-calorie source of prebiotic soluble fiber. Our prebiotic tapioca fiber syrup is the perfect way to add a touch of sweetness, and a lot of moisture to any recipe. It's the same ingredient used in your favorite Keto protein bars, and is often called by many names: non-GMO tapioca fiber, soluble tapioca fiber, soluble corn fiber, soluble vegetable fiber, prebiotic vegetable fiber, and more. One serving contains more than 5g of prebiotic dietary fiber, which is the recommended daily intake of prebiotics. Prebiotic Tapioca Fiber has also been shown in studies to reduce insulin sensitivity, so when you do consume carbs, your glucose levels may not shoot up as high as they normally would. It's the perfect aid to your weight loss journey.
If you need specific information regarding prebiotics, please consult a dietitian or doctor.
Medical disclaimer: These statements are not made by medical professionals. Though they are made based on scientific research, none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA. Prebiotic supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult a registered dietician or medical professional before using prebiotic supplements.