How To Feed The Good Gut Bacteria With Prebiotics

Did you know that the Harvard Health Publishing newsletter 12-1-2015 edition, stated that digestive disease specialists are recommending probiotic supplements for conditions that frustrate conventional medicine?

In the last newsletter I told you about an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association explaining how the bacteria in our colon can either increase or decrease our risk of conditions like atherosclerosis, and diabetes. The article pointed out that good bacteria make different molecules like butyrate which are absorbed through our colon into our blood stream and decrease inflammation.

Many of you are probably thinking, how do you get the good bacteria into your colon. The answer is simple probiotics and prebiotics.

Most are familiar with probiotics, which are the beneficial bacteria we want in our gut. There are many ways to get them orally. Fermented foods are the most common with yogurt being on the top of the list, but there is also yogurt-like drinks such as kefir. You can also get your probiotics in supplement form as powder or capsules. Most probiotic supplements contain 3-20 billion bacteria per dose. We have one in the office, that we recommend after antibiotic treatment that contains 225 billion.

Prebiotics are things we eat that feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut.  There is some debate as to how many of the bacteria we ingest actually make it to our gut due to our natural defenses, such as stomach acid. An example of a prebiotic is the soluble fiber in oatmeal. The good bacteria actually eat the soluble fiber, so some feel that we can improve the number of good bacteria in our colon by feeding them, so they grow and reproduce to out-number the bad bacteria.  Not all fiber is a prebiotic, only certain fibers which are fermentable are yummy to the gut bacteria.  I took the list below from Wikipedia to give you an idea of what to eat.

Top Ten Foods Containing Prebiotics
Food                                                 Amount of food for a daily serving of prebiotics in ounces
Dry Chicory Root                               .33 oz.
Raw Jerusalem Artichoke                 .67
Raw Dandelion Greens                     .87
Raw Garlic                                          1.21
Raw Leek                                            1.81
Raw Onion                                         2.46
Raw Asparagus                                 4.2
Raw Wheat Bran                               4.2
Whole Wheat Flour                           4.4
Raw Banana                                       1.3 pounds

You can see how it is not just taking probiotics but feeding the bacteria already in your colon that will give you the best results.

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