Did you know you’ve been eating prebiotics your whole life, you probably even had some with lunch. Actually, prebiotics have been with us since the beginning of time. And it’s only since we discovered that our gut bacteria love them, we are realising their true health-promoting potential.
Prebiotics are gut health powerhouses.
But what are prebiotics exactly? Why on earth has it taken us so long to find them? What benefits do we get consuming them? And do we really need a supplement, what are the best natural sources?
We are going to answer these questions and more in this article.
Let’s get started sorting your arabinogalactans from your xylans…
What Are Prebiotics?
In a nutshell, prebiotics are a group of nutrients that are degraded (fermented) by beneficial gut bacteria.
The concept was first proposed in 1995 by Glenn Gibson and Marcel Roberfroid. Prebiotics were described as…
… “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and / or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and this improves host health”.
This definition remained unchanged for nearly 15 years until 2008. The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) saw that the historic definition excluded many potential prebiotic substances and so the “dietary prebiotic” definition now looks like this…
… “a selectively fermented ingredient that results in specific changes in the composition and / or activity of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota, thus conferring benefit(s) upon host health”.
With the explosion in microbiome research, the hunt for prebiotics and ideal probiotic food was on. And while we’ve known for some time that fibre is always a good idea. The mechanisms for how it all works have started to surface.
Back to the prebiotic definitions, the ISAPP also stipulated a range of criteria prebiotics must adhere to…
Prebiotics must be …
- Resistant to stomach acid, mammalian degradation enzymes and not absorbed in the GI tract
- Fermented by intestinal bacteria
- Unable to be digested by small intestine enzymes
Additionally, and this is where the exact categories start to get a little cloudy…prebiotics are further defined as different to fibre. Because not all prebiotics are carbohydrates. And not all fibres are prebiotic…
But many fibre types ultimately have a similar prebiotic effect. Confused yet!?!?
…prebiotics are substances that feed beneficial bacteria. Those bacteria then in turn offer health promoting benefits such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), often referred to as postbiotics.
And for the record, we aren’t too picky when it comes to prebiotics vs fibre vs resistant starch here. Our feeling … if it’s beneficial to you, your microbiome and your health… it really doesn’t matter what group or name we give it. So long as it works.
Which brings us to talk about HOW prebiotics provide all their wonderful benefits.
How Prebiotics Offer Health Benefits
Prebiotics, simply by their intestinal presence, command and manipulate the composition and function of our gut bacteria.
How? Because prebiotics are an energy source for many beneficial bacteria. Their food.
Meaning if prebiotics are present, the fermenting bacteria that come across them in the gut can fire up replication and make more bacteria. Changing the composition, or make-up, of your gut microbiome.
It’s a case of supply and demand.
The more food (energy) available, the more the bacteria can multiply.
And the beneficial part is that most prebiotic degrading bacteria produce our gut health champion fermentation by-product – SCFAs.
Which offer wonderful gut health and vitality benefits like:
- Supercharged immune function
- Better cardiovascular, metabolic and general health
- Higher lean body mass
- Enhanced cognitive function
- Elevated mood
Or they may provide favourable metabolites for other beneficial bacteria in a process called cross-feeding.
But like anything else, there is no one-size-fits-all prebiotic.
Which Prebiotic Is the Best?
Different bacteria can only ferment certain prebiotic substances. Mostly based on the genes they possess (their enzymes do all the hard work breaking them down) but also around the length of the prebiotic molecule.
For example, the prebiotic inulin (a type of FOS – more on these soon) can only be fermented by a few bacterial species as it’s a long molecule with a DP <60 and more complex structure.
Note: DP is a chemistry term indicating the degree of polymerisation (or how many repeating units make up the molecule – we will talk briefly about prebiotic structures shortly).
In contrast, other FOS or fructooligosaccharides are smaller at DP <10 so a larger number of bacterial species can ferment this prebiotic type.
This is an important point to understand when choosing prebiotics, especially in supplement form.
There is no single best prebiotic for all bacteria.
So with all that in mind let’s look at the different groups of prebiotics.
Classification Of Prebiotics
Prebiotics are grouped based on their chemical or molecular structure. There are many types and the majority area a subset of carbohydrates called oligosaccharide carbohydrates.
Saccharide meaning “sugar” and oligo meaning a “few”.
So a few sugar molecules joined together, typically 3 to 10.
You may recall from high school science that carbohydrates are classified as:
- Monosaccharides – single sugar units e.g., fructose and glucose
- Disaccharides – 2 monosaccharide units joined e.g., sucrose, lactose etc.
- Oligosaccharides – 3 to 10 monosaccharides
- Polysaccharides – more than 10 (often hundreds) monosaccharides e.g., starch, fibre
OK, so now that you have a better idea of what prebiotics might look like here is an overview of the different groups, some of the common types found in that group and a handful of food sources.
|Prebiotic Group||Common Types||Food Sources|
|Fructo oligosaccharides |
Gum arabic (Acacia)
|Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS)||Konjac plant|
|Xylo oligosaccharides (XOS)||Xylose|
|Pectic oligosaccharides (POS)||Pectin|
|Plant Polyphenols||Phenolic acids|
Herbs and spices
|Fermentable Fibres||Resistant starch|
Cooked and cooled rice
As you can see, there are many different types of prebiotic, I’ve highlighted a few including inulin in the FOS category. This is a common one which we will discuss further shortly.
I’ve also included fibre and resistant starch here too, although not strictly “prebiotics”, for our gut health purposes they are also exceptionally beneficial.
You may have also spotted breast milk too… it also makes a prebiotic appearance with HMO, human milk oligosaccharides – as a seemingly miraculous specific food for seeding the gut supportive Bifidobacterium in infants.
Now, let’s look at 31 of the most common food sources a little closer and of course we will look at which gut bacteria favour each prebiotic group as we go.
The 31 Top Prebiotics You Should Know About (and a few weird ones)
OK here we go!
- Chicory Root
Chicory is a leafy green herb – its leaves are edible and used in salads and its roots have been prized for decades as a coffee substitute. But more recently chicory root has become popular as a great source of prebiotics.
Roughly 50% of the fibre in chicory root comes is the prebiotic fibre inulin.
Inulin, is a type of FOS, or fructose polymer found widely in nature as a plant carbohydrate storage molecule.
This well studied prebiotic has been found to nourish gut bacteria, improve digestion, relieve constipation and also help to increase bile production.
In our microbiome, inulin consumption has been associated with encouraging the beneficial Bifidobacterium but also reducing the abundance of Bilophila – a group with known non-beneficial bacteria.
Chicory is also said to be a powerful antioxidant and liver support.
- Jerusalem Artichoke
Also known as “sunroot”, “sunchoke” or “earth apple” these tubers are the root system for a beautiful yellow mini sunflower.
With 2 grams per 100 grams of fibre, and approximately 80% of that being inulin – these tasty little tubers should be your next wholefood prebiotic go-to. Jerusalem artichokes have been shown to increase beneficial bacteria, strengthen the immune system and prevent metabolic conditions like type-2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in animal models.
Leeks belong to the Allium group of plants which include onion, garlic, shallots, spring onions and chives.
Leeks are also thought to be high in inulin and contain many of the same beneficial nutrients found in onions and garlic.
Additionally, leeks are an amazing source of vitamin K too – important in blood clotting and bone health.
Asparagus is another natural (and delicious) source of the prebiotic inulin.
Although lower in inulin than the famed chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke it’s also a general nutrient powerhouse high in fibre, protein and a noteworthy supply of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds too. Like saponins, flavonoids, quercetin vitamin C, zinc and more!
And if this weren’t reason enough to make asparagus a regular in your weekly vegetable rotation … asparagus is high in folate (vitamin B9) too. Folate is essential for blood cell formation, liver health and of course during pregnancy in the prevention of neural tube defects.
1 cup of asparagus offers 67% of the recommended daily intake of folate!
As you may already know green bananas (or plantains) are a resistant starch go-to. We regularly indulge in our favourite green banana and cassava pancakes for a fibre-packed alternative to their wheat-heavy cousins.
What you may not know is that bananas also contain small amounts of inulin too …
Bananas have also been shown to reduce bloating in those with gastrointestinal problems! You can find green banana flour in most supermarkets and healthfood stores – it makes an easy substitute in baking for a prebiotic and resistant starch boost!
Soybeans or edamame are a long held staple in Asian diets. So it will come as no surprise that the health benefits are well studied.
And while there are many purported general health advantages to consuming soybeans, they are also a source of prebiotic oligosaccharides.
It has been suggested that soybeans increase the abundance of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli while decreasing the proliferation of the pathogenic Clostridium perfringens.
In addition to this, soybeans have been shown to improve immune function by enhancing critical immune cell activity.
- Jicama Root
Pronounced HEE-kah-ma, jicama is an edible root vegetable originating from Mexico.
This high fibre yam-like tuber is also a good source of inulin.
Jicama is also high in vitamin C with one cup providing 44% of the RDI!
And studies have shown jicama fibre to prevent excessive blood glucose levels and assist in weight maintenance.
- Dandelion Greens
Another leafy green used in salads and an excellent source of fibre are the humble dandelion greens.
The leaves of the bright yellow flowering weeds contain 4 grams of fibre per 100 grams. You may remember blowing (and wishing upon) the spherical seeds heads as a child…
Little did you know that right there in your lawn could be a potent source of inulin!
Dandelion greens are also known for many other powerful health-giving qualities – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and general all round pharmaceutical plant and health tonic.
- Sweet Potato, Yams & Maca
Sweet potatoes are both resistant starch and prebiotic powerhouses. Whether purple, orange or yellow, studies have shown that sweet potato is a great source of inulin. I absolutely love recommending – and cooking with – sweet potatoes as they are excellent sources of vitamin C, potassium and manganese. And did you know… sweet potatoes are also an epic source of vitamin A with 1 cup offering a whopping 769% of daily intake!
Yams (lumpy brown tubers) also offer an inulin bonus when consumed. Research has shown the prebiotic potential of the yam with SCFA boosting powers touted to be better than commercial inulin alone. Yet another reason why wholefood sources are always better!
Maca, another inulin rich tuber, has been shown to increase growth of B.longum and L.rhamnosus more than inulin alone. Additionally, anti-inflammatory compounds also increase with maca consumption.
Not that we need anymore excuses to add more sweet potatoes into our week – if you need inspiration our sweet potato rosti are A M A Z I N G … – you can get the recipe here.
- Burdock Root
Burdock is the root harvested from the Arcticum plant family and a common addition in Japanese cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine.
Burdock inulin is a well studied prebiotic shown to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the microbiome. Burdock root also contains some FOS and contains around 4 grams of fibre per 100 grams.
Additionally, burdock has many other benefits including antioxidant compounds like quercetin, phenolic acids and luteolin.
Burdock root can be used as a tea, taken as a supplement or eaten in its vegetable form also.
- Yacon Root
Similar to the sweet potato yacon root is rich in fibre and in particular inulin and FOS.
Yacon is the root of a daisy traditional in South America – it is also known as the Peruvian ground apple for its sweet flavour.
Yacon promotes SCFA levels though encouraging growth of microbes that utilise its FOS as energy. Consumption of yacon has been shown to have a positive effect on many conditions including colorectal cancer, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Yacon promotes SCFA levels though encouraging growth of microbes that utilise its FOS as energy. Consumption of yacon has been shown to have a positive effect on many conditions including colorectal cancer, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
A well known health elixir garlic contains both inulin and FOS prebiotics.
Garlic has been found to stimulate the growth of the gut protective Bifidobacterium but also Bacteroides in culture studies.
Extracted garlic has been widely studied with potential benefits in heart disease and asthma in addition to its known antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.
Like garlic, onions contain both inulin and FOS.
The FOS present in onions have been found in stimulate immune cells, are rich in the prebiotic-mimicking flavonoid quercetin and of course their well known general health properties.
It is recommended that 4 grams of FOS per day offers sufficient prebiotic benefits – primarily from our friends Bifidobacterium selectively fermenting FOS.
And remember raw is best – our Peruvian Snapper Ceviche With Fresh Lime and Chilli uses raw red onion for a tasty dish with a prebiotic twist
Quite possibly the most recent addition to the prebiotic world is larch.
What on earth is larch?
Larch is also called arabinogalactan, after the prebiotic type it contains. Arabinogalactan is a starch-like chemical found in many plants but it’s highest source is larch trees.
Arabinogalactan has many documented *profound* health benefits including regulation of our natural killer T cells in the immune system. Many chronic diseases such as chronic fatigue, hepatitis (viral) and autoimmune diseases are assoicated with a decrease in natural killer T cells – arabinogalactan acts to improve these levels!
In addition to a potent prebiotic, larch is also used as a food additive – for its binding, stabilising and sweetening properties.
Another arabinogalactan source is the humble radish. Radishes come in many shapes and sizes – from the traditional pretty pink bulbs to the massive white tuber-like daikon prized in Asian cooking. All are a great source of minerals, nutrients and prebiotics.
Of particular interest to the scientific community is the anti-cancer potential of radish (and the associated arabinogalactans).
Not sure how best to tackle a radish…?
An easy way to get more radish arabinogalactan is to start a kimchi habit. With kimchi you’ll be eating the daikon radish raw (well fermented) and reaping the many gut health benefits along the way.
You can try creating your own using our delicious kimchi recipe here.
- Guar gum
Next we have guar gum. Guar gum is the high fibre, GOS (galactomannan) prebiotic rich extract of the guar bean.
It has long been used as a stabiliser and thickener in food and industrial applications – it even has an E number E412 – which should be a little red flag.
While extracted from a natural source – in a bean – highly processed guar gum as we now know it is far removed from its natural state.
I’ve included it here as there is no doubt that it is a prebiotic substance…but as always, natural is best.
- Acacia (Gum arabic)
The other ‘gum’ that you may come across in the prebiotic world is gum arabic or acacia.
Acacia gum is the resin or sap of two species of acacia tree (in Australia our wattle trees are another type of acacia). The gum is primarily harvested from Sudan and is a complex mixture of sugars and proteins – and also has been given the E number E414.
It’s commonly used in candy manufacture, soft drink syrup, used as a binder in paint, printing, cosmetics, shoe polish, incense, adhesive and many other applications including pyrotechnics!
It is also one of the best studied prebiotics known to increase Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli concentrations in the gut – higher than the effects of inulin alone.
A diverse and widely recognised prebiotic indeed!
Now something a little closer to home. The prebiotic found in the humble, yet incredibly popular apple – is pectin.
Pectin (POS), known to all grandmothers for it’s gelling qualities – very useful in thickening jams – makes up around 50% of an apples total fibre content.
Pectin is commercially produced from citrus fruits and occurs in many plant cell walls.
Microbiome studies on pectin indicate that Bacteroidetes thrive on pectin whereas Firmicutes don’t. The exception here is the Firmicute Eubacterium eligens which can degrade apple pectin – and promotes anti-inflammatory effects.
Another healthy gut indicator and all round anti-inflammatory bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii can also degrade pectin.
There really is truth to the an apple a day …
Barley is an ‘old’ grain that is growing in popularity again. Per 100 grams barley contains between 3 and 8 grams of the prebiotic beta-glucan. A great prebiotic source.
Beta-glucans are a group of polysaccharides made up of repeating glucose units. They occur naturally in the cell walls of cereal grains, bacteria and fungi (including edible mushrooms and yeasts). Beta-glucans were first discovered in fungi and then in barley.
As with all prebiotic fibre, beta-glucans resistant digestion until they reach the lower end of the digestive tract where our microbiome gets to work on them. Beta-glucans have been shown to increase Bacteroides and Prevotella in the gut.
Following on from beta-glucan rich barley – oats are just as famous for their beta-glucan quota.
Particular interest arose after a 1981 study demonstrated a reduction effect in LDL cholesterol in those consuming oat bran.
The beta-glucan found in oats comes from the endosperm (innermost portion) of the oat kernel – it also contains some resistant starch.
Oats have also been shown to help control blood-sugar, increase short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations and encourage the growth of bifidobacteria.
Oats are a prebiotic breakfast powerhouse.
Mushrooms have been long known as a superfood – many ancient cultures revered many edible fungi for their medical and nutritive properties.
In addition to their proven anti-allergic, anti-cholesterol and anti-cancer properties, mushrooms are rich in many prebiotic carbohydrates…
– Beta & alpha-glucans
Could this mean mushrooms are THE prebiotic superfood…!?
Mushrooms have been found to affect many beneficial gut bacteria favourably but also decrease non-beneficial bacteria like Citrobacter and reverse dysbiosis!
If you are looking for some mushroom inspiration – our dairy-free mushroom soup is a show stopper!
Here’s one you may not have heard of – konjac. Also known as elephant yam, konjac root is a tuber that contains glucomannan a MOS. And is another staple in Asian cuisine.
Konjac is currently available as an alternative to traditional rice, noodles and pasta in some supermarkets or asian stores.
But remember to go easy as any prebiotic taken in excess can be quite effective at getting things moving…
Similar to mushrooms, yeast cell wall structures are rich in the prebiotic beta-glucan.
Remember we talked about grain derived beta-glucans found in barley and oats – they are also found in these fungi – Aspergillus and Saccharomyces.
Saccharomyces is the type of yeast (specifically S.cerevisiae) used in modern breadmaking and brewery.
The health effects of beta-glucans include immune system activation, anti-cancer applications, dental treatment of gum disease and allergic diseases.
A gentle warning here – some of us can be sensitive to yeast – especially those with leaky gut.
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a true superfood (and wonderful prebiotic). This ancient staple is now once again a highly revered health food.
– high in protein
– full of fibre ( and mucilage prebiotics! )
– a great source of omega 3 and 6
Recent studies have shown that the mucilage gums prebiotic in chia promotes the growth of gut bacterial groups such as Enterococcus and Lactobacillus.
They are a great all round grain-free alternative – and even a reliable egg-replacer in baking due to their sticky binding mucilage properties. And a super easy addition to a smoothie or smoothie bowl!
Want a chia recipe that isn’t just chia pudding…. try our Chia Berry Slice !
Now to the unassuming flaxseed. Although it may not look like much, flaxseeds are incredibly healthy and a great source of prebiotics.
Like chia, flax is a mucilage gum prebiotic. These same qualities make them another go-to egg substitute – combine ground flax with ground chia for a wonderful egg replacer with a bonus fibre and prebiotic boost.
Studies have shown flaxseeds to increase the wonderfully beneficial bifidobacteria and their SCFA metabolites but also the anti-leaky-gut champion Akkermansia!
They are also incredibly high in general fibre, omega 3s, alpha linolenic acid and more…
Adding flaxseeds to your cereal, baking (like our delicious Cassava and Flaxseed Bread) or just about anything is an easy way to increase your prebiotic intake.
- Wheat Bran
Wheat bran is the outermost husk or shell of a wheat grain – and the reason why whole grain is always better than white!
The bran of wheat grains is an excellent source of fibre, but it also includes a prebiotic called AXOS or arabinoxylan oligosaccharides. Nearly 70% of the fibre content is from AXOS.
AXOS has been shown to boost Bifidobacteria levels and assist with digestive issues and even fight cancer.
If you needed another excuse to eat your fill of sushi rolls – here it is!
Seaweed contains 50 – 85% water-soluble fibre including the prebiotic XOS or xylan oligosaccharides.
The prebiotic effects of seaweed has been extensively researched and offer many gut health benefits including decreasing harmful gut colonisers like streptococci, increasing lactobacilli and the Bacteroides-Prevotella group.
OK, so here’s an option that you may not have considered. Crickets …
Yes, I’m talking about the insect variety.
Crickets and other insects are now being farmed as a novel approach to a sustainable (livestock-free) protein source. These common street foods in some Asian cultures are now making their way onto plates worldwide.
While it may be enough to make you squirm at the thought, powdered crickets are popping up in local health stores everywhere. They contain prebiotic cell wall structures – like chitin.
Crickets have been shown to have a profound effect on our gut microbes – in both helpful ways (and also not so helpful).
In general cricket consumption has been found to decrease Lactobacillus (including L.reuteri) , Oxalobacter formigenes BUT increase Streptococcaceae and Bifidobacterium animalis among others.
Which in all honesty are not necessarily favourable results for those of us who are low in key beneficial species like Lactobacillus and high in the potentially pathogenic Streptococcal species.
These findings only further highlight the insight gained by testing your gut bacteria. And of course specific and tailored dietary advice.
If you are interested in getting your gut microbiome profile tested I offer a comprehensive (and supported) program to help you get your gut on track. You can explore this link for more information or to join my waitlist.
- Baobab Fruit Pulp
Alright, back to the less controversial prebiotic contenders. Baobab.
If your mind is conjuring up the silhouette of a bulbous trunk and sparse branch structure on an African savannah then you’d be correct. That’s precisely the baobab we are referring to here.
Composed of over 50% fibre this prebiotic is a completely natural wholefood with many proven benefits – including adaptogenic properties, a low GI and it’s even thought to induce satiety or feeling full.
It’s a rich source of vitamin C, a good source of calcium, iron and magnesium and a great source of oxidative stress busting polyphenols too!
Baobab fruit is also part of the ancient but now famous Hadza hunter-gatherer diet and their extraordinary gut microbiome diversity. There has been much research and attention on the powerful microbiome adaptations while living with the Hazda. If you haven’t seen The Gut Movie by my friend Kale Brock it’s definitely worth checking out his experience.
- Lucuma Powder
Lucuma (not to be confused with Jicama above) is a sweet fruit native to Peru. Often referred to as tasting like a sweet potato crossed with butterscotch – it is also known as ‘Gold of the Incas’.
This ancient staple and ceremonial food also has prebiotic powers due to its high levels of fibre and associated gut microbe (and SCFA) benefits.
Lucuma is also known to contain a variety of antioxidants and is rich in vitamin C. It can help to maintain blood sugar and promote heart health with substitution for sugar in baking.
- Psyllium Husk
And the final prebiotic on our list. Another one that your grandma already knows about – psyllium!
Originating centuries ago in the ancient traditional Indian medicine of Ayurveda, psyllium husks (as the name implies) are the husks from around the seed of the Plantago ovata.
Plantago seeds are commercially produced specifically for its mucilage. The resulting dietary fibre is commonly used to relieve symptoms of both constipation and mild diarrohea. It’s also thought to lower cholesterol and blood sugar.
Mixed up in juice or added to cereals and baking psyllium is an inexpensive and simple prebiotic addition to your diet.
And for your microbiome too. Psyllium has been shown to increase the butyrate producing Lachnospira, Roseburia and Faecalibacterium.
So there you have it!
All 31 of the most common prebiotics you may come across.
And because these aren’t strictly all WHOLEFOODS, I’ve included the table below to illustrate all the whole foods that don’t come in supplement form.
List of Prebiotic Wholefood Sources
|Artichoke Hearts |
Hearts of Palm
Coconut (meat & flour)
And for those of you who are interested in the commonly capsule-ised version…
Here’s a list of common prebiotic found as supplements:
- Acacia fibre
- Artichoke fibre
- Green banana fibre
- Chicory Root Powder
- Citrus Pectin
- Baobab powder
- Guar gum
Any number of these could be listed as ingredients in supplements – often in combination.
What About FODMAPs And Intolerances…?
Now just before we finish up I’d like to talk for a minute about the elephant in the room.
I know some of you may be unable to tolerate many of the prebiotic rich foods mentioned here – and for this reason I also often recommend a low FODMAP food plan for some clients.
So I thought this would be a great opportunity to clear the air and discuss the FODMAP dilemma. And importantly outline who should be careful when supplementing or increasing prebiotics in their diet.
Let’s (briefly) start at the beginning.
FODMAPs stands for:
F = fermentable
O = oligosaccharides
D = disaccharides
M = monosaccharides
A = and
P = polyols
You may notice many of the terms we’ve used to describe prebiotics and their various oligosaccharide molecular structures…
By their nature, these structures are difficult to digest, they absorb water and can only be digested in the lower intestine by our gut bacteria.
Still sounding familiar?
That’s because many prebiotics fall into the FODMAP category.
FODMAP is a relatively recent term coined by researchers at Monash University in 2006 as a dietary treatment specifically for those suffering with IBS.
And therein lies the clue.
People who have damage to their gut lining and dysbiosis, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome suffer from maldigestion symptoms of gas, bloating, discomfort and diarrohea.
And subsequently find it difficult to digest FODMAP rich foods – and prebiotics.
Which Prebiotics Are FODMAPs
So which FODMAPs include prebiotics…?
Any foods that include the following…
Fructose and fructans
Fructose is found in many fruits (cherries, watermelon, apples), some vegetables (asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes) high-fructose corn syrup and honey. Fructans (FOS) are found in many foods including gluten containing grains (wheat, barley, rye) and various fruits and veggies ( garlic and onion).
Remember the list of GOS foods we referred to at the beginning of the article…?
Legumes, Beans, Jerusalem artichoke, Chickpeas, E414 (Gum Arabic), E421 (Guar gum)
Sugar alcohols often found in artificial sweeteners – mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol etc. are types of polyols.
The disaccharide found in milk products.
As you can see there are many foods that sit in both groups.
This is why I recommend working with an experienced and qualified health practitioner (and one that looks at your personal gut microbiome) to determine those foods, supplements and bacteria you need more (or less) of.
This is especially true if you have known IBS health concerns – prebiotics may actually cause your symptoms to become worse.
You need a different and tailored approach to healing your gut lining and correcting any underlying dysbiosis.
Something I help my clients with everyday.
So to wrap up…
Prebiotic foods are an easy and beneficial addition to any diet. Not only are they full of fibre, prebiotic foods, by the wonder of nature come conveniently pre-packed with a multitude of nutrients and minerals.
They promote gut health and wellbeing, increasing our beneficial microbes like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria and of course providing a cascade of SCFAs.
As we have seen prebiotic foods even work to mediate chronic health conditions such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
And while there may be any number of synthetic, concentrated and refined prebiotic supplements available – eating a low-fibre diet and supplementing with a prebiotic is not the answer.
A whole food, fibre-full, nutrient dense diet is always the best foundation for the long term journey that is gut health.
For those ready to stop guessing and start getting results – you can learn more about my programs and find testimonials from past clients here.