Eat your fibre, yo! Prebiotics 101
I’ve always been that kid who wanted to know how things worked. I remember in year 8 in health we studied the heart and I memorised the passage of the blood flow around the body, verbatim.
I don’t know if it is a personality thing or just the way I’m wired but I’m obsessed with how the body actually works. I’m here for that.
There’s more to food and our bodies and minds than meets the eye and as I’ve mentioned before, calories in calories out is bullshit.
Here’s my theory. We are not eating anywhere near the amount of good fibre we need in order to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Our diets have gotten so shit that now the stuff that hits out large intestines is basically useless and we are getting ZERO benefit out of our daily intake.
Our bodies are screaming out for nutrients and as a result we are suffering obesity, illness, inflammatory conditions and mental health issues in spades.
Our bodies need foods that hit our large intestines intact, and that our gut bacteria can feed on. We need to both increase our good gut bacteria and feed them to make short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) as a by product.
SCFA’s are gold.
My son was an anaphylactic baby, he was allergic to everything… and I kid you not, he lived on pears, kumara and goat milk for the first few years of life. He was allergic to the prescription formula they give babies who are allergic to everything. It was hard and stressful and a shitty, shitty time. But, I now know a butt load of stuff about food and how it affects humans, there guts and their brains.
So if you’re struggling with weight, joint issues, inflammation, acne, digestive issues or anxiety then this is for you.
Your gut is host to trillions of microorganisms that affect your immunity, mental wellbeing and overall health. In a nutshell, you want to look to increase the good guys and decrease the bad guys in your tummy.
Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria that are thought to give you tonnes of health benefits when consumed, including:
- increased immunity
- weight loss
- decreased inflammation
- improved digestion
- improved skin health
- decreased anxiety
- decreased allergies
- better mental wellbeing
You can get probiotics by eating lots of gut friendly foods like kombucha, kimchi and yogurt. You can also get your probiotics in supplement form, but I prefer food 🙂
- Kombucha – a fermented sparkly drink, look for brands that have low sugar content- although the fermenting process does remove most of the added sugars. I always have a fridge full of Remedy Cherry Plum Kombucha
- Kimchi – yum, a spicy fermented vegetable dish usually made with cabbage, get it in the chilled section of your super
- Yogurt – look for ones with active or live strains of bacteria. I like coconut yogurt best and buy Raglan Coconut Yogurt in various flavours (try the lemon one- OMG).
But where this gets interesting (for me anyway) is that these probiotics in your gut do best when they have the right food. Prebiotics are (usually) a type of fibre that your good gut bacteria feed on. So you not only need probiotics to feel good, but you also need to take care of your good guys and eat a wide range of prebiotic foods to support your gut microbiota.
Prebiotic fibre is soluble, fermentable fibre. No fibre is broken down in the small intestine, but when soluble fibre reaches the large intestine it is fermented by the guts microorganisms. Eating plenty of prebiotic foods assists in the culmination of a healthy amount and type of good gut bacteria which help keep you super healthy and happy.
Some food sources of prebiotics are a little strange (like chicory root and jerusalem artichoke) but some good staples to include every day are:
- some whole grains
- beans, peas & legumes
- flax seeds
- dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- breast milk!!!
Resistant starch also functions in a similar way to soluble fermentable fibre as it reaches the large intestine intact and the good gut bacteria feed on it. Resistant starch foods include, greenish bananas, cooked and cooled rice (think sushi), beans, peas and lentils, oats and cooked and cooled potatoes.
So, when gut bacteria feed on this fibre, the by-product is SCFA’s, the most abundant being acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These SCFA’s are massively important in weight management, immunity, inflammatory conditions, allergies, illness and mental health.
Exercise has also been shown to alter gut biome – incredible really – and in turn increase the production of SCFAs, while things like antibiotics, medications, stress and alcohol can drastically change the balance of good vs bad guys.
So, if you’ve made it this far – EAT YO VEGES people! Fibre is the Queen of food.
I’m so sick of hearing crap about which diet will lose the pounds. We have literally eaten ourselves into ill health, despite the fact that we’ve made such huge leaps and bounds forward in medical science over the past few decades. We are eating ourselves sick.
So, ditch the protein shakes. Quit the atkins. Toss out the scales. Grow a fucken garden.
Thank you for attending my TED talk on fibre 101 for nerds. x
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