When your job is helping people heal their gut, you tend to get a lot of questions about speciality products, supplements, and brands that claim their juice/bars/powders cure gut issues.
My clients see little tidbits of information about how this new “superfood” can heal their IBS. I have friends and family that want to know if the snack that claims it has probiotics is really helpful. I’m even approached by companies that want me to share their miraculous gut healing product with my social following.
There is no shortcut. No miracle protein bar, juice program, or supplement that can heal your gut. I wish there was. It would make the masses much healthier. I wish I could say that if you eat this one specific type of berry, your gut will be healed.
The truth is a lot less exciting…
I’ve said it many times before, so if you’ve been in my community for a bit I might sound like a broken record, but the best (and truly only) way to heal your gut is getting in prebiotic bacteria daily.
The good news? Prebiotics aren’t some fancy supplement or expensive powder. They come from fiber!
I want you to know what they are, why they are important, and how to get them so that you can quiet all of the marketing noise and focus on what your gut truly needs. No agenda or marketing scheme included.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. In layman’s terms, it’s the food that travels through your gut and out the backside, feeding the healthy bacteria in your body along the way.
Prebiotics are vital for a healthy gut and unfortunately, a diet of processed and sugary foods, like we see abundant in America, has very few prebiotics.
Think of your gut as a garden. In this garden, the prebiotics are the soil, the probiotics are the flowers/trees/food that grow, and the postbiotics are the benefits people and the earth get from the plants that grow.
We want our gut microbiome to have lush, diverse, healthy, and thriving plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and trees (probiotics). These plants need food to grow, they need healthy, diverse, rich soil (prebiotics). The more nutrient dense soil you give the plants, the healthier and stronger they will grow.
Now, as your garden gets high quality soil (prebiotics), the plants will flourish (probiotics), and the benefits from your garden will be innumerable- air for us to breathe, food for us to eat, flowers to feed animals, plants for bugs and insects to live in, etc. These important benefits of a healthy garden are the postbiotics.
Postbiotics are necessary and incredibly beneficial to our health. They give us energy, boost immunity, heal from chronic issues, build healthy bones and muscles, etc. But they don’t happen without the prebiotics, our gut’s soil.
Prebiotics come from fiber, soluble fiber in particular (but both types are good!). The microbes in your gut LOVE soluble fiber and have a feeding frenzy when soluble fiber goes through your system, particularly in the colon.
When you feed your gut soluble fiber, you are feeding the probiotic bacteria in your gut. It is so important that your gut has abundant, healthy probiotics bacteria, so getting lots of prebiotic rich soluble fiber is the key.
In fact, gastroenterologist and gut health expert Dr. Will Bulsiewicz known as the Gut Health MD suggests that the number one predictor of our health is how much fiber we are consuming and how diverse it is.
Not only do we want to get a lot of fiber, soluble and insoluble, in our diets, we want a diverse amount of fiber sources.
If we get prebiotics from fiber rich foods, that means we don’t get prebiotics when we are eating foods devoid of fiber.
Foods that lack fiber such as processed foods, meat, eggs, dairy, and sugar filled treats should not make up a large portion of your daily meals. This isn’t to say there isn’t room for them on your plate. I believe that incorporating high quality meat, eggs, dairy, and even a little sugar, can be beneficial to your body, but I would urge you to keep them around 1/4 of your plate. The rest of your plate would be best filled with fiber rich foods.
You might be wondering, “what about the box of cereal that I have that touts it’s high fiber?” or “I grabbed ice cream the other day that says there was fiber in it!”
Processed food that adds fiber to its product is not the same as getting real, whole foods that contain naturally occurring fiber. Plus you have to ingest all of the other sugary, artificial, processed ingredients that go along with it.
Ok, so now that you get why prebiotics are imperative to your gut, are you ready to start increasing your fiber intake??
Make sure to do it slowly. Your gut probably isn’t used to a lot of fiber. Going from little to a lot quickly can be really uncomfortable with fiber, leading to digestive distress and gas. It’s like going to thy gym for the first time in years. If you try to run 10 miles and do 100 burpees, you are going to struggle and be really sore, and possibly hurt yourself.
Want some help? This process is exactly what I do with my clients. Reach out if you could use a hand! I’ve got all of the fiber counting tools and fiber filled meal plans you need!
I hope this helps! And though eating healthy, real food fiber may not be the quick fix you want to heal your gut, it’s what you need, and the change that will have a positive ripple affect on your health.