Jul 12 2015

Fiber is an Excellent Prebiotic for Friendly Bacteria

Published by at 11:43 am under probiotic supplements

Fiber is food for microbes, studies show.

“…Dietary fiber and diversity of the microbiota complement each other for better health outcomes…” 1

We’ve said it before…we are what we eat, and more importantly, our gut microbiota are what they eat. Now new studies show that fiber is an excellent prebiotic for friendly bacteria. Gut bacteria health and overall health are positively affected by not just the amount but the type of fiber you eat.  Increasing our fiber intake can “…trigger a shift from a microbial profile linked to obesity to one correlated with a leaner physique…”1*

“…Beneficial microbes feast on fermentable fibers—which can come from various vegetables, whole grains and other foods—that resist digestion by human-made enzymes as they travel down the digestive tract. These fibers arrive in the large intestine relatively intact, ready to be devoured by our microbial multitudes. Microbes can extract the fiber’s extra energy, nutrients, vitamins and other compounds for us. Short-chain fatty acids obtained from fiber are of particular interest, as they have been linked to improved immune function, decreased inflammation and protection against obesity…”1*

By historical standards, Americans don’t eat enough fiber. We consume approximately 15 grams of fiber daily as compared to hunter-gatherer times when we were consuming most likely 10 times that amount (through an abundance of roots and roughage). This has had an effect on the human microbiome as we have evolved.

But our fiber doesn’t need to come from such primitive sources, according to research out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Adding a fiber-enriched snack bar to subject’s daily diets can swing microbial profiles in a matter of weeks.  “…In a small study of 21 healthy adults with average U.S. fiber intake, one daily fiber snack bar (containing 21 grams of fiber) for three weeks significantly increased the number of Bacteroidetes bacteria and decreased the number of Firmicutes compared with levels before the study or after three weeks of eating fiber-free bars…”1

If gut microbes don’t have fermentable fiber to feed on, they can die off. Some though will switch to another food source in the gut and that is the mucus lining that keeps the gut wall intact and free from infection.

“Dietary fiber is food for bacteria, not for you. So even though humans can’t digest some of the health-sustaining nutrients that make up fiber—our amazing gut bacteria can…” (1,2)

 In another study, a group of mice and rats were fed an abundance of fermentable fibers, enriched by propionate and butyrate, two short-chain fatty acids generated by gut fermentation of soluble fiber. (Some of the best forms of fermentable fiber include fruits, veggies, beans, avocado, Brussels sprouts, and flax seeds.) Another group of rodents were fed a fatty and sugary diet, but supplemented with fiber. The third control group ate a diet filled with fat and sugar. It seems that fiber was the key ingredient that caused some rodents to gain less weight and develop diabetes more slowly.2

In different research, it appears that certain types of fiber are better for feeding your gut bacteria than others. According to this study, the bacteria in your colon need a kind of fiber called fructans, to proliferate. The average American only gets about 1 to 4 grams of these fructan-type fibers a day. 3*

Cellulose, is an insoluble fiber that has also been shown to promote good gut microbes, as the friendly bacteria favor this. You’ll find cellulose in the parts of produce we usually throw out like the stalks of broccoli, the tops of leeks, carrot peels, the bottoms of asparagus—and celery. 3

Paying attention to how you prepare these foods also matters, since heat breaks down fibers. The longer the chain length in fiber, the more likely it will survive in the gastrointestinal tract. The shorter chains tend to be sweeter foods (an example is sweet caramelized onions which retain little fructan fiber benefits).  

Foods heavy in fructans include the following: 

  • jerusalem artichoke,
  • chicory root,
  • leek,
  • white onions,
  • raspberries,
  • artichoke,
  • cooked beans,
  • asparagus spears.

For a more complete list, visit  resource 3*

Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ is a sure way to multiply the friendly bacteria in your gut and maintain a healthy gut bacteria balance, with the goal being 80% friendly to 20% unfriendly.  By supplementing with a good probiotic and eating the right foods, you will reap the benefits of a healthier immune system and overall better well being.*


Healthiest wishes,




  1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fiber-famished-gut-microbes-linked-to-poor-health1/
  2. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/how-fiber-feeds-your-gut-and-your-health
  3. http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/top_fiber_rich_foods_for_good_gut_bacteria

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