Prebiotics are particular types of fibres that pass through the digestive tract undigested, only to be devoured by various beneficial and commensal organisms within the intestines. The by-products of this gourmet feast are substances called, Short Chained Fatty Acids, with the main ones being Butyrate, Acetate and Propanoate.
The role of these Short Chained Fatty Acids is to provide food and nourishment to a whole range of beneficial gut organisms collectively know as, the microbiome. Short Chained Fatty Acids also;
- Provide fuel to keep the cells that line the colon healthy
- Maintain glucose balance
- Assist lipid metabolism and appetite regulation
- Acetate can also cross the blood-brain barrier and plays a vital role in brain health
A diet low in Prebiotic fibres leads to a reduction in the diversity of Short Chained Fatty Acids. This deficiency can result in;
- Decreased amounts of beneficial intestinal organisms
- A breakdown in intestinal integrity, digestive, cardiac and cognitive health complaints
- Sluggish immune function
- An increase in mood disorders 
Not all fibres are Prebiotic fibres. To be classified as a Prebiotic fibre it has to be digestible by the beneficial bacteria in the gut. . There are several different types of Prebiotic fibres found in foods and all have various health benefits.
Inulin - is found in Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, asparagus, onions and chicory. Health benefits of inulin include; increasing levels of Butyrate, improving the health and numbers of the intestinal micro-organisms and a reduction inflammation and improvement in the gut barrier function . Butyrate is the primary fuel source for intestinal cells, in particular, the colonocytes and enterocytes. Also, inulin assists in relieving constipation , helping to control diabetes , improving bone mineral absorption , supporting heart health and lowering cholesterol , assisting in preventing colon cancer,  promoting weight loss  and reducing insulin resistance. 
Oligosaccharides - are found in blue agave, bananas, nopal cactus, onions, yacon root, chicory root, asparagus, garlic and leeks. It is sweet and used as an alternative to sugar. Health benefits include; lowering cholesterol and reducing blood sugar fluctuations. Oligosaccharides help increase levels of the beneficial bacteria species, lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, by up to 25% .
Arabinogalactans - is found in carrots, leeks, radish, larch tree, turmeric, echinacea, corn, wheat, pear and tomatoes. Health benefits of Arabinogalactans include; immune enhancement,  increasing resistance to infections including the common cold  and increasing levels of Butyrate, Acetate and Propanoate, in particular the latter two.
Galactooligosaccharide - are found in lentils, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas and green peas. Health benefits include; improving levels of the beneficial bifidobacteria and lactobacilli bacteria , enhancing gut immune response  and relieving constipation by improving stool frequency. 
Resistant Starch - is found in high amounts in; green bananas, lentils, white beans, oats, barley, cold potatoes and rice. Health benefits of Resistance Starch include; increasing levels of the Short Chain Fatty Acids Butyrate, Acetate, Propanoate and Valerate, improving the health and numbers of beneficial gut bacteria, strengthening the microbiome, protection against colon cancer, improved weight management and a reduction of blood sugar fluctuations. 
Beneficial gut bacteria produce a wide range of vitamins which the body utilises including; B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, choline and vitamin K2. These amazing bacteria are like permanent multivitamins inside your gut. , , 
Prebiotics are safe to take and have numerous health benefits. Still for some people, there can be side effects. For people whose diet is low in fibre rich foods, suddenly increasing prebiotic fibres may cause flatulence, bloating and abdominal pain. These uncomfortable digestive symptoms are mainly due to the ecology of the gut and an imbalance between good and harmful organisms. Generally, you will find, with the onset of these types of symptoms, there are more of the bad guys present than the beneficial ones. To avoid these unpleasant side effects, just start with a small amount of the fibre and slowly build it up over a few weeks. This way the intestines and beneficial bacteria can adjust slowly to the increasing fibre levels.
However, If after a few weeks of slowly increasing fibre levels, you still have flatulence and bloating present, it may indicate a condition called Dysbiosis. This occurs when there are too many harmful organisms in the gut and not enough beneficial ones. To overcome Dysbiosis we recommend the Beneficial Bacteria Health Pack. This pack contains antimicrobial herbs, probiotics and prebiotics to eliminate harmful organisms and repopulate the beneficial ones.
Additionally, for some people, foods that contain prebiotic fibres can cause digestive upsets similar to that of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If these symptoms improve on a FODMAP diet, (which eliminates a lot of the prebiotic-rich foods), then it generally indicates a person is suffering from Small Intestinal Bacterial Over Growth (SIBO). This condition needs the specialised treatment of a healthcare professional with experience to eradicate SIBO.
Should you need assistance in treating SIBO, Dysbiosis or any other health issue we are here to help, simply take the first step and book an appointment.
One of the most important things to do is incorporate a wide range of fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, beans, nut, seeds and whole grains. More plant-based foods allow for higher nutritional diversity and a more extensive range of Prebiotic fibres.
If the daily diet is lacking in Prebiotic Fibres, we recommend ReVitalise. A potent blend of inulin, arabinogalactans, resistant starch and oligosaccharides from Nopal cactus. ReVitalise helps to jump-start Short-Chain Fatty Acid production, as well as digestive, immune and cognitive health.
Hopefully this article 'What Are Prebiotics and How Do They Improve Health' has given you a greater insight into Prebiotics and how they promote long-term health. Please share on social media and leave a comment, we'd love to hear from you.
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The information provided in this blog 'What Are Prebiotics and How Do They Improve Health' is of a general nature and intended for educational purposes only. We make no claims to diagnose, treat, prevent, alleviate or cure illnesses or diseases with any information or product stated. With any health issue, we suggest you consult your healthcare professional before undertaking any health treatment.
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