How much prebiotics to consume per day

Hi everyone,

Following on from yesterdays post on the importance of prebiotic rich foods to boost your mood, and prevent anxiety and depression, I felt it made sense to share some background information on what exactly prebiotics are, the different types of prebiotics, and how much prebiotics to consume per day in order to reap the benefits.

prebiotic fiber

Prebiotic packed chocolate bliss ball

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that are able to selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of the good bacteria in our colon resulting in beneficial health effects to us, the host.

(*The exact definition has been altered multiple times since its inception around 1995, however the beneficial nature to the hosts gut flora appears to be a common theme that remains in tact).

Prebiotics, can be found in the form of a:

  1. prebiotic fibre or a
  2. resistant starch  (which I explain in detail in this post)

 

Classification of a food ingredient as a prebiotic requires scientific demonstration that the ingredient:

  • Resists gastric acidity, hydrolysis by mammalian enzymes, and absorption in the upper gastrointestinal tract;
  • Is fermented by the intestinal microflora;
  • Selectively stimulates the growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria potentially associated with health and well-being.
resistant starch prebiotic

resistant starch rich mung bean noodle stir fry

What are the positive effects that occur from the consumption of prebiotics?

The bacteria genera usually targeted by prebiotics are Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, with positive changes in bifidobacteria more commonly seen.

In most cases, the prebiotics that are fermented by the bacteria in the colon lead to the production of beneficial short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) that have direct, and indirect, health benefits.

Some of the health benefits from consuming prebiotics include:

  • Reducing inflammatory pathways
  • Reducing the pH of the colon and thus reducing the growth of certain pathogenic species
  • Aiding digestion
  • Enhancing nutrient absorption such as calcium and magnesium, and
  • Strengthening our immune system
prebiotic fiber recipe

Prebiotic fibre packed muffin using tigernut meal and green banana flour

Types of Prebiotics:

Within both prebiotic fibres and resistant starches, there are sub-divisions;

The prebiotic fibre subdivisions include (but are not limited to):

  1. Oligosaccharides i.e. fructo-oligosaccharides, iso-molto- oligosaccharides, xylo-oligosacharides and galacto-oligosacharides
  2. Inulin
  3. Gums and mucilages i.e guar gum, acacia gum, psyllium
  4. Fruit and vegetable fibres  i.e lupin kernel fibre and legume fibre
  5. Other non starch polysaccharides i.e pectin (in apples), beta-glucan (in oats and barley) and hemicellulose (glucomannan inside konjac root)

*It is important to note that not all fibre is prebiotic

tiger nut flour

prebiotic fibre packed tiger nut flour muffin

Resistant starch can also be subcategorised into 4 divisions, however I will share this in more depth in a follow on post.

 

How much prebiotic fibre do we need to consume each day?

At present the verdict is out on exactly how much we need to consume, however some of the regulatory and scientific groups have put forward, per day figures of:

  • Dietary fibre: 25-38g
  • Prebiotic fibre: 5g-20g (From the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics)
  • Resistant starch: 20g (CSIRO)

It is important to note that different types of prebiotics have been shown to impart their benefits at varying intake levels, with some needing up at 15g per day to show a positive effect on the host.

For this reason, if we were to stick to only consuming the minimum recommendation of 5g per day, many of us would likely miss out on the health benefits that the prebiotics are actually able to provide us.

resistant starch meal

Ethiopian dish rich in resistant starch and prebiotic fibres

 

So what should I be eating to get more prebiotics into my diet?

As mentioned in yesterdays post, some of the densest sources of prebiotics include:

  • Green banana flour
  • Chicory root fibre
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Acacia fibre (found as a supplement)
  • Isomolto-oligosacharides (found inside food products)
  • Raw onion and garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Glucomannan found inside konjac noodles

They are also found in smaller amounts inside the skin of some fruits such as pectin inside apple peels, as well as in the form of beta glucan inside oats.

prebiotic muffin recipe

prebiotic muffin made with green banana flour topped with a bliss ball made using isomolto-oligosaccharides

I will create a follow on post which dives deeper into the different sources of prebiotics and how we can incorporate them into our daily diets.

However as a start, you may like to check out my high protein prebiotic banana pancakes or gut strengthening pumpkin and peanut butter protein muffins.

banana prebiotic pancake

Green banana flour prebiotic pancake

I hope todays post has proven enlightening, and that your confidence in understanding what exactly prebiotics are, the benefits of prebiotics, as well as just how much prebiotics you need to consume per day, is up.

If you have further questions, or want me to cover a particular element of prebiotics in the future please dont hesitate to reach out via my Facebook,

Until next time,

TD x

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in NYC. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, barre and HIIT class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea on how to make this world a healthier and better place.

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