GUT HEALTH : HOW TO REBUILD WITH PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS

The importance of Gut Health has really exploded. Probiotics are a household name and prebiotics won’t be far behind them. And to be fair, rightly so. There pretty much isn’t a single condition that in some way can’t be linked back to the health of the gut.

My recent little bout of “Welcome to Byron Bay” gastro bug, reminded me of how important building gut health up is and hence I decided to share a little how to guide that turned out to be not so little. So feel free to skip ahead to the, Love Your Guts Banana Omelette recipe….

Just incase you haven’t heard the word on the street or you missed this blog: , let’s do a little recap.

  • We are finally starting to develop a deep appreciation for the trillions of microbes that inhabit our small and large intestines.
  • Most of these little guys have co-evolved with humans, relying on us for their survival and we relying on them for health and wellbeing
  • We feed them nutrients through the foods we eat (or we should) and in return they digest carbohydrates that would otherwise be indigestible to us and make vitamins and other important substances like short chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate) that we otherwise cannot make. Microbes protect us against infections, regulate metabolism, and host the majority of the immune cells in our body.
  • This symbiotic relationship is what makes up a persons microbiome. If all is well this hopefully harmonious collection of microorganisms looks after so many vital functions in our body.
  • So hence, unless you have been living under a rock for the past several years, I am sure you have heard that a disrupted gut microbiome is associated with an overwhelming large amount of common conditions.
    To name a few: acne, antibiotic associated diarrhoea, asthma/allergies, autism spectrum disorder, autoimmune disease, cancer, dementia, dental cavities, depression and anxiety, diabetes, eczema, fibromyalgia, gastric ulcers, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, neurological disorders, parkinson disease. This is a partial list and new ones are added almost monthly.

I would go as far as saying that gut dysfunction is one key underlying mechanisms that contributes to almost all disease. Hence, supporting it’s diversity and abundance will make you more resilient against infection and disease.

How do we support gut diversity and abundance ?

Probiotics? Yes certainly this is a good starting place otherwise supplement companies would not be creating new products with different strains and different combinations of microorganisms everyday.

It’s difficult not to notice how many different brands of probiotic supplement are available on the market today ? All claiming to have a zillion times more live cultures than the next. I can remember when it was just good old “Have you had your Inner Health Plus today?” and that was it. Times are a changing.

The important things to know about probiotics are:

  • Most probiotics do not quantitatively change the composition of the gut microbiome over time. That means that if you take a capsule of a zillion Lactobacillus acidophilusone day, then on the second day another zillion, you don’t increase to two zillion. Feeling a bit ripped off? Not so fast
  • Probiotics do however play a primary role in immune regulation , helping to regulate and balance the immune system (remembering that over 70% of our immune cells reside in our gut) AND reduce inflammation in the gut. Two very important factors for health.
  • A good strategy with probiotics is to take a wide spectrum of microorganism like lactic acid producing bacteria (Primal Defense Ultra by Garden of Life), soil based organisms (Prescript Assist) and beneficial strains of yeasts (Saccharomyces boulardii) . And rotate them.
  • The best and most cost effective way to get a diversity of beneficial microorganisms is to become a fermenting extraordinaire or seek out locations that sell fermented foods (Byron Bay is winning in this departments). And again the key word being “diversity” so ensure you are getting the full spectrum of fermented foods; kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, beet kvass etc.
  • For example, if you look at the content of the amount of beneficial microbes in a glass of kefir, it is far greater than any commercial probiotic you can get. Mother nature will always win out.

What about abundance?

Well it turns out there is a second part to the story, enter, the new (but not so new) kid on the block; prebiotics . Prebiotics are a food source for beneficial bacteria that already live in our gut and DO increase the number of beneficial microorganisms significantly over time.

A simple way to look at it is – Probiotics and fermented foods which contain them are the bugs themselves, and prebiotics are the food the bugs need to survive and multiply. In technical terms, they are indigestible carbohydrates (note indigestible to us humans) that make their way intact to the colon (large intestines) where they selectively feed beneficial bacteria (which is what we want).

Note that ONE of the side effects of a long term low carbohydrate diet, where people limit the amount of starchy vegetables, fruits, white rice, and other grains, is that it can potentially starve off beneficial bacteria in the colon. This can give rise to a host of gastrointestinal symptoms (namely constipation or diarrhoea) and actually cause issues when the person tries to reintroduce these foods back into the diet. Often the reintroduction issues are mistaken as “not able to tolerate” those foods as oppose to lack of those foods being the problem of the distress in the first place.

What and where are prebiotics found?

In short in a variety of plant foods.

  1. Fermentable fibers such as resistant starch (eg. unmodified potato starch, green banana flour or plantain flour)
  2. Non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, FOS, FODMAPS, pectin, cellulose
  3. Soluble fiber (psyllium husk, acacia fibre, glucomannan, guar gum)

Food sources of prebiotics include:

1. Resistant Starch:

  • Cooked and cooled potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams
  • Cooked and cooled parboiled rice
  • Cooked and cooled properly prepared (soaked or sprouted) legumes
  • Dehydrated plantain chips

***** Allow these foods to cool completely in the fridge or freezer. They can be warmed up for eating, but the temperature should stay below 130 degrees in order to provide the beneficial prebiotics.

Resistant starch has been touted as the next big weight loss supplement. It does have some impressive health benefits such as improved insulin sensitivity, decreased blood glucose levels in response to meals, reduced appetite and reduced fat storage in fat cells. Move over Garcinia Cambogia.

2. Non Starch Polysaccharides:

  • asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, onions, radishes, leeks, tomatoes, turmeric, pears, kiwis

3. Soluble fibre

  • carrots, winter squash, potato, sweet potato, turnips, parsnips, beets

Eating a combination of uncooked (usually has more prebiotic fibre) and cooked versions of the above.

Examples of supplemental powders to increase your prebiotics intake:

  • Prebiogen: Start with 1/8 scoop daily and increase to 1/2 to 1 full scoop
  • Unmodified potato starch (Bob’s Red Mill All Natural) or Green Banana Flour (Mt. Uncle’s brand): Start with 1/4 teaspoon daily and gradually increase over the course of a couple of months to 1-3 tablespoons
  • Glucomannan powder (Now brand): Start with 1/8 teaspoon once daily mixed in 30ml of water and very slowly increase up to 1/2 teaspoon daily
  • Psyllium husk powder (Now brand): behind with 1/4 teaspoon mixed in 30ml of water and gradually increase to 1 to 3 teaspoons taken at separate dosesor Acacia Fibre

Just like with fermented foods, different types of fibre stimulates the growth of different beneficial bacteria, so getting a variety and rotating them will be key.

A BIG CAUTION:

  • In the case of starting prebiotics, MORE is not better. It is SO important to start with a really small dose and very slowly work your way up as tolerated
  • Know that some gas and bloating is expected, particularly as you begin taking prebiotics (as it is stimulating the growth of bacteria in the colon). However people have been hospitalised from taking too much too soon, so start super small.
  • Prebiotics are best AVOIDED if you have Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth (SIBO), fungal overgrowth or a parasite infection. Hence, if you are getting a lot of gastrointestinal symptoms and haven’t found out why, consider getting a stool test done before experimenting with prebiotics.
  • If you have noticed after reading this that you get a lot of gastrointestinal complaints after eating foods rich in prebiotic fibres that may be sign that you need to do some investigating.

So next time you do the shopping, make sure you are thinking about feeding your now known “extended family”.

If you’ve got their back, they will have yours. If not, expect some disharmony. I warned you here first ;).

Symbiosis (from Greek “together” and “living“) is close and often long-term interaction between two different biological species.

Now for the long awaited recipe.

LOVE YOUR GUTS BANANA OMELETTE

It’s “gut loving” cause I pimped it with some prebiotic fibre to feed the little guys and some gelatin to support a healthy gut lining.

What you need for omelette : 

1 x banana
2 x eggs
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp maca powder
1/4-1/2 tsp Mt. Uncle’s banana flour
1 Tblsp Great Lakes Gelatin Powder

What to do:

  1. Smash the banana with a fork in a bowl.
  2. Add 2 eggs and mix together.
  3. Add cinnamon and Gelatin powder to the mix.
  4. Heat butter on a pan on a medium to high.
  5. Once the pan is heated, add mixture to pan.
  6. Allow it to seal on one side, sprinkle banana flour onto the mixture, and then flip in half and allow it to further cook though
  7. Garnish with kefir/yoghurt and nuts and seeds.

****Original version of this recipe is courtesy of the talented @theholisticnutritionist. You know it’s a good recipe when it’s still a staple meal some four years on.

Gut Loving Banana Omelette with goats milk kefir and Eros brand activated nut and seed mix

Hope you enjoy it for years to come too.

Love Chantel x