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Fiber that Feeds Your Gut Flora

Intestines with and without gut flora

While taking your health into your own hands and learning how to heal your gut, you've probably already read or heard about how important your good bacteria is and the importance of taking a probiotic. Somewhere along the way, you may have come across the importance of fermented foods and feeding your gut flora so that they stay healthy and in turn, you're healthy. To add another layer to this story, you can also keep your healthy bugs happy by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods contain fibers called Fructan and Cellulose, large complex molecules that can't be broken down because humans lack the enzymes to do so. This causes these fibers to stay in the gut and ferment because it's in an environment with, you guessed it, good (hopefully) bacteria. Basically, these fibers serve as "prebiotics."

Prebiotic - "Prebiotics were originally defined in 1995 by Gibson and Roberfroid as “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improves host health.” 44 and 1

Let's take a closer look

Fructan is a complex "fructose" molecule which is basically the sugar in fruit. This complex molecule and be short or long and is called "fructooligosaccharides." Wow, that's a mouth full! In some of your probiotics you will see an ingredient called, FOS. That's a fructan molecule and in regards to "Fiber"- it's a fermentable fiber in food. This is also known as a "prebiotic." Patients who have SIBO or "small intestinal bacterial overgrowth", can't always tolerate FOS because it feeds the bacteria that lives in the small intestines. Don't worry about understanding SIBO right now. Just know that there's another type of fiber beside soluble and insoluble fiber that feeds your good gut flora and that's Fructan.

Foods rich in Fructans:

  • Bananas

  • Garlic

  • Onions

  • Chicory Root

  • Wheat

  • Leeks

  • Asparagus

  • Artichokes