by Betty Elder
Prebiotic? I've heard of Probiotics but now your telling me I have to have a pre to have a pro? Yes, that is exactly what you need to have a healthy gut. There has been study after study showing how our gut is our second brain, if the gut is not healthy then the brain or heart are not healthy. When the gut micobiome is unhealthy you will see things like obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression and autoimmune diseases. To make our guts healthy we have to be feeding it the right foods and these are called prebiotics.
What is a prebiotic? They are indigestible carbohydrates that enter in through the mouth and go through the digestion process, although our bodies can't digest these carbohydrates. They then travel down through the intestines into the colon where they feed the different strands of bacteria that is keeping us well or making us sick. How can these little strands of bacteria be determining our health? Well, we are made of mostly bacteria, our bodies are made of 90 percent microbials and only 10 percent human. Yep, thats right we are a walking, talking bag of germs, having over a 100 trillion microbes in our bodies.
Prebiotics fall into three different classifications. The most unique of these is called Resistant Starch. The reason resistant starch is so unique is that it has the ability to go through the digestion process intact and reach the colon without ever being digested. You can get resistant starch in three different ways:
1. Type 1: Resistant Starch is found in legumes, seeds and grains, parboiled and cooled.
2. Type 2: Resistant Starch containing high amylose which cannot be digested in it raw state. This kind of starch is found
in potatoes, unripe bananas and plantains. Although, if you cook these foods your body will digest the starch because the heat changes the starch making it a digestible food.
3. Type 3: Resistant Starch that has been cooked and then cooled. This type of Resistant Starch can be Type 1 or Type 2
that has been cooked and cooled and then reheated at a low temperature never reaching above 130 degrees.
If you were to take a Type 2 starch, say a potato and bake it, let it cool and then reheat it to under 130 degrees you will have the perfect Resistant Starch that is then a prebiotic. But if you reheat the potato above that temperature those starches will convert back in to a digestible starch and it becomes just a food, it is no longer a prebiotic.
Resistant Starch stimulates the good bacteria in our gut, once it reaches the large intestine it attaches itself to our bacteria which then will eat or ferment the resistant starch, keeping our healthy bacteria in balance. Our health problems mentioned above begin when the bad bacteria out weigh the good and begin to take over. So good balance in healthy bacteria is very important.
In the colon we have short chain fatty acids called propionate, acetate and butyrate that are produced from the fermentation of the bacteria eating or feeding on the resistant starch. The most significant of these short chain fatty acids is butyrate because it lines the walls of our colon. Butyrate increases metabolism, helps us handle stress and decreases inflammation.
Another pro to this prebiotic is weight loss. Resistant Starch helps decrease blood glucose levels which is a major factor in inflammation leading to chronic disease and metabolic syndrome. But when resistant starch is consumed it helps decrease blood insulin spikes which can decrease appetite and fat storage in your fat cells.
Enough Already How Do I Get This Resistant Starch
As mentioned above there are 3 types of resistant starch, this includes unripe bananas , plantains, cooked and
cooled potatoes, cooled rice and legumes. Now if eating cooked and cooled foods does not sound like something you want to do daily then there is good news. In the picture above you will see a bag of Bobs Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch (do not mistakenly get the potato flour,they are two very different products). This potato starch is a great way to get resistant starch into your diet. But do not begin by swallowing a spoon full of potato starch! This is not a case of if its good for me then more must be even better, that is unless you enjoy sitting in the bathroom with a stomach ache making those horrible sounds from gas and bloating. Start out slow in small doses, like 1/4 teaspoon one time a day, and gradually increase the amount on the spoon. If you experience gas and bloating to the point that it is uncomfortable, back off for a few days and begin again knowing that your ultimate goal is 2-4 Tablespoons daily. If you have IBS or SIBO or any other related gut problems then that amount may be too much, and you may want to consider working with a healthcare practitioner to get your gut healthy.
So to conclude consider adding resistant starch (prebiotic) to your diet, it is a wonderful way to feed your probiotics, which in turn will keep you healthy. Potato Starch can be added to smoothies, or almond milk or just taken with a swallow of water, just remember it can't be heated. To change up you resistant starch try adding occasionally a cooled baked potato, cooled beans a slice of green banana or plantain to a smoothie you will never know its there but your gut will!
I would love to hear from you, was this helpful? Have you been adding prebiotics to your meals already?