Fiber and Probiotics

Fiber and Probiotics

Fiber and probiotics

Both fiber and probiotics are important to add into your diet to improve your digestive health. In this article, we will discuss what fiber and probiotics are, why they are beneficial, and how you can add them into your diet to improve your gut health.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest.

There are two main types of fiber, each playing a different role in the body: 

  • Soluble fiber absorbs water and slows digestion
  • Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and speeds up digestion

We need both soluble and insoluble fibers for healthy digestion. 

Experts recommend consuming between 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day to benefit the digestive system. Unfortunately, Americans don’t meet their fiber intake, only consuming about 10 to 15 grams per day (1).


Prebiotic Fiber

Within the soluble fiber category exists a type of fiber called prebiotic fiber.

Prebiotic fiber passes through the gastrointestinal tract undigested and stimulates the growth or activity of good bacteria in the large intestine, improving health. Prebiotics are unique in that they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which act as food for the cells in the colon and provide unique physiological benefits.

While there are no official guidelines and research is still developing in this area, studies recommend eating 3 to 5 grams of prebiotic fiber a day to receive a beneficial effect on your gut (2, 3, 4). 

 

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are made of good live organisms, specifically bacteria and/or yeasts, that naturally live in your body. Within the gut microbiota, the human body has both good and bad bacteria. When you get an infection, there’s more bad bacteria, knocking your system out of balance. There is estimated to be about one hundred trillion bacteria, of probably more than 500 species, in our bowels (5). 


Probiotics are found in certain foods or supplements. Through ingestion of probiotic foods or supplements, you can improve the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.


Benefits of Fiber and Probiotics 

There are many benefits of fiber and probiotics:

Benefits of Fiber

  • Supports regular bowel movements
  • Maintains bowel health
  • Aids in achieving healthy weight
  • Helps you live longer
  • May improve symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (6, 7)
  • Improves gut-barrier function*
  • Reduces bad bacteria in colon*
  • Increases good bacteria in colon*
  • Improve immune system* (8)

*Additional benefits found specifically in prebiotic fibers 

Benefits of Probiotics

  • Balances and improves gut flora
  • Helps prevent and treat diarrhea
  • Improves some mental health conditions
  • Improves the immune system
  • May reduce symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Increases nutrient absorption
  • May help with weight loss (9, 10, 11)

Can I take fiber and probiotics together?

Yes! When taking fiber, specifically prebiotic fiber, and a probiotic together, it is called a synbiotic. Synbiotics have the most potent impact on the gut and help create good digestive health. A synbiotic product has beneficial effects on the host in improving the survival and implantation of live microbial supplements in the gastrointestinal tract by stimulating the growth of health-promoting bacteria (12). 


Foods high in fiber and probiotics

Fiber

The best way to take in fiber is to eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber supplements and prebiotic supplements also exist.


Some of the best fiber-rich foods include (13) :

  • Beans
  • Avocado
  • Chia seed*
  • Acorn Squash*
  • Collard Greens*
  • Potato*
  • Berries*
  • Popcorn*
  • Rice*
  • Oats*
  • Potatoes*

*Best for those with diagnosed IBS

 

Prebiotic Fiber

Some of the best prebiotic fibers from foods and supplements are (4):

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Apples
  • Banana
  • Jeruselum artichoke
  • Inulin
  • Chicory Root
  • Oats*
  • Acacia Powder*
  • Partially hydrolyzed guar gum*
  • Psyllium Husk*

*Best for those with diagnosed IBS

 

Probiotics

To increase your intake of probiotic foods, focus on eating fermented foods with live cultures. 


Some of the best food sources of probiotics include (14):

  • Yogurt (dairy and non dairy*)
  • Fermented cheeses*
  • Sourdough bread*
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha tea
  • Kefir

*Best for those with diagnosed IBS


Probiotic Supplements

Most probiotics are sold as a dietary supplement, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do under the federal drug administration (FDA). Manufacturers are responsible for making sure they're safe before they're marketed and that any claims made on the label are true. Health benefits are specific depending on the strain of bacteria. Many different strains of bacteria exist and can help depending on your needs and condition (15).


BelliWelli Bars

With prebiotic fiber from oats and acacia and probiotic Bacillus coagulans, BelliWelli Bars nail it as the perfect synbiotic, or combination of fiber and probiotics. It’s rare to find an on-the-go snack bar that delivers a potent combination to improve gut health.

Summary

Adding fiber and probiotics into your diet can help with overall health and maintaining a healthy digestive tract.