Last Updated on August 4, 2020
It’s important to know how to get prebiotics into your diet.
Prebiotics are a certain type of sugar, what we call oligosaccharides. Prebiotics go through the gut without being digested. When they arrive in the colon, prebiotics feed the good bacteria (probiotics).
My recommendation is that you get prebiotics from your diet rather than from supplements.
It’s much better to eat and chew the foods that contain prebiotic sugars. Food as a source of prebiotics is better for your colon than supplements.
When I first started to recommend probiotic supplements in the ’80s, people thought I was nuts. They couldn’t see the benefit. Why not just have a bowl of yogurt, they’d ask.
Let’s look at the different types of sugars. There are monosaccharides, polysaccharides, and oligosaccharides.
Polysaccharides tend to be starches or very undigestible kind of foods.
These are sugars, no different from white sugar. Polysaccharide bonds are more elongated and complex, making them more difficult for the body to breakdown.
The polysaccharides are also quite good for the gut, but it’s the oligosaccharides that have a tremendous effect.
Oligosaccharides are found in onions, leeks, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, and chicory root, to name a few. The cruciferous (Brassica) family also contains a lot of prebiotic sugars.
The nice thing about the onion (Allium) family is that there are also good for immune function, mood, and blood pressure. Likewise, Brassicas have been linked to cancer prevention and immune health.
If you live in the U.S., you’re lucky if you are having any more than three grams of prebiotics in your diet each day.
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But if you live in certain parts of Europe, you’d be consuming 10 grams or more. If you live in Africa, you could be consuming way more, like ten times as much.
The general rule is that if you are eating minimally processed food, you’ll be getting a lot of prebiotics. This means you’ll also be generating trillions of beneficial bacteria as a result.
At one time, I would recommend prebiotic supplements to my clients. Then I noticed that I was getting a stream of calls from patients who were having significant side effects like gas, diarrhea, and headache.
I also found research that linked prebiotic supplements to the overgrowth of Klebsiella and Candida.
I found that I got much better results if I gave probiotics mixed with digestive enzymes and then encouraged my clients to eat prebiotic foods. This is the reason I created CanXida Restore, a probiotic-enzyme supplement that is entirely free of prebiotic sugars.
The other thing to remember is that prebiotics are not good for people who have a very sick gut. Don’t pile on lots of fermented and cultured foods, followed by prebiotics, and probiotics, if you’re just starting to get your gut healthy.
Stick with whole food if you want to include prebiotics in your diet.