Gut health is a fashionable topic lately. With everything from leaky gut to craving control being up for grabs, it seems like there’s a new benefit to gut healing every month.
Prebiotics have shouldered some of the spotlight in gut health. They’re resistant compounds that aren’t digested but provide a positive environment for microorganisms in the intestines. Simply put, the idea is that you can foster good bacteria in the gut with prebiotics.
In this blog, we’re going to take you through a brief, practical guide to prebiotics so you know what you’re doing with your intestines.
Potential Benefits of Prebiotics
The science on many prebiotics is hazy: it’s hard to establish a real idea of what’s going on in your intestines without opening them up. With that said, the research that does exist suggests that probiotic compounds can improve digestion and adjust your nutrient uptake.
There are also preliminary results suggesting that prebiotic compounds like Yacon and Lactobacillus can contribute to appetite in novel ways.
One of the most interesting developments here, is that gut bacteria has been associated with dietary patterns and cravings. If this is true (which is a big ‘if’), then prebiotics can be a great addition to the way that you control cravings and manage your diet.
At the very least, certain prebiotic substances like dietary fibre and resistant starch tend to have overall-positive benefits. If you’re increasing your intake of plant foods such as leafy greens and wholegrains, prebiotic and probiotic effects are a small portion of the overall benefit.
Science: Is the Verdict Out?
The problem we keep running into with prebiotics, is that the science is still undecided on how well they work. Animal studies are suggesting great effects on slowing down digestion, reducing appetite and promoting ‘good bacteria’, but human studies are thin on the ground.
Sources like Yacon and some forms of Lactobacillus, but many other forms of prebiotic are still relatively unexplored. With that said, there are unlikely to be any negative effects, so these compounds may be worth trying for yourself.
Prebiotics and Sleep
One of the unforeseen benefits of a diet rich in prebiotic foods and other selected compounds is an improvement in sleep quality. Research looked into the way that sleep and gut health interact, especially the way that sleep and diet impact on stress.
Results suggested that a diet which was high in prebiotic foods, was likely to improve overall sleep quality and combat some of the key symptoms of stress.
This is important for various reasons: sleep is a key factor in your overall recovery and health, while combatting stress is a great way of preventing chronic stress-related illness. Combined, this means better health, improved ability to recover between workouts, and even improved gains in muscle and strength.
How Effective are Prebiotics?
It’s important to be realistic about what sort of results you’re going to achieve by improving your prebiotic profile. While they’re likely to boost intestinal health, especially if you’re prone to over-eating or over-drinking, they won’t turn you into Arnold.
What you can expect is an improvement in some of the key variables that determine your workout-to-workout improvements and recovery. In addition to this, you’re going to experience more restful sleep and a more stable gut environment.
Stress is an all-too-familiar part of life and it can have profound negative effects on health and performance. If you’re looking to get the edge and optimise your mental and physical performance, a simple prebiotic supplement can make noticeable differences alongside a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep routine.
Top 3 Prebiotic Supplements
Inulins are a type of plant-based fibre that has interesting applications for kidney health, but they also provide a simple, healthy option for prebiotics. Inulins are a form of soluble fibre extracted from root extracts, making it a healthy, plant-based choice.
As a soluble fibre, it’s important to be cautious if you suffer with IBS or other common digestive problems.
Designed as an alternative to common flour and other powdered carbohydrates, VitaFiber™ is a versatile product, with a mild sweetness. As a prebiotic, it promotes digestive health while providing a healthier, lower-GI alternative to common sugars and white flour.
At 91% fibre, it provides a great way of slowing digestion and improving metabolic regularity. This makes it a great choice for home baking and sugar-replacement, especially if you’re concerned with blood sugar.
If you’re experienced with clean dieting, or you just like amazing carb sources, you’ve probably eaten a few bowls of oats. These amazing wholegrains are actually a great source of prebiotic fibre, as well as commonly-deficient nutrients like Zinc and Iron.
Ultra fine oat powder is a great way to improve your fibre intake and acts as a great, everyday prebiotic. If you’re looking for a healthy post-workout shake, try it mixed with your regular protein shake.
Prebiotics are a simple supplement with a lot of positive indicators in the scientific literature. While they’re far from certain, they’re likely to help you through tougher times such as the short-term stress of illness, overtraining or everyday life.