Prebiotics are the foundation of a strong gut. But our gut isn’t comprised of prebiotics… so why are they so important?
Probiotics are the beneficial gut bacteria that live inside of our bodies. We need them to optimize digestion, mental health, skin health, and overall well-being. A prebiotic is made of plant fibers that feed our gut bacteria, making it grow healthy and strong. Prebiotics are crucial for optimal gut health and digestion. Without them, bad bacteria will feed off poor dietary choices, like sugar, and reproduce fast enough to outnumber the good bacteria. Prebiotics can ultimately determine how well your microbiome and our flora of probiotic bacteria lives, therefore effecting mental health through the gut-brain connection, digestion, and disease risk. In children, the gut microbiome can be a determinant of health for the rest of their lives.
Prebiotics are the best choice of food for our gut and our children’s gut because it can withstand our upper gastrointestinal tract digestion.
Let’s break down fiber in general (although our digestive track can’t!) Fiber, in most fruits and vegetables, is found in two forms, soluble and insoluble fibers. Both fibers remain mostly intact in the stomach and small intestine. When they finally reach the large intestine, beneficial gut bacteria go to work, breaking down and processing the fiber. This is where the magic happens. Most dietitians and doctors will always recommend a high fiber diet for the general public, but prebiotics are harder to get every day from diet alone without supplementation, especially for children.
Some examples of foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include garlic, chicory root, onions, leeks, asparagus, and banana. What makes a fibrous plant classified as a prebiotic is the chemical components of both sugars and starches. (1) Therefore, not all fiber is the same!
Not all prebiotics are created the same. Some work a lot better than others. Chicory root in particular has been studied as an effective prebiotic, because of it being one of the highest fiber vegetable roots. (2) Chicory roots consist of inulin, pectin, and cellulose and = complex phytochemicals that have been identified to be the most effect food for your gut microbiome. (2)
Chicory root isn’t something you can purchase at the grocery store for your family. That’s where Begin Health comes in. Begin Health Growing Up Prebiotics is an ideal way to incorporate prebiotics into your child’s gut health care routine. By feeding the “good” bugs in our digestive system with the unique blend of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) and fiber from chicory root inulin, Begin Health Growing Up Prebiotics is a great way to support your child’s gut health.
1. Rezende, E. S., Lima, G. C., & Naves, M. M. (2021). Dietary fibers as beneficial microbiota modulators: A proposed classification by Prebiotic categories. Nutrition, 89, 111217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2021.111217
2. Puhlmann, M.-L., & de Vos, W. M. (2020). Back to the roots: Revisiting the use of the fiber-rich cichorium intybus L. taproots. Advances in Nutrition, 11(4), 878–889. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmaa025
Dr. Avena is a neuroscientist and nutrition expert based in the New York Area.Her focus is on nutrition and brain health throughout the lifespan. She is the author of several books, including What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler. Check her out at DrNicoleAvena.com
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