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FIBER… What is it good for? -- Absolutely Everything!

05/25/2016

For decades, health providers and nutritionist have preached about the health benefits of fiber, but why is it good for us? The usual answer is that it keeps us regular and cleaned out. Is that all there is? What if I’m already regular? There has to be more to it!

You are RIGHT! In recent years the true importance of fiber has become clearer, and what it really does for our health and immune system is fascinating.

Your gut is a densely populated community of trillions of bacteria that co-exist with you in a kind of “micro ecosystem” called the gut microbiome. Some of these gut bacteria are good for you and unfortunately some can be the cause of health problems that nobody wants. The balance between “bad” and “good” bacteria has a direct effect on our overall health.

We can add to our population of “good” bacteria by taking probiotics, but adding a few billion probiotics to the trillions that exist in our gut will not allow the probiotics to compete or establish themselves. The probiotics need some help – they need something else! They need fuel to supercharge their growth. They need something called a Prebiotic.

That is where fiber comes to the rescue. The fiber in our diets is the food that our “good” gut bacteria and probiotics need to flourish and thrive, which keeps the bad bacteria on the defensive. The fiber that probiotic bacteria uses to supercharge growth is called a Prebiotic. One of the best prebiotics is SPIRULINA.

Spirulina is a blue/green algae that gets its name from the spiral shape it forms as it grows. People in Asia have known about its health benefits for centuries, and it's becoming more and more popular here in the United States. You can find it in organic juices, smoothies, and even skin creams. 

Prebiotic Superfood Spirulina

So, a prebiotic is basically the scientific name for fiber – the fiber that we have been told to eat for some many decades. Indirectly, the reason why fiber (or prebiotic) is good for us is because it's the food or fuel that probiotics need to grow, multiply, and establish themselves as part of the gut bacteria ecosystem. As the “good” bacteria flourish they promote gut health and fulfill all the good things that we know probiotics and fiber can provide.

Scientists, physicians, and nutritionists now see the benefit of prebiotic fiber as it is the fuel that probiotics need once they are delivered to the gut, so they can take hold and provide their benefit. Prebiotic fiber can be found in many foods like Spirulina, artichokes, asparagus, and bananas, which is why they are all part of a healthy diet.

Most probiotic products commonly contain a highly refined form of prebiotic, called fructans. There are three types of fructan:

  • fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • glucooligosaccharides (GOS)
  • inulin

Next time you look at a probiotic, look at the ingredients panel and you should see one of these mentioned as a prebiotic or an ingredient. Fructans are also commonly used as artificial sweeteners.

Fructans are isolated by the enzymatic or chemical degradation of inulin. This produces a complex mixture of carbohydrates from which FOS and GOS are purified.

Typically, probiotics that use these fructans only use milligram quantities. Unfortunately, this amount of prebiotic falls short of what is needed to fuel the probiotic growth. One would actually need to consume gram quantities of FOS, GOS, or inulin to help probiotic growth. However, as these are highly refined compounds, they form an easily metabolized source of food for gut bacteria, therefore, consuming gram quantities of FOS, GOS, or inulin causes gut bacteria population to grow rapidly and can lead to bacterial over growth, gas, bloating, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and other undesirable side effects.

At SuperBio, we have found another great prebiotic source is Spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that differs from FOS, GOS, or inulin as it's a super prebiotic that can supercharge probiotics, but can also be taken safely in gram quantities, which fulfills the need of the probiotics for fuel to grow, without causing excess gas and bloating.

Unlike fructans, Spirulina is a naturally derived, complex mixture of fiber (probiotic fuel), proteins, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are used by our own metabolism as well as providing a nutrient source for probiotics and our gut bacteria.

Therefore, large quantities of Spirulina can be safely consumed without the side effects seen with the highly purified fructans. This also means that Spirulina plays a dual role as it provide probiotics with all the fuel they need to become established as part of our “good” gut bacterial population, and promotes human health by providing us with other essential nutrients.

So, the next time you are looking for a probiotic product, don’t forget to make sure it contains a prebiotic, ideally a super food like Spirulina that helps feed your gut bacteria and helps your health all in one.

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