Fiber and Probiotics: Magic for Your Gut?

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Is your gut feeling off balance?

Do you feel bloated and full after eating and don’t know what to do?

Time and again, you’ve tried different remedies but nothing seems to work?

Did you know that an imbalance among the microorganisms in your gut could increase your cancer risk?

In this article, we’ll explain why and how it may be a super simple fix.

So, stay tuned to uncover if the magic bullets for overall health – fiber and probiotics can help.

This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase, we may get a commission at no cost to you. This helps us provide high-quality content.

What Is a Healthy Gut?

A healthy balanced gut helps you digest food while protecting against disease.

Ultimately, the main job of the gut is to break down food, absorb nutrients, and get rid of waste.

Thus, when the digestive system functions without a hiccup, we consider ourselves to have a healthy gut.

Good Bacteria and the Microbiome

Many good or beneficial bacteria live in our gut.

Most are live bacteria, but some are viruses, molds, yeasts, and protozoa.

In total, about 800 species, 7,000 strains, and 100 trillion microorganisms colonize the gut.

And together, they’re called the microbiome.

Why Is the Microbiome Important?

Over the past 20 years, research on the microbiome’s influence on health and disease has been booming.

And today, we know that the microbiome can affect:

  • Inflammation
  • Immune responses
  • Gut leakiness
  • Digestion
  • Energy balance
  • Brain activity

In a nutshell, a balanced diverse microbiome and a strong intestinal lining are essential for health.

A disruption can result in overgrowth of bad bacteria, a leaky gut, inflammation, and potentially, colon cancer.

But the microbiome also makes nutrients that have a big impact on health. 

Can Food Strengthen Your Microbiome?

As an adult, your microbiome is rather unique and can be affected by:

  • Diet
  • Age
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Exercise

Of those factors, diet is the most important.

And that’s because a varied plant-based diet high in fiber can balance and strengthen your microbiome.

But, a diet high in processed foods and low in fiber, on the other hand, can cause it to become imbalanced and weak.

In turn, that can change how your genes are read and increase the risk of chronic diseases and cancer.

The good news is that the wrong diet doesn’t cause permanent damage to genes.

Instead, a change to a better diet can improve gut health naturally and restore health.

What Is Dietary Fiber?

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the human intestine can’t digest and because of that, it passes intact.

It’s naturally occurring in a wide variety of plant foods, especially in the skin and the structure of cell walls.

But it can also be manufactured and added to cereals, bars, and yogurts.

Different fibers have varying effects on the body and are often divided into soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber slows digestion, makes you feel full, and can help lower cholesterol and blood sugars.

Furthermore, they can be found in beans, apples, nuts, oats, and blueberries.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, attracts water which prevents constipation and helps keep you regular.

And they can be found are in whole wheat flour, bran, brown rice, and the skin and seeds of fruit and veggies.

But they can also be grouped based on whether they form gels or promote the growth of good bacteria.

To confuse things further, some fiber will fall into several categories, and most foods have a mix of different types of fiber.

How Much Do You Need?

In short, women under 50 should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men for 38 grams (Table 1).

However, if you’re over 50, you need a little less.

In contrast, the average American only gets between 10-17 grams of fiber per day from their food.

Ultimately, this can greatly affect your microbiome.

Table 1. Recommended vs. Average American Fiber Intake.

AGERecommended Fiber Intake Women,
Grams/Day
Recommended Fiber Intake Men,
Grams/Day
Average American Fiber Intake,
Grams/Day
Under 50253810-17
Over 502130

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are living good bacteria, yeasts, or molds that are added to foods such as milk to make yogurt.

Bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are most commonly used.

Probiotics work and support our systems and may help heal your gut.

To answer your “how heal” question, how does it heal the gut?

Well, probiotics are thought to heal your gut by a couple of ways:

  • Supporting the immune system
  • Limiting the growth of bad bacteria
  • Policing the intestinal border and strengthening the intestinal lining

However, they’re sensitive to heat and stomach acid.

Therefore, they may not necessarily be living by the time they reach the gut.

And because the industry isn’t regulated, uniformity is lacking among probiotics. 

Where Can You Find Probiotics?

You can find probiotic supplements in beverages, capsules, liquids, and gummies.

Prebiotics and probiotics can also be combined into synbiotics, however, not much is known about their benefits. 

Other sources that are probiotic-like and may have some natural beneficial bacteria are fermented foods.

Some examples include include buttermilk, kimchi, tempeh, miso, and sauerkraut.

Fermentation makes food easier to digest and yields the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin K
  • B12 vitamins and folate
  • Enzymes
  • Organic compounds
  • Biologically active peptides

And, most noteworthy, they help fight bad bacteria, inflammation, and cancer.

How Much Do You Need?

There isn’t any specific guidance on the dosage of probiotic supplements, and furthermore, more isn’t necessarily better.

Despite that, many supplements have 1-10 or up to 50 billion colony-forming units (CFU) per dose. 

What Foods Are Rich in Fiber and Probiotics?

An example of a diet rich in fiber and probiotics is the plant-based fiber-rich Mediterranean diet.

Firstly, for a list of high-fiber foods, check out our 7 Day Meal Plan for Cancer Patients article.  

Secondly, in a nutshell, the Mediterranean diet focuses on eating a variety of:

  • Fruits & Berries
  • Veggies
  • Whole Grains
  • Low-Fat Dairy
  • Fiber
  • Lean Protein
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from nuts, seeds & fish

Are Certain Foods Better to Avoid?

Yes, certain foods are better to eat in moderation.

In other words, aim to avoid them 80% of the time.

Above all, these foods include overly restrictive diets and inflammatory foods that don’t have a good variety of fiber.

Most importantly, they can reduce the bacterial diversity which worsens the protection against disease. 

So, What Are Side Effects of Fiber and Probiotics

Most people tolerate fiber and probiotics well, while some may notice bloating and stomach pain, or an allergic reaction.

PRO TIP!

To Avoid Bloating and Stomach Pain:

Gradually increase fiber and add about 64 ounces of water/day

It’s also best to avoid probiotics if you have a weak immune system, are very ill, or have had recent surgery.

Friendly reminder – always talk to your healthcare provider for individual guidance. 

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are a group of indigestible carbohydrates including resistant starch.

However, it can be broken down by gut bacteria, forming something called short-chain fatty acids.

The most important one is called butyrate and it’s associated with amazing health benefits.

It can:

  • Promote a healthy microbiome
  • Fight inflammation, chronic diseases, and cancer

Where Can You Find Prebiotics in Food?

Emerging research suggests that the food with the most prebiotics includes: 

  • Dandelion greens
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Garlic
  • Bananas
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Asparagus
  • Oats
  • Cooked cooled rice, pasta, and potatoes

Prebiotics can also be added to foods such as cereals, breads, and drinks. 

Although it’s better to get your fiber from a variety of foods, you can also shop for the best prebiotic fiber supplements. 

Search terms might include prebiotics, prebiotic fibers, dietary fiber blend, or prebiotic fiber powder.

Although there is no intake guideline, ISAPP suggests 5 grams per day.

And to meet that, you’d have to eat ½ onion.

Common Questions on Fiber and Probiotics vs Prebiotics

What Is the Difference Between Dietary Fiber and Resistant Starch?

Dietary fiber passes through the gut intact, can lower cholesterol and blood sugars, and prevent constipation.

Resistant starch, on the other hand, is a type of prebiotic that promotes the microbiome and fights colon cancer.

And, the Difference between probiotic and prebiotics?

Many of you asked us, what are prebiotics and probiotics.

So, here are the main prebiotics vs probiotic differences:

  • Probiotics are living bacteria found in yogurt
  • Prebiotics are special fibers that are digested by bacteria

Are Probiotics and Fiber the Same Thing?

Fiber and probiotics are not the same thing.

That is, there’s no probiotic fiber out there.

To clarify, fiber is roughage you can’t break down and probiotics are micros that live in your gut.

Should I Take Fiber or Probiotics?

Well, whether you should take fiber or probiotics depends on why you want to take them.

Fiber generally helps keep you regular and it can lower cholesterol and blood sugars.

Probiotics, though, can help your digestive tract stay healthy and fight inflammation, chronic disease, and cancer. 

Can You Take Fiber and Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Well, soluble fiber may promote weight loss.

And although probiotics can affect your metabolism, it’s not clear if that results in weight loss.

Is Metamucil a Probiotic or Prebiotic?

Metamucil is neither a probiotic nor a prebiotic, it’s a fiber supplement primarily consisting of psyllium husk.

Psyllium husk has both soluble and insoluble fiber and forms a viscous gel.

Thus, it’s bulk-forming and can help lower cholesterol and blood sugars.

Quick 5 – Yes or No!

Firstly, Can You Take Probiotics and Fiber Supplements Together?

A question many people are asking is can I take fiber and probiotics together.

And to add to the fiber vs probiotics discussion, yes, you can take them both together.

As it happens, many times they work in unison, meaning they’re stronger together.  

Secondly, Can I Take Metamucil and Probiotics Together?

To reiterate, yes, you can take Metamucil probiotic supplements together.

Thirdly, Can I Take Psyllium Husk and Probiotics Together?

This psyllium husk and probiotics together Reddit question is another way of saying Metamucil and probiotics.

As stated above, yes, you can take Metamucil with a probiotic.

Fourthly, Can You Take Benefiber and Probiotics Together?

Yes, you can take Benefiber and probiotics together, or try the combined Benefiber probiotic products.

Fifthly, Can You Take Culturelle and Metamucil Together

You sure can, it’s OK to take Culturelle and Metamucil together.

Best Probiotic and Fiber Supplement

All and all, the best probiotic supplement, we think, is this cinnamon-flavored Super Seed Powder

It packs organic ingredients, 6 grams of fiber, and eight different bacteria per serving.

Furthermore, it also has protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and enzymes, and mixes nicely in smoothies.

Perhaps extra well in those with apple juice.

Final Thoughts

Good bacteria live in your gut where they provide vitamins, enzymes, and short-chain fatty acids.

When balanced, they can improve digestion, strengthen immune function, and lower inflammation.

However, diet choices largely affect the microbiota.

So, a healthy varied mostly plant-based fiber-rich diet is the best choice.

Furthermore, adding pre- and probiotics may be even more beneficial.

In a nutshell, this promotes a diverse microbiome and lowers the risk of chronic diseases and colon cancer.

DISCLAIMER

Our Fiber and Probiotics article is for general information only and not medical advice.

Don’t use probiotics if you have a compromised immune system, are very ill, or had recent surgery and see your healthcare provider for individual recommendations. All rights reserved.

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