In the world of nutrition research, the microbiome is hot, hot, hot. Thousands of studies have analyzed the role of good bacteria and bad bacteria in our digestive systems. And while those studies represent just the tip of the iceberg of what we will eventually learn, one thing is clear: A healthy gut is a very good thing.
Enter probiotics, the micro-organisms that help maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria. They’re present in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi, and supplement companies have even packaged them into capsules.
Much less talked about are prebiotics. These dietary compounds help probiotics thrive. (In fact, they’re so little talked about that one Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist notes if you see the word prebiotic you may just think someone spelled probiotic wrong.)
Prebiotics are found in plant fibers, and they remain unchanged for most of the digestive process. So what effect could they have? Turns out, plenty: Prebiotics act like a fertilizer, enriching only good bacteria. In fact, prebiotics help good bacteria grow much faster than you could consume them. For this reason, Dr. Frank Jackson (the Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist) contends that they’re actually more important than probiotics.
Studies have found that prebiotic fiber may help everything from bowel regularity to brain health. And preliminary research shows that those benefits are probably derived from their positive influence on the microbiome.
The list of foods high in prebiotic fiber includes things you might expect, like asparagus, beans, and unprocessed grains, but there are also some surprising sources, such as onions and garlic. Oats are such a good source of prebiotic fiber that we include them in every Step One product.
But since the other important health benefits of fiber are noted only when that fiber comes as part and parcel of whole foods (as opposed to processed foods that are supplemented with it), the fiber in our products comes from whole food ingredients. That’s probably why so many people experience much more than just improved gut function when they eat our foods.
Is it possible to double-boost your gut health using both prebiotics and probiotics at the same time? Absolutely! And we’ve made it really easy with Step One products: Toss some Anytime Sprinkle into yogurt, for example, or whirl some kefir into your Smoothie Mix. I’ve got a gut feeling you’ll like it!
(Sorry, couldn't help myself).