Have you ever noticed how some things work out great for some people and then you try that same thing and it’s a disaster?
You go on Pinterest and you see this really creative and fun DIY project to turn a couple old pallets into a beautiful coffee table and wouldn’t you know it? There’s an ad on Craig’s List for free pallets.
Yet, when you get finished instead of a coffee table, you have a couple chopped up pallets that won’t hold up a cup of water and suddenly there’s some strange insects crawling around your living room…
That’s the way it goes in health and wellness too. There’s no one size fits all approach!
Splitting Hairs on Fiber
We’ve been on the topic of prebiotics and as with most things, taking the right type and varying the types of fiber you get is extremely important.
In a previous article, you found out about a cheap and effective way to improve your gut health, through the use of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber for the most part is well tolerated and can be used by the vast majority of people.
In this article, it’s a different story. We’ll take a look at non-starch polysaccharides are a large category of prebiotics that include larch arabinogalactans, beta-glucans, fructooligosaccharides, and galactooligosaccharides.
In much the same way that our coffee table didn’t turn out so well, these prebiotics are not right for everybody. They are FODMAPs and can cause some serious issues for people with SIBO and other gut issues, causing gas, bloating, cramping and GI distress.
If you’ve tested negative for gut pathologies or have been successfully treated, adding non-starch polysaccharides to your fiber regimen can provide excellent benefits for your gut health, here are some that I recommend you try:
Fiber to Get Your Immune System on Track
This first type of non-starch polysaccharide is known as larch arabinogalactan and it has been shown to increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. As mentioned previously, short-chain fatty acids provide a host of benefits for the entire body.
Larch arabinogalactan is especially effective at producing butyrate and propionate, short-chain fatty acids that decrease the production and absorption of ammonia. Ammonia can be elevated in gut dysbiosis, Autism, and mitochondrial disorders.
Also, larch arabinogalactan helps regulate the immune system. It can stimulate natural killer cell ability and decrease metastasis of tumor cells in the liver. This has been shown to be the case even in those that have decreased immune function such as those undergoing chemotherapy, chronically ill patients, etc.
Put a Stop to Metabolic Disorders
Beta-glucans can be found in various food sources including oats, barley grains, and certain types of mushrooms.
One of the primary benefits of beta-glucans over other prebiotics is its ability to reduce insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension and obesity. With the rise of metabolic disorders in industrialized nations, the use of beta-glucan to industrialized diets could be extremely useful.
Similar to larch arabinogalactan, beta-glucan is metabolized into short-chain fatty acids by bacteria in the large intestine.
Beta-glucan also provides an immunoregulatory effect. Some bet-glucans stimulate the immune system directly and others regulate the immune system as it passes through the gut.
A Calculated Risk
Also known as inulin and oligofructose, fructooligosaccharie (FOS) is found in wheat, onions, bananas, garlic and chicory. It is often added to food as functional fiber.
FOS is not digested in the upper GI tract and is therefore, strictly substrate for the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, especially Bifidobacterium species.
The benefits of FOS do not end there. FOS is a bulk-forming fiber that increases stool weight, frequency, and decreases stool pH. Furthermore, FOS can provide benefit to those with high triglycerides and cholesterol.
These benefits do not come without consequence, as FOS is the most likely of the non-starch polysaccharides to produce gut symptoms.
The Fiber That Does It All
If you’re sensitive to FODMAPs, this is probably where you should start paying attention. Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) are not technically FODMAPs and are therefore the most well-tolerated of the non-starch polysaccharides.
GOS are composed of oligoglactose with lactose or glucose. These compounds are found in human breast milk and may be one of the many factors that protect infants from bacterial infections in the gut.
There is a host of benefits associated with GOS, including:
- Protecting against enteric infections
- Increasing mineral absorption
- Regulating the immune system
- Preventing allergies and inflammatory gut conditions
- Increasing production of short-chain fatty acids
- Adding bulk to the stool
- Protecting against toxins that may promote colon cancer
Although GOS has a wide range of benefits, there are specific uses for each of these prebiotics. Below is a summary of their uses and tolerability.
While non-starch polysaccharides may not be suitable for everybody, for those that can tolerate them, it is one of the best ways to increase the amount of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species in the gut.
If you do not have SIBO or other gut dysbiosis, you can start by adding small amounts of these non-starch polysaccharides into your supplement regimen. Products I recommend are BiotaGen and Galactomune from Klaire Labs.
With any prebiotic, you can expect to experience some form of gas and bloating, but if it is severe, decrease your dose for a week, then try increasing again to get to the recommended dosage.
In the next article, we’ll look at the last group of supplemental prebiotics, resistant starch.
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