Food & Nutrition Blog

Prebiotics 101

Apr 04
facts about resistant starch

These days, most of us know that maintaining your gut health is key to maintaining overall good health. Whilst you may be very familiar with probiotics – with copious amounts of supplements, powders, tablets and drinks available on the market. Today we look at the flip side of the coin – prebiotics.

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are the non-digestible fibre elements of food, that serve as a source of food for the good bacteria in the gut to grow and thrive. However, not all types of fibre are prebiotic. In fact, there are two main types of fibre – soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre dissolves in liquid and forms a gel within the digestion tract; and can help to bind cholesterol together and remove it from the body. Insoluble fibre creates bulk within the digestive system, helping you feel fuller for longer and supporting good bowel health. For fibre to be considered a prebiotic, it must pass through the upper digestive system intact and be metabolizable by the colonic microbiome.

It is generally thought that the colonic bacteria are unable to metabolise insoluble fibre because it is insoluble. On the other hand, the prebiotic effect that is provided by soluble fibre has a number of benefits when it comes to bowel health. The soluble fibre acts as a food source for probiotics, the good bacteria in the gut that make up the internal ecosystem known as the gut microbiome. Each individual has a unique gut microbiome that contains approximately 100 trillion microorganisms and changes with age, diet, exercise and antibiotic usage (amongst other factors).

Beyond Resistant Starch

Where can I find prebiotics?

There are many different food sources that are rich in prebiotics. Vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks and asparagus all pack a prebiotic punch. Likewise, fruits – particularly apples and green bananas are fantastic for meeting your prebiotic quota. Interestingly, you can also find a specific type of prebiotic – known as resistant starch – in pasta, rice and potatoes that have been cooked, and most importantly, eaten when they have cooled.

Perhaps you’d like to start your day with breakfast that gives your gut the boost that it needs to have you powering through the day. In that case, why not consider BARLEYmax®™? BARLEYmax®™ wholegrain is particularly high in resistant starch. When you’re consuming BARLEYmax®™, you’re feeding your body the benefits outlined above – with one exceptional extra benefit. When the good bacteria in the gut feed on resistant starch, they produce a by-product known as butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has a protective effect on the cells of the gut and impressively, can help to prevent colon cancer. Here’s the real winner though – BARLEYmax®™ contains four times the resistant starch of most other grains. There’s really no better way to show your gut some love than by including BARLEYmax®™, and other prebiotic rich foods in your diet.


Intended as general advice only. Please consult your Health Care Provider to discuss any specific concerns.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • […] Prebiotics are the non-digestible fibre components of foods that stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gut. But – not all fibre is considered a prebiotic fibre. For a fibre to be classified as being a prebiotic, it must pass through the stomach and the small intestine undigested and reach the large intestine, where it stimulates the growth of good bacteria. These good bacteria are known as probiotics when they are consumed in drinks like Yakult – more on that later. […]

  • […] increase in healthy bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacillus. Or it is possible that the prebiotics may act directly on the immune system. The gut contains the largest pool of immune cells in the […]

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