Feeding your Microbiota Fibre, Prebiotics, and Probiotics

Sandra Saville, RD

Written by: Sandra Saville, RD

Updated: November 3rd, 2022

This presentation by Sandra Saville, RD was done at CDHF’s #TrendingNow: Putting the Biggest Gut Health Trends under the Microscope event that took place virtually from November 2021-January 2022.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Understand the differences between fibre, prebiotics and probiotics
  2. Describe the benefits of fibre, prebiotics and probiotics for the gut microbiota
  3. Learn key strategies to optimize intake of fibre, prebiotics and probiotics

The microbiota refers to the community of micro-organisms themselves, and the microbiome is the collective genome of the micro-organisms in a particular environment.  Did you know your gut contains about 100 trillion micro-organisms?  They are there for a reason.  

The functions of the gut microbiota.  What do they do?  First, they support health and they do that by protecting against pathogens, the bad guys.  They also train the immune system, degrade toxins and help to protect the lining of our gastrointestinal tract. 

The gut microbiota are also involved in nutrition and digestion, so as we consume a meal, we absorb the nutrients as the food travels through our digestive tract.  However, some of the compounds within our food, we do not digest.  So, as it travels down the colon, that then becomes the food for our gut microbiota. 

But not all of that becomes food because the gut microbiota, they’re very picky, and selective. 

So, they select specific fibres and prebiotics to ferment. They’re also involved in a cascade of benefits because they produce some by-products, which are called short chain fatty acids.  Those short chain fatty acids, in turn, provide some immense health benefits for us.

But we also see gut microbiota involved in mineral absorption, including calcium, magnesium and iron, involvement in the synthesis of vitamin K and folate. 

The gut microbiota are also involved in our behaviour and mood because there is a gut-brain connection. So, anxiety, stress, depression, are being studied by researchers. 

Gut microbiota are involved in communication with the organs in the body.  Besides the gut brain access, there is also a gut systemic access. The gut is connected to the skin, heart, bones, kidneys, pancreas, lung and liver.  On this slide, you see the impacts that dysbiosis can have; the effects on the organs, contributing to health conditions and diseases.  Dysbiosis is that impact or imbalance of the bad to the good bacteria and the negative impacts that dysbiosis has been shown to have, based on research, includes that of heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and much more. It’s important to keep the gut microbiota healthy as we look to keep the entire body healthy.  So, we need to feed the microbiota well with fibre, prebiotics and probiotics. Learn all about hwo to do this by watching the presentation. 

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