You are committed to your health. You cleaned out your pantry and restocked it with all that is gluten-free. You bought new pans, new spoons, new cutting boards, and you are excited to try all the recipes in that new gluten-free cookbook. You have 4 different types of gluten-free flour. You are prepared.
Once you dive into the gluten-free world it takes some getting used to, and you have to taste test your way through different loaves of bread and pizza doughs, but you make the most of the experience. Your health begins to improve and it feeds your motivation. As you settle into your routine, you may accidentally get glutened at a restaurant, or give in to a slice of birthday cake, because your coworkers remembered it was your birthday, but forgot you can’t eat gluten. Thanks, Suzie! But, after months (and years), you begin to know your gut. Your gut and you have a special kind of relationship because when something is off, your gut will let you know it.
So obviously, you want your gut to be healthy (healthy gut means happy you), and although you cut out wheat, inc., your body may need to recover from past gluten trauma.
Prebiotic to the Rescue
Here’s the thing, if you do not need to be gluten-free, you shouldn’t be. Not only are the most delicious things in the world made with gluten, but wheat and barley are packed with polysaccharides - a source of prebiotic fiber. Not probiotic, PREbiotic- fiber and starches that cannot be digested by the body. These polysaccharides grow good gut bacteria and slow the growth of bad bacteria, balancing your gut!
Being a GFer means craving all the bread-y foods we used to eat. As a result, we rely on processed certified gluten-free foods to satisfy the craving for what would usually be made with polysaccharide packed wheat or barley. Many of these processed foods are made with rice, almond, potato, or some combination of alternative flours. With the exception of coconut flour, these flours do not compare to the prebiotic qualities of wheat.
Those who do not eat wheat and make processed GF foods a staple of their diet, may not get enough prebiotics, and actually, have a gut microbiota that compares to a garden overgrown with weeds.
Solution: A balanced diet with prebiotic fiber. Research suggests making up for missing prebiotic fiber in a gluten-free diet helps maintain healthy levels of gut bacteria!
Types of Prebiotics
So, where can you find prebiotics?
Oligosaccharides including inulin, galactooligosaccharides, and fructooligosaccharides are all giant, unpronounceable words that mean “sugars your body doesn’t digest.”
They are considered prebiotic fiber, which can’t be absorbed in the small intestine. So, it begins to ferment in your digestive system. Once it reaches the large intestine, it feeds the good bacteria, and helps restore a harmonious microbiota (Think - Home and Garden picture garden)!
Inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are both found in fruits and vegetables. Fructo-oligosaccharides are also found as a dietary supplement.
Foods high in FOS
Bananas, esp. Green Bananas (Plantains)
Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) occur naturally and are also available as a dietary supplement.
Foods high in GOS
Human breast milk
Although studies support the benefits of prebiotics for those with Celiac Disease or those on a gluten-free diet, you should always talk to your doctor before implementing dietary changes.
Health is first wealth. Be rich in life by taking care of yourself.