What is prebiotic fiber?

Stephen H. Atkins, PhD
Integrative Medicine

Inulin is another soluble fiber that is not digested in the upper GI tract. Low in calories, inulin stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria, and does not lead to a rise in serum glucose or stimulate insulin secretion. Inulin has been used to improve the taste of low fat foods. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are one of the most common examples of inulin. FOS has a sweet, pleasant flavor and can be used to fortify foods with fiber, to improve the flavor of low calorie foods, while improving the texture of lower fat foods. Because these fibers stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, they are also called prebiotics. Besides FOS, good sources of inulin include: artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions, chicory, tofu, and other soy products, and grains such as barley, flax, oat, and wheat.

This wonder-fiber found in bananas, also known as resistant starch, selectively feeds the protective bacteria in your gut. In addition to guarding the intestinal tract against harmful pathogens, these “good” bacteria are thought to help stimulate immune-cell production.

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