Have You Had Your Prebiotics Today?

Prebiotics and resistant starch may be the missing link to your digestive health. Indigestible fibers that allow healthy bowel flora to proliferate and thrive are often called prebiotics. They are also known as resistant starches, because they are resistant to human digestion. I recently had a client call the addition of resistance starch to her diet, “the missing link my body needed”.

A starch that resists digestion and reaches the large intestine becomes food for the healthy bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria can break down and “feed on” the resistant starch thus providing the friendly bacteria with the fuel they need to survive.

Imbalance of the quantity and type of bacteria species present in the gut contributes to gastrointestinal illness, blood sugar imbalance, obesity, mood disorders, and immune system challenges.

Green unripe bananas and plantains are one of best sources for prebiotic fiber content with 27 to 30 grams of fiber in one medium banana. Green bananas are essentially inedible. They are most easily incorporated into diet by blending into a smoothie.

One mistake frequently made incorporating prebiotic fibers from bananas is consuming bananas that are too ripe. Once the banana ripens the resistant starch is degraded and become a digestible starch. Thus, no longer a good prebiotic fiber source. In fact, the riper the banana becomes the higher the glycemic (blood sugar) response.

It can be difficult to find bananas that are very green. I made several trips to my local grocery store to find these bowel flora champions. I find it helpful to ask the produce clerk to take a look at the shipment that just arrived, noting the day the shipment arrives, for the best chance to gobble up these green beauties.

In an effort to keep green bananas green I tried a few strategies. One that sounded promising was wrapping the end of the banana to prevent the ethylene gas, which ripens the fruit, from dissipating. You can see from the image this clearly did not work. After a mere two days the green bananas were no longer green. What I found works best is placing the green bananas in the fridge. This halts the ripening process. The skin of the banana will turn brown, which is normal, but the fruit inside is still good. I’ve kept bananas in my fridge for up to 8 days and they hold up well other than the brownish black discoloring that develops on the skin. The banana will be firm and require a knife to cut the skin off the banana.

If you’d like to learn more about prebiotics and strategies to support resolution of common gastrointestinal complaints read the recently release Cureality Guide to Healthy Bowel Flora by Dr. Davis. This guide is one of the many valuable resources available exclusively to Cureality.com members.
---Lisa Grudzielanek, MS, RDN,CD,CDE
Cureality Nutrition Specialist