AUTHOR: Dr. Jason Bush
Looking for a healthy gut, free from constipation and diarrhea, along with reduced inflammation and a sustained energy boost throughout your day? There’s a term for that – it’s called the Bifidogenic Effect. And it’s something we should all enjoy. But how do we make it work for us?
First, remember that the Bifidogenic Effect comes from an increase in the abundance of Bifidobacteria, healthy bacteria living in our gut. The benefits of having Bifidobacteria include reduced constipation, diarrhea prevention, regular bowel movements, reduced gut inflammation, and increased production of energy in the form of short chain fatty acids. Also, remember that while introducing particular strains of Bifidobacteria may be a good idea, the Bifidogenic Effect is a team effort, requiring that your gut microbiome be made up of a diverse number of different Bifidobacteria species.
So how do you increase the number of Bifidobacteria in your gut to make sure that you’re benefiting from the Bifidogenic Effect? Research by Dr. Jens Walter at the University of Alberta suggests that whether or not a probiotic strain of Bifidobacteria becomes a functional member of the gut microbiome depends on three factors:
- Is the probiotic strain of Bifidobacteria already in the gut ecosystem?
- Are there other bacteria in the gut ecosystem that function similarly to the strain in the probiotic?
- Does the diet contain enough resources to support these strains of probiotic Bifidobacteria?
Questions 1 and 2 relate to how diverse and competitive the gut ecosystem is, but the third question related directly our diet. We could simply rephrase this question as: Are you getting enough prebiotics in your diet?
Prebiotics are the parts of our diet that resist digestion as they pass through the stomach and small intestine, and are fermented by healthy bacteria in the colon. Now imagine a diet without prebiotics – what happens to the gut microbiome when it is starved? Like in any ecosystem, a lack of resources leads to fewer organisms, and the ability of those organisms to perform key functions in the ecosystem becomes compromised. In your gut, beneficial microbes rely on prebiotics as food, so cutting out prebiotics kills off the helpful bacteria and limits the benefits you obtain from them.
Most of us get some prebiotics from the fiber contained in plant-based foods. The benefits of a diet rich in fiber are well-known but getting the recommended bare minimum 25 g of fiber each day from foods alone is often challenging. Dietary fiber supplements that double as prebiotics can help you fill the fiber gap and fuel the Bifidogenic Effect at the same time.
When you can’t get enough through food alone, supplementing your diet with prebiotics is a simple and convenient way to help maximize gut health and add a sustained boost of energy. Plus, feeding prebiotics to the Bifidobacteria in your gut will help you get all the other benefits associated with the Bifidogenic Effect.