Friday, January 9, 2015

In Search of the Perfect Fiber (Part 5...the future!)

OK.  I think I'm about ready to wrap this up.  It's pretty obvious by now that there is no "perfect fiber."  They are all pretty good!  The problem always is going to be in determining what we each need on a day-to-day basis to keep our gut microbiome well-fed.  Will real food ever be enough?  Do we need to take a supplement?

Updated 1/9/2015:

[I think for me, the most compelling bit of evidence for 25-50g per day of fermentable, prebiotic fiber  is the fact that human breast milk contains 15-25g of HMOs (fermentable, prebiotic fiber) per 700 calories.  Recognizing that a baby's immune system is weak, they obviously maybe need more immune stimulating fibers than an adult.  But relatively speaking, it's clear to me that recommending adults get more than 25g per day is a no-brainer. 

A baby, from birth until he, or she, is weaned, ingests about 15-25g of fermentable fibers per day.  Recommending an adult get at least that much, via resistant starches, inulin, and a whole host of other fibers makes perfect sense to me.]


Most recent fiber studies:

Literally hot off the press are these two papers:

Fiber consumption and all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortalities: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies (Liu, 2015)

A database was developed based on 25 eligible studies and 42 cohorts, including 1,752,848 individuals with an average 12.4 years of follow-up. The range of follow-up period was from 1 to 40 years.

And the result?

The present study showed that high dietary fiber intake is associated with low all-cause mortality and CVD, cancer, IHD mortality. The mortality rate was lower by 17% for CVD, 11% for all-cause mortality, 9% for cancer, 20% for CHD mortal- ity, and 34% for IHD mortality for each 10 g/day increment of total fiber. We believe that the results presented represent most of the information available on dietary fiber and mortality.

This paper is good in that it just looks at "fiber" and doesn't get too anal about the type of fiber.  The author feels that after looking at the fiber intakes of almost 2 million people and following them for up to 40 years, she can comfortably say that for each 10g of fiber you eat, you ward off serious disease by an average of 11%.  So our 20-50g/day is starting to look pretty smart!

This second paper, Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers (Schmidt, Dec 2014), looks at the levels of stress markers (cortisol, etc..) after consuming FOS or GOS.  In terms of mental well-being, they compared GOS to a healthy person taking prescription drugs!

Participants receiving B-GOS supplements showed increased attentional vigilance to positive versus negative stimuli on the dot-probe task. Our effects are similar to those seen following administration of pharmacological agents such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram [antidepressant 'Celexa']or the benzodiazepine diazepam ['Valium'] in healthy individuals. These effects have been interpreted as showing an early anxiolytic-like profile, where threatening stimuli are less likely to be attended to.

In other words, GOS mellows you the hell out! Or is it just gut bugs doing what they do when well-fed?

These study participants took only 5.5g of supplemental FOS or GOS at breakfast for 3 weeks.  The study found GOS (as Bimuno) to be more effective in stress reduction than FOS.  This could be a dose/adaptation issue, but compelling nonetheless.

Towards a better definition of prebiotics

In 2008, the original definition of "prebiotic" was tweaked a bit by the ISAPP to reflect current understanding:

Dietary prebiotic is a selectively fermented ingredient that results in specific changes, in the composition and/or activity of the gastrointestinal microbiota, thus conferring benefit(s) upon host health.  

Much more is known now than in 1994 when Roberfroid was looking at inulin and bifidobacteria.

This picture illustrates some of the beneficial actions of prebiotics:

Cite for Pic

And this chart:

Cite for chart

Where to from here?

It seems that the focus of "fibers" shifted to "prebiotics" in the '90's when it was realized that humans had very animal-like guts.  Many rebelled!  Konstantin Monastryrky wrote his Fiber Menace in 2008 and many leaders in the diet world stayed stuck in the '70's with their advice on fiber..."Roughage!  Bah!"

Into our bowel-regularity-worshipping society there has come a substance that ensures regularity. It’s called fiber. It is sold everywhere in diverse forms. All manner of ‘experts’ from our doctors to our grandparents encourage us to consume plenty of fiber... And, despite numerous studies showing that fiber doesn’t really do squat for us healthwise, everyone continues to recommend it. (Dr. Michael Eades, 2006)

In the 2010's, it seems everyone is talking about gut health and the true value of our hind-gut is finally coming to light.  The focus will probably shift once again when people realize that in order to have 'good guts' when need to feed our gut bugs.

Lots of books and blogs are dedicated to gut health, but it is rare they discuss prebiotics beyond "fiber."  Many recognize the importance of of microbial populations, but focus almost completely on probiotics and fermented foods.

Doctors often recommend fiber to bowel disease patients. While not wholly without merit, this advice usually backfires.
There are three problems: helping bacteria feed and multiply may be undesirable; fiber, such as the brans of cereal grains, often contains toxic proteins; and, finally, whole grain fibers and other “roughage” scrape and injure the intestinal wall. (Dr. Paul Jaminet, 2010)

Unfortunately it seems that most new research into prebiotic fibers is all focused on the food industry.  Manufacturers of processed food are always looking for ingredients that are cheaper and add some type of perceived benefit to the consumer.  Does adding 1g of Partially Hydrogenated Guar Gum to low fat, pasteurized chocolate milk make it any healthier?

The National Fiber Council

There is no end to fiber supplements on store shelves, showing quite clearly that people are buying fiber. The National Fiber Council (yes, a real thing!), established in 2004, has a mission, " serve as a primary resource for credible information about the benefits of dietary fiber for consumers and health care professionals." The NFC recommends healthy adults should get 32g of fiber per day.

Reading through the NFC website is a bit painful. Some of their soundbites on fiber are correct, but they've 'dumbed' it down considerably. The wheat in their logo is questionable. Their entire website just seems to be an infomercial for buying fiber supplements. Their recommendation for 32g of fiber is quickly shown to be unattainable in the US diet. They include a scientific looking study paper that concludes:

Because of the undesirably low levels of dietary fiber intake in the US population, partnerships between fiber supplement manufacturers, food producers, and health authorities may be required to educate consumers about the health benefits of dietary fiber intakes from a variety of supplements and foods.

Unfortunately this astute conclusion is clouded a bit by the "Acknowledgement" section:

Funding. Preparation of this manuscript was funded, in part,by the National Fiber Council,which is supported by Procter & Gamble and by the High Carbohydrate, Fiber (HCF) Nutrition Research Foundation. Declaration of interest. JW Anderson serves as Chairman of the National Fiber Council (funded by Procter & Gamble),as a member of the Scientific Advisory Council, Breakfast Research Institute (funded by Quaker- Tropicana-Gatorade), and the International Scientific Advisory Board (funded by Sanitarium). He is a consultant to Cantox, Cargill, DSM Nutritional Products, Exponent, Kao, Soy Research Institute, and Unilever.

To further make things difficult, the Food and Drug Administration closely guards products from making claims about the healthful properties of fiber.

For instance, if a company wants to discuss soluble fiber's effects on coronary disease, they are only allowed to discuss it in terms of oat beta-glucans and psyllium and include these additional requirements:

The product must be:
  • Low saturated fat
  • Low cholesterol
  • Low fat, and
  • The food product must include one or more of the following whole oat or barley foods: Oat bran, rolled oats, whole oat flour, whole grain barely, or "Oatrim" or Psyllium husk.

It does not appear that the FDA even recognizes the term "prebiotic" and a quick look at their labeling approval process makes it look unlikely that there will be any legally recognized prebiotics on the market soon.

To further complicate things, researchers are now recognizing we have limitations in understanding the complex interactions between gut microbes and human physiology.  A 2013 paper, The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism, shows:

Although much is known about the biochemistry of the conversion of carbohydrates into SCFAs by the bacteria composing the microbial community, there is a paucity of data on the production rates of SCFAs by the gut microbial community as a whole. This is largely due to the inability to sample the large intestine of man. Therefore, and as discussed in the previous section, the supply rate of SCFAs to the host remains enigmatic. There is a pressing need for measurement of true production rates of SCFAs, and the degree by which specific carbohydrates and microbiota influence the mass and composition of SCFAs.

In the '70's, researchers were pleading for more studies to determine if bacteria were an important aspect of the fiber puzzle.  In 2013, researchers are a bit more focused on what we need to know (from the same link as above):

A number of questions need to be addressed:
1) What are the in vivo SCFA production and uptake fluxes under different conditions (i.e., with different fibers, with different microbiota, or in different disease models)?
2) How do these SCFAs then affect glucose and lipid fluxes via their dual role as substrates and regulators?  
3) Can we quantify the role of different tissues and hormones?  
4) Does the demand of the host for specific SCFAs drive a change in microbial metabolism?  
5) At which timescales are different, apparently contradictory effects working?

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP)

The ISAPP seems like a much more reputable organization that the National Fiber Council. Scrolling through their website, you'll see they have many corporate sponsors, but that's probably unavoidable.  The ISAPP seems more geared towards probiotics, but they have also been looking at prebiotics and fiber.  They are quite behind the times in their recommendations for prebiotics, as stated in their "Consumer Guideline" pamphlet:

Which prebiotics are in the marketplace? As the main reason for using a prebiotic is to provide benefits through gut bacteria, the most tested prebiotics are directed towards bifidobacteria and (to a lesser extent) lactobacilli. Future prebiotics may promote other beneficial gut organisms (for example, eubacteria, propionibacteria , faecalibacteria or roseburia). The most widely accepted prebiotics are FOS and GOS. To confirm prebiotic effects, well conducted human trials are required. Consumers should look for the labels FOS, inulin (a type of FOS ), GOS or TOS (trans GOS). There is a growing list of further prebiotics such as polydextrose, soybean oligosaccharides, isomalto - oligosaccharides, gluco - oligosaccharides, xylo - oligosaccharides. palatinose, gentio - oligosaccharides, some starch derivatives and sugar alcohols (such as lactitol, sorbitol and maltitol). However, the evidence for these, especially in humans, is not as well advanced as it currently is for FOS and GOS.

As one researcher said of dietary fiber, it also seems that defining a "perfect fiber" is hopeless.  We can, however, use the available science and safely experiment with increasing the amounts of fiber in our diet to meaningful levels and use supplements to obtain the desired level of prebiotic fibers in our diet.

Even the ISAPP recognizes that getting all of your prebiotic fiber from real foods is difficult:

What foods can I find them in? Some dietary prebiotics occur naturally in foods such as leek, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, arti choke, onion, wheat , banana and oat, as well as soybean. However, it would take a large quantity of these foods for their active oligosaccharides to exert a useful prebiotic effect. A more realistic method involves fortifying popular foodstuffs with defined amounts of prebiotics. Thus, you will find that dietary prebiotic compounds are now added to many foods including yogurts, cereals, breads, biscuits, milk desserts, nutritional supplement bars, ice - creams, spreads, drinks, water, infant formula, as well as to some animal foods. They are also available as powdered, gum or liquid supplements.

The ISAPP doesn't trust us to seek out our own prebiotics, they feel we will only get them if they 'sneak them in' by adding prebiotics to snack foods!

Responders vs. Nonresponders

If you've read any of the papers from the '70', '80's, and '90's.  You may have noticed that all of the early researchers were baffled when some human test subjects responded differently than others to the same type and dose of fiber.  We now know that this has to do with the resident gut bacteria possessed by the test subjects.  A 2010 paper, Responders and non-responders to probiotic interventions How can we improve the odds?, also talks about resonders and non-responders to prebiotics.  The authors recommended that future studies on probiotics and prebiotics should focus on:

  1. Clearly define the end goal: this could be supporting a health claim or having the highest clinical effect and impact.
  2. Design the study to maximize the chance of a positive response by identifying precise parameters and defining the level of response that will be tested.
  3. Base the selection of the intervention on scientific investigations: which strain(s) and/or product formulation should be used and why.
  4. Carefully select the study cohort: use biological or genetic markers when available to stratify the patient population before enrollment and decide at what point intervention will provide the best outcome (for example, in acute phase of disease, or during remission, with or without use of pharmaceutical agents).
And, indeed, in real life we see responders and non-responders to every prebiotic/probiotic intervention imagineable.  The lesson from all this is that we should recognize ourselves as individuals with a unique set of microbes that makes us who we are.  Starving our gut flora will guarantee a more "hostile regime" of microbiota in our intestines making life more difficult for some.

Other factors

If you are desperately trying to find the right combination of prebiotics (or probiotics), keep in mind that the odds may be stacked against you.  Your genetics, for instance, your ability to secrete fucose in your gut as a food source for certain micobes, can have a huge impact on your gut flora.  Physical deformities that alter your rates of peristalsis, the movement of food through your GI tract, also impact gut flora.

Your personal history plays a role.  Antibiotic use, exposure to toxins, sickness and disease.  Also lifestyle factors...sleep, stress, and exercise impact your gut flora and how you may respond to interventions of prebiotics.


I'm afraid that for the time being we are on our own.  You can expect more in-fighting between camps as we try to attract attention to our favorite microbes or favorite fibers.

The "perfect fiber" is the one(s) that you can comfortably add to your diet and gives you the positive results you seek.


  1. Tim, I think this blog is eating my comments. If my previous two comments show up, then please delete this comment.

  2. Tim, you have made a valiant effort to decipher the mountains of information and present it in a usable form- you certainly are worthy of all of our respect!

  3. Yes, we are on our own, but blogs like this which compile very useful information, and readers share their experiences are extremely helpful.

    So far I am cautiously optimistic about my own high dose mixed supplemental fiber experiment. Yesterday, I had 80+ gms of supplemental fiber and the real food I ate included oatmeal, bunch of mushrooms, about 3 cups of chana dal beans, and dandelion greens with several cloves of garlic. I woke up this morning feeling great.

    Positives: sleep is great. I didn't think my sleep could get any better but I was wrong. Mood--my husband keeps commenting on how cheerful I am. Headaches--this is what I am hoping to improve, and I have only had minor and transient headaches since I ramped up the fiber dose.

    Negatives: Gas, of course and the discomfort it can bring. When I first upped my dose from the 20-30 grams I had been doing for months I had smelly gas. That only lasted about a day and a half. Starting two evenings ago inspired by elliebelly, I added psyllium to the mix. It may be coincidental, but gas has reduced considerably. Sinuses--I usually have some swelling in my sinuses, particularly my ears, and this is more pronounced since I started this. Not really uncomfortable though, so I'm going to drive on. Achy feelings--the first day that I increased the dose I had all over achy feelings for a few hours in the afternoon. Feels like the flu is coming on. I've had that before when I first started playing around with PS. It never lasts for long.

    So that's my experience so far. 100 gms supplemental is my goal, mixing up the various fibers I'm using.

    1. Are other people having this sinus-swelling aspect? I've noticed that whenever I add something new, I get sinus pressure, drippy nose for a day or two, and then it tails off. I've been assuming every new change in gut bugs causes a histamine flare for me...because my body will dump histamine at the slightest sign of stress :P But that's probably not a common problem for it?

      Other thoughts as to mechanism?

    2. FWIW. When I really started increasing the doses, I too had feelings like I was getting a mild flu that would last for a few hours. Perhaps from prior reputation, my wife thought I was just being a baby. At the time, I thought there could be no relation.

      The ear thing is interesting. I've always had issues with my ears, so having issues with my ears is normal. But the issues do indeed seem to be more pronounced. It's bugged me a little because I've gotten rid of all allergy issues, and I would have thought this was allergy related. It doesn't hurt, not really uncomfortable, just there.

      Anybody else have their tonsils removed?

    3. Mine are out :) Your thoughts on that?

      (they took mine out because of chronic infections that, in retrospect, were entirely caused by dairy ingestion. I had ear and throat infections chronically in childhood because of dairy. For which I got rounds of abx, of course. Round and round we go :P)

    4. Yes, interesting about the ear pressure. I always thought it was part and parcel of my headache/migraine issue. But my chronic headache is has taken a leave of absence (yeah!) but sinus pressure is unabated. Possibly they have no connection whatsoever. Terra, I have always pondered the histamine issue, since too many high histamine foods always spelled trouble for my head. How it all fits together I have no idea. Wilbur, it is interesting that all your allergic symptoms went away except for this. That does suggest something else may be at play. Or maybe we all have an overly sensitive sinus response, LOL. I did have my tonsils out when I was 5, but the ear stuff came up much later.

    5. Well, it's bugged me a little. Tonsils are part of the immune system, fist one of defense in the throat against infection. The throat is connected to the ears. We have our first lines removed. I wonder what the second line is? Particularly now that we have these shiny new, perfectly working immune systems!

    6. Strangely, histamine-containing foods don't bother me :P My body asserts its supremacy in histamine over-production! It don't need no stinkin' exogenous histamine :D

      Considering the epithelial lining of gut, throat & nose is continuous, inflammation in one area can easily become inflammation in another.

    7. Wilbur - yes! What takes over? The tonsils are primarily active in childhood, not so much in adults, who presumably have more robust immune systems.

      BUT once you start healing the immune system, it kind of makes sense that it would over react to everything for a while. We see that in food intolerance diets a lot. Remove a food that's been a constant assault on the body, and the immune system rebounds a bit....and the next insult that comes along, it goes on the warpath. soo....what is the 2nd line of defense that is now going to flip out and attack anything in the ears/nose/throat area?

    8. '"My body asserts its supremacy in histamine over-production! It don't need no stinkin' exogenous histamine" Ha, ha, love your way with words!

    9. I think my immune system is past all of that. It was a month, maybe a little more, about this time last year. my immune system runs so smoothly now. I know almost nothing about this, but I'm wondering if lymph nodes in our neck are perhaps working harder in place of our tonsils, and this is somehow affecting our ears?

    10. I like that hypothesis. Or perhaps lacking tonsils, our garbage disposal system is just a little clogged up.

    11. I have had trouble with my ears most of my life. The doctors could never find anything wrong with them though they do prescribe steroid oil which settles them down. I have noticed that my ears are more sensitive than my eyes. I get anterior uveitis related to my ankylosing spondylitis - though come to think of it this hasn't flared in the last nine months which I would normally expect it to do. I had noticed that my ears would be particularly bad before my eyes flared up and about March last year I realised I could use them as an early warning system to prevent an eye flare (important because they cause a reduction in eye sight). Since then I've had no eye flare and my use of ear drops has reduced somewhat.

    12. Kate,
      How long did it take you to increase the dose from 20 -30g to 80g? Sounds great. And about the psyllium gas effect, the message has always been that getting fermentation happening all the way to the distal colon with plenty of non fermentable fiber is very important. So if we're consuming a lot of fermentable fiber, it does seem likely that we have to ramp up the intake of non fermentables commensurately. The thought of some microbiota actually getting a real thrill out of eating the gases that other bugs produce from fermentable fiber - it just makes me so damn proud of my lower intestinal garden in rampant bloom.
      Always liked gardening

    13. Stuart - I think that gardening is my connection with my gut bugs as well. So many parallels to growing a garden and gut microbes.

    14. I've still got my tonsils, But I had my appendix whipped out to save my life when I was 10. Looking back now, I've no doubt that it ruptured because my guts were in such poor shape. If only we'd known then what we are just starting to realize about the importance of getting enough fiber (both fermentable and not)
      I miss my appendix.
      It hasn't been discussed much yet, but one of the reasons children crave sugar so much may be that they have such dysbiotic guts.
      You've got your daughter in on this Dr. Fartbender exercise. Lucky lucky little girl. What's she like with enjoying real food?

    15. She has always enjoyed real food. We take her everywhere we go, and she eats what we eat. No children's menu and early service! She's had crickets, sea urchin, sweetbreads, brains, pigs feet and head, ducks feet, liver, fresh chickpeas and Lima beans, and lots of other stuff considered exotic here. I was proud of her when she became interested in head cheese, and took it upon herself to explain to her classmates what it was.

      I notice a big change since beginning the "fartbending". She is much less interested in simple carbs and more so in more complex carbs. Instead of asking for crackers as a snack, she'll ask for pumpkin seeds or peanuts. She just learned what "cut the cheese means" and this has been a lot of fun (for me and her, not so much for Momma).

    16. Wilbur,
      I think it is marvelous you have fostered such an adventurous spirit toward food choices in your daughter. I think most parents would agree, that is no easy feat.

      I would love to have some of the head cheese with fresh grated horseradish my great aunt used to make. A few years back, I got a recreation of the recipe from my mom's cousin. Haven't tried my hand at it yet. Now that I get my pork from local farmers, I really have no excuse left.

      I started right after Christmas. Having been taking potato starch for over a year, and small amounts of some of the other fibers for the last few months, preliminary adaptations were already in place.

      Re psyllium, it is turning out to be a game changer for me. Funny, I got the stuff back when Tim was doing the series over at Animal Pharm. I was put off by the taste, and never persevered. My fart level is way down, and this after two days of significant bean consumption, which in the past always sent the fart level way up. Better yet, I am approaching the all elusive clean break--something that has hitherto completely eluded me.

    17. Babies are not born with either tonsils or adenoids. These lymphatic tissues overgrow in response to environment. I've noticed that people with good facial and jaw development, wide palates, have a lower risk of developing tonsil or adenoid problems because the breathing is not compromised by narrow nasal passages. However, this is not universal by any means. Children growing up in houses where ventilation is poor or where there is mould do develop tonsils or adenoids. People who live in areas where there is wet ground (near ravines or flood plains.... i.e. past their backyards) tend to have problems with developing enlarged lymphathic tissues and things like nasal polyps.

      Unfortunately when tonsils become chronically enlarged they also develop crypts in which bacterial plaque grows. Please look up 'tonsil stones' on google images. These things stink. Chronically enlarged tonsils cause bad, bad breath.

      Generally lymphatic tissue is present to fight infection. Chronically enlarged fibrotic tonsils with crypts ARE a source of infection.

      The medical profession has swung entirely around since the 1960s when enlarged tonsils were routinely removed to the present day when even my patients whose tonsils enlarge to the point where they end up in the emerge with a pulse oximeter on their finger and I.V. antibiotics: the tonsils are not removed.

      When tonsils enlarge to the point where they are touching one another when the person goes 'ahhh', swallowing food becomes difficult, blood oxygen levels, especially at night, go down too low and sleep is not restorative (plus many awakenings).

      So each case needs to be evaluated as to whether a person is better off without them. If they flare up but go down, fine. If they stay enlarged and interfere with quality of life, the they need to be removed.

      I've even seen a case of both palatal and pharyngeal tonsils: 4 tonsils! The kid was not eating properly and was under-developed. Removal of the tonsils resulted in a great appetite and catch up growth. The ADHD/learning disability was permanent.

      Statistics on surgery for adults indicates no more adverse events than tonsillectomy for children.

  4. For those of you whose comments are being lost, I lost a lot of comments before I set up my name under google. It is the first choice on the list, and if you hit publish before making another choice, your comment will disappear if you haven't established the google account.

  5. Wow! I agree with Newbie. Not only do you deserve our respect, but also our gratitude! When it comes to exploration, Lewis and Clark got nothing on you!

    I like to have a 'road map' to follow and have a hard time connecting all the dots... But it appears that this is different for each of us. Thanks for helping us gather the tools for the trip! Thank you so very much!

  6. @Kate, I'm looking forward to reading about your progress. @Everyone else, thank you so much for your contributions! I'm learning a lot. Let the experiments begin!

    I'm hoping to get up to about 5-6 T. of supplemental mixed fermentable fibers per day without too much trouble (uncomfortable bloating or gas noise/smell).

    Right now, I'm taking about 2 T. in a divided dose. Breakfast and bedtime.

    1. Jin, which fibres are you taking? I take about 5 tbs of supplemental fibres a day, 4tbs of potato starch and 1 tbs of mixed (lupin, mesquite, banana flour, inulin), plus lots of whole foods. By trial and error I find that the PS is necessary for sleep unless I've had a particularly high food fibre intake.

    2. @Harriet

      I am taking Jarrow Inulin & FOS. BRM Potato Starch. Nutrisource PHGG.

      That's my random starting point.

      I tried a little psyllium husk powder yesterday. Amazon will be delivering Wheat Dextrin, XOS, Green Banana Flour, Mung Bean Starch, & Larch AG.

      So far, I plan to keep the fibers in separate containers and just dig in with teaspoons or tablespoons.

      I'm not taking careful notes, so I'm not sure what's linked to the foods I'm eating and when, or what's linked to the fibers I'm taking and when.

      I'm not loving the farting or days when I'm bloated and uncomfortable, so I can see where the general public is unlikely to hop on board.

      I started supplementing fermentable fibers just before the holidays, so definitely new to this.

    3. @Jin I have found that taking the fibers too close to food causes uncomfortable bloat for me. I try to separate about an hour or so. Also, in my case, it is often not the most recent fiber drink that causes the bloat, but the one before it. I don't know if everybody is the same, but with considering as you are ramping up and adding new stuff. The Jarrow is a blend that includes very short chain inulin, which I've read some might be sensitive to. I believe it is made from sucrose. You might try chicory inulin if it is the Jarrow that's giving you bloat.

    4. Thank you, Wilbur. Interesting about the fiber + food timing. Intuitively, I was thinking bedtime would turn out to be the best time (re: less bloat and discomfort), but what if it's about proximity to a meal?

    5. Jin - here's a good 'newbie' idea. If you can do yogurt or kefir, mix just a tiny bit of your desired prebiotics in. No need to go in blazing, start with just a half a tsp or so.

      Then, maybe once a week, try a higher dose, like 2-3tsp, and see how you do.

      The other option is to just go at it full-steam ahead, start right out with 3-4TBS. I think there is value to both methods, for different people.

      I know from personal experience that a daily portion of yogurt with a spoonful of potato starch (or any prebiotic) is very pleasing to the stomach and results in exceptional digestion.

  7. "Doesn't get too anal about the type of fiber". Hahaha

    1. Too much info - details - I think for the general public. Hard to digest ;-) Good info though. Not criticising.

    2. I would have liked to roll this all out over a couple weeks or months, but getting ready for a vacation and then classes starting back up. Now or never! I know it's a lot of words, but I just wanted mainly to write all I know about fiber and prebiotics.

      I hope that people stumble across this and get some use. There is so much confusion about prebiotics and fiber.

      Plenty of room for plain talk in the comments!

      I love seeing you guys all talking to each other and helping each other out. I've never wanted to take on the role of 'guru.' I just had all this stuff rattling around in my head and wanted to share it.

    3. Tim, I think your straight forward attitude, your openness to other possible causes/effects and your (and this is a good thing) child-like enthusiasm about getting more and more puzzle pieces on the table, keeps you from any guru-ness :)

      You work is *greatly* appreciated tho!

  8. I've noticed what gurus have in common...they want your money! I want you to KEEP your money.

    1. *eyes you with a suspicious look* Want us to...keep...our money? Surely there's an ulterior motive there!


    Check this out!

  10. Tim, many, many thanks for sharing your findings.

    Just a few thoughts. I have a granddaughter who has been diagnosed as coeliac with terrible anxiety and depression as well. As long as she stays away from gluten she is largely happy and full of joy. As my own gluten intolerance has sharply reduced I'm always on the look out for something that might actually make a difference. As I read about the GOS helping anxiety I immediately thought of her. First I had to confirm what GOS was - galactooligosaccharides (or something near), and the foods that we could eat - Wikipedia "Galacto-oligosaccharides are produced through the enzymatic conversion of lactose, a component of bovine milk." Now presupposing one has that enzyme, then well cooked rice pudding, refrigerated and reheated to be eaten just before bed might well be useful to us. We have always called rice pudding a comfort food - and now we may have some inkling why that is. I have always stayed away from rice pudding as it had sugar and white rice (spiking blood sugars, I thought) and I ate paleo. (The autocorrect here always wants to turn paleo into pale).

    1. Hi, Harriet! Nice to see you stopping by and sharing. Interesting idea on why milk is so comforting!

      I know what you mean about staying away from good food, 'because it's not Paleo.'

      Did you read DuckDodger's great post on homeostasis and honey, etc.. at FTA? He makes a great point that avoiding natural foods is just plain dumb.

    2. @Tim,

      You have a great talent of turning Scientific words into simple English for all to read and understand. Keep up the good work.

      What next? Well, you could embark on discussing Metabolomics, or Epigenetics, or Nutriepigenetics or the integrity of the intestinal mucosal Barrier or Bacterial Biofilms. That list should occupy most of 2015!!

      I love cooking and “real” food but my thinking reverts to simplifyling things and reducing food sources of fiber to supplements and compounding various mixtures as powders.(The Pharmacist in me). This may be because in my experience, most people I come across in practice would prefer to consume a simplified version of fiber in the form of a supplement rather than change their lifestyle and diet.

      I know you are keen on “real” food sources of fiber and RS, so I suggest you start of with the following project first:

      Effects of different cooking methods on the production of Resistant starch and how to increase it in different foods.

    3. Ugh. Why did I free you from the Spam folder?

      Just kidding! Thanks. Looks like you are able to post now! Can't wait to click these links.

    4. OK. I clicked and scanned all of them! Believe it or not, I think only the first one I had not seen. All the rest I've looked at before. Papers that discuss RS in real foods can be very misleading. When writing about rice, there are several ways RS fractions can be expressed: percentage of weight as eaten, percentage of total starch, dry weight, wet weight, etc... each is quite different. I usually try to standardize all RS contents of food to "as eaten.'

      In that regard, from what I see, you can pretty much say that any starchy food you eat will be about 2-5% RS if eaten hot and 5-10% by weight if cooked and cooled. There are so many confounding variables, even amongst similar foods, as the last link you provided shows with potatoes:

      " More specifically, regardless of potato variety, the baked potatoes had significantly higher resistant starch at 3.6 grams of starch per 100 grams of food (3.6/100g on average) than boiled potatoes (2.4/100g). Also on average, chilled potatoes (whether originally baked or boiled) contained the most resistant starch (4.3/100g ) followed by chilled-and-reheated potatoes (3.5/100g) and potatoes served hot (3.1/100g). "

      The biggest bang for the buck with RS is always going to be with raw foods or raw starches. 1/4 of a raw potato has about 10X the RS as a whole cooked potato and 5X a cooked and cooled.

      Actually, my next anticipated project involves measuring the actual RS values in raw starches from different manufacturers and even amongst batches. As a single RS test costs $500, I'll need to either enlist the help of a lab or do this with crowd-sourced funds, or both. I think the results would be valuable to us, but damaging to the supplement industry. Win-win in my book!

  11. Passing on a comment from Pamela...sorry you are having trouble posting!

    Pamela's Comment:

    I've been reading about gut-related matters and lurking for months (or is it years now?), only posting a few comments at other places long ago. What's causing me to surface here and now is the mention of sinus issues, which is something I've been battling and puzzling about on and off, most recently for at least the last 4 months.

    Initially, potato starch in small doses (a few teaspoons a day) was helpful and had no adverse side effects. When I bumped the amount up to 2 to 4 tablespoons/day, I experienced extreme joint pain, which lasted for about 6 weeks before fading. The other issue, which didn't fade, was monster dreams, either outright nightmares or "bad hair day" dreams that left me feeling as if I had worked physically and emotionally all night. At the same time my eyes were becoming puffy, sometimes disfiguringly so, and my throat was producing great volumes of mucus; the severity varied from day and day but without any discernible pattern. I didn't connect the sinus trouble with the PS until much later, when without conscious intention on my part I drifted away from the PS. Sinuses became clearer and dreaming became less disruptive.

    Some months later I began gradually (0.5 - 1 teaspoon at a time) upping the quantity and variety of fibers I was taking. At some point in that process the eye swelling and throat mucus returned. (It was horrific the morning after I had eaten a large portion of potato/mung bean starch noodles.) And that's where I've been stuck for months now. Xylitol nasal spray helps but doesn't eliminate the problem. I'm not consuming the massive quantities of fiber some of you are. Teaspoons or tablespoons of pysllium, baobab, glucomannan, PHGG, and few others spread throughout the day. But the correlation between fiber intake (especially PS) and stuffy sinuses is pretty clear. FWIW, I still have my tonsils.

    As long as I'm here, let me offer my thanks to Ashwin. I read through your website before resistant starch became a blog topic and have visited again since. Your recommendation of neem has proved very helpful. I've been taking it daily since I read your comment about it at another place (too long? can it be taken indefinitely?). Thanks to that and Oregon Grape (berberine), my gut - small intestine, in particular - has almost completely stopped bloating and cramping. I''ve also been taking "maintenance" doses of triphala, and it, too, may be contributing to the benefits.

    1. Pamela, that sound really frustrating. I don't know. We are just stabbing in the dark. The only thing that is clear is that everyone is unique (including their gut bug cohort) and we all react a differently. For my own part, my "ear" issues preceded any potato starch or fiber by many years. It is pretty much with me all the time, sometimes more, sometimes less. My ears feel plugged up. No mucus. For me potato starch alone (up to around 8 T) never made it worse. Nor did PS with small amounts of other fibers. PS agreed with me from the beginning. Good sleep, calmness. For you, it might be the wrong "fermentable substrate". I tried the xylitol spray once. It soothed my dry nasal passages, but that was it.

    2. Pamela, berberine should not be taken chronically because it has an adverse effect on the Cytochrome 450 detoxification system in the liver. It can make metabolizing other medications difficult.

    3. Thanks for the feedback, Kate. I intend to keep experimenting, rotating in some new fibers, suspending others and altering quantities. Sinus problems and other side effects notwithstanding, the resistant starch/fiber business has, on balance, been positive. I'm feeling better - and, yes, calmer - than ever, digestion has improved, and these days sleep is quite good.

      Gab, any idea how long berberine can be taken before causing trouble? I've been planning on taking it through the flu season, perhaps another 2 months. Too long?


    4. Pamela,

      I think I have similar experience with RPS. When I take 3-4 tablespoons I often wake up from a nightmare, then fall asleep and have fantastically vivid lucid dreams (when I’m aware that I’m dreaming and can do all sorts of crazy things.) I get up a little bit tired too... I don’t really understand how it works, but it definitely depends on the dose and when you take PS (for me — never before bed).

      My sinusitis is worse only when raw potato/starch is eaten with yogurts or kefir.


    5. BTW when I first tried RPS more than a year ago it often (somehow) migrated to my nose — one of the reasons I preferred raw potatoes.


    6. @Pamela

      Thank you for your comments. I know of people who have taken Neem for long periods of time without a break and believe it is pretty safe, but it may be advisable to give the dosing a break every so often. It is also important to remember that Neem is known to have contraceptive effects and so should be stopped if one is planning a family.It may also interact with other meds so do look up the contrindications. I am fond of TRIPHALA myself and believe one of the ingredients has microbiota modulating properties (inhibits Methanogenesis).

      Re: Excessive production of mucus

      I have a possible explanation (just my thinking). This mucus production may be a good sign and may be looked upon as “collateral” damage. Mucus is produced as a protective layer on the epithelium and in addition to providing a “home” for the Gut microflora in the loose mucus layer, it also provides a physical barrier and prevents translocation or invasion of this microflora into the Bloodstream through the epithelium . Defects in the mucosal barrier are thought to lead to inflammation due to Bacteria and Bacterial products reaching the intestinal epithelium.Mucus is found at all mucosal sites (Ears, Nose, Sinuses, Lungs, Bladder,GI tract,etc) and provides similar protective barrier properties.

      Potato Starch when consumed Raw and Cold is Resistant Starch. Fermentation by Gut microbes of RS in the Cecum and Colon leads to production of large quantities of Short Chain Fatty acids. Among these, Acetic and Butyric acids are known to induce production of mucus in the Colon by up-regulating muc genes which code for the synthesis of mucus (mucin).
      I do not see why this effect should be restricted to the Colon. It is quite possible that increased mucus production occurs at all mucosal sites and may explain your experiences. This may be related to the amount of Butyric and Acetic acid production and indirectly, the amount of Potato Starch consumed.

      The regulation of the intestinal mucin MUC2 expression by short chain fatty acids: implications for epithelial protection.

  12. I changed some settings on the comments section. I want to see if this helps.

  13. I can see I don;t like it already. I'll change it back in a day or so.

  14. @Jin & Tim
    Speaking of "digging in" the containers of fibers, tell me if this Lenny Kravitz's song shouldn't be the anthem of this fiber revolution. Listen carefully to the lyrics haha, coolest song ever.

  15. Ashwin, thank you for addressing my concerns. I read the neem leaf document when you first posted the link elsewhere. It didn't suggest any risks applicable to my situation, so I have continued taking it (capsule form) at the recommended dose of about 2.8g/day. Your suggestion of suspending it from time to time makes sense, and I will probably do so after another month or two and see what happens.

    That's an interesting hypothesis about the mucus production. Given that I am otherwise feeling good (and last night, for only the second time in the past 10 years or so, I slept for 7 straight hours), I'm inclined to think you're right. I'll keep tinkering and tweaking and in the process may hit on a combination that minimizes the mucus side effect . . . although nothing is fixed. It's a moving target, even day to day.

  16. Sorry, I neglected to sign the above comment. It's from Pamela.

  17. @Anon,

    You are very bad! Now there is no escape from thinking of Lenny's song as I dig in my jars of fiber! Lol

    "...Once you dig'll find it coming out the other side...."

  18. Lenny Kravitz says:

    "Once you dig in You'll find it coming Out the other side, And once you dig in You'll find You'll have yourself A good time"


  19. @Kate - curious to know, what does 80gms of fiber look like in tablespoons?
    Just wanting to get a ballpark of what to aim for here.

  20. Gemma,
    Would fermenting thinly sliced raw potato for a couple of days in barley ferment water (bubbling a lot and smelling like it's fermenting) degrade solanine or trypsin and protease inhibitors?
    Would it reduce the RS2 at all?
    Or is it just a complete waste of time?
    I have a raw potato in my fiber smoothie every day. Is it a good idea, or do you think it would be better to have breaks from raw potato? I haven't noticed any adverse effects. Just curious.

  21. @Stuart

    lol, sure fermentation would decrease protease inhibitors content. But watch out, if you ferment long enough you get potato vodka! :-)

    I think it would be much better to take a break sometimes, it is true just for anything. Life is change, change is life, and we do not want to overdose (especially not on trypsin inhibitors). You may find out you do not need it any more.
    (My opinion only, you are on your own, as you know).

  22. @anonymous

    Here is my cocktail recipe for the day before yesterday. Thanks for asking. As I add it up on paper I realize my original mental math underestimated the amount! I had been doing raw potatoes, but need to go shopping so:

    2 well rounded T potato starch 20
    1 T inulin 12
    1 T acacia 12
    2 tsp pysllium 8
    1 tsp gelatanized maca (for taste lol) 1
    1 tsp yacon (unkown fiber amount)
    1 tsp larch 1

    Assuming the yacon has 1 gm and my rounded T of ps bumped me up to 10 gms rs per T this equals 55gms. I had this before breakfast, and repeated before dinner for a total of 110! LOL, guess I'm up to 100 already. However, here is what happened. Yesterday morning I had the same cocktail except bumped the psyllium up to a T. A little later I ate breakfast. I felt absolutely stuffed! Could not eat lunch, and ate a smaller dinner than usual, thinking I would feel like more fiber before I went to bed, but I still felt completely full, so I went to bed without it. I wasn't uncomfortable. No cramping or bloating. Just some gas and a very full feeling. Otherwise I have to say I feel great. No headache whatsoever. Today I am going to scale it down aiming for two cocktails at @40 gms each, and stay there for a while. I still want to be able to eat real food since I'm not looking to lose any weight. Since I am feeling so good, I'm going to add in 1 t of one of the fibers I haven't tried yet as well.

  23. Kate,

    I do need to lose some weight, so this information was very interesting to me. Thank you for sharing it. I am going to up my amount and give it a try.

  24. elliebelly,

    Good luck. I suspect the uber full feeling will dissipate over time as gut bugs get used to their new chow. On the other hand, the sheer volume of all the fiber is undoubtedly an appetite suppressor. Particularly stuff like psyllium, which gels and expands.

  25. @Stuart

    I noticed liver discomfort after a while. I started eating 1-2 raw potatoes a day more than a year ago, before I came across Tim’s posts, FTA, Animal Pharm. It’s marvelous as an intervention, but I do have doubts about longterm consumption. On the other hand I can’t find anything that would be as effective (for me) as raw potatoes and that’s the reason I’m so interested in fiber discussions here, on Grace’s blog, on FTA, IBS forums and so on. Green bananas don’t do the trick... I switched to Chinese salads with nearly raw potatoes and draniki several times a week and once again I’m trying RPS. My liver doesn’t react to PS. (I have an S-shaped gallbladder, otherwise my liver is perfectly Ok, I’ve checked it recently).


    I have the same difficulties with ramping up fiber intake. I eat once a day, simply not hungry.


    I become very, very skinny when add milled hempseeds to my fibers.


  26. elliebelly - I've got the Really Fulls going on as well. I'll be curious whether that dissipates.

    I also have lost almost all interest in fats. I drink my butter/coconut oil coffee (which perversely I love, despite complete lack of belief in his low-carb protocol :P) and that's it. I can't cook with fats, I can't have fats in any prepared food. My body is very clear ENOUGH SCFA THANK YOU VERY MUCH. PRODUCTION IS IN HIGH GEAR DOWN HERE.

  27. @Esha. Thanks. Will pick some up today!

    @Kate. That is exactly what i need: to require less fat. The weight loss version of PHD just does not work for me because after a few days I just crave more fat.

  28. elliebelly,

    I agree. PHD without the fat just feels wrong. Adding a big bolus of fiber might be just the tweek you need. I've been eating a lot of fat these past few years. Perhaps my body was trying to compensate for the lack of fermentable fiber.

  29. Elliebelly and Terra

    The type of fat I eat has changed tremendously. For cooking, it is almost always butter or ghee. But I don't even use them very often. Instead, I find myself eating fatty meats, and even the fat itself from the meat. I never did this before. I cannot eat any type of processed oil or fat.

  30. I was just thinking about how nice it is to have so many here doing similar stuff. I wasn't sure whether the fat thing was from the fiber or something planted in my mind by learning about nutrition. It sounds like it's the fiber.

    Oh, and the super full feeling is sort of always there, at least in my experience over the last year. I do get hungry, but it's a different kind of hungry. It's not the I've got to eat right now type. I haven't had that in about a year. And if you think about it, hunger like that should be reserved for starvation conditions, not normal ones. Instead the hunger is more along the lines of choosing to eat on the basis of convenience. Today, I delayed lunch by two hours to go on a walk. No big deal, as I have plenty of fuel on board for that.

  31. Okay, here is another data point. In the past, every once in a while I would get sore lips. Red around the edges. I always knew it didn't have anything to do with the weather because it happened in various seasons of the year. It did not happen often and always lasted only a gew days, so I never gave it much thought.

    But I had this several times over the year or two that i have been experimenting with fibers. It just happened again and now am considering the possibility here is some connection. After all the lips are the front end of that entire food processing system. Everything seems just fine on the other end though. And there is no mucous production on the lips.

  32. I like to call lips "the sweet end of the digestive tract."

  33. No sore lips for me that I remember...

  34. o.m.g. Did you guys see today's XKCD?? aaaa ha ha ha ha haaa!!

    (Be sure to read the mouse-ovwe as well :D)

  35. @Tim,

    Nice bedroom talk, lol.

  36. Another N=1. I got back into healthy fats several years ago, not in low-carb butter-by-the-stick fashion (I've never counted carbs) but more along the lines of PHD (although probably at a lower fat ratio than recommended), happily preparing foods with whatever amount of butter, ghee, olive oil appealed to my taste buds. A couple of months ago I noticed that my stock of fats was lasting far longer than usual. Of course, I was using less of it in cooking. But why? It wasn't conscious on my part. It just happened. At the same time I also found myself less interested in food and and never more than mildly hungry. My guess was that the novelty of oily deliciousness had finally worn off. After reading the latest comments here, I have to believe that the greater variety of fibers I started introducing a few months ago is the biggest factor.

    I haven't calculated properly but FWIW guesstimate that I've been supplementing about 20-25g/day of fiber - a low-level rookie in the VegPharm League. During this time weight and size haven't changed (I was lean to begin with).


  37. Esha,
    Raw potatoes are simply a convenience thing for me too. I've spent quite a bit on the fiber adventure over the last few months, but I've actually never bought RPS. I just have access to unlimited potatoes. And PS is so cheap.

    I've never had any problems with my liver. But I've always eaten a lot of choline, and for the last 20 years or so, daily milk thistle.
    What's an 'S shaped gall bladder'? Is it unusual?

  38. @Stuart

    On milk thistle: do you use the whole seeds or some kind of extract? Just curious. I believe it protects your liver wonderfully.

  39. @Stuart.

    Gallbladder should be round, when it’s deformed you have difficulties with bile outflow and the resulting problems with digesting meats, etc. Raw potato juice is choleretic among other things, my liver reacts to it just like it reacts to egg yolks, for example. Ok, not the liver, the gallbladder actually, my gastroenterologist always corrects me)) Anyway I just wanted to mention that there are good alternatives to raw potato in national cuisines. When I stop raw potato, I gradually lose the results I achieved over the past year — after about 2 weeks I no longer can comfortably eat green apples (my favorites), pomegranates with seeds, red rice, beans, etc. Weakness and dizzy spells return. I need RP and I find Chinese salads nearly as effective as RP and less disturbing for the liver.

    I started to support liver only recently, I never had liver pains before high fat diet, never even checked it.

  40. @not only for Australians

    Lovely reading on medicinal properties of a potato (p. 153)

    Medicinal Plants in Australia Volume 3: Plants, Potions and Poisons

  41. Regarding mucus production I too had a massive increase when I first started PS about a year ago. I also felt like I had a slight cold for a few weeks and experienced some joint discomfort but all this receded. The mucus overload and farting was just fun anyway. Haven't been taking PS with any regularity recently but planning on a massive daily dose for a while now to hopefully calm my overcaffeinated overstressed Bristol 6 gut.

    Thanks for your awesome work Tim!

  42. Gemma,
    You may already know that the milky substance inside the leaves of milk thistle first originated from a drop of the Virgin Mary's milk. That is why it is also called our lady's thistle, Mary thistle and holy thistle.
    I've always taken a herbal extract. For some reason milk thistle extracts are always really cheap.
    And I read recently that apart from its liver and gall bladder support prowess, it also is one of the few things that will boost systemic levels of glutathione.
    'Silymarin' (when it's pronounced 'see....limarin' rather than 'silly..') is a lovely word, don't you think?

  43. @Gemma

    Thank you for the link! When I discovered that raw potato is a game changer for me I read a lot about medicinal properties of raw potatoes, solanine, how it’s used in folk medicine, that it’s a good antifungal, eliminates nail fungus, etc. I even tried to eat greenish potatoes (never again!) and then came across discussions on RPS and microbiome. Unlike many other PS experimenters I’ve never had flatulence, maybe it’s due to antimicrobial substances in raw potatoes.

  44. @Stuart

    Nice, nice attempt to engage me in linguistic discussion about Latin words pronunciation :-)

    Would you prefer to tell me about nectar from Eucalyptus tree? What does it taste like?

    Medicinal Plants in Australia Volume 1: Bush Pharmacy (p. 202-204)

  45. I want to add about raw potatoes, why I’m trying to replace it with PS or something else. I came to the point where I feel drastically worse when I stop RP completely but I feel better when I don’t eat it on a daily basis. Chinese salads from grated, presoaked, slightly cooked (but still crunchy) potatoes several times a week give better results than daily consumption of raw potatoes. It wasn’t like that from the start, it’s something that appeared over time.

  46. @Esha
    Would u mind posting a specific recipe? I've wanted to try raw potatoes for a while, but need some hope of tastiness to help me get started. Thx!:)

  47. @Caliprimal

    Mmm... You see I’m not from paleo community, I can even use the dreaded vegetable oils...))


    1. I grate 1 raw potato on grater for Korean carrot salad, soak it for half an hour or more (I sometimes forget that I’m cooking), then rinse it and put in boiling water for about 2 minutes.

    2. Mix it with something tasty to your liking. I’m currently fond of beetroot & garlic & potato salad (grated baked/boiled beetroot, garlic, salt, mayo). There are lots of much better recipes online, but I’m anaemic and have to eat beetroots:) You can also mix potato with Korean carrot salad if you are ok with vinegar, spices and raw carrots.

  48. @Tim,

    I think it was better when we could reply to a comment and there were small threads, instead of one long stream of comments.

    What does everyone else think?

  49. @Caliprimal

    One more recipe with half cooked potatoes:

    I don’t use flour though and cook a bit differently.

  50. The only way I've found to eat raw potatoes is to just eat one like an apple.

    I never look at this as a 'meal item,' rather just a snack. If you try slicing or grating, they quickly oxidize and turn brown.

    When I was little, my mom would cut up potatoes and soak in a bowl of water to prevent them from turning brothers and I always snuck slices out and ate them.

    I still do a similar thing, but no longer feel the need to be sneaky about it.

    I just eat a piece of raw potato every time I'm cooking potatoes. Easy.

  51. I'll throw my vote in for any set up that threads the comments (so that we can see which comments are in reactions to what :)

  52. Esha, should you just do a search for 'chinese raw salad' or something? I've given it a quick try and not turning up much yet.
    The link to the potato patties looks great - thanks!

  53. @Andrea

    Sorry, I really don’t know how to translate it into English... Perhaps it’ Korean salad...

    It’s like this:

    There are tons of recipes on Russian sites.

    It looks like this, maybe someone knows how you call it?..:

    Sorry *blush*

  54. @Andrea

    Video recipe with fried pork, coriander, black pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, chili pepper, onions, garlic, salt and sugar. In Russian it sounds like “kamdi cha” (I think it’s a Korean word...) and there are lots of varieties of this salad — with meat or vegan... people come up with their own recipes... Beetroot-potato salad is something I invented myself to combine raw potato benefits with anaemia treatment. I thought it a well-known salad all over the world))

  55. @Esha

    Why are you anemic? You surely know it is not so simple as eating "iron rich" foods.

  56. @Gemma

    I don’t know yet. I’ve done various blood tests for gastroenterologist and it turned out that the only thing wrong with me is anemia and high PLT. I was going to visit hematologist after New Year holidays (they end tomorrow). I’m not sure I want to, but perhaps I will. Meanwhile I am to take enzymes, bile salts and two more drugs to support the deformed gallbladder. And drink lots of water)

  57. @Esha

    It would be wise to have it checked.

    I have mentioned milk thistle (silymarin) as liver support number one, have you heard about it?

  58. Re: breast milk & infections

    Years ago, my MIL (originally from Mexico) told me her teenage son (my BIL) had an ear infection. She lamented aloud--- If only she had some breast milk to put in his ear, that would take care of it.

    I was nursing at the time, but I was completely shocked by her suggestion. No way!

    This was nearly pre-internet days, and I had a lot of learning to do. So funny to think back on those times, and how much my thoughts have changed.


  59. @Gemma

    Yes, I tried milk thistle. It’s good for the liver but causes breast pain, I take dandelion root instead.

  60. @Esha

    And may I ask, how long and what dose did you use, extract or seeds?

    You might like to read this summary on safety of milk thistle.

    1. @Gemma

      I used milled seeds, thought they could be a nice addition to my fibers. I first tried 1 tablespoon twice a day and it caused pains on the very same day. Then I made 2 or 3 attempts to take ½–1 tsp a day — shooting pains reappear. Each attempt lasted less than a week. I’ve got mastopathy, but it never hurts and I’m not sure that pain is a good sign. 4 of my blood relatives had cancer, incl. breast cancer. I’m apprehensive of such things, who knows what it means?.. I also react to licorice root.

      I’ve read the paper, thank you, but I don’t know what to say... I can’t be the only female on earth who has this reaction...


      I decided against tinctures and chew dried dandelion root. Precious fiber))) I don’t usually have breast pains, my mastopathy is very, very quiet)

    2. @Esha

      You really do have some issues to think of. Good luck!

      What about drinking some calendula (marigold) tea, and cream externally? (hepatoprotective, and used against BC as well).

    3. @Gemma

      We sometimes have tea with calendula, but I’ve never heard it’s hepatoprotective)) I think I’ll add it to Helichrýsum, I drink it daily for bile flow. BTW I didn’t know that there existed such a thing as medicinal calendula cream (not cosmetic), but google says that yes, it’s sold here and extremely cheap, I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

  61. Thanks Esha, I found some recipes. Must not have had quite the right search terms. I've never had such a salad, but then perhaps I simply haven't been looking for it. We have lots of Asian restaurants here, but most are southern cuisine, I believe the potato salad is more northern.
    Thanks again!

  62. @ Esha, that is really interesting about the milk thistle and the breast pain. In certain schools of herbal medicine we're taught if the breasts hurt, to look to the liver. Whenever I've had breast pain I found dandelion root tincture to be just the ticket.

    @ Tim - I'm not liking this new comment thingy much ...

    1. Me either! Just switched back. It was kind of nice because you could just go the the bottom to find new comments, but it made the little 'side convos' much harder.

    2. @wildcucumber - Traditional Chinese Medicine says the liver meridian runs right through the center of the breast. Anything liver related is likely to show up there, in people sensitive to liver imbalance. Much of TCM is structured around analogy and holographic concepts of the body, but some are *so* linked to physical symptoms that they crop up over and over again. Breast pain being related to liver issues is one of them for sure :)

      @Tim - yay! Much prefer the threaded convo. set-up :D

      (oh - er, why am I talking TCM? Did my Masters degree in acupuncture :)

    3. @ Terra - I can't find the thread discussing breast milk, so if no one minds I'll ask you this here as you seem to be the go-to-gal :-) .. Have you (or anyone else) info on any difference in quality of breast milk offered directly from the breast vs from a pump? Back when I was nursing my babes it was clear that milk changes as per baby's needs. How can it be so with for mothers who exclusively pump if there is no direct mouth to nipple contact? It seems to be a trend, and I have to wonder if it is a wise one.

      Tim - sorry about being OT there.

    4. Breast milk is OT around here!

      I have a question for ya'all that have lactated (I seem to be lactating intolerant). If you store a bottle of breast milk in the fridge, do the solids settle out like potato starch does? Or does everything remain in suspension?

      It does seem that babies exclusively bottle-fed, even if it is mama's milk, may be at a disadvantage because there do seem to be some feedback mechanisms to alter quality of the milk for sick babies or as the baby grows.

      No idea what the actual impact is.

    5. @wildcucumber
      I'm out of the loop on the latest breast milk research (I was saturated with it 10 years ago :D but my kiddos are 17 and 14 now), so I'm not in possession of any links or concrete info. But it makes sense - skin-to-skin contact, whatever signals we get via our noses, and the mouth-and-nipple sensors are all operating as part of that feedback loop. When you remove the physical nursing, and the physical've taken most of that feedback system away for hours per day. That *has* to reduce the effectiveness of the feedback. We know that mothers who pump commonly have supply issues. Active nursing mothers seldom do. The mechanical stimulation isn't nearly enough.

      Surely there's research out there evaluating what's *not* working properly when pumping is a large percentage of a baby's milk supply.

      OTOH, pumping even for partial feeding, is so highly superior to formula that it's worth doing - always something to keep in mind I suppose :)

    6. @wildcucumber,

      I nursed both of our kids. Kid #1 weaned at 2 yo, and kid #2 weaned at 4 yo, even tandem nursing for about a year. I also pumped daily, usually twice per day, when the kids were babies, so I could put milk away for when I was at work.

      I cannot imagine there being a difference between suckling and pumping.
      There is definitely a difference in the fat quantity to the milk in the beginning of let-down vs. towards the end.

      A friend of mine nursed twins. It is astonishing how the supply and demand system works.


    7. Hi Michelle

      My curiosity stems from a trend I'm seeing amongst new mothers who pump exclusively, no nursing at all, even while home on maternity leave. A relative is planning to do this when her baby is born as she is frightened to death of actual nursing (sad!) but wants to do the right thing by her baby. I just wonder if without nipple to breast contact, the variations in milk quality and quantity will be as sensitively tuned as they would be with at least some nursing as well as some pumping. On the other hand, perhaps the breasts respond just with the close contact between mother and babe.
      I'll admit to being really dismayed that so many women find nursing so difficult. My relative's doctor must sell breast pumps, as he is the one telling her that she may as well plan to go that route "just because you have colostrum now doesn't mean you'll be able to breast feed" were his exact words. Jerk.

    8. Hi Wildcucumber and Michelle,

      I don't think there's any research that compares the nutrient differences (if any) between bottle-fed breastmilk and breastfed breastmilk. While changes in breastmilk composition occur as the baby ages, it is possible that the mother's body responds to this regardless of whether baby is at the breast. And if a mother is only bottle feeding sometimes, then I think it would be fairly easy for the body to respond.

      However, there is a good bit of research that shows differences between these two methods of milk delivery in terms of other factors. Non-nutritive sucking is practically impossible for a baby being fed from a bottle, yet is always a part of suckling at the breast (both to get breast milk to flow and later just for comfort). Breathing also is different in the infant at the breast vs on the bottle. And there is research to indicate that feeding at the breast is part of a trajectory of healthy dental/bite/jaw formation.

      I also think it's pretty easy to interpret the research on the mother-infant physiology of bonding to realise that without breastfeeding mothers and babies both risk losing opportunities for oxytocin release and other hormonal cascades that are relationally-based. It is for this reason that it is often recommended that even if a mother is expressing milk, that she still feeds the baby against her bare skin and with the baby lightly clothed, with lots of opportunity for shared gazing/eye contact.

      But in terms of gut health and milk composition alone, it could easily be that the two forms are equivalent

    9. I have seen no research on this idea, it is may be early days. But, what if the nipple (richly innervated) can sense the composition infant's oral microbiota (sense the gut pathogens this way, respectively) and the milk can change accordingly, produce more antimicrobials?

      Aldo, the first milk that flows is more "watery", the fat and nutrient filled part comes only later. Sometimes babies are just thirsty and satisfied with short nursing.

    10. OK, here it is:

      Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk

      "Breastmilk protects infants against infections; however, specific responses of breastmilk immune factors to different infections of either the mother or the infant are not well understood. Here, we examined the baseline range of breastmilk leukocytes and immunomodulatory biomolecules in healthy mother/infant dyads and how they are influenced by infections of the dyad.

      In addition to maternal infection, a small but significant breastmilk leukocyte response was observed when the infant had an infection, but the mother was asymptomatic. This finding is supported by a recent study from Riskin et al.43 that also reported a response of breastmilk leukocytes to active infection of nursing infants.

      While the mechanism behind the leukocyte movement into the breast during an infection of the infant is still unclear, exposure of the mother to the infant's infection may stimulate an immunological response in the mother that is manifested without evident symptomatology, but which influences breastmilk leukocyte content.

      A potential way for this to happen is during breastfeeding. During a milk ejection, duct pressure increases, milk ducts dilate and milk flows toward the nipple/baby's mouth. As oxytocin wears off, duct pressure decreases, milk ducts reduce in size and milk flows backwards,44 likely together with saliva from the baby's mouth. This is a time when it is possible that microorganisms from the infant could be transferred back into the breast, most likely during a pause in suckling, stimulating a local immune response."

    11. Thank you Gemma. I always enjoy it when research backs up what we know instinctively to be true. Example - when my five-year old came down with chicken pox, my nursing infant had one little pox (pock?) on one of his toes, that was all. I'm sure most nursing mums have similar anecdotes. So, yes, *exclusively* expressed milk may be better than formula, but there are still many advantages for baby (and mum) to actual nursing that these pump pushing doctors are ignoring. (Or, to be fair, are unaware of.)

    12. And there are other advantages to direct breastfeeding vs. breast milk in a bottle, satiety hormones namely.

      Presence and dynamics of leptin, GLP-1, and PYY in human breast milk at early postpartum (2013)

      "If the appetite hormones are biologically active in the infant, the observed increase in the milk GLP-1 concentration across the feeding may serve as a satiety signal to terminate infant feeding, given that GLP-1 decreases food intake and enhances satiety 19. The initial low concentration of GLP-1 in foremilk would presumably allow relatively unrestricted milk consumption at the start of nursing, followed by an increased concentration in hindmilk, which could potentially signal satiety and contribute to the cessation of feeding. This change in breast milk composition is mirrored by the increase in fat content commonly observed between fore- and hindmilk 11–34. In agreement, fat content of milk in the current study increased, on average, almost 9% by volume, from fore- to hindmilk. The changing composition of breast milk during a single feeding is unique to breast milk given from the breast, as opposed to a bottle.

      In conclusion, this pilot study has identified a potentially bioactive component in breast milk that changes across a single feeding. The presence of this hormone and its changing concentration suggests that it might regulate infant appetite during individual feedings.

      Additionally, differences in appetite hormone exposure may create permanent changes in the way the brain reacts to appetite hormones and satiety cues 8, which may help control appetite in breastfed infants.

      Lastly, the finding that concentrations of milk GLP-1 change from fore- to hindmilk (along with milk fat) suggests that delivering human milk from the breast may differ from the provision of mixed-milk that results from pumping and feeding by bottle."

    13. @Lauren
      I want my money back! Extended nursing and I still had to put braces on both kids!

      Thank you for digging those articles up! Fascinating!


    14. Makes sense. I read once that a cow's udder is like a scientific lab and that if blood from a sick person is injected into a cow's udder, it begins to produce antibodies to the disease contained in the blood.... We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

    15. Wow! Another great article find, Gemma!

    16. aaaaah! the reverse flow into the nipple, isn't that fascinating! Damn...the body just gets more and more cool the more you learn about it :)

      WRT satiety info, breastfed babies are less likely to be obese later in life - even if they are super chubby babies. Those satiety & hormonal regulation aspects tie into that relationship. My oldest had reflux-->my milk was super thick/high fat in response-->nursed a ton simply to keep esophageal flow going the right direction-->very chubby guy :P The fact that he was chubby from nursing calorie-dense breast milk will not be an indicator of his later weight in life - the hormonal mechanisms at work there apparently are the key. Fascinating! (at the time, finding a rear-facing car seat for a 24 pound 3 month old was a serious challenge though! :D)

      WRT breast milk composition, here's something extra cool :) Mothers who tandem nurse (and older nursling and a baby nursling simultaneously) who choose to keep one breast exclusively assigned to each baby....will make different milk for each child. The littler baby will be getting the high impact super-growth-calorie milk, the older child will be getting composition appropriate for a child whose growth has slowed significantly but is very active.

      (wow, this place has been hoppin'! we've been laid low by flu, the whole family :)

  63. Tim - the fats separate from the rest, but that's all I recall. I had a reflux-y baby who I was away from 2 nights a week, so I pumped for him. That milk looked like half-and-half and the fat rose like cream :D A quick shake, and it was mixed back in and ready to drink.

    Nothing settled to the bottom of the bottle, but my milk almost never made it to the fridge, either. It was expressed, and then baby drank it off and on through the evening (breast milk is so antibacterial you don't have to rush it to the fridge. cool stuff.)

    Anyone have milk sit long enough to see any resistant starch settle out?

  64. Nothing settles to the bottom in the breast milk. I am getting it off and on from a nursing relative and drinking it. Just the fat separating like Terra said.

    1. That makes sense. The fat keeps the HMOs in suspension. This same thing can be seen when you mix potato starch in full fat milk or doesn't settle as fast as in water.

    2. @Anon,

      Is there a particular health problem you are hoping to resolve with the breast milk?


    3. @Michelle,

      I do struggle with health issues. I started with fermented foods about 2-3 years ago after reading Autoimmune the Cause and the Cure by Annesse Brockley. I was getting discouraged that I wasn't seeing the results that I had hoped for so I knew something was missing. I stumbled across FTA website about 6 months ago and have been using the potato starch since then. Its a long slow journey back - started with the autoimmune symptoms when I was in my late teens early 20s. After 35 years of damage from the SAD, there is a lot of damage to undo. Anyway, my neice produces more milk that the baby can drink and I just figured it was the perfect food for health so it can't hurt me. It probably would give me greater benefit if I were able to get a larger supply but I am thankful to get 8 to 12 ounces a day and have been drinking it since just after Thanksgiving. I knew it had beneficial bacteria in it that perhaps I was lacking. Until this recent series Tim did on the fiber, I did not know it had prebiotics in it as well. Even though it may not be helping me as much as I would like with the small amount I get, it is doing no harm.

    4. @Anon

      I get discouraged as well, when something that seems to help so many other people does not prove to be the answer I'm seeking.

      Who knows though, maybe I'd be much worse off if I was always trying this and that.

      May 2015 bring us all good health!


    5. Tim,
      Are HMO's starch particles? I thought it was a kind of sugar that only gut bacteria could eat and was in dissolved in the water in milk I know the fat isn't dissolved because fat and water aren't miscible, but the oligosaccharides in human milk are aren't they?
      Milk is designed for baby mammals - any type of milk. So is there much GOS in other mammalian milk? Cow, horse, or whale milk for instance?
      Presumably the selective pressure that resulted in human milk having a high concentration of fermentable fiber didn't just occur in human evolution?

    6. No, not starch particles. Just chains of sugars. The HMOs in human breast milk seem to be uniquely human, and at a much higher concentration than in other animals. GOS is just a simulation of HMO, and not even close to what actual HMO looks like. With HMOs, there are over 200 different structural designs that have been identified. Who knows what each one infers to the baby? With GOS, there is just one basic structure.

      Here is a good paper comparing HIMo to primates and other animals:

  65. Could anyone be so kind to explain to me dilemma I have for months:

    How are baked potatoes different from roasted in terms of preparation?

    It is mentioned here that baked potatoes have 3.6 RS3 per 100g while roasted and cooled potatoes are listed at whopping 19.2 grams which make them the perfect and most easily attainable source of RS3.

    Now the only issue I have is how do you prepare them to preserve suc high RS content?

    How is "roasting" different from simply baking in an oven?

    Thank you very much !

    1. The difference between roasting and baking is that 'baked' potatoes are actually 'steamed' in this context.

      A roasted potato is one that is allowed to naturally dehydrate as it cooks. A baked potato is cooked with its skin intact or wrapped in tinfoil to keep the moisture locked in, essentially steaming it.

      The RS3, retrograded RS, forms as moisture is driven out of the starch's matrix. Retrogradation is also referred to as 'staling.' Stale bread has formed lots of RS3.

      So, to prepare potatoes that would be roasted in this regard, you could make 'oven fries,' or a similar type dish that involves placing cut or peeled potatoes in the oven and allowing them to dry out as they cook.

      The RS3 in these potatoes is going to be found mostly in the outer portions, so the more surface area, the more RS...that means a potato cut into 8 sections will have much more RS that a potato roasted whole or cut in half. Get it?

      The inside portions of a roasted potato will have the exact same RS content as the "baked" potato...much less, as the inside portion was steam heated as the outside dried.

      I hope that makes sense!

      Also, you have to take all of the RS3 quantities listed anywhere with a bit of caution. It's nearly impossible to accurately measure RS3 because part of the measuring process involves freeze drying the food!

      That said, roasting as I described, will produce more RS3 than baking a whole, tin foil wrapped potato due to the staling effect.

      Hope that helps!

  66. Does the roasted potatoes have to be cooled to get that RS?

    1. Hot out of the oven, there will be some RS3. But cooling them overnight and then reheating will increase it immensely.

  67. I am having difficulty subscribing to comments. When I click on the link a page filled with nonsense data appears. Should I switch to a different browser?

    1. The best way is to establish a Google account and ID, then you get an option to subscribe to comments from the thread. That "Atom" thing at the bottom of the page is a mystery to me!

  68. How much RS3 would you estimate is produced by steaming peeled potatoes 1/4s, placing them in the fridge for 24 hours, and then slicing and frying in beef lard?

    1. About 5 grams per 100g of potatoes.

      You'll be surprised how little fat it takes to cook potatoes the way you describe, you definitely don't need to deep-fry them. Just a spoonful in the pan.

  69. Hey Tim! Too much good stuff to read! Love that new B-GOS cortisol mental health study, especially because its bifidogenic implication applies to epilepsy to avert all-too-common hypoglycemic nocturnal and morning seizure. Gut origin of seizure is still barely on the map while the disorder now affects one in 100, same with Celiac. I've suggested Bimuno along with B. longum probiotics to an epilepsy group on Facebook and a few people are waiting for their Bimuno to arrive from the UK. Wouldn't that be amazing if it worked? Hypoglycemia and Reactive Hypoglycemia also apply in manic depression and schizophrenia. With bifidobacteria crossfeeding butyrate-belching clostridia, it's a twofer.

    1. ....are we saying that the reason anti-epileptic drugs treat bipolar etc. ....are based in these mechanisms at the gut-level? am I reading this right? *goes back and re-reads* :D

  70. Hello everyone !

    I am working on assembling my own prebiotic/probiotic protocol and I have some practical questions please:

    1. I have found an affordable tea dealer that sells dried chicory root in kilograms, so I am wondering if inulin (or at least some of it) is still preserved in dried root intended for teas?

    2. Similarly, sunchoke season is coming to an end so I was thinking of fermenting 5-10kg of sunchokes so I have them at hand beyond March and again I was wondering if bacteria will eat up all the inulin contained in them and how fast does that happen? Like, will fermented sunchokes still contain some inulin after a month or two in the jar?

    3. Is non industrial vinegar a good source of probiotics?
    I have found a local winery that sells traditional vinegar made of red wine and if so, what is the dosage, tablespoon per day enough?

    I can't thank you enough for all the help, take care !

    1. Let me see if I can help:

      1. The dried chicory root has lots of inulin and other fiber, but probably not much in the tea made from it.

      2. I'm not sure. But your plan sounds really good. Just do it! If you do lose the inulin, you will be repaid in microbes and other fibers, a good trade-off!

      3. Freshly made, non-pasteurized vinegar is alive! Search this blog a bit and you'll find a good post that WildCucumber helped me with last summer on how to make your own vinegar with tons of links to vinegar studies and facts. I don't know that there is any recommended dosage...a 'splash or two' on your food most days is a good start. It's just a really good habit to get into, and when used alongside starchy carbs, like potatoes, has a blood glucose lowering effect, so clearly some magic is taking place.

      Good luck...let us know what you come up with and how it works!

  71. Thank you very much sir about you hasty reply and help !

    Just one more clarification on the chicory root from the tea company: I don't intend to actually make tea from it, I was thinking of eating it straight from the bag or throwing it in the smoothie (at least I hope so, I really don't know how it tastes : ) , I am just wondering if such dried and bagged root has some inulin in it and if it could be replacement for inulin powder since it is much cheaper, thanks

    1. I figured that's what you meant...yes, would be great in a smoothie, should have lots of inulin, exactly how much I can't say. It seems raw chicory, not dry, has 4g of fiber per 100g, which should include the inulin.

      Dried, it would be a much higher percentage as I'm sure raw has lots of water content.

      Here's a nice little write-up on chicory roots:

    2. I do exactly as you do, Anonymous, and take dried chicory root instead of inulin (as I already buy it in bulk to make chicory coffee). I take about a tablespoon a day.

      According to Wikipedia, fresh chicory root typically contains, by dry weight, 68% inulin, 14% sucrose, 5% cellulose, 6% protein, 4% ash, and 3% other compounds (those figures are taken from a scientific paper but I've no idea how credible it is). So can I assume from those figures that 100g of dried chicory root could contain up to 68g inulin?

      I read (but can't remember where) that a cup of chicory coffee contains up to 1g of inulin.

      Be warned though, dried chicory root tastes very bitter!

  72. I thought this was funny

  73. Does anyone know if a chart or table exists that lists each fiber or fiber group and what health benefits each have been shown to facilitate?

    1. Click the Dietary Fiber tab at the top of the page, there's a pretty good chart there.

  74. I need to get me some of these so called short chain fatty acids ;) recent study released...

  75. I must be's probably me, but I clicked on the link and found a nice long informative discussion on fiber, including its benefits, but nothing that shows the link between fiber types and related specific there a link somewhere that's not jumping out at me? thanks

    1. Ah! Got ya! I don't think such a list exists anywhere, and if it does, it is most likely wrong. Some will say that eating certain fiber raises certain microbe levels or whatever, but it all is pure speculation.

      As far as what fiber for certain conditions, ie. autoimmune, skin, gut, etc... It would simply be impossible to say. You may find studies on a particular combo if you play with the search there anything in particular you are looking for or just a general chart?

  76. Well, I am generally well now except for some pounds I am working to shed...just worried since I am now over 50 and both parents have died due to complications of metabolic syndrome - diabetes, cardiovascular, etc. I'm making a list of fibers to place an order to start concocting my own mix - since although I watch what I eat and exercise, I need to tilt the scales in my favor as much as I can - an adding fiber seems to be something fairly easy to do....i read the posts here - quite a long list of possibilities :)

  77. Is it true that stewed apples have more pectin? Ayurvedic medicine promotes cooked apples for breakfast for that reason. is it worth the effort?

  78. I was not aware, until reading a bodybuilding forum this morning, that "functional" dietary fibers play an increasingly prominent role in the formulation of low carb protein bars - these bars apparently are quite popular.

  79. Would love to get thoughts on this: