Sunday, January 4, 2015

In Search of the Perfect Fiber (Part 3...supplements)

In Part 1 we discussed a target of 20-50 grams per day of the fiber types considered "fermentable" or "prebiotic." In Part 2, I confused things a bit by showing you that it's nearly impossible to accurately count fiber.

In Part 3, I'd like to show you what is available for fiber supplementation and give some ways to incorporate a fiber supplement into your diet.  I want this post to be a reference that people stumble across in 2,5,10 years from now when they are looking to buying fiber because their neighbor/doctor/kid told them they 'need more fiber.'

This post is not meant to lead you to the conclusion that you need a fiber supplement, nor am I recommending one brand over another.  I am including lots of Amazon links simply because that's how I shop mostly, and it gives us a common reference. The lists provided here are not all-inclusive.  If I missed any, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Looking through PubMed at studies to determine which fibers have prebiotic potential is a much different prospect than shopping for a fiber supplement that will feed our gut microbes.

We found out that it's not so easy to get 20-50 grams of fermentable type fibers in your normal day, and vacations or events make eating 'right' even harder.  A good solution is to use supplemental fibers smartly.  It can be a good habit to take a couple spoonfuls of various prebiotics every day, or on days you don't eat like you know you should. 

While it does seem that numerous manufacturers have cracked the code on probiotics, a google search for prebiotics is pretty bleak.  The things that are called "prebiotics" range from cellulose to inulin, and are often accompanied by the warning: "Statements not FDA approved."  Additionally, the amounts of prebiotics contained in some of these supplements is laughable.

Commercial Prebiotics

PrescriptAssist, which contains a very substantial list of probiotics, also has a prebiotic blend.  Their "Prebiotic/Probiotic Complex" comes packaged in a cellulose vegetarian capsule.  No other fibers present!

Sundown Natural's sells a supplement called "Inulin Fiber Prebiotic" that comes in capsules containing 3.3g of inulin, and makes the claim "Maintains healthy GI function by adding roughage."

BioNutrition has "Pre-Biotic with LLife Oligo," a bottle of 60 capsules each containing 700mg of XOS. 

It seems that the term "prebiotic" has not yet reached consumers (or my spell-checker). Even Google auto-corrects 'prebiotic' to 'probiotic.'  Does this mean we are out-of-luck in looking for prebiotics?

Commercial Fiber

The word 'Fiber' seems to strike a chord with the consumer!  Fiber comes in capsules, tablets, drink mixes, and gummy form.  There are children's blends, adult blends, and blends for every gastric distress imaginable.  It's obvious that lots of marketing thought goes into fiber sales.

The first fiber listed on a quick Amazon search was Fiber Choice.  In small print, it says, "a prebiotic fiber supplement." Their 100% Natural Fiber product contains:  "Inulin sorbitol, corn starch, microcrystalline cellulose, dextrose, citric acid, magnesium stearate , natural and artificial flavors, and the colors red 40 lake, blue 2 lake, blue 1 lake, FD&C yellow 5 lake."  Really.  To their credit, the fruit flavored, chewable tablets are indeed 'sugar-free.' Each of the 220 tablets contain 3g of soluble fiber.

The next on my search list was Vitafusion's "Fiber Well Fit with B vitamins."  Fiber Well Fit contains 90 gummies that provide about 2 grams of fiber each, containing: "Polydextrose, Xylitol, Gelatin, Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Colors (Purple Carrot Juice Concentrate, Blueberry and Carrot concentrates, Annatto extract), Sucralose, Fractionated Coconut Oil, and Beeswax."  These must be good, though.  They won the "American Culinary ChefsBest" award.

Page after page of fiber supplements!  Many say in fine print that they are "great prebiotics."

There is even a supplement called "FiberCON."  What a fitting name! Each capsule contains: "Calcium Polycarbophil (625 Mg Equivalent to 500 Mg Polycarbophil). Inactive Ingredients: Caramel, Crospovidone, Hypromellose, Magnesium Stearate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Polyethylene Glycol, Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate."  The manufacturers of this sure picked the right name!  Don't be conned into buying this!

What to do?

First off, be an informed consumer.  There is something for everyone if you know what to look for.  Shun artificial colors and flavors.  Pass on any fiber that is loaded with chemicals of any type!  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?  Really?  Polyethylene Glycol?  In a product advertised for improved gut health?  Fuggedaboutit!  The word "cellulose" should also raise a red flag, especially if it is one of the main ingredients.

Secondly, know what particular fiber you want and look specifically for that fiber.  Don't read anything it says on the label other than the ingredient list (and warnings)! Some great, easily found prebiotic fibers to look for are:

  • Beta-glucans
  • Inulin -- [Learn more than you ever wanted to know about inulin here, here, here, and here]
  • Guar Gum
  • Green Banana Flour
  • Pectin
  • Potato starch
  • Psyllium
  • Wheat Dextrin
  • Xanthan Gum
  • GOS
  • FOS
  • XOS

Every single one of these can be found in its isolated forms without any fillers or additives.  

Thirdly, consider making your own proprietary blend of prebiotic fibers.  For instance, create a jar containing fibers that are all water soluble, and another jar containing fibers that don't mix so well with water.

A water soluble mix:

A not-so-water-soluble mix:

A blend of powders that don't really lend themselves to mixing in water, but make great additions to smoothies, yoghurt, sour cream, or desserts:

Many of these on their own are pretty worthless as a prebiotic.  The Larch AG, for instance, while a great...maybe one of the best...prebiotics on the list, it's small serving size and price make it inconvenient to use as your only prebiotic.  Psyllium Husk is another, that on its own is probably not a super-powerful prebiotic, but one that adds synergy to all the others in its ability to spread the fermentation process throughout the colon.  I think the beauty of creating your own blends is in the creativity.

Creating Your Own Blend

When creating a prebiotic fiber blend, keep an open mind and don't be afraid to be wrong.  This is all about hedging your bets.  As you'll be taking a couple spoonfuls of this stuff daily, and maybe even sharing with others, it may be wise to bulk up on the cheaper fibers.  If you can get a good deal, take advantage of it!  Never make the exact same blend twice.

If you can't find your desired prebiotic in a powder form, buy capsules and dump the contents into your fiber blend.

Don't be afraid of just using a single fiber, either.  If you can get a good buy on inulin or potato starch, use those for a while.  As long as this is in addition to an otherwise healthy diet filled with real plant fibers and diversity, there will be no harm.

Know how your fiber will react!  Try it out first before it goes into your blend.  If your preferred way of taking fiber is to mix with water, you do NOT want much (if any) guar gum or xanthan me.

A suggestion:  Make your fiber blends at least 50% inulin or 50% potato starch.  To make this process as natural as possible, use the fibers found in large quantity in nature.  But don't be afraid to completely skip these two if they don't agree with you.

Other Powders

The 'superfood' market has gone crazy!  You can find various exotic powders that you may want to try from time-to-time.  You can find Amla powder, Maca powder, Baobab powder, and more.  These powders aren't necessarily "prebiotics" but contain interesting nutrients that may very well be healthy for your gut.  No harm in rotating them in your fiber jar.  Try them out before dumping in, though...some are not so tasty!

Dosing Info

When deciding how much of this to take, don't worry about counting grams or trying to dose accurately.  You can figure that a heaping spoonful is about 1TBS and weighs about 8 grams.  Find your comfort zone.  Start out with 1 small spoonful and see how you react.  Even just 1 small spoonful of these prebiotic fibers will more than double most people's daily fiber intake!  It's that easy.

If you want to try mega-dosing, there's no harm in that, either.  Be warned that some of these fibers (gums, glucomannan, psyllium) swell tremendously in water!  Be careful you don't choke on it...there are warnings on the bottles for a reason.  Others, like inulin, just dissolve in water and you don't even know it's there.


Every living human needs to feed their gut microbes.  Many have trouble (bloating, pain, excess gas) when trying to accomplish this.  Certain gastric dysfunctions can make prebiotic supplementation and even real foods very hard to eat.  If prebiotics cause you discomfort, don't keep on doing it!  Find the cause of your discomfort.  If you are worried about any of this, check with your doctor...but expect to see some rolling of eyes.

How to get started

If this just all sounds much too confusing and much too involved, it's not.  If you have absolutely no experience with fibers or prebiotics, but have come to the conclusion you need some, here's what you should do:

Read all about prebiotics and fermentable fibers.  Lots of resources right here on this blog, but other opinions are easy to find.  A good "gateway" fiber that will do you some good and not set you back a fortune is inulin.  The stuff that Metamucil sells as "Clear and Natural" is a good product, 100% inulin, no fillers. If you've read about resistant starch and want to try, buy a bag of Bob's Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch and try adding a spoonful or two of that to your diet.

Soon you will be a fiber-snob and start seeking out other amazing foods for your gut microbes.

Switch it up!

One of the biggest benefits to becoming your own advocate in the fiber aisle is the ability to change things periodically.  Using a supplement is, afterall, unnatural.  Taking the same supplement, therefore, day after day, month after month, should strike something in you as inherently wrong.

Don't let your gut bugs get too comfortable!  Keep them guessing.  And please, please don't forget about real foods!

Is it working?

How will you tell if what you are doing is working?  Simple.  How is your digestion?  If you are too gassy consider lowering the dose until you aren't.  Your bowel movements should be regular and pleasant.  You shouldn't be fumigating the house when you use the toilet.  If you 'let one slip' while in a crowded room, the only embarrassment should be from the noise...not from people plugging their noses and running away with watery eyes!  Foul smells, painful bathroom breaks, and constant fear of diarrhea is not natural.  Nor are upset tummies, constipation, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea.

Longer term bonuses to raising your fiber intake may be seen in lowering blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, sleep improvements, and weight management.  Remember, this is not a quick-fix, miracle's a lifestyle change!      


If you feel you need to supplement a portion of your fiber needs, you will have to take matters into your own hands.  Don't rely on the manufacturers telling you what you need to take, but use their ingredient lists to make your own custom blends.

Creating your own blends of prebiotic fiber and dosing them according to your needs is a much better plan than buying the first eye-catching jar of "Fiber*" you see and taking it according to the manufacturer's recommendations (do heed their warnings, though!).


  1. Tim, great post! I don't know if it is worth anything, but more than a year ago I started exactly as you suggested. A little bit of inulin here and there soon became regular. Then the raw potato starch. Then the confusion of where to go next. I wish I'd had access to these posts when I started.

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  2. A common reaction when people hear how much fiber I take (100+ g/day), is "wow, you must sh*t like a madman". I guess it is from doctors telling people to use fiber to avoid constipation. In fact, I LOST all the bad things Tim lists above when going high fiber. Everything is perfectly normal. I usually poop once per day, maybe twice.

    Gas is normal. Painful gas is not. in our household, I am known as the one who never farts. Far from it! But I find it to be controllable. Walking is a good thing, I think, because it helps to massage the gut and work things out.

    Like Tim says, the farts should not be smelly. If they are, then you need to poop. Guaranteed. Just sayin'...

    It's funny. Bad bathroom days used to be somewhat of a normal thing for me. Now they are so infrequent that I know something is wrong, and can usually identify the problem right away.

    1. "Bad bathroom days used to be somewhat of a normal thing for me. "
      Same for me. Decades of alternating diarrhoea and constipation are gone now. Farts have gone from being smelly to not and are now largely controllable, though each new addition of a supplement brings the farting volume back up again, only to settle down as my body gets used to it.

    2. Harriet! I just remembered Lupin Flour! Are you still using?

    3. Yes, I'm still using the lupin flour but have reduced it to just half a teaspoon a day which isn't causing any problems. 1 Tbs or that amount in a cooked product would have me farting continuously for 2 days. Half a teaspoon is fine. Half a teaspoon of lupin flour, banana flour, inulin, mesquite flour mixed into home made muesli and (store bought) yoghurt for breakfast.

    4. I include a TBS of Lupin flour in my smoothies. I know it's just over 30% 'dietary fiber' . Does anybody know how much of this is fermentable ?

    5. Stuart - I would say all of it! But only from the experience of taking it - continuous farting, almost. Like I couldn't go shopping for two days because of the noise and my inability to control it. That's the reason I've dropped back to half a teaspoon - that is manageable, unlike the effect of a tbs or two.

    6. Harriet,
      Sorry it's such rocket fuel for you. I think lupins are a really interesting pulse. I first read about them thirty or so years ago- aeons before I or anyone else had a clue about prebiotics or microbiome health - in a study linking lupin consumption to male libido in sheep. I can't say I've actually noticed anything in that department. But I did notice study findings that the colon fermentation resultng from lupin fiber was evenly spread all the way to the distal end of the human colon, and also that they contain very low levels of phytates, trypsin, and protease inhibitors- which are always a factor in consuming raw food.
      They're also incredibly cheap. So I think they deserve a pretty special place (like PS) in the fiber hound's canon, don't you think?

  3. Tim and I had a discussion about how to take the fibers. Some are easy to mix into water, some are thickeners and make bricks out of stuff, etc. I did this not knowing these things, and seemed to have developed tricks for handling them.

    I start with a big cup of water, probably 24 oz of water. Cold, because baobab tastes terrible in room temperature water.

    First in is the raw potato starch. It sinks to the bottom, and kind of clumps there. Next are the dissolving ones, like inulin, larch arabinogalactan, cellulose, partially hydrolyzed guar gum. GOS, dextrinn, maltodextrin, etc. Then the ones that float go in, like baobab, amla, banana flour, mesquite, etc. Then the ones that gel, like psyllium, glucomannan, etc. I stir it, but realize that the PS on the bottom must be broken up. When it is all stirred, then I chug the entire drink. I usually then add a bit of water to recover the stuff stuck to the sides of the cup.

    That's a lot of water, but it seems to be all absorbed by the fiber. In mega-dosing, be sure to honor your thirst. I did not one time, and was punished with hard stools.

  4. A common reaction when people hear how much fiber I take ... is "wow, you must sh*t like a madman".

    A common reaction I get is "you must drink a lot of water". But, after a while, I found the opposite to be the case for this, as well.

  5. Does gum arabic turn liquids to clay like glucomannan, guar gum, and xanthan gum?

    1. I have a bag of Heather's Tummy Fiber, which is acacia senegal. It does not gel.

    2. @Stuart,
      Gum Arabic is very soluble and does produce a viscous solution, but not as viscous as Guar gum, Psyllim Husk or Konjac (Glucomannan). Gum Arabic can be dissolved in hot water and left to cool down before adding the solution into your other ingredients.

  6. Hello, Tim! What about agar agar? It’s mentioned in Dietary Fiber, I’m going to give it a try. Does anyone take it? Any advice?


    1. Agar agar is definitely a great prebiotic and worthy of a place in a fiber mix. I'm not sure how it mixes, tastes, thickens, etc... so you'll have to experiment and let us know. So many fibers, so little time!

      I had this great paper in my favorites list. It talks all about the different prebitics found in seaweeds and marine plants/algae. A very good resource!

      From a random website selling Agar agar:

      "Agar-agar is extracted from marine red algae that are 100% natural. These chemical properties allow it to swell on contact with water. Thanks to this, you'll be able to concoct taste light and satiating dishes. You'll find the Agar Agar most often in the form of white powder. You can then incorporate it into all sorts of dishes, and it gels below 40°. It is an ingredient completely odorless and tasteless, which has only 3 calories per gram.

      Agar Agar is also a very good ally for dieters because it is a food rich in soluble fiber with slight laxative properties. But how does it work? It's very simple, in addition to cut your appetite quickly swelling in the body, before being evacuated by the body, Agar Agar will capture the sugars, fats and toxins. Hence its huge success among people who desire to follow an effective regime. The Japanese have understood that and that is why 40% of world production is released in Japan. Finally, this miracle ingredient contains trace elements and minerals."

  7. Adding psyllium husk to my mix of inulin and green banana flour completely tamed my gas. i had resisted using it for a long time because the description of insoluble fiber scratching up the walls of your intestine had made a such a strong impression on me years back.

    1. elliebelly, that is an interesting data point!

    2. I would be curious to know if anybody else noticed this effect

    3. Just to keep the picture murky, psyllium gives me gas :D My system has never liked it much, and with the current round-robin of fibers I'm trying, it's my least favorite. I feel much better on days I don't add it, so I've been leaving it out.

      Interesting about the scratching though. I had systemic candida that I could not kick for the better part of a decade, and then I did a colon cleansing program that involved months of lots of psyllium. It was the deciding factor in kicking the candida - in retrospect, I wonder whether the psyllium might actually have had a mechanical scratching action on the biofilms that had kept the candida protected for so many years? It would be very interesting to find a study on that one!

      *makes 'data point=FWIW!' gesture*

    4. Cat, I am glad you chimed in here. It just lends more credence to what Wilbur says almost every time he comments and that Tim is making with all his posts. it is an ever changing balancing act. there is no single recipe for everyone, all of the time.

      Here is that post from Mike Eades back in 2006 about insoluble fiber being bad, bad, bad:

      very interesting about your Candida

    5. That Eades Blog is hard for me to read. You will like Part 4!

      "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. If we can’t get enough from the foods we eat to achieve regularity, we are encouraged to buy supplements. Everyone is on the regularity bandwagon and, by extension, the fiber bandwagon. The much despised Jane Brody has written countless times on the virtues of fiber, WebMD encourages us to get our share, even C. Everett Coop exhorts us to keep the fiber coming. And, despite numerous studies showing that fiber doesn’t really do squat for us healthwise, everyone continues to recommend it.

      To paraphrase John Huston: Evidence? We ain’t got no evidence. We don’t need no evidence. We don’t have to show you any stinking evidence. -Eades"

  8. So, seeing as my fiber habit was spilling out of the cupboard and all over the counter top, I went to the craft store and bought inexpensive square jars that hold about 3 cups. After I filled and labeled them and lined and stacked them on my counter it looks like I have quite the apothecary. What I've used so far--PS, inulin, baobop, larch, acacia, maca, slippery elm and yacon. Still to be tested and rotated in--mesquite, dextrin, gluccomannon, and spirulina. And some psyllium husk still hiding in the cupboard. I'll try that again, thanks Elliebelly! I usually have plantain or banana flour with which I occasionally make pancakes. I purchased almost everything on Amazon with prime shipping. If I continue such large quantities I might look into bulk suppliers. We also have a local organic market chain. I've been buying pastured eggs and unhomogenized local cream from them. You can buy some stuff by the ounce under the Frontier label. Pretty reasonable and you could try a small amount. I noticed marshmallow root, guar gum, xantham gum, fine and course psyllium husk, spirulina and slippery elm. All sorts of dried legumes in bulk, with fiber data. I opted for Chana Dal last time I was there--more fiber than yellow split peas.

    1. My fiber collection is stored in containers labeled "Flour," "Sugar," and "Tea." I had to scrape 5 year old hard sugar out of the sugar container. I knew there would be a use for these things one day!

      Looks like you are catching on to this game quickly! Spirulina, slippery elm, all those are great!

    2. I had not thought about taking baobab, spirulina, chlorella into account too. Do they really a meaningful amount of fiber? I actually already eat them daily but just because I like the taste of them.

    3. Here is a breakdown of Baobab. Looks to be about 44% fiber of which 30 percent is soluble.

    4. Yeah, I was just thinking if it as a condiment provides a significant benefit or you would have to eat a spoonful of it.

  9. Anyone ever try Yacon syrup? I just ordered a bottle and will add that to my diet.

    - EF

    1. I tried a bottle of Yacon syrup last summer, before I realized it was also a prebiotic! It is really, really sweet! I'm not sure what to make of it, or what place it should have.

      Several research papers say Yacon FOS is a really good prebiotic.

      " the prebiotic effect of yacon FOS was tested in vivo with a guinea pig model. A diet rich in yacon FOS promoted the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, resulting in high levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the cecal material and enhancement of cell density and crypt formation in caecum tissue, being indicative of colon health benefits. This study allowed identification of yacon cultivars rich in FOS, AC and/or FOS and AC for nutraceutical applications."

      But you'll see. It is super sweet.

    2. OK, just did some digging! Beware, there may be some shenanigans going on in the Yacon syrup trade!

      Have a look. Maybe just a sales tactic to lead you to a certain brand, but apparently Yacon syrup is only like 50% FOS, the prebiotic we are after. Some have even much less than that.

      So what is the other 50-70%?

      Again, I'm still not sure what place this should have in your lineup. FOS, for sure, is a well-known good prebiotic fiber. Yacon syrup may be oversold in it's 'superfood' status. Buyer beware. But I am going to keep looking at it!

    3. You can buy powdered yacon root and dried yacon root. The latter is very tasty.

    4. My solution as well :) syrups....very suspicious of syrups! The powder is light, sweet and fine - tasty indeed!

    5. Darn, I literally just got some. Oh well, will get the powder next time.
      Though hopefully it will help with downing some powdered triphala I got a while ago. Ugh. The tablets are great, but the powder version...

  10. Thanks, Tim. There is a boatload of hype around it because of Dr. Oz (quack, quack). Although there is a double blind study supporting it as a weight loss supplement.

    - EF

  11. Has anyone had difficulty with PS or FOS causing joint point/inflammation? I thought it was that I couldn't use PS (nightshade?), but FOS also caused very bad joint pain. What could this mean and should I try other prebiotics? I have seen a few people mention an inability to tolerate PS but never FOS. Thanks for all the great info, Tim.

    1. Any chance you've got a low-grade yeast overgrowth? Joint pain is a really common symptom of die-off. Feeding the good flora starves out the yeast, and they die in droves, dumping their toxins into your system all at once. Something worth researching?

    2. I always think to myself that if two years ago I would have discovered the prebiotic properties of pectin or FOS, then people would be piling up saying that pectin and FOS cause joint pain and feed SIBO (and make them fat and raise insulin).

      I have no idea what is going on with the joint pain some people experience when adding prebiotics. It may very well be a die off reaction or just some hidden arthritis connection to the gut.

      Chris Kresser recommends to his folks that if they have problems, then to start with an extremely tiny dose, like 1/16th of a tsp, and work your way up slowly.

      I think that reactions to prebiotics don't indicate that you should avoid all prebiotics, I think it indicates some gut dysfunction that prebiotics may very well cure.

    3. Agreed Tim! I should have added that addendum as well. 'Negative' reactions don't mean 'stop' - they mean 'go slower, search for the cause, pay attention.'

      It seems to me that *anyone* with significant dysbiosis could have a period of feeling detox reactions before they felt better. Some people are really sensitive to that misery - others barely notice it.

    4. Heather my own experience is that I had a flare up of inflammation when I got up to about 2 tbs (if I remember rightly). It got so bad I almost gave up but I stuck with it and after about 8 months of 4 tbs PS daily got to a stage where I was no worse than when I started as regards joint pain, but much much better in regards to sleep, blood sugars, hot flushes, gut motility (no problems with alternating diarrhoea and constipation) and emotional stability. My own interpretation is that to start with I had some bad bugs which started to be fed which contributed to my flare up. I weed with golden seal, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, a handful of mixed fresh herbs daily, various onion /garlic type veges and general whole foods. In the past I have also used high grade oregano oil for months at a time. In the past I have taken medically prescribed drugs with terrible side effects and if I could do that despite no positive results after months I reckoned that eating basic food stuffs couldn't be much worse. Overall my experiments with whole foods and supplements have been much more positive than medical intervention. Still exploring.

    5. Heather, three times in the last 6 months I have experienced temporary joint pain. Twice from inulin (food and powder), once from mung bean pasta and never from PS. I can now eat the mung bean pasta regularly, so I feel encouraged to keep trying with the inulin and just be gradual and careful--not too big a dose jump at once. I also had a skin breakout at the same time as a joint reaction, so that encourages detox hypothesis. Good luck to you! And thanks, Tim.

    6. Thank you all so much for the replies, and the support. I am taking a daily probiotic (brand varies), but will go back and try FOS and/or PS again, in very small doses. I suspect gut dysbiosis from a very low carb diet the last few years (which I have now abandoned due to poor results from it in both energy, sleep and lab work). I have added back appropriate carbs, lots of fermented foods and the probiotic and will keep at it. This blog is fantastic!

  12. Love this write-up, Tim! Allll the fibers :D Here - I'll tell a little tale about why people shouldn't feel the pure fibers approach is somehow inauthentic or a 'cheat'.

    Here at casa-Cat, we've been pulling a Wilbur (sorry Wilbur - it's inescapable, you're the trend namer now ;) I started with potato (sometimes treating with Vit. C to wash the solanine), added tapioca starch, then plantain flour...and then the madness hit and I decided to seriously diversify. I went to Amazon, ordered Probiotic 3, and started researching the best price-per-ounce on Wilbur's lists.

    Currently in little many labeled tubs on my countertop lazy susan I have: potato starch, tapioca starch, plantain flour, chia seed, flax seed, konjac glucomannan, yacon, partially hydrolyzed guar gum, chaga, and larch coming in the mail :P

    As I mentioned in comments above I had psyllium in the mix, but it agreed with me about as much as it did 20 years ago...which is to say not at all. So I took it back out. I'll combine it with a big dose of potato every few days on the theory that an express train to the distal colon is a good idea. But the stuff does not agree with me. For bulking fiber, flax and chia are much better for my system. YMMV - and almost certainly will :)

    My reason for going with the Wilbur-influenced supplement list, is simply that I have a crap relationship with food. A history of eating disorders, history of massive yeast overgrowth, multiple food allergies and poor digestion of most anything uncooked, has left me really cranky about food. I don't like cooking it. I resent eating it (cause for years it always made me feel worse). And I struggled with constant cravings for it that never reward me with health if I give in to them. If I was going to get any benefit from eating fermentable fiber, it was going to have to be a medicinal rather than whole-foods approach.

    Little did I realize what the outcome would be, even early on: I'm starting to *like food.* I'm spontaneously cooking. I'm trying all kinds of vegetables I couldn't stand before. I've got a huge spice cabinet now. Who would have guessed that beyond the myriad health benefits we've all read about and/or experienced, I'd *also* be getting the benefit of a natural desire for and enjoyment of whole foods?

    So for anyone who feels they are failing if they don't approach fermentable fiber as a whole foods paleo guru....don't. Improving your gut flora may be your magic back door to the kind of evolution-should-make-you-crave-healthy-intake food desires humans were undoubtedly *supposed* to have.

    Tim & Wilbur (and all the other players who've been so active on paleo boards the past couple years), allow me to give you a cyber-kiss on the cheek :)

    1. Thanks for sharing. I have a feeling we are on the leading edge of something here!

    2. Cat said: "I'm starting to *like food.*"


    3. This is wonderful. I wish you continued success.

    4. Tim - my intuition is absolutely that, yes! It makes no sense that a million years of evolution should make us crave foods that are destructive...and yet Americans have an epidemic of just that. And even if you control for industrialized causes (inflated palatability, empty calories-->still malnourished-->over eat, etc.), people with seriously disordered guts can be eating all the right things and still crave things that make them very sick. Why??

      For decades this question has bothered me, as I grimly ate my way through a (moderate starch) paleo, gluten-free, multi-allergen free, seed-oil free diet. Why should food cravings persist if I was getting good nutrition density? The perversity of it just doesn't line up with how mother nature designs things - desiring foods out-of-balance with body function is anti-survival.

      Tim, I strongly believe this is the answer. The out-of-balance bugs want the food - NOT the host. Correct the the inappropriate food cravings vanish and see the healthy food desires appear like magic :)

      Gemma - I cannot even convey to you the sense of freedom this gives me. And, as we keep joking around our house, there's the Potato Starch Chill effect. Ya just can't get worked up over things! In contrast to all previous thought patterns, I'm not feeling angry at missing decades of liking food - I'm just feeling thrilled at all the food I'll enjoy now LOL!

      Speaking of that last...has anyone been pondering the pacific feeling that having increasing gut health gives? I mean, would the western world be such an overdriven place with so much hair-trigger conflict and ill-will, if everyone had *good* gut flora? The social implications here could be massive, no hyperbole intended.

    5. Cat, love your comments. Good luck going forward. And I love the ps chill effect. There is no doubt in my mind that as a minimum, there would be less mental illness if everyone's guts were in order.

    6. Kate - Thank you for your good wishes :)

      With 3 out of 4 people in our house on psych meds, I'm carefully tracking how everyone's mood issues are changing. I'm very curious to see the long term outcome, but I can already tell there are significant mood changes, sleep changes and an increase in robustness. In the category of 'supportive therapy' for mental illness, looks like there's *something* here, yk? :)

      Anyone else having an increase in creativity? Art is going great guns in our house :D

    7. Cat, I think you've nailed it. I think it's why I resisted telling people my "mix" and my "diet". My mix varies daily, and my diet consists of eating what I want. People should eat what *they* want, not what I want. People can't follow a diet plan because it doesn't agree with the bugs.

      in the past few days, I've been to a movie theater and a hockey game. Seeing what people want to eat is truly eye-opening. Not a gram of gut bug food in sight, except I guess popcorn. And it truly is freedom to sit and marvel at everyone else's food choices without the slightest desire to partake.

    8. It occurs to me for data purposes, I could probably include some more factoids that might be of use to people WRT gut health and mental illness.

      One son and I are bipolar. The other has severe anxiety. Everyone is stable on meds, but 'stable' doesn't equal 'thriving'. Both my sons share similar, though not exact, allergies to me. Both were nursed - which helped their allergies significantly, but they'd already gotten my mis-matched flora in-utero and via birth & daily contact. So if flora is part of the mental illness causation puzzle, we're a walking experiment. I shall report anything interesting!

      (and feel free to ask questions, discrete information sharing is part of demystifying mental illness :)

    9. (Cat here - the system is freaking out, so trying with my google ID...)

      Wilbur - I think your decision to resist people's request for your 'formula' is a wise one. Each of us needs to be paying attention to body feedback, not a recipe, yk?

      LOL at your movie theater experience, appalling though it is :D I'm currently in a honeymoon phase of "Wow...I totally don't care that you're eating that wheat & seed oil laden chocolate cake. Enjoy!"

      Your choice of the word 'desire' in reference to healthy signals from your body is interesting. I notice made the same word choice, without thinking about it. "Desire" has connotations of health and freedom from compulsion. "Craving" has connotations of compulsion and unhealth. Fascinating. /Spock

    10. Cat,
      I wondered in a much earlier comment whether our jails would be so full if the inmates' disordered microbiomes had not led to some ill considered, impulsive, and antisocial act. At the time, I thought after posting, that it must have seemed a bit of a stretch, and just a wee bit kooky, even to the fiber faithful. But you expressed it much more eloquently. I hope you don't mind me saying, that like so many here, you really are a bit of a wordsmith.
      I particularly loved the ' I grimly ate my way through a (moderate starch) paleo, gluten-free, multi-allergen free, seed-oil free diet. Why should food cravings persist if I was getting good nutrition density?' Memorable stuff indeed.
      This 'pacific' factor has huge implications for public policy, don't you think? It really isn't a doped out feeling, just calm.
      And was it you talking about the VitC solanine 'scrubbing' effect? Can someone elaborate on this? For instance, how many mg? And does it have to be taken with the potato to work?

    11. Stuart - Thank you so much for your wordsmithing compliment :) *tips hat!*

      I think for anyone who has studied or self experimented in the area of food/food allergies and mental health *has* to take this connection seriously. The biggest problem has been isolating cause....and gut flora may well be the piece all those evidence-based holistic medicine docs are waiting to find.

      My kids' food intolerances had various physical symptoms, but the biggest ones were emotional. Exposure to gluten caused uncontrollable rage in one of them. Exposure to even the slightest trace of corn caused all the symptoms of rapid-cycling bipolar in the other. It was *crazy* to witness, incredibly complicated to manage, and impossible to get others to understand or believe - unless they saw a food exposure go down right in front of them. After living with that reality for years, the thought that violent behaviour or poor impulse control could be linked to digestive processes is completely believable. The missing piece is *cause*....and mannn, we could be looking at the cause, right here.

      Agreed, it's not feeling sedated! Clarity, consistent long term focus, mental energy...gosh, you sure could stick a lot of descriptors in there :D Neither my husband nor I can managed to get worked up over things that usually we find upsetting - news, stressors, people being wrong on the internet... :P It's not indifference, it's this well of calm from which to draw to solve the problem. Richard Nikoley talks about the strange expanded-time feeling - for me that goes along with the calm thing. What would it mean for a whole society to feel like this? Kinda boggles the mind, doesn't it :P

      Oh! acid-washing potato starch to remove solanine is a great post at In the comments, Ken (the originator of the info) says:

      How much acid should be used ?
      I use a 600ml / 21oz Gatorade-type bottle 3/4 full of water, with one heaping teaspoon of citric acid. If using vinegar, I use 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar if it’s weak (4% acetic), or 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar if it’s the stronger kind (6%).

    12. I guess you are all familiar with GAPS ( by Natasha Campbell McBride. For her the cause of a lot of psychological distress seems to be the release of toxins made by all the wrong bugs in the gut.
      She has a video on youtube, where in the first part she explains the physiology ( Somwhere on her webpage is a list what the wrong bugs in the wrong circumstances can produce... shocking.

      Psychology today has a few articles on the internet about the microbiome and the mental health, brain, mitochondria and depression and so on. I think very interesting and hopefully an alternative to all the drugs prescribed by the therapists.

      Somwhere I read that the last century was the century of technological progress an this is the one of mental illnesses... Maybe caused by the shift in gutbugs...

  13. Tim, thanks for a fantastic set of articles of fibers. Looking forward to the continuation of the series!

    I recently got back my Genova diagnostics GI effects test which shows low diversity, overgrowth of bacteroides, in particular ore items. Also low or no bifido longum, akkermansia and very low ratio of firmicutes to bacteroides. The test also showed low levels of SCFA in particular butyrate, as well as a potential overgrowth of "bacillus" species. I believe the bacillus may be from prescript assist, so have now stopped taking it.

    What would be great would be to understand better what each fiber is feeding. Since I have an overgrowth of bacteroides and prevotella I probably want to eat something that raises the other parts of my gut flora. If you have the information it would be really fantastic with an article on what fibers to eat I order to target certain species of gut bacteria.

    My gut is a big mess with probable Crohn's, but am working hard to try and fix it. Your articles and information has been very helpful, many thanks for putting it together.


    1. Bo, I've looked hard at this. I could never make any sense of it. Without trying to put words in anyone's mouth, even the experts aren't sure. Lots of contradictory evidence.

      My bet is that there are lots of players. Maybe Bacterium A is abundant and feeds on X, but it needs a little of Bacterium B which feeds on Y, which in turns needs... And through the years, it has developed a system of getting what it needs by cross talking with the body. But we've broken the system. Sent nuke bombs down the pipe, starved the good guys with soft, industrial food. The bad guys now tell us what to eat (see Cat's post above).

      The overriding philosophy of "doing a Wilbur" is to feed all the good guys. Get them back in business. Put the food in there and let them sort it out.

    2. Bo,
      I actually haven't looked that hard at this. But I agree with Wilbur. Most importantly: ' ...even the experts aren't sure' And there's the timing factor as well. Even if you knew which particular fiber promotes a particular microbe, how would you possibly know when that particular strain was up to speed? It takes so long to get gut test results back.
      Honestly, you'll get a constant headache trying to micro manage the fiber palate you paint from. As big a range as you can afford of fermentable fiber. Don't forget the non fermentable fiber - your distal colon needs to party as well. And ramp up the total as fast as you can, even if you fart a lot. Don't be discouraged by setbacks, Bo. This microbiome/fermentable fiber thing is clearly the long overlooked missing piece of the health.
      And as Wilbur said, there's just to much crossfeeding going on to ever be able to say that X fiber feeds Y bug. It depends on so many variables.
      I personally think that high dose/long term any one particular fermentable fiber is not a particularly good idea. But I've never heard anyone even suggest that a particular type of fermentable fiber only feeds pathogens.
      And something which really struck me early on reading FTA was Duck Dodgers pointing out that Candida Albicans (the dark side of which I have quite a lot of personal experience with) is actually a very important part healthy human physiology.. But with a broken gut, it is devastating.
      And even the expensive fiber supplements aren't nearly as expensive as the buckets of prescription drugs big pharma would just love to keep pouring down our throats.
      You'll discover your biggest problem with be finding enough containers to put them all in.

    3. HA! "You'll discover your biggest problem with be finding enough containers to put them all in."

      I dumped a carton of Metamucil inulin into my 'flour' jar and put potato starch into the Metamucil carton.

      I figured Metamucil would raise less eyebrows at the airport that a ziplock baggy full of white powder!

    4. I went on a couple of road trips. My fibers, powders, and concoctions took up a whole, large cooler. If we had gotten stopped, I could see us explaining "now, this bag of white powder does what?"

  14. Wilbur, many thanks for your reply. Youre most likely right in that we don't have enough research and information on this yet. I've tried to scan what medical research I've been able to find, but as you say, even the research is contradictory. The fact that everyone uses different methods and protocols only adds to the confusion. Read two studies the other day in which they both used inulin but got conflicting results. One team thought it was because of different chain lengths of the inulin supplements. be the likely answer.

    Reading your comments about your fiber mixes is very inspirational. Am going to try and start my own in the coming weeks. Am a little worried I'm going to have strong reactions to some of them, but suppose that the best way to work with it is to start small with each one and see how it goes. If bad results, taper back or discountinue use. I had some grilled Jerusalem artichoke the other day which gave me bad gas and some discomfort. I then googled it and apparently its called "fartichoke" for a reason! Lots of inulin! Will be interesting to see if I get the same result from inulin powder. Picked up some GOS from Bimuno at London Heathrow airport and will try that too. Any comments on GOS? Good/bad?

    By the way in my post i meant to say "in particular prevotella", not "ore items". Love autocorrect!


    1. Bo - have you seen Mr. Heisenbug's post on what potato starch specifically feeds? It's an interesting one and gives you a starting point, anyway :) here:

    2. If it's any consolation, Jerusalem artichokes do a crazy number on me too. Still do. I wish I could find it again, but I recall reading that the Jerusalem artichoke is one of the very few vegetables that is essentially uncultivated into a soft, sugary version. It's close to what our ancestors ate. Likewise, wild fruits are about as sweet as modern carrots, with far more fiber.

      GOS at an airport? It took me a while to find it on Amazon! My gut feeling is that it is good, but unimportant. A bit player. I take it every day, but in a small amount. It helped me some with gas, maybe. I think it's good from a diversity standpoint, but other sources like inulin, resistant starches, pectin, etc. are more crucial. But, hey, my point is that everybody is different. So maybe your experience will be different.

      Good luck!

    3. Just a note about Jerusalem artichokes... I love them, but they kill me.

      But that is only if they are baked.
      Thinly sliced, raw, in a salad gives me zero gas.

      I can't figure out which way my gut benefits more .

  15. I've got at least a dozen prebiotic starches on my counter, and almost that many probiotics. I have stuff from Brazil and China and Minnesota. And I have strains of probiotics that aren't even on the market. And I've tried all of them.

    I started out about a year-and-a-half ago, following Tim's and Richard's posts, and trying raw potato starch. Good results followed. Then I added SBO probiotics (PrescriptAssist). Even better results followed, with improvements in digestion, elimination, sleep, dreaming, and most surprisingly, in mood and anxiety. As people have noted in this post, the "chill effect."

    Then I started adding all these other prebiotics and probiotics. I was in contact with producers all over the world and getting samples (or 5 KG bags) of all sorts of things. And over time, potato starch became a minor player.

    But I recently realized that I wasn't having all the same positive results that I had with RPS. That had happened over time, gradually, so I hadn't really noticed. So I went back to the beginning and started again with mainly potato starch as a base, with some green banana and PrescriptAssist probiotics. And lo and behold, all of the great stuff I had experienced at the beginning of all this came back. Digestion, mood, sleep, energy, all improved significantly.

    So despite the efforts of some to scare people away from RPS, I'm convinced that for many people, it's a great therapeutic prebiotic supplement. Everyone is different and everyone is their own N=1, so you have to experiment (which is a good activity in any case), but for me, and for those of my friends I've encouraged to try it, raw potato starch plus SBO probiotics are a great protocol.

    1. That's really interesting Charles, thank you. Did you notice any benefit from all that experimenting with different fibers? And do you just pretty much stick to potato and green banana now, or do you throw some others in there?

      I'm also still wondering how key quantity is. I think I recall Wilbur saying that 75g was when things really started shifting.
      Tim is suggesting 20-50grams -- Wilbur, if you see this, am I remembering right? Was there a noticeable difference when you got to that amount?

    2. Yes, that's about right. But there are a couple of things. The timing could be completely coincidental and more reflective of a repaired gut. Also, the quantity I take reflects the many different fiber types I use. So it's also not the quantity per se. And just to muddle things more, it could have been a specific fiber that did it. I didn't take notes, but I started glucomannan about the 75 mark, and that stopped my hypoglycemia. Maybe the glucomannan was magic for me.

    3. Ok! :-)
      It is all a bit of a mystery isn't it. I guess it doesn't really matter. I'm actually really enjoying all my little bags of white powder and figuring out new ones to try. I'm slightly obsessed with trying as many as possible and it's all kind of fun. Impossible to explain how this could be 'fun' to others not doing this though!

    4. aaah! Very interesting! As I started adding other fermentable fibers, I decided not to decrease the potato starch, at least not yet. Then I read Mr. Heisenbug's post explaining that potato starch appears to be targeting a really crucial specific group of gut bugs, and decided to stay with that '4tbs potato + variety' approach.

      Sounds like your N=1 supports keeping potato starch principle in the mix, whatever else one may do :)

      From the conclusion of Heisenbug's post:
      What Resistant starch lacks in breadth, it makes up in precision. Resistant starch is a laser-guided missile aimed at the two most important strains of mucosal bacteria in one of the most crucial clusters of bacteria in the human gut.

      Want the proof? Scroll back up to Tim’s results. Check out #4 for his most abundant microbes. Lachnospiraceae, aka Cluster XIVa. A respectable 4.5%…and I’ll just bet R. intestinalis and E. rectale have something to do with it.

      (Side note: Yes, Tim’s Ruminococcaceae are abundant at 14%, but all the American Gut results I’ve seen so far have Ruminococcaceae somewhere in the top 4. So I don’t think that’s hugely relevant. I think Jeff Leach is the outlier at 23.2%).

      So while that sweet, sweet potato powder may not give you that full spectrum firmicute high, it hits the important guys really, really hard.

      Talk about “targeted therapy.”

      Add to that the fact that, unlike other prebiotic fibers, with Resistant Starch we have a cheap, high dosable, abundant supplemental source in the form of potato starch (thanks Bob!).

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason Resistant Starch, in the form of raw potato starch, is officially the body hack of *maybe* the decade.

    5. Charles,
      I really hope Dr B.G is reading this. N= 1 and all that but still hugely significant.
      I'm curious, when you were doing the gourmet fiber hound thing, what was your daily total dose. And now that you've resurrected the PS, what's your daily dose (total with whatever others you throw in) ?

  16. Just got this from Sally: Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers

    Comparing GOS (Bimuno) to FOS and a placebo. For some reason, the Bimuno worked better than the FOS in this study, but it may have been a dosing issue or adaption issue. At any rate, this confirms exactly what "Cat" and others have been saying about feeling much mellower while eating their prebiotic fiber!

    "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 or the benzodiazepine diazepam in healthy individuals (Browning et al. 2006 ;Murphyetal. 2009a , b ). These effects have been interpreted as showing an early anxiolytic-like profile, where threatening stimuli are less likely to be attended to."

    So, similar to Valium? Unreal!


    "The increase of positive compared to negative emotional information processing in the B-GOS group provides initial evidence that behavioural effects of probiotics in rodent models (Bravo et al. 2011 ) can be extended to affective processing in humans using prebiotics. These results are also consistent with a recent fMRI study which reported that a 3-week probiotic administration reduced neural response in a network of areas (including the somatosensory cortex, insula and parahippocampal gyrus) to angry and fearful facial expressions (Tillisch et al. 2013 )"

    And again, prebiotics make one freak out less when someone makes a "mean face" at you. I remember when I was a little kid, we would make "mean faces" at each other. Some people seemed immune to "mean faces" and other people couldn;t take it. Maybe now we know a reason why...gut dysfunction!

    This Bimuno stuff may be worth looking into if you are not seeing positive effects with other prebiotics.

    Buy Bimuno On-line

    This is not a sponsored link, as usual, just a link I found quickly.

    1. I think that was a UK link. I believe this is the same thing on Amazon:

    2. Similar to valium, yes! I have ativan on hand for unmanageable spikes of anxiety and I can report that potato starch has the same quantity of calming for me, without any of the mental slowing.

      How funny that this has actually been verified :D

  17. @Cat, have you seen these?

    Gut Microbiota and mental Health:

    Microbes, Brain and Behaviour

    1. mind is being blown on a regular basis here :D Thanks for these links!

  18. For you guys in search of a good inulin.

    Here is something called P95 scFOS. It is shown in studies to be one of the best fermented fibers.

    Can be bought here:

    A paper on it here:

    Thanks, Barney!

    1. This dovetails with reading I've een doing. See the article link in the comments of part 4. The Jarrow inulin/FOS is Synergy1, which is 50% P95 and 50% inulin HP, if I understand correctly. The p95 is very short chain, and the HP is long chain. The short chain has more effect on the proximal colon, while the long more on the distal colon. The synergy1 has a number of studies that suggest it is very good.

      The part 2 of the article I linked says that some people have problems with gas using the short chain P95. One suggestion is to cut back the short chain and add the long chain.

      This is all fascinating stuff. I now see my inulin strategy was naive, and I need to do more work.

    2. Wilbur - could this be part of the explanation why the Jerusalem Artichoke hits some people so hard? A mix of long and short chain and people are intolerant of the short chain? (I cannot do the artichokes at all - they take me apart, like, debilitating gas if you can believe that :P)

    3. I looked into this. It looks like freshly harvested JA is actually considered long-chain inulin. BUT storing it, overwintering it, and cooking it all reduce the chain length. These are all suggestions I've seen for reducing the gas. And, yes, I believe the gas because I have experienced it! So it seems to run opposite of the usual advice.

      However, JA is a mere annoyance. Yacon root is my nemesis. I love it. At times, I can eat it by the bagful dried, or by the Tbsp in my drink. I crave it during those times. Then it just turns on me. Gas, diarrhea, bloating until I stop. After that, even a little bit sets me off. I'm feeling the urge to get going again, so we will see.

      The funny thing is that yacon is mostly short-chain inulin. I don't get it.

    4. Wilbur,
      Are you planning to get some of the Orafti HP?
      Knowing you, it's probably already in the mail. It will be interesting to see whether the long chain factor is significant in the the atmospheric scheme of things. The company who handle Beneo products in Australia mainly supply to the confectionery industry. Interesting fit.

    5. It arrived today. I made sure my order was in before I even mentioned it!

      I also got the Jarrow FOS/Inulin, which is Orafti Synergy 1, a 50:50 blend of very short chain and the HP. I'm going to experiment.

      for those who are new at this, I'm going to follow Tim's suggestions even though I take a lot of fiber every day. Tonight, I will add just a little, about 1/4 tsp, to my fart drink. Just to see how I react. If everything is ok overnight, then again in the morning. Then I will slowly start building up the dose.

      I am so happy that Tim mentioned the nomenclature problems with inulin. I have lots of bags of inulin, but what is it really? It's like buying a bottle with just the word beer on the label. It could be a lot of different things and still be beer.

    6. Here, to clarify (or confuse):

      Introducing Inulin-type Fructans

      "Inulin is a generic term to cover all beta(2-->1) linear fructans. Chicory inulin is a linear beta(2-->1) fructan (degree of polymerisation (DP) 2 to 60; DPav=12), its partial enzymatic hydrolysis product is oligofructose (DP 2 to 8; DPav=4), and by applying specific separation technologies a long-chain inulin known as inulin HP (DP 10 to 60; DPav=25) can be produced. Finally, a specific product known as oligofructose-enriched inulin is obtained by combining chicory long-chain inulin and oligofructose. Because of the beta-configuration of the anomeric C2 in their fructose monomers, inulin-type fructans resist hydrolysis by intestinal digestive enzymes, they classify as 'non-digestible' carbohydrates, and they are dietary fibres"

      This stuff is just painful to read and even harder to try to explain in a way people can understand.

    7. Another. This one says long-chain FOS are fermented 'steadily' while scFOS are fermented quickly.

      Fructooligosaccharides exhibit more rapid fermentation than long-chain inulin in an in vitro fermentation system.

      "a mixture of long-chain IN and short-chain FOS, produced significantly more total SCFA and acetate than the other samples. Sample F (DP > 20), the longest-chain IN, produced the lowest concentration of butyrate at 24 hours. The rate of FOS fermentation was higher than IN fermentation during 0 to 4 hours for all SCFAs, and the rate of IN fermentation was higher than FOS fermentation during 12 to 24 hours for all SCFAs. Chain length affects in vitro fermentability, with short chains being rapidly fermented and long chains being steadily fermented. "

    8. In 'moron language' what does that say about the product Ecobloom? Yes or no as part of my prebiotic protocol? Thanks!

    9. The Ecobloom seems to be Frutafit, which seems to be chicory inulin. Chain length average at about 12, if I recall correctly. It's a mix of everything as I understand. I've taken chicory and agave inulin over the last year or more.

      In my mind, I see a big pile of chicory inulin someplace, with lots of companies filling up bags designed to make theirs sound better, more scientific. Not that yours is like this, but I wonder about some of those I've gotten. I'm buying beer. Does a fancy label make it better beer? Is it even a different beer? What about the cheap beer? I don't know.

    10. Looks OK.

      Ecobloom is 100% natural powder chicory extract FrutaFit, Inulin (often called FOS). FOS is fructooligosaccharides, which serves as food for beneficial microfloral. 8 ounces. - See more at:

      Serving size is 2g. You probably want waaaaay more than that.

      I read up on FrutaFit.

      FrutaFit is a chicory-derived inulin powder used heavily by the food manufacturers to add low calorie sweetness and fiber to foods.

      I suspect that in bulk, frutafit is dirt cheap.

      Here is a product that appears to just be FrutaFit in a plain wrapper:

      Difference in price:

      Ecobloom - $24.95 for 10oz
      LC Inulin Fiber - $10.48 for 12 oz

      I seriously think it is the exact same thing.

      I loved this review:

      "Not sure what I'm supposed to do with it, but used it as a sugar substitute and it didn't work. Just gave me gas! "

    11. Tim,
      Really interesting, thanks. The long chain/ steady fermenting factor sounds intriguing. TMI, I've never had much of a flatulence problem with any of this. From the outset. But whenever I add in some new fiber, for a day or two, there's a bit more gas, But it never smells rank. I think most people have a kind of perverse fascination with smelling their own farts - it sort of reminds them of recent meals. And one of the things that I've enjoyed most about this whole fiber adventure is that you can fart silently in a room, with other people present, and nobody even notices.
      There's a commonly used fart descriptor in Australia - 'Silent but deadly'.
      Not any more.

      You're a fiber phenomenon. I won't get my Orafti HP for a week. But I did get on to the Grain Milling juggernaut that makes wheat and maize dextrin. I think one of the reasons that Benefiber uses wheat dextrin is that it too is steadily fermented and whatever gas is produced has a chance to be gobbled up by some other microbe. Just love those gas eating microbes. And buying the dextrin from the grain milling industry almost gets it down to PS cheap.

  19. We should also look at N-acetylglucosamine, a building block of chitin, perhaps the second most common polysaccharide.

    It is also a building block of complex oligosaccharides found in human milk (HMO), the first prebiotics with many roles (feed beneficial Bifido, act as decoy for pathogens by mimicking the epithelial glycoproteins, "antiadhesive antimicrobials", serve as substrate for production of SCFAs, have immunomodulatory functions, feed the developing brain...).

    HMOs cannot be made industrially, though :-)

    Human milk oligosaccharides: Every baby needs a sugar mama (2012)

    1. Hello Gemma,

      I am French sorry for my english. I read your messages on candida. I would like to know how you did it to get rid of candida te. Test to know your level of candida in your body food, supplements, ... Thanks

    2. @Paristique


      Well I had not such troubles myself, so I cannot offer any personal experience. I hope others who sometimes post here can tell you more (Stuart, Eddie,...). You can test for antibodies, sure. There are strong anti fungals available from pharmacy, but the fungi can adapt and become persistent.

      I just posted this for someone else, it might apply to you:

      There are various anti-fungal diets, you need to try and experiment, how to calm the inflammation down.

      Here a list of ideas and tips, not sure if and what would work for you, and if you search around you surely find some more.

      fats: olive oil, coconut oil
      food: garlic, onions, leeks, medicinal mushrooms, sauerkraut
      prebiotics: INULIN, FOS, beta glucans, PHGG, arabinogalactan, babobab powder, etc.
      probiotic: Bifido, S. boulardii
      herbs: turmeric, milk thistle, ginger, propolis, echinacea, etc.

      Perhaps counter intuitive, but what about some honey?
      Get some honeydew honey from Schwarzwald :-) (Waldhonig, Honigtau)

      And recently I have heard someone healed similar symptoms eating a raw potato (one daily).

    3. Thanks Gemma ,
      I read on some sites that potato or potato starch could transform candida.
      In the morning, I take barley grass juice
      For lunch: salad with green vegetables and eggs.
      A 17 afternoon: A coconut.
      Dinner: green vegetables and lawyers or ghee.
      I take two tablespoon of psyllium and herbs Lapacho

      You know some tests to find easy to do by oneself even to know their level of candida. I saw Tim said we could eat the potato starch and see when you have pets

    4. @Paristique

      Well, potato starch helps some and some not. It depends. Try and see. But raw potato contains starch AND other fibers AND antifungal compounds, so from that point of view it is better.

      Looking at your diet: there is too little fiber and polysaccharides (but perhaps "lawyers" contain some :-) what is it?)
      If you do not eat enough fiber (complex saccharides), then there is not enough glucose to feed your gut flora. Also Candida is hungry therefore angry, therefore it eats you.

      Feed your gut flora better and it will fight candida.

    5. Maybe 'lawyers' was 'lard?' Gotta love auto-correct!

      Hey, seem to be eating a near 'vegan' diet, too. Is that on purpose? Long term?

      Also, a lot of people have mentioned that the probiotic supplement, "Saccharomyces boulardii" has helped fight Candida.

    6. Thanks you :)
      Have a typical day to combat candida? I have lots of cravings (sugar craving and I'm always hungry and very cold feet and hands)

      Lawyers is avocado .

      Breakfast - Potato starch with water
      Lunch - Green vegetable
      Snack -
      Dinner -

    7. Tim Steele, Looking diet, the best to be healthy. I'm not vegan but I have trouble finding my meals to be healthy because at present many foods are not good (OGMs, ...)

    8. @Gemma. Something like Artinia, chitin glucan, fit the bill? Was cleaning out the supplement drawer the other day and noticed that many of the supplements had some form of NAG to heal the gut. At the time, I didn't really understand the link.

    9. On Artinia: it seems it is kind of NAG linked to glucans, Aspergillus derived... well, why not? Especially if you need to heal some kind of intestinal inflammation.

    10. @Paristique

      There is so much good food to find, especially in France. Eat something! You are starving now, that is why you feel cold, your metabolism is slowed down so much.

    11. @Gemma. LOL, need to fish it out of the trash. I think the aspergillus link was the reason I trashed it. That plus i had it in my head that it could contribute to biofilms. Is there a preferred form of NAG for the prebiotic benefit?

    12. It's been four months that candida persist with a gluten-free diet, no lactose, no cheese, no meat. I eat a lot of greenery and coconut. I consume garlic in large quantities with leeks as chicory and Jerusalem artichokes. I'll try to post your advice to take a potato believed to raise organic inulin rates. I tried the anti candida diets but it did not work. It's hard to find the right diet. I would like to find answers to this candida problem and live better.

    13. @Anon, on Artinia derived from Aspergillus

      It is about showing the real face of a pathogen. Normally, when they are alive and try to eat us, they first try to hide, mask their presence by mannans and/or induce that sort of inflammation that benefits their pathogenesis. But exposing their structure makes our immune system realize: "ha, here it is, it should be killed!".

      Kill some mushrooms sometimes, heat them and eat them :-)

      See (a paper on Candida):
      Immune Recognition of Candida albicans β-glucan by Dectin-1

      "β(1,3)-glucans represent 40% of the cell wall of the yeast Candida albicans. The dectin-1 lectin-like receptor has shown to recognize fungal β(1,3)-glucans and induce innate immune responses. The importance of β-glucan-dectin-1 pathways for the recognition of C. albicans by human primary blood cells has not been firmly established. In this study we demonstrate that cytokine production by both human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and murine macrophages is dependent on the recognition of β-glucans by dectin-1. Heat killing of C. albicans resulted in exposure of β-glucans on the surface of the cell wall and subsequent recognition by dectin-1, whereas live yeasts stimulated monocytes mainly via recognition of cell-surface mannans."

    14. Got rid of long term CANDIDA by going NO SUGAR, no High Fructose Corn Syrup diet. They will die-off within a few weeks. Google: candida + sugar

  20. @Paristique

    When I had trouble with candida it was long before we knew about probiotics and prebiotics. I tried a lot of restrictions, but in the end, I gave up because I felt there was nothing I could eat. Then I met a nice Italian/French man who encouraged me to eat differently than the normal Western Diet.

    Now, don't be shocked, but one thing that helped a lot was a glass of red wine every day! I also ate a few black olives, good cheeses and of course yoghurt. I learned to make soup from scratch, as it is easier to digest vegetables and meat that way. I used olive oil and apple cider vinegar on my salads. I ate lots of garlic and onions but always cooked, for easier digestion. A little good chocolate now and then as well. Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, warming but not hot.

    I also used apple cider vinegar in my bath to ease the itchy skin.

    It took several months to feel like myself again but I have never had problems with it since. Just my experience, mind you, but I hope you will consider some of it for yourself. The most important thing, really, in all of this was to eat warming foods like soups as much as possible at first, just to get my appetite back.

  21. Hey all
    Regarding the NutraFlora, I found Swanson handles their own version. Sold as a "pure-source prebiotic supplement. Features an impressive 95% fructooligosaccharides content." And this: " Just one gram per day can increase your friendly bacteria count by 500% in just four weeks."
    It is surprisingly cheap - unheard of actually. 4.99 for 60 veggie capsules, 1 per day.
    I'll take a flyer at that price.

    1. Thomas - Thanks, but let me ask you, does that claim make sense? "1g per day increases friendly bacteria 500%."

      I just looked at the website, and saw that claim, but no links to studies backing it up. I have several papers that show scFOS (the stuff in NutraFlora) is actually a great prebiotic, and makes big increases in 'friendly bacteria.'

      If you added 1g of scFOS to a Petri dish containing 100cfus of bifidobacteria, I have no doubt it would increase 500X in a short time. However, if I took 1g/day as a supplement, it would hardly be enough to meet all my fiber needs.

      I have no idea what a safe upper limit is of scFOS, I would guess you could take 50g/day with no problems other than gas, just like potato starch or inulin.

      It is a good price for scFOS, but don't be lulled into thinking that 1-2 capsules a day is a good fiber plan! I suspect that they market/label it that way so that no one farts, which would be bad for Amazon reviews.

      I think a good plan for scFOS is to buy a cheap source like this and dump the capsule out and mix with potato starch or inulin or whatever fiber you are using that adds up to 20-50g per day or so.

    2. Thomas - I just re-read what I wrote...hope you didn't think I was making fun of you or trying to bite your head off!

      I feel for the supplement people trying to sell prebiotics. Too high a dose and people will sleep better, poop better, have a better immunity, dream, and be chillaxed, but they might also, gasp, FART!

      A low dose guarantees no farts, but really does no good in the production of SCFAs and neurotransmitters that the gut bugs really want to produce.

      I was thinking about the claim of 1g grows good bacteria 500X. So, does 2g make it grow 1000X? Would 10g cause your gut to rupture and spill friendly bacteria all over a crowd of horrified onlookers?

      If I now have 1 pound of friendly bacteria, and take 1g of this a day for two weeks, will I then have 500 pounds of friendly bacteria?

      I don't know how they are going to eventually market prebiotics in a way that makes sense to newbies.

      People barely even want to admit that they have a tube that is 5 feet long containing trillions of nasty bacteria, let alone grow them 500X.

      It's funny how the public seems to rally around probiotics and take terms like "20 Billion colony forming units" in stride. Maybe one day they will also realize that they need to feed these things right, too!

    3. ROFL Tim!! This whole thing, but especially: "People barely even want to admit that they have a tube that is 5 feet long containing trillions of nasty bacteria, let alone grow them 500X. "

      aaa ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! It really is a marketing department's nightmare, isn't it :D

  22. Anyone get breakouts when starting to supplement fibers?

  23. Anon - I got minor breakouts when I first started.

    More than that, I'm seeing eczema flares. I pretty much only get eczema with bad-bug die-off....or when I eat non-pastured eggs. Apparently the cage-free chicken eggs cannot hide the fact that they are chock full of corn and soy feed - my body can tell! Eczema ahoy!

    So, yeah - skin is a massive detox organ and if you're detoxing, you'll likely see evidence there :)

  24. some folks are trying turpentine for candida. i know, sounds crazy but turpentine appears to have been an effective remedy for stomach ailments in days gone by.

  25. should have mentioned that you need to get 100% pure spirits of turpentine which is actually an essential oil of pine iirc. the recipe is something like a few drops on several cubes of sugar but do the research and make sure you know what youre doing before you try it.

  26. It's called 'gum turpentine' in Australia. Smells wonderful. Artists use it with oil paints. Completely different to the turpentine you buy in a hardware store. Although some hardware stores do sell both types.

  27. I can't find the thread again where some were talking about feeling full and having a depressed appetite.

    Count me in. I am simply not very hungry, or I'm satisfied with small portions of this or that. Weird.

    Also, TMI, I am shocked by the high volume of stool. It doesn't seem possible!


  28. Michelle,

    How much and what are you taking?

    1. @elliebelly
      I just started supplementing after sending in a UBiome test in December. It's not exact, but I'm taking about 0.5-1 t. Psyllium, 1-2 T. PS, and .5-1 T. Inulin twice a day.

  29. Tim, et al, what do you think about lactulose? I came across it as a prebiotic and remembered when I drank it to test for SIBO, I had no reaction. Meaning no gas, bloating, or bleeding, as most pre- and probiotics cause. So maybe it's tolerable for me?

  30. re: Turpentine. I looked around a bit and couldn't really find any compelling scientific literature.

    From Wiki:

    Medicinal elixir

    Turpentine and petroleum distillates such as coal oil and kerosene have been used medicinally since ancient times, as topical and sometimes internal home remedies. Topically it has been used for abrasions and wounds, as a treatment for lice, and when mixed with animal fat it has been used as a chest rub, or inhaler for nasal and throat ailments. Many modern chest rubs, such as the Vicks variety, still contain turpentine in their formulations.

    Taken internally it was used as treatment for intestinal parasites because of its alleged antiseptic and diuretic properties, and a general cure-all[10][11] as in Hamlin's Wizard Oil. Sugar, molasses or honey were sometimes used to mask the taste. Internal administration of these toxic products is no longer common today.

    Turpentine was a common medicine among seamen during the Age of Discovery, and one of several products carried aboard Ferdinand Magellan's fleet in his first circumnavigation of the globe.

  31. re: Lactulose

    I should have talked more about this! I have no personal experience, so I can't tell you how it mixes or costs, but several people told me it's a decent prebiotic.

    A couple papers: (abstract only) Says it increases beneficial, decreases pathogens.

    Lactulose seems to be used widely as a laxative, and also in tests for SIBO.

    Here is a good article from SuppVersity on lactulose:

    I guess the only thing I don;t understand is why it seems to be sold only as a laxative. So, if you try it, maybe be careful you don't have an 'accidents!'

  32. Re pure spirits of turpentine for candida, may I just say OH MY GOD! I don't know how to put this kindly, but as anyone who's had candida can tell you, one of its symptoms is not being able to think straight. I'd say the use of turpentine internally is pretty indicative of that. Sorry if that sounded harsh but gee whiz ..

    A simple (steeped, not boiled) tea of pine needles is perfectly safe and is probably plenty antifungal.

  33. I was looking into gut flora in relation to diabetes T2, and I came across the following interview with Dr Patrice Cani "Prebiotic Pioneer" at the Catholic Univerity in Leuven/Louvain in Belgium. He demonstrated that prebiotics have a role to play in diabetes, because often drug treatment doesn't give the lowering blood sugars give they are supposed to do.

    Jo tB

  34. Wow!! Your post on fiber supplementation is really great!! You have shared useful information that will help me to buy supplements that will add proper fiber supplement into my diet. You know I was looking for some details on fiber supplementation .Thanks a lot for sharing dear!!

  35. Is appetite suppression a common side effect of taking prebiotics powders, or just initially? I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but of the few comments of this thread about feeling very full, it's women saying so. Thoughts?

    1. Jin - I don't doubt that a good set of gut microbes can influence "feeding behavior" but I don't believe that prebiotics are "appetite suppressing" like a diet pill.

      It could be different for everyone, and even gender-specific, as you mention. Insulin and ghrelin are "hunger hormones", making you eat more when food is available. Prebiotics have a known effect on post-prandial insulin/glucose/ghrelin, so if these hormones clear quicker from your body, it should result in a quicker feeling of being full.

    2. I'm male, and I have had the same appetite suppression for about a year. I mention it above too, or maybe in another thread. Although I donr really label it as appetite suppression. For me, it's that the energy I have is separate from my hunger. I think this should be true for any well-nourished human. I don't eat because I need to eat; I est because I want to eat. what I want to eat seems to be what my body needs.

      It's not a crowding out effect either, IMO. I can skip the fibers for a whole day with no changes.

      There was a study I read that, in addition to the hormones, there is another link the gut bugs have to the brain to signal fullness. I'll try to find it soon.

    3. Here it is

    4. Sorry, upon posting I realized that might be an unstable indirect link. Here is a better one to the full article.

    5. Jin,
      Most days now I eat about a third of the calories that I used to eat pre fermentable fiber. I've gained lean weight, and lost some belly fat. So I weigh about the same.
      I used to experiment with intermittent fasting before fiber (BF) and would without exception be absolutely ravenous when I broke the fast. I haven't gone longer than 36 hrs since upping the fiber (UF). But now I don't feel hungry at all the entire time.
      The only reason I eat again is I don't see the nutritional point of burning muscle.
      I'm convinced that eating a lot of fermentable fiber is the way humans were designed. And if you don't your body will always have an unsatisfied need that will simply result in you wanting to eat more calories than you need. 'Some people have a lot of willpower about resisting hunger (like French women) .I'd personally just rather use the willpower I'm capable of for other things.
      That's certainly not the only reason to look after your microbiome. But it's certainly a biggie.


      Fermentable fiber & appetite

  36. Sorry, that should have been 'a third LESS calories than I used to eat.

  37. @Wilbur,

    how is it going with the Jarrow FOS/ inulin?

  38. I haven't tried it yet. Instead, I tried the Syontix Orafti inulin HP (long chain). I love it! I don't know why but it seems to be a missing piece of the puzzle. I take about 2 tsp per day.

    Have you tried it? How about you, Stuart. I recall that you had ordered it.

    1. I haven't received mine yet. Should be any day now. I can't wait to try it.

  39. I also thought it worth mentioning that I've been forcing down a couple of tspns of spirulina/ macadamia oil paste for several weeks now and I actually realized yesterday that I quite like the taste. My clever dogs. They always loved it.
    It did seem to cause a bit of flatulence for the first week. No problems now.
    And I got some 95% XOS a few days ago. So a TBS of that is in the mix too.

    I'm also really impressed by the thinly sliced raw fermented raw potato. It tastes so much nicer than fresh raw potato. Only takes 2 days with no salt. But it's very hot in Brisbane at the moment (40deg C). That probably helps.

  40. So I see that both Syontix and Jarrow use the Orafti HP.....

    And when you say it was " the missing piece of the puzzle", can you say more?

    1. I've been trying to figure it out myself. Things feel different. It is supposed to really work well in the distal colon, and maybe this is what it is doing. I just really like it, and can't explain why!

      The Jarrow is 50% short chain (P-95, I think) and 50% HP. I believe Syontix is 100% HP.

  41. Weird isn't it, how something can feel better or worse but in a way that is hard to put your finger on. Partly, I would bet, it is because we, as a culture, just don't discuss this very much. Maybe in a few years time there will be more words and phases available to us. We will have as many words for shit as the Eskimos do for snow.

    I am interested in the distal colon aspect because one of the new sensations I have experienced occasionally is a heaviness at the end of my colon, without the urge to go or any discomfort. Then it goes away and a few hours later everything works just fine, although not in a form Mr Bristol listed, sort of a 4 1/2

    In any case, I just ordered the Syontix....

  42. Tim, maybe I am crazy...but here goes. I have some potatoes here that I am planning to bake for dinner tonight. I seem to recall reading a comment you made somewhere (of course, right now that I need to find it, I cannot find it)..where you indicated that removing the potato peel would render more resistant starch than leaving it on.(?) as it bakes?

  43. for those of us trying to treat dysbiosis, one protocol says starve the buggers while you try to kill them, one says activate them (feed them fermentables). Any input based on your knowledge of bugger behavior? fyi - elemental diet (liquid with no fermentables) has highest success, but is this "proof"?

    1. Sounds like my experience. Never had much luck with any of the killing protocols until I added a biofilm buster.

  44. nice blog !! i was looking for blogs related of feed supplements. then i found this blog, this is really nice and interested to read. thanks to author for sharing this type of information.

  45. I've been lurking for a while...

    "If your preferred way of taking fiber is to mix with water, you do NOT want much (if any) guar gum or xanthan me. "

    I'm in Sweden and here guar gum(partially hydrolyzed[is that good or bad or maybe neither?]) is sold by health food stores and pharmacists under the brand name Sunwic as a treatment for IBS. It doesn't goop up in liquids, just makes it a little viscous. If I add my daily dose-2 tbsp to my largest cup of tea I can barely tell it's there.

    A huge thanks to everyone contributing here, both writers and commenters, I've learnt a lot these past few months since I found you and I'm at least halfway to being 'cured'-both from IBS and anxiety.

    1. Oh, yes -- I know too well what happens when you mix guar gum, xanthan gum, or even glucomannan with a liquid...turns it into rubber!

      There were some glucomannan 'gummi bears' that had to be taken off the market because people were choking on them.

      Partially hydrolyzed guar gum is a great prebiotic, I have been taking it for quite a while mixed with a bunch of other fibers. If you are just using PHGG, you may want to try adding another fiber type as well, such as inulin, FOS, potato starch, or psyllium husk. I think we've found enough convincing evidence that a mixture is always better than a single type.

      Thanks for de-lurking and good luck on your journey!

    2. @Sparris

      Time for another de-lurking. Not really sure how to register, but I'll figure it out eventually. Sparris, your comment grabbed me because I struggle with anxiety as well. Can you share what you've done that's helped? Thanks in advance!

      Tim, love the blog and learning so much.

    3. To reply to both of you-Tim, yes I've added other things, too. Began PS in late March, since then also chia seeds and a bunch of probiotics. Inulin only yesterday, I must confess I have absolutely no idea how much to take. Started VERY conservatively with 1ml each meal(learned the hard way just how sensitive my gut can be).

      @Erin: the most beneficial thing so far has been the potato starch-or perhaps the increase in serotonin it brought-perhaps an equal increase in other fibers would help as well?
      I originally began using it for the reported effects of better sleep and mental calm and I can tell it helped.
      Though, for me my first experiments ended in a 24h anxiety attack so go easy. I was offered SNRIs(declined, though) by my CBT therapist and these can apparently have the side effect of increased anxiety in the beginning so I figured both this and PS cause this by increasing the amount of available serotonin. It goes away.

      Also, learning yoga has helped a lot. I'm doing 'medical yoga' or mediyoga, not sure if it's available outside Sweden yet, but I think any type will help, especially the less active, physical types-yin yoga or kundalini.

      Hope you find an approch that helps you!

  46. Just a note about Jerusalem artichokes... I love them, but they kill me.

    But that is only if they are baked.
    Thinly sliced, raw, in a salad gives me zero gas.

    I can't figure out which way my gut benefits more .

    1. This might sound silly, but how well do you chew them when they are baked? Jerusalem artichoke is a veggie that gives me copious gas if I do not chew well but none when I do (mushrooms and corn being others). Thinly sliced, they get digested easily and you might masticate them fully.

      That you get gas from them roasted says that they are doing something good for your gut!

  47. Can abyone help me out with some inulin/FOS questions? So I think inulin and FOS are different but when looking at supplements it's hard to tell the differnece between the sources for products.

    This piping rock product says Inulin (FOS) on the front and then Inulin (oligosaccharide) from chicory root on the back:

    This swanson product says Inuin naturally occuring FOS from chicory root but says (oligosaccharide) on the back:

    If it says "from chicory root" is it inulin even if it says FOS?

    I read about the scFOS in the pubmed link in the comments above and bout some Nutraflora from NowFoods but am wondering about adding Inulin but I'm not sure how to tell if something's a good source. A lot of things say Inulin FOS from chicory root and I can't tell if it's inulin or FOS.

    I read that not all inulin was shown to be bifidogenic is there a way to know what's a good source of inulin with some studies behind it?

    And is inulin from agave different from inulin from chicory root?

    Also, has anyone seen this study about scFOS increasing intestinal permeability in rats? Should I be worried about taking the Nutraflora (scFOS)? It's suppose to feed a wide variety in the gut but I definitely don't want leaky gut.

    Any help is much appreciated :)

    1. Hi Crystena - I had the same problems trying to understand inulin as well. Let me try to explain as best I can.

      In nature, as in a chicory root, inulin is always attached to FOS. It's the chemical structure, sometimes called inulin-type fructans, explained here:

      "To be inulin-type a fructan must have beta (2(1) fructosyl-fructose glycosidic bonds, which gives inulin its unique structural and physiological properties, allowing it to resist enzymatic hydrolysis by human salivary and small intestinal digestive enzymes. Inulin-type prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), oligofructose, and inulin - terms that have been used inconsistently in both the scientific literature and in food applications."

      The inconsistencies they mention arise by man's desire for pure FOS and inulin that is used by the food industry to increase give low calorie foods a feeling that they contain sugars and fats while also increasing the shelf-life of these foods.

      When a processed food contains FOS (often labeled 'inulin') it is not for your benefit, but to sell more food. They generally only put enough in to do what they want it to, but not enough to really help you as a prebiotic fiber.

      There are large factories scattered around the world where they extract inulin and FOS from chicory roots and agave. These products are sold to the food processors in various forms to be added to processed foods. supplement manufacturers have learned of the health benefits of these inulin-type fructans, and repackage them for use as prebiotic fiber.

      Some people have said, and some studies show, that short-chain inulin may have advantages over other types. Personally, I have not gotten this deep into the chemistry of inulin-type fructans to be a "short-chain snob" but I believe that there are differences, and maybe it depends on the person's starting gut flora which works best.

      If you eat Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, or agave, for instance, you are getting inulin, FOS, and all different chain lengths of each as they are neatly packaged together by mother nature.

      If you buy a supplement, you really don't know what you are getting unless it specifically says on the package.

      An interesting case study in this is a prebiotic called Syontix. The manufacturer sourced a scFOS and packaged it as a prebiotic, unfortunately, there are not enough fiber admirers to support the product line, and he is discontinuing it. Here is his wensite with the full story: looks like he has about 200 bottles left if you'd like to buy any.

      I recommend using Metamucil Clear Inulin. It's from chicory roots and from what I've read seems to be the 'real deal' if you want good, pure inulin. Alas, it has also been discontinued, so buy while supplies last.

      This NOW brand Inulin (FOS) looks to be a good deal, and is also from chicory.

      Some have displayed a liking to the inulin that comes from agave. Agave Inulin.

      I would recommend just buying whatever inulin suits your budget and research. I, personally, think it's all OK as a prebiotic, though real food would always be best. There are very few inulin-type fructan rich foods, though, so a supplement is not far-fetched.

      Don't feel bad for not understanding. Sometimes I don't think that the food manufacturers or supplement sellers understand, either.

      I have never seen a study that suggests scFOS causes leaky gut, so no worries on the Nutraflora, as far as I'm concerned.

      Hope this helps!

    2. This article has lots of good info, particularly about commercial products

      I think Tim's post pretty much sums it up. You have no idea what you are getting unless it specifically says so. Syontix, for instance. Sad he is discontinuing. It is 100% Orafti HP. I think it's great for the distal region, which is where I notice it. Jarrow Inulin/FOS is a 50:50 mix of Orafti HP and very short-chain inulin. It would miss the medium chain, so I would not recommend it unless you have a reason for it.

      I read that short chain inulin causes gastro distress in some study participants.

      I personally buy inulin sourced from either chicory or agave. I don't think it really matters, and I'm guessing not even the seller would know the properties. It probably comes from a big pile, and you pay for the fancy bag.

    3. Crystina, i am so glad you asked...I was so confused i didn't know how to pose the question.

    4. Thanks to everyone for the replies! All the links helped too. I decided to email a few brands to see what they would say about the inulin they use.

      It seems that the Nowfoods Inulin is actually from agave. This was their reply:

      "We have no specific chain length analyses on the Organic Inulin. It’s a simple process extracted with no chemicals from Organic Agave. We do offer NutraFlora FOS that is also a natural sugar derived product with 95% short chain fructoooligosaccharides."


      I also emailed Piping Rock and Swanson but haven't gotten a reply. I'm sure it will be fairly similar of a response.
      ... sometimes I can be such a stickler for details.

      I think I might try the Syontix. Right now I'm using Nutraflora in my morning oatmeal/oatbran. I'm figuring I wouldn't be getting a medium chain length inulin then? Maybe I should use a regular inulin too?

      I've been taking the Nutraflora for about a week now. I like it so far.


      This was the study a commenter on Mr. Heisenbug's blog posted, but nobody replied.
      "Dietary calcium decreases but short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides increase colonic permeability in rats"

      Since I have eczema I really wouldn't want to take anything that causes leaky gut. But I *think* my skin's been smoother since the Nutraflora - but that's just smoothness not eczema.

      For your inulin additions to your mix does it matter to you to try and get the whole range of short, medium and long chains? You say you wouldn't recommend a 50:50 mix like Jarrow's unless you have a reason for it. I guess a whole-istic type of approach is better in general, is that what your saying?

    5. That is interesting info. I've always used the mixed length inulin. I've never tried short length. The long chain- Syontix - was an immediate hit with me and a few others. I get farts that seem to originate in the distal end, which is interesting but a bit disconcerting at first.

      I just don't understand a product that is just short and long. Not that I think it's wrong, I just don't understand the reasoning. Just long I understand, since it is often hard to get fermentation in the distal colon. Just short is ok too, I guess. But 50:50 short and long?

      FWIW, my wife and daughter used to have terrible eczema. Neither have had an outbreak in a very long time after starting this. My daughter is almost as regular as I am about the fibers since I am in control. My wife, not as much, but no eczema. Also no asthma which they both have.

    6. It'll be interesting seeing what my reaction to the Synotix will be since I have chronic (literally never goes away) bloating/distention but I don't pass a lot of gas, though I can belch some of the air, but it's forced and doesn't actually make a dent in the distention.

      The reason why I fist thought to try try the scFOS was because of the study that said it fed a wider variety of gut bacteria. I'm really at the beginning of trying different prebiotic fiber supplements.

      That's actually great to hear about your wife and daughter. I've definitely seen a correlation in myself personally with gut issues and eczema.

  48. Are there any fibres that are more likely to be well-tolerated in the general dysbiotic population?

    A couple of them (e.g. IMO/isomaltoligosaccharides, GOS/ galactooligosaccharides) claim better tolerance, though I think that just means less gas/bloating - does that then mean less bug-feeding?

    (Vitafiber IMO seems to contain quite a bit of digestible oligos and sugars:
    per 100g serving
    Non-digestible oligos 55g
    Digestion-resistant oligos 15g
    Digestible oligos 21g
    Glucose <5g)

  49. Is it better to drink your fiber shake on an empty stomach maybe first thing in the morning? I tend to drink mine later in the day between lunch and diner. I figure it will help my sleep more if I drink it later in the day. Any thoughts? I usually use 4-5 tbs rps, 1tbs Inulin, 1-2 scoops of phgg or larch, 1/4tsp Ceylon cinnamon, tbs psyllium. Also, is it better to use psyllium powder or the whole husk? Thanks for the input

    1. It's totally up to you. Whatever is convenient, really. Just get it in ya!

      Your blend sounds awesome! Almost just like the Prebiotic+ stuff that sells for like $26 a pound. The cinnamon gives it a nice flavor. Good job!

      I'm not sure on the psyllium, I keep reading different things. I prefer the powder as I found the whole husks hard to work with. I doubt it really makes much difference, personal preference.

      How long have you been taking your blend? Liking it?

    2. Been using this specific blend for 3-4 months. I definitely notice a difference with improved sleep and better satiety. I've been able to maintain a caloric deficit very easily by adding in the prebiotic fibers. In the past, getting good sleep often became difficult when trying to get below 12% body fat. This shake fixes that problem, along with getting more carbs from potatoes, bean, oats etc. I'm going to up the rps to 6-8 tbsp.

  50. I got the idea to add the Ceylon cinnamon from Prebiotic+. That stuff is way overpriced. I ordered a bag of Ceylon from Amazon. I think the brand is Frontier.

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  52. What is the main difference between guar gum and phgg beside texture/solubility etc? Do they each have unique benefit?

  53. Tim, this research says, that purified fibres, that common in supplements, are not recommendable for our mucus layer. Do you have an idea, what they mean?

    1. This is a really great article, thanks for sharing! I would love to look at the full text and see what they mean about the purified fibers. I cannot seem to find the journal articles following the links they provide at MedicalXpress.

      I would assume that they fed the mice something like inulin, Hi-Maize, or potato starch with no other plants or fibers, and saw poor results because these fibers were quickly fermented and did not spread throughout the colon. I have been issuing a warning about this since the beginning of my fiber journey. If you take a supplemental fiber, it should be in conjunction with a plant-heavy diet so that there are other fibers involved that are shown to help slow the fermentation and spread the joy to all parts of the colon.

      I always get nervous when I hear of low carbers and keto dieters who eat little plant food, also taking a fiber supplement based on my recommendations. While I doubt it does any harm, it does not help much, either.

      I think the place for "purified fibers" is as a supplement to a diet that contains some fiber, but not lots. Preferably, we'd all eat a diet that contained 50g of fiber per day...this is nearly impossible for most. More commonly, people eat 15-20g of fiber, which can be ramped up to 40-50 by taking a spoonful or two of a supplemental purified fiber, ie. inulin, potato starch, Hi-Maize.

      If you can find the journal entry, please share and I'll write a blog post about what it says.


    2. Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your answer.

      If I understand right, they fed germ free mice with purified fiber. If we take purified fiber, we need bacteria, that are feeded with these supplements. Fiber from whole food, eaten raw, also has living microbes in it, that are feeded with the fiber from diet.
      Maybe this is also a point: fiber supplements given without fermented foods/prebiotics can do harm to the wall of the intestine.

      I eat PHD, fermented foods, together with a broad range of fiber supplements and probiotics (incl. potato starch), ratio fiber from diet/supplemts is 1:2,5, higher dosages, since 2 1/2 years, and my health gets better, the longer I do it.
      Thanks again for all of your posts!


  54. I know this is an older thread, but wondering, if based on more experience, anyone can recommend any specific fiber types for increased satiety? thank you.

    1. Lynn - I have not yet found a fiber or combination of fibers that has an appetite suppressing action on their own. However, a diet that contains ample fiber should lead to corrections in problems that lead to overeating.

      Hunger is a multifaceted issue, controlled in part by many different hormones that signal to the brain that we are full and should stop eating. Several of these hormones, ie. PYY, CKK, ghrelin, are "gut hormones" produced in the gut and stimulated or made directly by gut bacteria. Other effects of fiber are related to the feeling of fullness from the bulking action of different fiber types.

      I know this is probably not the answer you are looking for, and overeating/constant hunger are daily struggles for many.

      Here's a good paper on the topic if you like the science:

      I have had numerous comments that the Potato Hack diet has helped many people overcome binge-eating problems, and people can finally lose weight without the gnawing hunger that other diets cause.

    2. I agree with Tim. I have not read anything credible about any particular fibers. From a personal standpoint, the fibers might fill me up for an hour or so, but the other 23 depend on something more complicated like Tim described.

      Is there any type of food you are avoiding? I grew up when fats in general and saturated fats in particular were demonized. I still have moments when I thought they were bad. I discovered, through my fiber experiment, that I must eat good portions of saturated fat. Once I did that, all my crazy cravings disappeared. My belief is that my body made me crave tortillas and tortilla chips because I'd put cheese on them. It was a way to get me to eat saturated fats.

      Your situation might be different. The body is sneaky.

    3. This article is even MORE interesting. I have never given this possibility a thought, but it would explain why I am not having much succes with the Potato Hack.

      Jo tB

      Your microbiota's previous dining experiences may make new diets less effective

    4. Nice article, Jo. I bet, combining this with other research, what our parents and grandparents ate also affects what diets are effective. What we call genetics (for example, someone claiming genetic predisposition for being overweight and diets not working) might be better related to commonalities in diets among relatives.

      In fact, I just now remembered that my dad ate lots of saturated fat as a kid. He was always mentioning the bucket of lard that was used to make everything. Hmmmm.

    5. Wilbur, I have struggled with my weight for over 50 years, and I have tried everything in the book. And as a child I had a course of penicillan injections every day for a week as the antibiotic of the time. The doctors at the time didn't know what was wrong with my foot (couldn't walk on it for 6 weeks due to severe pain). Most probably killed my gut flora big time and about 5 years later started struggling with my weight. Gut related? I think so. My mother used to cook basic food a meat, vegetable, potatoes and gravy made from butter as mum refused to use margarine no matter how poor they were. And what did we know of gut flora at the time? Nothing.

      I've taken your lead and made a cocktail of prebiotic fibres which I have to consistantly take every morning and hope it will FINALLY repair my gut flora.

      Jo tB

  55. The first thing I did 50 years ago was drastically reduce my potato intake (starch was the thing of the time), so haven't eaten many/any potatoes since the 60's. Taking that article into account that would be the reason why I can't do the potato hack. It sends my glucose levels to the moon. I'm thinking that I don't have the flora that deals with potatoes. So I have to build that back up very slowly and mix a teaspoon full of potato starch in with lots of other starches to get away with it. I can take large doses of inulin, no problems.

    Jo tB

  56. Jo

    look at your micronutrient intake, specifically Mg, Cu, Mn, perhaps B etc. You may be deficient or these metals are not in balance, meaning that solely added fibres will not solve all your problems. You mentioned some histamine issues recently (if I recall correctly) and interestingly, I am reading that histamine levels are regulated by histaminase and ceruloplasmin (enzymes that contain copper).

  57. The leonardite in Prescript-Assist functions as a prebiotic, correct? I believe leonardite contains humic and fulvic acid (components of dirt). I didn't realize the fulvic/humic acid was such a good prebiotic until I scooped up a bottle of shilajit and tried it. Bristol 4 in less than 24 hours. I'm intrigued by the notion of dirt itself as a prebiotic!

    1. Leonardite, shilajit, medicinal clays, diatomaceous earth, and charcoal are all somewhat mysterious in how they work. That's great that you tried shilajit and found it worked.

      Humates are used widely in agriculture and livestock feed, and it appears to be a legal dietary supplement by the FDA. This also means that no one will study it or write papers on it for human health as there is not much money in dietary supplements compared to pharmaceuticals and biologics that can be patented and given market exclusivity.

      There are all kinds of shilijat products on Amazon:

      And even pure Leonardite, sold as a soil ammendment:

      Thanks for the comment. I would love to dig deeper into this class of materials for gut health.

    2. Interesting, shilijat seems REALLY expensive. I think you could have the same result with something more simple like adding 5-8 shiritaki mushrooms (bought dry on amazon) in a homemade chicken soup that I am eating right for lunch at work. MMMM

  58. Hello Guys

    I am a bit confused, in the list of supplement is potato starch but according to the information table of the product, it said: Fiber 0 gram.
    Is this correct? if not, how many soluber fiber has potato starch? Thanks

    1. The "0g fiber" is for cooked potato starch. When raw, it;s nearly pure fiber by weight.