Friday, November 18, 2016

Fiber, Gut Bugs, and Mucus...Oh, my!

The holy trinity of gut health, and, indeed, overall health, can be viewed as fiber, gut microbes, and the intestinal mucus layer.

Picture Credit

"Unknown," a mysterious, reclusive commenter, sent me a link to a brand new research paper on gut health yesterday. Actually a MedicalXpress article, it sounded interesting.

It sounds like the plot of a 1950s science fiction movie: normal, helpful bacteria that begin to eat their host from within, because they don't get what they want.
But new research shows that's exactly what happens when microbes inside the digestive system don't get the natural fiber that they rely on for food.
Starved, they begin to munch on the natural layer of mucus that lines the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall.

"Unkown" was asking about a blurb in the abstract:

  • Low-fiber diet promotes expansion and activity of colonic mucus-degrading bacteria
  • Purified prebiotic fibers do not alleviate degradation of the mucus layer
  • Fiber-deprived gut microbiota promotes aggressive colitis by an enteric pathogen

Did you catch it?  The second item, "Purified prebiotic fibers do not alleviate degradation of the mucus layer."

What are "purified prebiotic fibers?" Well, as we like to recommend around here, raw potato starch, inulin, Hi-Maize, PHGG, etc. are isolated prebiotic fibers...could this be what the researchers are talking about?

The Study

In this research paper, the scientists from Luxembourg describe an experiment that involves:

  • Germ-free mice, implanted with 14 species of human gut bacteria
  • Three dietary interventions: Fiber-rich, fiber-free, and a prebiotic-rich diet
  • Analysis of the mucus layer after a stint on each diet

The Diets

Fiber-rich (FR) - This diet was a specially formulated mouse-chow used in numerous mouse studies. It's sterilized so that it can be fed to "germ-free" mice. The ingredients in the FR food pellets:

Ground corn, dehulled soybean meal, wheat middlings, fish meal, whole wheat, wheat germ, brewers dried yeast, ground oats, dehydrated alfalfa meal, porcine animal fat preserved with BHA and citric acid, ground soybean hulls, calcium carbonate, dried beet pulp, salt, soybean oil, DL- methionine, pyridoxine hydrochloride, choline chloride, menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite (source of vitamin K), thiamine mononitrate, cholecalciferol, dicalcium phosphate, silicon dioxide, vitamin A acetate, folic acid, biotin, dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate, (form of vitamin E) calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, vitamin B 12 supplement, manganous oxide, zinc oxide, ferrous carbonate, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate.

Also known as Laboratory Autoclavable Rodent Diet 5010, this is considered a complete food for mice, and developed to give maximum nutrition to lab mice. It's mouse-food with a bunch of added vitamins and minerals, in other words. 

If you read through the ingredients, it kind of looks like a standard supplement-filled "paleo" or "Perfect Health" diet. I had to chuckle making this connection to a Paleo, because the manufacturer of the mouse food mentions, "It is formulated for life-cycle nutrition; however, it is not designed for maximizing production in mouse breeding colonies. Please consult us for mouse breeding diet options."

Fiber-free diet (FF) - The FF diet was provided as a specially formulated pellet designed to mimic the Western Diet. It contained:
  • Sucrose 34%
  • Milkfat 21%
  • Casein (for protein) 20%
  • Glucose 12%
  • Vitamin/Mineral Mix 5%
  • Cellulose 5%
  • Soybean Oil 2%
  • L-Cystine .3%
  • Choline .2%
  • Green Food Color

As far as a mouse is concerned, this is a standard junk-food diet. Quite similar to what is eaten across the world by humans, maybe even a little better as it does not contain artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, emulsifiers, and refined wheat. But it's green, so it probably looks healthy, lol.

Prebiotic diet (PRE) - This diet copied the FF (junk-food) diet, but replaced most of the glucose with cornstarch, and added 2% of a "purified prebiotic blend."  The prebiotic blend looked pretty darn good!  Wilbur will be drooling when he sees this!:
  • Wheat arabinoxylan
  • Barley β-glucan
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • Guar gum
  • Galactomannan
  • Konjac glucomannan
  • Potato pectic galactan
  • Larch arabinogalactan
  • Polygalacturonic acid
  • Rhamnogalacturonic acid
  • Tamarind xyloglucan
  • Inulin
  • Sugar beet arabinan
  • Dextran Alginate
  • Corn starch / amylopectin 

Yum! Right? It's like the who's-who of prebiotic fibers...well, they missed raw potato starch, but we'll let it slide, haha.

The Experiment

The mice were divided into groups, fed the different diets, and after a while, examined to see what the diets did to their gut bacteria and mucus layer. Also, they infected the groups with a pathogen (C. rodentium), a nasty bacteria that causes infections ("colitis") similar to what humans get when exposed to certain E. coli strains and viruses.

As expected, the mice fed the fiber-rich (FR) diet had a nice, thick mucus layer, and it protected the mice from C. rodentium's damaging infections. The fiber-free (FF) fed mice had sickly, thin mucus that provided no protection against C. rodentium.

And what of the prebiotic-rich (PRE) diet?  Oooops.  It was just like the FF diet!  No protection at all. Who would have guessed?

Real Life Lessons

I have been hammering you all for years to eat more fiber. Even recommending things like raw potato starch, inulin, or crazy mixtures as faithful commenter "Wilbur" has taken to a whole new level. I hear from people on a near-daily basis saying that since adding these fibers and prebiotics to their diets, they are feeling better, losing weight, and seeing many benefits.

I've also railed against the SAD, the Westernized diet lacking fresh fruit and vegetables, fiber, resistant starch, and myriad unpronounceable nutrients like polyphenols and flavonoids.

Many people have been using things like raw potato starch and inulin to negate any problems caused from the lack of fiber in popular low-carb or ketogenic diets. But what this paper shows, taking a couple spoonfuls of powder is probably not gonna cut it!

For people who want to eat low carb or keto diets, you'd be well-advised to start adding lots of low carb plants along with your steak and eggs. Spinach, crucifers, garlic, onions, etc.

And now think about the rest of the Western world...the people not even thinking about what they eat...sorry, hate to say it, but Metamucil and VitaCrave Gummies are probably not doing a darn thing to help your gut. You gotta start eating more plants and less processed food!

Is there still a place for powder?

Yes!  I am still a huge fan and I'd have loved to see an arm in this study where they gave the "purified prebiotic" formula to the mice eating the fiber-rich (FR) diet. My guess is that they would have had an even thicker and healthier mucus layer and more robust immune system.

My recommendations have not changed, and in fact I am even more resolved to keep spreading the word of a high fiber diet.

The three fibers that I highly recommend you purchase and consume a couple spoonfuls daily:
That's my holy trinity. And soon, I hear, Elixa and Richard Nikoley at Free the Animal are unleashing a "Purified Prebiotic" blend on the world. I'm eager to see what the final formulation contains, and I'll let you all know when it's available.

But also, keep in mind, none of this makes a bit of a difference unless you are also eating lots of real plants and staying away from processed foods, cooking oils, refined sugars and refined grains. Eat as much real food as you can and take a spoonful or two of powder...simple.  If you eat lots and lots of plants, forget the powders, it's only needed to make up for a deficit in real food.

If you are new to all this, and trying to implement a new way of adding fibers, we discussed a while back a smoothie made of blueberries, oat bran, and prebiotic powders. You can add whatever else you like, too. Turmeric, cocoa powder, honey, flaxseed, etc. The sky is the limit. Or search this blog for "fiber." Lots of great posts filled with amazing comments!

Here's the full text of the paper I've been discussing today...have a look and let me know what you think. I thought it was very thorough research. Here's another cool graphic from the paper:



  1. Still not having any luck with any fibre additions or powders.

    Potato starch was disturbed my sleep and bloated me on even the tiniest dose.

    Inulin, larch and acacia fibres all made me feel like they were scratching my insides.

    Psyllium husk, I handle really well at large doses but I didn't feel that there were any obvious improvements.

    Tried the blueberrie smoothie but just got bloated with painful intestines.

    Just made myself a lovely, glutenfree fermented buckwheat bread and immediately inflated on it. There's only water, salt and fermented buckwheat so I should have been okay but an hour later, I was pregnant looking again (not great as male).

    I have so much trouble with different foods, that the potato hack always amazes me with the flattening and calming effects it has on the whole system and so quickly. Even restricted feeding windows of foods that don't obviously effect me, don't have the same pronounced effect of the potato diet.

    1. You have serious imbalance in your gut flora. How do you do on cheese, like brie? And fermented foods, ie. sauerkraut.

      You sound like the perfect candidate for fecal transplant, but I imagine that's quite impractical for most.

      Have you tried megadosing probiotics? Also, S. boulardii, a probiotic yeast is often used to correct the gut.

    2. I eat a lot of brie. It goes done very well and sauerkraut is okay too.

      I've tried megadosing probiotics and tried s.boulardii. I thought for a time it had something to do with being fut2 non-secretor and low bifido and then causing myself dietarily (lowcarb art devaney style) with simultaneous anitbiotics for an abscess. That was 2007-2008 when everything started to go wrong.

      So far best things I've taken are General Biotics Equilibrium - 115 species and I've been taking angostura bitters and just made my own swedish bitters.

      I'm not squeamish around poop (used to be a health care assistant, whatever that is in America). Would happily inject someone healthies poop into myself but it didn't seem that simple when I looked before.

    3. Interesting, I bloat up easily, and my body has often told my hand to reach out and buy a block of brie. Is there something special about brie, Tim? The other cheese types don't grab me the same way.

    4. You may try a product discussed on Chris Kresser's podcast called Atrantil. It really worked well for me when it came to relieving bloating although I don't think I had it as severe as you may have.

    5. Robert - Are you a FUT-2 Nonsecretor for sure? Interesting. I tend to think nonsecretors have a lot harder go of gut health, in general. Sorry I don't have any better answers for you, you'll just have to keep trying and sticking with foods that help, avoiding ones that don't help.

      re: Brie - Brie, and Camembert, are interesting microbially and very much alive. The soft cheese is full of Lactobacillus plantarum, and naturally occurring bifidobacteria readily grow on ingested brie. The outer white coating is of a fungal (penicillium) nature and not only protects the bacteria in the cheese, but in your gut as well. I think all brie and Camembert sold in the US is pasteurized, but this does not seem to effect the healthfulness, nor completely kill all the microbes in the cheese. Another gut-friendly cheese, maybe even better than brie is "quark" or cottage cheese, especially if made fresh from local, raw milk.

      For some reason Paleo and LC dieting circles seem to prefer aged cheeses, but possibly these young cheeses are more gut friendly for people with dysbiosis.

    6. Hi Tim,

      Yes, definitely a non-secretor(23andme). Though I've heard some say that fut2 is redundant. FUT1 creates the same functional enzyme as FUT2, Galactoside 2-alpha-L-fucosyltransferase. I can follow the science only so far (and that's not far) but I don't really understand if fut1 creates the same enzyme how there is a problem. I have some sort of chronic fatigue/me so that's hampering efforts to understand more than a smidge. I've read reports of lowered bifido (that's what I see in Ubiome) but maybe that isn't for the same reason or maybe it's not confirmed fact yet.

      That's really interesting about the Brie. I'll make my girlfriend get me some proper raw when she's in France (in the U.K) next week. There is a definite attraction to Brie that borders on addiction.

    7. I know someone who gets gut pain from a number of different things. Playing around with fiber hasn't been successful so far, so I'm now looking at the hormone and neurotransmitter angles.

      Melatonin and serotonin effects on gastrointestinal motility

      Link between hypothyroidism and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

    8. Robert, You are able to Tolerate Psyllium Husk, so I suggest you progress to Ground Whole Psyllium Seed and as Tim suggests, HIGH dose Probiotics. I suggest one containing the Bacterium CLOSTRIDIUM BUTYRICUM (Available as MIYARISAN on ebay,Amazon) or PROBIOTIC-3.

    9. CS - Sometimes people's gut problems have much more nefarious origins than a simple lack of fiber. There are many "mechanical" problems as well that can occur with the different valves, sphincters, musculature, diverticula, hernias, etc.

      I find it curious, though, how many people see a start to their gut problems/autoimmune diseases after a life-event like antibiotic use, surgery, moving to a new location, giving birth, or aging.

      I always recommend that people first experiment with the low-hanging fruit (diet, exercise, sleep, stress) and if the problem persists, seek competent medical help.

      Ashwin - Nice seeing you! Thanks for the advice, I agree, "high dose" is the key if probiotics are going to help.

    10. Robert, have your girlfriend be very careful about bringing in raw soft cheeses. It's actually illegal ifyou can believe that.

    11. Robert, I just checked some Brie I bought (Holland). It also states that it is made with pasturized cows milk. I think it is an EU ruling, so it will apply across Europe. Food safety issues usually are EU controlled.

      Jo tB

  2. Nice post!

    I saw the original comments, and had some thoughts. First, I would not consider potato starch to be purified. The process of making it is very natural and can be done in any kitchen. I suspect something like partially hydrolyzed guar gum is not easy to make.

    Second, the proportion of purified fibers to whole fibers is small in my case. It's something I've gravitated to over time. Bout 1 Tbsp of inulin, and 1 teaspoon each of larch arabinogalactan,GOS, phgg, and glucomannan. But the rest are baobab, banana flour, amla, triphala, Hawthorne berry, dandelion root, maca (wonderful taste!), chia, and flaxseed. Also blue-green algae, marshmallow root, kelp, and mushroom powders. Then fermented beets, barley miso, and dandelion-leek miso. A bulb of garlic, 1/2 shallot, a whole habanero chile, and a bowl of greens, like arugula or kale. I also take 3-4 Tablespoons of potato starch, but I don't consider that purified.

    That's breakfast. Every day. No joke.

    Lunch today -typical -was 1 T of redskin peanuts and 3,dried figs. Dinner will be jerk pork roast and roasted sweet potato-carrot with honey, cardamom, and cinnamon. I've also had a barley wine ale, and will have wine with dinner.

    So purified fibers are not a big part of my diet. But as Tim says, I think they can be beneficial when combined with whole fibers.

    1. I don't consider Hi-Maize, PS, or inulin "purified" either. I think in the context of the study, purified indicates that the fibers were heated/autoclaved to kill any bacteria present as these were germ-free mice. Perhaps the heating also destroyed the bonds that make up the fiber, which could also be why the PRE diet was ineffective. There is probably a big difference between "isolated" fiber and "purified." In fact, it's been surmised by more than one researcher that the bacteria and fungi hidden inside plant fibers and starch granules ("endophytes")are a big part of fiber's magic and a source of adult gut flora.

      My smoothies lately have been: coconut milk, cocoa powder, turmeric, cinnamon, flaxseed, hemp seed, chia seed, potato starch, and a raw egg or banana. Blended with ice and eaten as dessert.

    2. Wilbur,
      You could not have started with all these fibers from the get go. I imagine you added them as you discovered about each one. I am now taking just inulin. 2g is ok and 4 or 6 makes me quite gassy, kind of feels good though because it is not smelly or loud :-) If I were to add more, how you you recomend doing it -one by one or several together. I understand that many together work better but if something goes either well or bad, how would one know what was too much and what not enough?
      I am looking for my skin problem solution and since I found Tim and Richard and you back in July I have been implementing a lot of what I read here and for one I never reach for melatonin any longer. My sleep has improved tremendously. My scalp feels better too but still a bother.


    3. Tim - That seems like an odd use of "purified." I agree with you even more then. I eat lots of stuff raw too. I like to get stuff from local farms

      Teddy - My philosophy has always been that diversity matters more than quantity. I recently travelled to UK and only brought PS and inulin with me. I took the same amount as I usually do. I now know the other fiber powders must provide a good number of calories because I found myself eating more at meals. I didn't gain any weight. The restaurants we ate at in London are far better than comparable ones in the US in my experience about having quality vegetables. One even had fermented chopped lemons, complete with the rind. That was interesting.

      I used to add fibers only one at a time so I'd know if one was causing a problem. Dandelion root and yacon used to give me problems, but one day I just decided to push through. It took about a week IIRC. Now there's nothing I can't eat that I can think of, but my gut punishes me if I don't do a good job chewing my mushrooms. There's no big hurry I think, and some benefit to slowly changing your gut. If you add a little bit of a new one every two weeks, you'll have 25 or so going at the end of a year. Good luck!

    4. I am a very impatient person so I added several fibers already - things I have learned from you guys. So far so good. I am really liking baobab, which I got from my local Walmart of all places. I wonder if you Wilbur or Tim can share the way you take fiber, i.e. before or after a meal, split them in morning, afternoon, evening - what, when and how. I looked for these answers around here and on FTA but could not find a summary. Sorry if you have posted this already. Just point me to it.


    5. Teddy - I think everyone does it differently, but you cannot go wrong splitting the doses along with meals. I usually have a spoonful of potato starch at lunch, and then a couple more fibers in a dessert smoothie with honey, cocoa powder, flaxseed, chia, Hi-maize, etc...mix and match, no real concern that you get it all "just right." If you miss some days, or even weeks, no biggie, especially if you are eating lots of good fiber-y plants. The goal of a fiber-filled diet is to increase your daily intake, and do it long-term. There are very few short-term benefits to increasing fiber, maybe even some drawbacks, ie. increased flatulence, but in the long run, you will have a healthier gut and better immune system, and in turn, better overall health, mood, and disease-free longevity.

    6. Teddy -

      Tim says it well. I've done it lots of ways and find that it does not seem to matter much. You can influence the timing of your peak flatulence by timing your fibers. I take mine all in one dose at 8 am. The peak gas starts about 11:30 and lasts a couple of hours. That's about when I take my walk. If I want to avoid gas, for example in a car, I'll skip then or do it in the evening.

      I sort of agree with Tim on horizon, and suggest that the timing of benefits depends on perspective. To me, 3 months is short-term, but I received a number of my benefits by then. As Tim says, the benefits keep coming. The funny thing is that, in my case, I never really noticed something had improved. Like my allergies to pollen and stuff. Just one beautiful Spring day I noticed the really strong smell of flowers everywhere I went. I had not smelled them in decades! I hadn't even thought about my allergies until then. Similar with mood and energy. I just feel happy and energetic and don't notice the bad feelings and lethargy are gone unless I think about it.

    7. Thanks, Wilbur - By "short term" I meant immediate. People somehow expect miracles to happen the instant they try something new. I think with a change in fiber, it takes several weeks for the biome to adapt, and then months for immune system to fully mature on the new diet.

      T Cells are one of the most important factors of the immune system benefited by high fiber, and T Cells have a lifespan of more than 3 years, by many estimates. A refresher:


      "Overall the changes in the composition of the gut microbiome can modulate the induction of regulatory versus effector immune responses. Probiotics have been shown to beneficially modulate the intestinal ecosystem. Another group of non-digestible food ingredients is the prebiotics that favors the growth of health-promoting bacteria, proving beneficial to the host (18, 22, 31). A large group of prebiotics comprises the carbohydrates that are indigestible by human digestive enzymes, such as resistant starches. The bacterial community inside the intestinal mucosal surface ferments the undigested fibers to generate lipid molecules, such as oleic acid and conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, that influences the colonic mucosal growth and intestinal permeability that enhances the gastrointestinal health (31, 32). A study by Bassaganya-Riera et al. (32) compared the anti-inflammatory efficacy and studied how different dietary soluble fibers and resistant starch influence regulatory T cells (Tregs), colonic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPAR γ), and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) to suppress gut inflammation. Thus, both probiotics and prebiotics can influence the composition of the intestinal microflora and alter the metabolic composition of the microbiome (22, 32, 33) In fact, in cases of dysbiosis, the possibility of manipulating the gut bacterial composition by using probiotic bacteria has already been explored as a promising therapeutic intervention against IBD (22). The study (22) investigated the molecular mechanism underlying the anti-inflammatory effect of probiotic bacteria using a mouse model of colitis. The results from the study (22) showed that probiotic bacteria modulated microbial diversity of the gut and favored the production of CLA that targeted myeloid cells PPAR γ to suppress colitis. The network topology model of IBD shown in Figure ​Figure22 refers to IBD condition caused due to dysbiosis and highlights the complexity of the multi-network, multiscale mucosal immune responses that influences initiation, progression, and outcome of the disease."

    8. Sorry, lol, that's all probably deeper than anyone cares about. I just wanted to illustrate that the mechanisms of a fiber-adapted gut flora run very deep and it requires time and consistency to reap the rewards.

    9. Thank you guys. That is what I needed to hear. Patience and persistence is a key here.
      When I started with all this about 3 years ago I was very patient. I had stumbled onto info about GAPS diet and went with it for about a year. Things got from bad to worse and I stopped after about 10 months. It had no starches and I was constantly hungry, unable to sleep and my skin condition got worse. So with the things I have tried since then I did not have as much patience.
      When I found you though, it made sence to me because this is what I had growing up in Bulgaria. Potatoes, rice, beans, lentils, green peas were our staples. We had little meat, being poor and did not shy away from organs, including brains. Everyone made sourkraut and fermented vegies. Every fridge had real yogurt and feta. My grandfather lived till 102 and never took any pills. He died of a broken hip when he stumbled and fell rushing to open the door for the barber who came to give him a shave at home.
      I did not know the meaning of the word allergy. Nobody had any. Then all big grocery chains opened and people started getting sick.
      Anyway, sorry to go off topic. I will keep at it and let you know of any improvements in health.


    10. Hey guys,
      Have you ever looked into Carob powder? I have some sitting in the pantry and noticed it has fiber. I can not find info how much soluble but it tastes great on a desert type mix like Tim desribes.

      Tim, I am following you to the new site. Looks great!


  3. Do you worry about gmo in the corn starch? Thx

    1. Hi-Maize is always shown to be made from non-GMO corn, but I'm sure that's subject to change. The corn used is specially bred to be high in amylose starch, a trait easily manipulated through conventional plant breeding. Honeyville lists their Hi-Maize as non-gmo:

  4. Did Nikoley ever explain the reason why he changed his stance on a prebiotic blend?

    Initially his position was that it needed to be customized based on the individual's health and issues - then suddenly changed his mind and started talking about his "fart powder", presumabley good for the masses?

    1. I think that everyone now agrees that there is no one perfect blend or single fiber that will work for everyone. It looks like FTA (Nikoley) and Elixa have teamed up to create a blend of the fibers that many people tolerate well and are shown to be good for human guts. I'm curious to see what will be in the final blend, soon, I hear! Rest assured, though, that not everyone will benefit. They are fully aware of this.

    2. I wonder if they'll be able to speculate or at least provide guidelines on who should benefit and for what reasons.

      Ashwin -yes that too. Not long ago, I noticed that the early comments to that effect were even removed from the blog. Curious

    3. I know of at least 4 groups of people who were trying to create a prebiotic fiber blend, and no one was able to produce. One company came up with Prebiotic+, still available (, but they told me it's "not a big mover." And, at $25 a pound, I should think not.

      I looked into packaging various RS sources (potato, sweet potato, buckwheat, banana, etc.) in 1-2 pound jars and having each batch tested with RS/fiber content, organic, non-GMO, etc. But, it would have cost a minimum of $15-30 a pound depending on the product. I had hoped to be able to compete with Bob's Red Mill prices, but there is just no way.

      The only "problem" with using off-the-shelf cooking ingredients is that you never really know exactly what you are getting, RS content, etc. I would be willing to pay extra if there was some tests done on the product, or if a blend was priced similarly to what the individual ingredients cost.

      I know for a fact that Karl Seddon is doing a lot of research into the fibers that will go into his blend, and some day he will have different blends for different problems. But the wild card in all of this is that nobody can predict the exact makeup of a customers gut biome, so there will always be some experimentation on the part of the consumer.

    4. I think Wilbur's approach of adding in one fiber at a time is the best one, as you don't know how your particular gut is going to react.
      You may need to to slow down with baobab, but be fine with PS. Baobab has been a tricky one for me that's for sure. I think having a mix made by someone else is a really big mistake. You need to be able to phase in or out whichever ingredient yourself.

      It's great Karl is doing lots of research into it, but the cynical side of me is thinking along the same lines that Ashwin is. I was also a bit disappointed that he mentioned that he reads Wilbur's posts but has been deliberately keeping his mouth shut, presumably because of the new business. Oh well, I'll get over it.


    5. Anon2 - Keep in mind, Karl's main customers are going to be people who have never heard of RS and know very little about fiber. I think this blog and commenters serve more as a "focus group." We've been playing with this stuff for about 3 years around here, and most of us are getting our fiber requirements dialed in.

      I was just looking at the prebiotic offerings on Amazon. Wow! Three years ago, there were none, just a few "fibers." Now there are dozens of prebiotic blends, many with RS. All very expensive. I can see that plain old potato starch will play a role in my supplementation plan for the foreseeable future, lol. But I do look forward to seeing what Karl comes up with and helping him promote it.

      I do wish that there was someone selling organic potato starch with each batch tested and labeled with RS percentage. I'd be willing to pay maybe 2X the price of Bob's Red Mill or similar, but not much more. I wish Bob's and them would just get their stuff tested and labeled, but I think they have to be very careful that they are not seen as selling supplements, which have very different regulations from food ingredients, even if it's the exact same thing.

    6. Anon2 -

      I agree. But as my gut has matured, it can actually isolate the effects of certain fibers. Oat bran, for instance, is an odd one. There are no bad effects I'm aware of from taking it, yet I have a negative visceral reaction whenever I consider adding it. On the other hand, I get an excited feeling about maca even though it's only about a teaspoon in a big mix of other stuff. My gut like blue-green algae, but only 2 or 3 times per week.

      I am very happy with what Karl is doing. First and foremost, he seems to honestly care about helping people. Sure there's money involved, but he is studying things and testing without rushing to the market. But also, what I'm doing is maybe a small step beyond what others before me were doing. For me, the idea to diversify was really applying Jeff Leach's advice about vegetables to supplements. And then much of what I learned about supplements comes from Tim and Richard Nikoley (sp? FTA). That kind of gets lost in the day-to-day postings. I'm thankful every single day that Jeff, Tim, and Richard came into my life. At a minimum, they made it far better. At best, they saved it.

    7. A lot of people react badly to algae. For religious reasons I can't eat algae. Hope Nikoley's fiber mix doesn't include algae. Algae was the common factor in the recent recall of "Soylent". Made people vomit.

    8. Mycroft

      "For religious reasons I can't eat algae"

      What religion prohibits eating algae?

    9. Gemma: any religion that takes Genesis chapter 1 seriously.

    10. Try buying ice cream without seaweed in it. There used to be two brands, but now Ben and Jerries is using seaweed too. The only brand that doesn't use seaweed is an expensive but very high quality ice cream made from real food ingredients. (Haagen Dazs)

  5. Does anyone think 2Tbsp/day of Inulin is too much? 1 tsp used to tear me up. I've worked up to two tbsp/day now with no issues

    1. I think the "upper limit" of fiber intake is unique to each of us. The recommended fiber RDA of 30-40g is a good target.

      2TBS of inulin is equal to about 18g of fiber, about 1/2 of your daily needs. So, if your diet also contains lots of natural fibers, 2TBS is fine.

    2. In the past I've done 2 Tbsp per day for several months without issue.

  6. Anyone have good sources for buying bulk inulin inexpensively?

    1. Prescribed for Life

      Sells artichoke inulin in a 55lb size at about $9 per pound. Dunno if that includes shipping. I've never done inulin from them, but I've been happy with other stuff. I can say that inulin can go bad after a while if not in a sealed container - I've had it turn into a melted sugar looking mess.

    2. Here's a Jerusalem artichoke inulin on Amazon, $25 for 1kg, looks like the best deal there is.

      If you do not want a full kilo, here's a chicory root inulin, $10 for 8oz:

    3. I've had good luck keeping watch on the sales at Piping Rock. They sell inulin in 15 oz containers and I was able to pick several of those up for about $7 each during a sale earlier this year.

  7. I never see anyone on this forum talk about psyllium husks powder, (Yerba Prima as an example that has no sugar or additives). Has this form of soluble fiber been discredited over the years? I haven't read anything negative about it.

    1. I consider psyllium a minor player, but a good choice, nonetheless. If you use the search bar up top, you'll see psyllium mentioned in dozens of posts.

      Early on, we often quoted a study in which they showed that resistant starch was made much more effective by taking it alongside psyllium husk. The thought being that the psyllium sort of binds with, and makes fermentation of fast-acting fibers a bit slower so that it reaches the distal parts of the colon.

      If you are eating a fiber-rich diet, you most likely do not need psyllium, but if you are trying to maximize your fiber intake and supplement with inulin, PS, or Hi-Maize, then consider adding psyllium to the mix.

      On its own, psyllium is not that great of a prebiotic, but it does have other effects as a nonsoluble fiber, ie. stool bulking, increased laxation.

    2. I'm not taking inulin, but do take the PS or simply eat a lot of boiled and cooled potatoes and fruits and veg in my diet. If I wanted to add a prebiotic would inulin be a good choice? I want to maximize my gut health but I'm finding I can only eat so much beans and potatoes etc.

    3. Inulin is a good choice. Also Hi-Maize corn starch. I think that inulin, Hi-Maize, or PS should be the main fiber in a supplement routine, 1-4TBS of one of them, and then add in others as it strikes your fancy. But just plain food, and then a couple spoonfuls of PS, inulin, or Hi-Maize is just fine, too.

    4. Thanks Tim for all your work on this blog. I just bought your book to show my support. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  8. Hi guys

    If the general (simplified) rule is = more vegetables = more fiber = better gutflora = better health, shouldn't vegetarians be, as a population, in much better health than the average person? Perhaps this is the case, I am not knowledgeable about this kind of research.

    Any input appreciated!


    1. This is the subject of much debate. In general, Vegans have healthier guts, but only of they are focusing on eating lots of fiber-rich plants, whole grains, and resistant starch. Vegans who eat lots of processed flour, vegetable oils, and sugar have much worse health and poor gut function, autoimmune diseases, etc. just like SAD dieters.


    Gut's microbial community shown to influence host gene expression

    New research is helping to tease out the mechanics of how the gut microbiome communicates with the cells of its host to switch genes on and off. The upshot of the study, another indictment of the so-called Western diet (high in saturated fats, sugar and red meat), reveals how the metabolites produced by the bacteria in the stomach chemically communicate with cells, including cells far beyond the colon, to dictate gene expression and health in its host.

    1. Blasphemy! Big Macs and Fries forever!

      "Foods rich in fat and sugar, especially processed foods, are more easily digested by the host, but are not necessarily a good source of food for the flora inhabiting the gut. The result is a less diverse microbiome and less communication to the host, according to the researchers."

      Nice find! Thanks. I will be on the lookout for the full text paper.

    2. I'm curious about the full text too. I've long objected to statements that sound like this. In my experience, the fat is not the problem. Instesd, I believe it's the lack of fiber, lack of nutrient density per calorie, and problem preservatives that cause the problems.

      I read something recently stating that Rob Knight of American Gut quit asking for full food logs and instead asking about how many different whole vegetables people ate because that's what seemed be best associated with high diversity. (I didn't verify.)

      Also Terry Wahls argues that saturated fats are important for brain function and recommends them in her diet that also calls for plant diversity.

      I had bacon, eggs, and cheese today. Along with 25 different varieties of plants!

    3. To clarify, I read Knight asked about whole-food vegetable AND fruit. I've gotten in the habit of saying vegetables when I mean plants.


    5. Anon - Thanks! I was just getting ready to see if I could find it. It's hard to make many parallels to human health from this type of research, but it's clear that certain things are happening: Cross-talk between microbiota and host, diet induced changes in gene expression and microbial balance, and high fiber diets exerting more positive changes than simple junk-food diets.

      Good timing, too, as we all stuff ourselves with pie and turkey, lol.

      Happy Thanksgiving, all.

    6. As far as I can tell, the article does not make the same claims that Science Daily does. It does not say fat and sugar are bad. It says eating only fat and sugar are bad. Two different things! Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your turkey skin and pumpkin pie! But eat those Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes!

  10. Hey Tim

    I make a smoothie each day with Raw milk, grass fed whey protein, green lakes collagen, chia seeds, organic frozen mixed berries, half a banana and maca powder...

    think its ok to add these into the smoothie
    Raw Potato Starch , Inulin and Hi-Maize?

    Thanks a lot

    1. Paul, I'm not Tim of course, but I don't see why not. In fact I'm doing it myself. The starches, not maca powder. I'm doing boab powder instead.

      Jo tB

  11. If you guys have experience with Maca powder, do you recommend raw or gelatinized? I read a note by a person who used to live in Peru who wrote it was never used raw there. Always cooked, which is what the process of gelatinization technically does.


    1. I'll have to check out Paul's recommendation! Sounds like something I'd like.

      I have a little experience with maca, but it's a bit of a story. I started taking it with no real idea of what it did other than it was safe and full of antioxidants. A few weeks later, I noticed that the black hairs on my ears were greatly reduced. I didn't think too much more, but then I noticed someone else had said something similar after taking maca. I did more research, and apparently the black hairs (rather than fine white ones) are thought to be related to hormone changes as one ages. And one stated benefit of maca is normalizing hormones.

      In relation to your question, I started with gelatinized maca. I switched to raw, and hair growth seemed to restart. I switched back to gelatinized, and it stopped. Not entirely stopped, but significantly reduced. So I use gelatinized.

    2. So how do you make it to become gelantized? I take it in a smoothie.

    3. Here is a gelatinized version of the one Paul posted

  12. I use this because of this

    "contains a combination of about 30% Red, 40% Yellow and 30% Black Maca roots"