Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In Search of the Perfect Fiber (Part 1...quantity)

I learn so much writing this blog.  I feel very honored to have so many people who read and comment here.  My next few blog posts will relate mainly to fiber.

You've maybe clicked on the "Dietary Fiber" tab at the top.  It's kind of messy.  It's the first draft of a project I was working on last year.  Lots of good info and cites linked, but in the last few months I realized that people need more practical advice.

First off, let me tell you what I have planned for 2015.  Classes start back up in February, I'm taking Research Project Management and Techniques in Biotechnology.  I have a feeling these will keep me busy. 

Also, I'm one of several hundred participants in a Stanford University study to examine the effects of antibiotics and colon cleanses on the gut flora.  I'm in the "no intervention" arm, which means I just eat my normal diet and they will track my gut flora for 9 months.  Basically all I do is send them a weekly sample of my poo, and when they have all been collected they will run a full analysis on the samples.  I plan on journaling my fiber intake and diet so that I can eventually track the impact of different fibers on my gut flora.  This is a long-term project, it will be nearly a year before I start getting any data from my samples.

I don't know where this series will go or how many posts it will turn into.  I'm thinking 'part 2' will be "Real Food Fibers" and 'part 3' will be "Supplemental Fibers."  Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see. I hope to get Wilbur's help with writing about all of the different fiber supplements he's tried.

In Search of the Perfect Fiber (Part 1...quantity)

[Updated info! 1/8/2015]
When reading through these recommendations, keep in mind the amount of prebiotic fiber a newborn human baby ingests.  Human breast milk is rich in Human Milk Oligosaccharides.  These HMOs are similar in structure to inulin and resistant starch.  A man-made substance, GOS, is often used in infant formula.  GOS is made by treating cow's milk with certain enzymes that convert it into a prebiotic fiber.
HMOs are well-studied for their ability to be persorbed into the bloodstream of the baby where they can remove pathogens from the bloodstream and organs.  Raw starch granules perform this same function after weaning.
Human breast milk contains prebiotic HMOs at approximately 15-25 grams per liter, and babies from newborn to 6 months consume about 1 liter of milk per day.  A substance known as colostrum that is secreted into the first couple squirts of breast milk has double the HMOs as the rest.  Colostrum has approximately 22g HMOs per liter, and the rest of the breast milk has about 12g/liter.
Some studies show that breast milk available to the newborn is much richer in HMOs and it lessens as the baby grows.  All of this HMO rich breast milk is credited with keeping babies "bulletproof" as their guts fill with Bifidobacteria gorging on the HMOs.
The fact that a baby gets 15-25 grams of prebiotic fiber should put things in perspective as I recommend 25-50g of prebiotic fiber for adults!  Another way to look at this; there are about 700 calories in a liter of breast milk.  A liter of breast milk provides 15-25g of "fiber."  An adult consuming 2100 calories per day, then, should do very well consuming 45-75g of fiber daily!


[End update]

Trying to wade through the information available about fiber is tough. We've all heard the benefits of increasing our fiber intake, but rarely do you hear of any success stories. Most governments around the world, at least the caring ones, have issued proclamations that we need to eat more fiber. They feel it will reduce the burden of healthcare costs by making everyone healthier.

It seems a universally accepted fact that we need to eat fiber somewhere in the 20-40g/day range. Charts such as this can be found with just a few mouse-clicks:

(chart source)

The USDA recommends "25g for women and 38g for men." Where, exactly, these recommendations came from is a bit of a mystery. There's a big problem with these recommendations. The food that we eat does not contain this much fiber. In many studies, the average intake of fiber around the world is less than 15g per day, most of that "insoluble.". The problem has to do with the "fiber density" of the foods we enjoy eating.

As most people are eating between 2000 and 3000 calories per day, even eating all 'home cooked' food just barely meets the minimum requirements for fiber. A closer look at a common fiber-contents chart also may be enlightening.

Most people reading this probably eat 'healthier' than 90% of 'civilized people.' However, getting enough fiber from our food is hard work. To add to the problems, there is much confusion about what types of fiber we need.

Soluble vs Insoluble or Fermentable vs Non-fermentable?

The entire conversation on fiber revolves simply around the content of "soluble" and "insoluble" fiber types. In reality, these two classifiers don't mean much. It would be better if the world scrapped all this talk of fiber and went instead to a "prebiotic potential" scale. The only reason anyone needs fiber is for its prebiotic capabilities. The "bulking" actions of conventional insoluble fibers is often claimed to "make fuller stools" and "fill you up so you aren't hungry." But in reality, the magic of these non-fermentable bulking fibers is their propensity to slow down the fermentation of fermentable fibers and ensure that the proper levels of prebiotic, fermentable fibers reach throughout the entire colon.

The standard classifications of fiber into soluble and insoluble rather than a meaningful, action-based naming convention has caused more harm than good. Who cares, really, if a fiber dissolves in water? It would be better to know what happens to that fiber when it reaches your colon and is fermented by the bacteria that reside there, and what species of beneficial bacteria are boosted by the fiber.

UPDATED SECTION...What feeds our gut flora, and what all do they produce?

People often ask, "What happens if we don't eat fiber?  What do our gut microbes do then?"

I made this graphic a while back to show what the "inputs and outputs" are in the large intestine. Basically, our gut bacteria consume foods that we eat that aren't digested in the small intestine, byproducts of digestion that spill over into the large intestine, cells shed during normal cell repair, and mucin produced in the large intestine.  Some microbes (bacteria/fungi) prey on other microbes.  Some microbes eat the dead bodies of other microbes.

Exogenous sources of fiber that come from the food we eat are resistant starch, non-starch polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, sugars, fats, and proteins.  There is an entire field of nutritional science devoted to glycans (as wikipedia defines: "compounds consisting of a large number of monosaccharides linked glycosidically"). These glycans are generally indigestible in the small intestine and can be found in just about everything we eat.

In nature, I believe you will find that resistant starch is the most commonly found fiber source with NSP and other oligosaccharides close behind.  The sugars, proteins, and fats that end up in the large intestine are leftovers from digestion in the small intestine.

If there is no fiber present in the diet, the most obvious effect is on stool formation.  The gut will be populated with bacteria and other microbes that enjoy eating the other "inputs." This results in a stool commonly referred to as "rabbit poop," but can also lead to impacted, hard-to-wipe stools and constipation.   

The "outputs" of bacterial fermentation are listed above. Preferably the largest "output" will be short- and branched-chain fatty acids.  Other natural outputs are the gas and odoriferous chemicals produced.  In a fiber-free diet, less SCFA will be produced. Butyrate is particularly important and special cells that line the colon (colonocytes) rely on butyrate to fuel their metabolism.  When butyrate is not present, they can switch over to using glucose from their blood supply.  When fueled by glucose, colonocytes begin to behave differently and do not regenerate and repair themselves as the do when fueled by butyrate.

You can see this all in action with a couple of simple experiments.  Eat a diet of steak and eggs for two days and you'll see profound changes in your stool.  Eat nothing but leafy greens and other non-starchy, non-fermentable fiber veggies and you'll see another drastic shift.  Eat nothing for two days and you'll see the stool produced by only endogenous "fibers." If there happens to be no, or little bacteria present, as after a round of antibiotics, stools will not be formed and diarrhea results.  The colon can also flood itself with liquids in an attempt to quickly clear perceived threats.

I think a good judge of fiber intake is how your stool looks.  The Bristol Stool Chart is a great reference:

Picture credit
The ideal stool is in the Type 4 and Type 5 range.  They should be easy to pass, non-noxious, and easy to clean-up after.   

The Fiber Menace

The book Fiber Menace is a great example of fiber misinformation.  The author, Konstantin Monastyrsky, wrote a very compelling book on the dangers of fiber.

This entire chapter in itself is a summary of the most prominent problems caused by fiber. Hence, the list of key points is brief:

Fiber from plants wasn‘t consumed by humans during most of evolution because until very recently there was no means to process fiber.

Sugars and starches are broken down in the small intestine, but the small intestine can‘t break down fiber because the human body lacks the necessary enzyme.

There are two types of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber causes osmotic diarrhea, because it retains water inside the large intestine. Insoluble fiber absorbs digestive juices and expands four to five times its original size. The expansion of insoluble fiber may cause esophageal, gastric, and intestinal obstruction.

Fiber interferes with gastric (stomach) digestion, and is the leading cause of indigestion, GERD, heartburn, gastritis, and ulcers.

Fiber obstructs the small intestines throughout their entire length, and is the primary cause of intestinal disorders. Because the intestines are responsible for the assimilation of nutrients, fiber-related inflammatory disease causes malnutrition, and an acute deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

Children are particularly vulnerable to fiber, because their digestive organs are smaller than adults.

Fiber is a primary cause of flatulence. These gases are formed during fiber‘s fermentation inside the large intestine.

Fiber increases stool's weight and size, and causes mechanical damage to colorectal organs. Even minor damage leads to constipation. When more fiber is added to combat constipation, more damage is incurred.

Fiber‘s impact on the small and large intestines affects male and female genitourinary organs because of their proximity. Women are particularly vulnerable because female reproductive organs occupy a large space in the abdominal cavity, and because of the specifics of menstruation.

Fiber has no measurable affect on heart disease. If anything, it worsens the outcome because of the excessive carbohydrate consumption that comes with fiber.

Patients who try taking supplemental fiber to reduce cholesterol levels develop a “myriad” of digestive disorders
Mr. Monastyrsky's demonization of "fiber" changed the way many people feel about fiber, including several well-known Paleo Diet leaders.
Mark Sisson wrote a nice piece on "Fiber" back 2010, many thousands of people read this:

CW says Americans need serious fiber in their diets. And by “fiber” CW often means bran buds, whole wheat, psyllium husks – you know, sticks and twigs roughage. We’re talking that 1980’s Saturday Night Live bit about Super Colon Blow cereal. Let’s just say that the more sensitive among us, in particular, want to broach the question: “Is this really the best way?”

What is the point of fiber anyway? What does it do? Well, on one hand, soluble fiber (vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, and legumes that partially dissolve in water) enhances the thickness of the stomach’s contents. This slows stomach emptying. While this can give the body more time to absorb nutrients, it can also “trap” minerals like calcium or zinc, binding them up in such a way that they don’t have the opportunity to be absorbed. Insoluble fiber (like whole grains, seeds and fruit skins) increases the mass of the stool, which actually moves the stool more quickly through the intestines. Insoluble fibers pass through the digestive system relatively intact.

Soluble fiber slows stomach emptying, which prevents the body from being flooded with glucose at the same rate as it would be with a low fiber meal (assuming a high glycemic load in the meal). But therein lies the pertinent question: if you maintain a diet with low glycemic load, do you really need to slow the digestion process with fiber? Hmm. If that fiber were adding a plethora of nutrients, as found in vegetables, then the answer would be yes. But as for a fiber source without all those nutrients? Not so convincing.

-- I’ve read Monastyrsky’s book and am a big fan of his work. Thanks for sharing your story!
Mark Sisson wrote on February 22nd, 2010

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fiber/#ixzz3NPHfxS9z

It was a great time in the world of dieting! People were turning their noses up at decades of advice from the government, their doctors, and " old wives' tales." Fiber was just one of the dominoes to fall.

It was great to see Mark Sisson change his stance on fiber in 2013 when he realized that by downplaying the importance of fiber, he was removing nearly all vestiges of prebiotics from his dietary advice.

Last week’s guest post from Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace, generated a lively, boisterous, and at times combative comment section. I use these descriptors in the best sense possible, mind you; debate is healthy and necessary, even – nay, especially – if it’s impassioned. So right off the bat, I want to thank everyone who wrote in. I also want to thank Konstantin, whose views on fiber forced me to reconsider my own way back when I first encountered him over five years ago. Without his input last week, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, and many people would still be sitting on whatever side of the fiber fence they prefer, never even considering that another side exists. I know I might still be catching up if I’d never read his book all those years.

Many of you asked whether I endorsed the views espoused in the guest post. You wondered whether I’d shifted my stance on the Big Ass Salad. You wanted my take on the whole fiber thing, basically. So without further ado, let’s discuss fiber.

It’s often said that fiber is indigestible, that it serves no nutritive purpose – and that’s partially true. Humans can’t digest fiber. Our digestive enzymes and endogenous pancreatic secretions simply have no effect on roughage. Our gut flora, though? Those trillions of “foreign” cells residing along our digestive tract that actually outnumber our native human cells? To those guys, certain types of fiber are food to be fermented, or digested. That we feed our gut flora these prebiotic fibers is important for three main reasons:

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fiber-gut-health/#ixzz3NPKVSvQc
Since Mark Sisson wrote the above, he has written many, many great posts on prebiotic fibers.  Mark's Daily Apple continues to keep people well-educated and Mark Sisson is not afraid to change course when he sees that his advice may be lacking. Many other paleo bloggers and others have recently began seeing the folly of their ways and are now all discussing prebiotics instead of just "soluble and insoluble fibers."

Short-Chain Fatty Acid Requirements

There is ample research on SCFA production in the gut and its effects. There is little research on exactly how much SCFA we need to enjoy all of its health benefits. The benefits of "fiber" are mainly all related to SCFA production and a healthy gut environment. While butyrate gets all the attention, other byproducts are just as important. Butyrate seems to be the key factor in maintaining a healthy gut environment, though.

Astute blogger, Melissa McEwan, was one of the first paleo bloggers to see that fiber was an important piece of the gut health puzzle, in her five part series, The Human Colon in Evolution, she showed this chart:

And said of it:

Interestingly, one of the top producers is something known as “resistant starch.” Resistant starch represents the growing nuance in understanding of fiber, since it is a starch that acts like a fiber in terms of acting as a bacterial substrate. It first showed up on the scientific radar when scientists found that low rates of colon cancer were not just found in populations with high-fiber diets, but those with high-starch diets (O'Keefe, Kidd, Espitalier-Noel, & Owira, 1999)1. Researchers found that a particular starch resisted digestion and ended up being fermented by colonic flora. They called this resistant starch and it is found mostly in cooked starches, some raw starches like green bananas, and some rough unprocessed grains and seeds. The former is termed type III and is a major part of the diets of many foraging populations who consume pounded and cooked starches like cassava, taro, true yam, and sago palm.

Also interested in the fermentation products of dietary fiber types was a researcher named J. H. Cummins, who was characterizing the byproducts of fiber fermentation in 2001. His paper, Prebiotic digestion and fermentation, contains this figure which is very useful in determining the types and ratios of fibers we may want to consume:

As you can see, different fibers create different proportions of short-chain fatty acids. If nothing else, this just proves that these fibers are causing bacterial activity with an end-point of increased SCFA over a diet lacking in these fibers.

Hopefully one day researchers will delve into the exact amounts and types of fibers we need to produce the amounts and types of short chain fatty acids we require. Until then, we are winging it using the best information we can find.

In Search of the Perfect Fiber:  Quantity Recommendations

I would like to offer a range of 20-50g per day as the amount of fermentable (classic 'soluble') fiber one should strive to ingest on a near-daily basis. I don't think there is any need to target a specific amount on non-fermentable (classic 'non-soluble') fibers if you are eating several servings of fruit and vegetables most days. This amount applies to everyone, irregardless of age or sex.

While I'm at it...what's with "old people" needing less fiber?  Every official chart I've seen says that people over 50 need about 1/3 less fiber.  What is going to happen to me in August when I turn 50?  Maybe they think that when you are 50 you are over-the-hill and about to die, so no sense in having decrepit old people hog all the good fiber from the young whippersnappers.

And women?  Why do women need less fiber?  

In my world, old people and women will get MORE fiber.  Babies?  Kids?  Sure, they eat less than adults (maybe) so they will be getting less fiber.  I guess if I was to make a formula, it would be something like "Fermentable fiber should be consumed at the rate of 15-25g per 1000kcal of food."
Modern diets give us approximately 15g of total fiber per day. Judging by the current state of the world's guts, this is an inadequate amount, especially if it is nearly 2/3 "insoluble" non-fermenting fiber.

Archeological evidence estimates that certain populations of hunter-gatherers may have eaten as much as 135g of fiber per day. Looking at food/fiber charts, you can see that this would be a difficult feat to match today unless you ate like a gorilla.

There is probably no dangerous upper limit to fiber consumption as long as one does not replace all dietary carbohydrates with fiber.

I am also convinced that eating this amount of fermentable, prebiotic fiber can become second-nature to us, though it may require supplementing. I hate to think that I am adding to worries about what we eat and adding another layer of orthorexia to your day. In that regard, let's not get too wrapped up in counting fiber grams, but let's do examine our daily diets for fiber sources and see where we stand. I think everyone will find they fall short in fermentable fiber.

In the next post, we'll discuss real-food options for obtaining this amount of fermentable fiber.


  1. Great post, Tim. With regards to quantity, I'd like to see "low or zero" (every now and again) discussed as well. It is unlikely we ever evolved to (consistently) get a minimum of 20-30g (for example). There would have been many occasions where a day, or two, would have passed without getting a lot of food, or alternatively, getting a lot of meat with a big kill, and not eating typical fiber rich foods for a day, or so. I suspect fasting from fiber for a day, or two, now and again, has a lot of benefits. I have visions of a survival of the fittest scenario in the gut happening, and probably a lot of other interesting things going on as well.

    1. That's a great point. I am a fan of intermittent fasting. I try to IF daily from dinner until lunch the next day. I also will do periodic 48 hour fasts. Fasting has a place in our evolution, no doubt.

      I think I will make a revision to my recommendation! I will add in "most days."

      Like I said, I hate to add another level of obsession to eating. If you don't get a big load of fiber every day, it's not the end of the world, and may even be wise to take a few days off now and then.

      What I don't like, is the lifetime people spend on a fiber-poor diet.

  2. Thank you Tim. Very appreciative of your work. Looking forward to the following posts, and your year long journey of experimentation. I would be interested in your views on this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=arabinoxylan+and+prausnitzii
    Melissa McEwans chart indicates arabinoxylas are low Butyrate producers while this study indicates they are good. I didn't get the full study as it costs $40. It says in the abstract: 'AXD feeding resulted in a 3- to 5-fold higher pool size of butyrate compared with WSD feeding, with the RSD being intermediate (P <0·001)'

    1. I just tried to get the full text and couldn't. Too bad. I'd like to see. I think the abstract is informative enough. I need to look more into AX. Is it available as a supplement? Not sure where they are getting it in these pig studies. I'll be sure to look into it before I get to the "fiber supplement" post. I looked around and couldn't really find any whole-foods high in AX. It's in all whole grains, just not sure how much.

    2. Here's a pretty interesting one on AX: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/71/5/1123.full

      FWIW, Larch powder, mentioned in the last thread's comments, is AG: arabinose+galactose. I have no idea how the two relate beyond the obvious… the arabinose sugar. Just thought it was interesting that arabinose keeps popping up.

    3. Allan - You think that's a strange combo, I was looking into the prebiotic qualities of a chewing gum made from the pitch of spruce trees. Turns out it contains "Galacto-glucomannan":

      "Galactoglucomannan is a water-soluble hemicellulose, consisting of galactose, glucose and mannose. Many softwood species, e.g. Norway spruce are rich of galactoglucomannans and can contain it up to 10-20%.

      Galactoglucomannan consists of a backbone of randomly distributed (1→4)-linked mannose and glucose units with (1→6)-linked galactose units attached to mannose units. The hydroxyl groups in locations C2 and C3 in mannose are partially substituted by acetyl groups." (wikipedia)

  3. Tim, thank you for this post. I am working on learning what there is to learn about reincorporating carbs/fiber along with SBOs after healing from a total adrenal/autoimmune/dysbiosis collapse of some years - during much of which I couldn't eat most foods and an LCHF approach served me well. I then used bovine colostrum, basic non-SBO probiotics, and raw dairy for some of my initial recovery, before even finding you and Grace L. and Richard N, with excellent results. Anyway I'm very appreciative of your work and your overall scientific sensibility - and will keep reading here on your site.

  4. Tim, yes, thanks. I'm very much looking forward to this series as well.

    There's so many different kinds of fiber it gets a little dizzying. The thing I loved about RPS was it was simple and cheap. My biggest disappointment after getting our results back was that it wasn't an unmitigated good. I guess that's life: no simple solutions, but a guy can always hope.

    I'm warming to psyllium since Child 1, with an extra 1tsp of psyllium to go with the 1TBSP RPS, seemed to show the best response of the group, but that stuff is hard to swallow.

    I see inulin gets a lot of press. Might go with some of that eventually. Pectin comes across as relatively too expensive, but maybe I've gotten spoiled by RPS & Psyllium.

  5. Your experiment was valuable! The guys at Stanford are looking at it and it will probably effect the way they do future studies on prebiotics. I thought that the across-the-board increases in Bifidobacteria were very impressive. It would have been better to be able to measure pH and SCFAs as well.

    There is still much to learn. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I think that we have learned enough in the last couple of years to make some good recommendations.

    I think that just about everyone could benefit with some targeted prebiotics. I also like to keep it all cheap and easy.

    I agree psyllium is not the easiest fiber to deal with. Have you tried Metamucil psyllium fiber? They supposedly have the blend down to where it's tasteless and mixes well. Inulin is nice, kind of sweet.

    I hope some day someone figures out the optimal blend, until then you will just have to rely on your instincts and the words of people who may have ulterior motive$.

    1. Tim,
      Sorry to bring up a completely unrelated topic, but for a couple of days now when I click on recent comments in the 'Potato starch- A great prebiotic' I'm not taken to the comment. It doesn't happen with recent comments in other posts, like this one. In other words for the other posts, no problem. So I'm wondering if it's because the commentary on that post is so long?
      Also, when I try to find the latest comments by just scrolling down through the earlier comments, they're not even there.
      Like your suggestion to look at the addition you made to fiber part 1 to clarify my understanding gut bacteria. It doesn't appear at all in the comments themselves. Only in the list of recent comments on the home page.
      Any ideas?

    2. I have the same problem as Stuart. Happy New Year all!

    3. This might be browser specific, but on Safari there is a "Load More" link under the leave a comment box. It's kind of easy to miss, being under the comment box. I only noticed it myself when I saw the total comment count kept increasing, but the bottom comment was still dated a day or two old.

    4. Your experiment was valuable!
      Thanks! I felt we got overtaken by events a little bit. By the time we finally got it off the ground Mr. Heisenbug had already addressed the RS2-bifido connection. Then, after our results were already "in the mail," there was the mini-controversy around sampling technique. In the end, I did like the experimental confirmation it provided.

      The guys at Stanford are looking at it and it will probably effect the way they do future studies on prebiotics.
      Well that's interesting. I'd be happy if it helps in any small way.

      I thought that the across-the-board increases in Bifidobacteria were very impressive.
      Yes, it was neat to see some numbers put to it. And big numbers they were.

    5. I was having the same problem. Like Allan, the 'Load More' helped. Though not always for some reason. Good to hear it wasn't just my computer glitching.
      Was such a great thread! Could almost have a post just on honey, plus whatever else was tucked away in there.

      Happy New Year everyone! And thanks for being such a fab host Tim.

  6. Along the same lines, Tim, would it be possible for you to add the option of receiving comments be email without commenting myself? I don't want to miss a word!

    1. This option does exist for me on my tablet, but curiously not on my PC. There is a "Notify me" check box at the bottom of the comment section. Checking this box allows me to follow without needing to comment. This is my first comment to this thread and I had been following since the beginning. Not sure why it only shows in the tablet, but I suspect this is more an issue with Blogger than this specific blog.

  7. I think this Blogger Blog thing is meant to be complementary with Google Circles and works better on some browsers than others. The 'recent comment' bar is an add-on that a third-party came up with and is kind of glitchy.

    I am going to make a change to the comments. All new comments will go to the bottom of the list, you won't be able to reply to a comment like we are here. I find it easier to keep up with comments that way, but if you reply to someone else's comment, you'll kind of have to say "@elliebelly" or cut and paste a small snippet of their question into your new comment.

    We'll see how that works! Thanks for the input.

  8. Happy New Year, Tim! This is somewhat of a tangent, but I wanted to thank you again for helping interpret my uBiome results. Ms. No Bifido/lacto is FINALLY making some progress controlling my symptoms by temporarily staying away from any foods with those guys in them or anything that encourages their growth. As many of your savvy readers probably know, these foods are high in histamine, which I was able to identify as a large part of the problem. This includes meat and for some people, eggs. So I am on a very unbalanced vegan diet for the time being. I will have to start looking for supplements to fill in the gaps until I can diversify, and am still planning some guerrilla warfare starting with inulin when the time is right.

  9. OK, I cannot change the commenting system. Apparently it goes with the template I picked. But probably better, as I think it is more valuable for future readers to see replies to specific comments.

    Here is a note I just got from Heather:

    "Hi Tim

    I've tried to comment several times over the past few weeks but my comments have disappeared into the ether. I usually use a VPN, and I wondered whether this was the cause, but I've tried without it with the same result.

    I wanted to comment today about people asking for a way to keep up with the comments on your blog. I use Feedly, a feed reader, to keep up with all the new posts on my favourite websites, including the comments on the really interesting ones. After a bit of playing around, I found adding the following link to Feedly:-


    feeds all the comments from Vegetable Pharm to Feedly, so I don't miss a thing anyone's said. (I haven't tried it on any other feed readers though.) Perhaps you could communicate this to your many avid readers?

    I'd also be grateful if you know why my comments are disappearing and what I can do about it?

    Many thanks, and a Happy New Year

    (Occasional Vegetable Pharm commentator)"

    Does this help anyone?

    Also, I do know that everything works better if you sign in with a Google account as opposed to posting anonymously. I've been burned several times here when I typed out a really long reply, only to find I wasn't signed in, when I then signed in, I found the entire comment I just wrote was gone. Grrrrr. I have started copying my entire comment before I post it if it is particularly long, or I forgot to sign in first, at least that way I don't have to re-type it.

    1. Hooray! It worked!!

      I changed my cookie settings to allow third party cookies, which seems to have done the trick. Signing in with my Google account didn't make any difference.

      It's strange because I haven't changed my cookie settings, so the blog software must have changed.

      Anyway, I'm just glad I can comment once again.

  10. And maybe what I should do is when I see a particular topic is getting up to about 50 or 60 comments, I'll start a new blog post so we can continue the discussion. Much over 100 comments and it turns into a real mess to try to keep up with.

  11. Hi Tim, I make a bread up once a week using the ingredients listed below. I would be interested in knowing the prebiotic rating of such a bread, and how much cooking at 325 degrees F for 1 1/4 hours would effect that rating. It would be great to be able to develop an excel spreadsheet where you could feed in the ingredients and it would list the estimated amounts of the different prebiotics and the fermentable fibre ratings etc.
    Solids Liquids
    1 cup pumpkin seeds
    1 cup golden flax
    3¼ cups tapioca flour
    1 cup coconut flour
    1½ to 2 tsp salt
    2¼ cups warm water
    2½ to 3 tbsp honey
    2½ to 3 tsp yeast
    4 eggs
    ½ cup butter
    2½ to 3 tbsp apple cider

    1. Couple of clarifications:
      1 cup pumpkin seeds
      1 cup golden flaxseed/linseed
      3¼ cups tapioca flour
      1 cup coconut flour
      1½ to 2 tsp salt
      2¼ cups warm water
      2½ to 3 tbsp honey
      2½ to 3 tsp yeast
      4 eggs
      ½ cup butter
      2½ to 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

    2. This is an impressive ingredient list! I would guess that the finished product would probably contain about 5-10% resistant starch by weight. Making toast would increase it a bit.

      It's nearly impossible to give a better answer or even make any kind of spreadsheet for RS3. If anyone is interested in the difficulties of testing RS3, here is a recent paper describing the process. It sounds like they have some new test methods for RS3, but it will be lumped in with all fiber. Only RS2, from a raw starch source, can accurately be tested by itself.

      Resistant Starch Measurement

  12. That sounds pretty good, actually... One of the things I most dislike about the plethora of grain-free recipes out there is that most of them don't use yeast. I don't think these heavy breads rise well without them. I'll try this one and let ya know how it turns out!

    1. This is what I do.

      ½ cup butter
      2½ to 3 tbsp honey
      2½ to 3 tsp yeast
      2¼ cups warm water
      Put unsalted butter on stove to melt
      Mix warm water, honey and then yeast. I boil some water and add to cold water, about 60% cold 40% boiled.

      1 cup pumpkin seeds
      1 cup golden flaxseed/linseed
      1 cup coconut flour
      3¼ cups tapioca flour
      1½ to 2 tsp salt

      Blend flaxseed and pumpkin seeds to flour.
      Put in large separate bowl to liquids.
      Add coconut flour thru sifter.
      Add Tapioca flour.
      Add salt

      4 eggs
      2½ to 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
      Add eggs to water, honey yeast - mix
      Add melted butter - mix
      Add apple cider vinegar - mix

      Add liquids to solids – mix

      Place in empty grill space for 50 minutes to rise with oven on 160 degrees. Grill door almost closed.
      Pour into bread tin (waxed paper lined) and place in grill for another 30+ minutes.

      Place in oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 160 Degrees C (325F)

    2. I rarely eat any type of flour products, but tonight I made an awesome pizza using Bob's Redmill Gluten Free Pizza mix. The ingredients were:

      Whole grain brown rice flour
      Potato Starch
      Millet Flour
      Sorghum Flour
      Tapioca Flour
      Potato Flour
      Xanthan Gum
      Guar Gum
      Sea Salt
      Active Dry yeast (in separate package)

      It made a really decent pizza!

      The nutrition facts said it contains 4g of "fiber" per 57g of mix.

      So roughly 7% fiber, lots of it RS. Maybe more RS3 tomorrow when I eat a cold slice!

    3. Hi Tim
      I've tried a bunch of the GF pizza crust mixes. For me, Namaste is hands down the best.
      Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Arrowroot Flour, Xanthan Gum, Granulated Garlic, Cream of Tartar, Salt, Baking Soda, Italian Seasoning, Granulated Onion, Ascorbic Acid.
      For delivery, it's pretty tough to beat Dominos GF. Will set you back about 15.00 for a small (only size offered).
      I only have pizza once or twice a month but it's worth it, homemade or otherwise. Hard to give up my favorite food.

  13. Does cooked and cooled tapioca starch become RS3?

    1. Hi Tim, Just had a look around some more on your site and found the info on tapioca re RS2. I presume you need RS2 to start with to create RS3 from cooking and cooling. May need to substitute PS for Tapioca Flour at least a % of. Might experiment with some Teff Flour and Buckwheat Flour.

    2. Tapioca starch seems to be one of the better producers of RS3. There is a product called ActiStar RT that is made from tapioca starch which has been heated and cooled over and over until it is about 50% RS3.

      I've never seen it for sale, not sure why...seems like a great product.


      I would think that tapioca starch like you buy in the store is on par with potato starch or any other for RS3 production when cooked and cooled, maybe even better.

  14. Happy 2015 everyone. I'm off and running in my high dose fiber experiment. After a couple days at about 50gm, yesterday I did around 75. Two medium raw potatoes, baobop, inulin, larch, acacia, maca, and yacon. I have a couple others that just arrived, which I will probably add to the mix soon. Ate one potato before breakfast, peeled and sliced, and drank fibers mixed into water after breakfast, spooning up and eating the clumpy stuff. Same thing at dinner.
    Initial observations. No headache when I woke up which is good, but could be coincidental. Maybe a mild allergic response--eyes are a little bloodshot and irritated. A serious appetite suppressant at this stage, hopefully that will dissipate because I don't want to lose weight. Senses of taste and smell seem altered. I'm cooking some garbanzo beans I soaked and they smell repugnant. Last night, I could barely eat the chicken I had made, it tasted funny to me, but not to my husband who is not doing this. More farts of course, although not as much as I might have expected.

    It will be interesting to see how this goes. I'll continue eating cooked and cooled taters, rice, starch and beans. I've started eating some forest honey as per Gemma's recommendation. Oatmeal is back on the menu. I've always been an enthusiastic vegetable eater. I don't plan to track my food based fiber, but I might tally up a few sample days just to get an idea.

    I've also started my dogs. This will be their third day. Initial mix is .5 t of PS, Larch, and Slippery elm. I know the latter two have been used with dogs. So far so good. If all is well in a week or so I'll add more to the mix modeled after Wilber and Stuart's recipes. I'm using a base of pumpkin. I'm giving both the dogs and myself the Primal Defense probiotic which I happen to have on hand.

    On another topic, I cant access the new comments on the last thread either. I'm using chrome on a laptop with windows 7. I notice it says loading on the bottom, but there is no circle of patience, and it never loads. If anyone has broke the code, I'm curious as to what you are doing.

    1. @Kate, I look forward to reading about your progress. The doggies too! Do you have specific health challenges you are hoping to reverse?

    2. Jin, Well for me the holy grail is reducing or eliminating chronic headaches and migraines. Admittedly a speculative bid and I'm not holding my breath. However, the potato starch experiment has been so positive for me in terms of general calmness and mental outlook, as well as a modest reduction in headaches that I'm inclined to experiment with this.
      A lot of it is simple curiosity, however. Might a hunter gatherer level of fiber promote improved health and vigor? I'm at the point in my life where I'm seeing contemporaries getting hip and knee replacements, having strokes and heart attacks, and just generally taking a lot of prescriptions to manage symptoms of chronic conditions. I'd like to avoid all that.

    3. @Kate

      I am interested how it goes, as well.

      Just to remind others, I have proposed to Kate two natural food sources (raw potato and honeydew honey), that MIGHT help thanks to their high KYNA content. KYNA is NMDA receptor antagonist, and the idea is that exogenously delivered KYNA might calm this receptor. Obviously hand in hand with the beneficial effects of other dietary changes.

      KYNA is also "an antagonist of both the ionotropic glutamate receptors and the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, as well as an agonist of G-protein coupled GPR35 receptor."

      Another interesting paper on this possible link:

      Unexpected effects of peripherally administered kynurenic acid on cortical spreading depression and related blood-brain barrier permeability.
      "The results demonstrated that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists can reduce the number of CSD waves and decrease the permeability of the BBB during CSD. These results suggest that KYNA itself or its derivatives may offer a new approach in the therapy of migraines."

      And, from:
      Distribution, synthesis, and absorption of kynurenic acid in plants.
      "KYNA was found in leaves, flowers, and roots of tested medicinal herbs: dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), common nettle (Urtica dioica), and greater celandine (Chelidoniummajus). The highest concentration of this compound was detected in leaves of dandelion--a mean value of 0.49 µg/g wet weight. It was shown that KYNA can be synthesized enzymatically in plants from its precursor, L-kynurenine, or absorbed by plants from the soil. Finally, the content of KYNA was investigated in 21 herbal tablets, herbal tea, herbs in sachets, and single herbs in bags. The highest content of KYNA in a maximum daily dose of herbal medicines appeared in St. John's wort--33.75 µg (tablets) or 32.60 µg (sachets)."

    4. Gemma,
      The excerpt you posted, mentions the KYNA content for dandelion flower and hypericum as being the stars. And I'm sure it's actually mentioned in that study, but do you know the KYNA content for raw potato?

    5. @Stuart

      Here a nice paper on KYNA in potatoes:

      Potato- An Important Source of Nutritional Kynurenic Acid 2012

      Kynurenic acid (KYNA) is a metabolite of tryptophan which is formed along the kynurenine pathway. KYNA may possess neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. This study measured the concentration of KYNA in various varieties of potatoes and products made from potatoes. KYNA content was determined by means of the high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. KYNA was found in all 16 studied varieties of potato tubers in amounts varying from 0.239 to 3.240 μg/g dry weight. The content of KYNA in potato tubers declined during long-term storage. The content of KYNA in French fries varied from 0.100 to 0.646 μg/g dry weight. KYNA content in potato crisps was 0.478 and 0.576 μg/g dry weight. Hence, all in all, we concluded that the amount of KYNA potentially delivered to the human body in potatoes and various foods produced from potatoes is high and might be compared to the amount of KYNA present in a maximum daily dose of popular herbs and herbal medicines.

    6. Thanks Gemma. All very interesting. I recall drug companies were trying to develop an NMDA receptor antagonist a few years back. Don't know what came of that effort though. I was curious if there were any traditional reports of raw potato cures for migraines but couldn't find any, except for externally applying raw potato to the head. Who knows? Maybe transdermal KYNA?
      The role of the bbb has always interested me. A lot of headaches = possible compromised bbb function. Sounds plausible to me.

      Dandelion greens are win win for me. Love them wilted with olive oil and lots of garlic. High in inulin and KYNA it seems. It is winter here now so no wild ones to be had. The cultivated ones have become trendy here in the last couple years though. Not hard to find.

  15. Okay, I clicked on the word Loading, and was then able to find the new comments with a Ctrl F search by date

  16. Yes, happy 2015.

    Good luck Kate! I am interested in how things go for you. I too have noticed the repugnant smells and tastes of certain things. I cannot eat brown rice or whole wheat because it smells rancid. Nobody else can smell it.

    I got the "Loading..." On my iPad with no end too. But it would load when I clicked on "loading..."

    1. Wilbur,
      I found that clicking on 'Loading' worked too. Perhaps 'Potato starch - a great prebiotic could go on forever.
      You can buy wheat, maize, or potato dextrin in bulk (minimum is 12.5kg) from a grain milling company in Australia called 'Allied Mills' I imagine large grain milling outfits in the U.S have them too. I think the people who sell 'Benefiber' probably buy it this way too, repackage it as a prebiotic fiber ( the grain milling people will tell you it's also prebiotic if asked, but for some reason bill it as a food texturizing additive for the baking industry) then jack the price up astronomically

    2. Hey, Stuart - I'm working on Part 3, could you put together all of the bulk sources you found for prebiotics? Prices, links, all that? I want to lay out a bunch of resources for people so they can make up their own special blends. Email it to me if you don't mind.

      Actually, if anybody has any prebiotics/fiber type stuff you'd like me to mention, please email it to me. I think it will be great for people to see what is out there.


    3. Elliebelly,
      Are you persevering with the PHGG? What do you think of it?

    4. It did not do a thing for me as far as lowering my blood sugar below 100. So for the time being I stopped it.

  17. Thanks Wilbur. That's interesting that the grain smells rancid to you. My chicken tasted liking it was going bad.

    1. I just remembered that I had a similar issue with chicken. I switched from Tyson's type chicken to farm chicken soon after starting high fiber. The farm chicken did, and does, have an odd smell that I could imagine might seem like bad chicken. I knew my chicken was good, so I now associate it with really good chicken. That is interesting.

      I had a post one time that linked an article discussing a connection between the immune system and sense of smell. Given the bug-immune system connection, I'd bet this is real!

    2. I bet you are right Wilbur. I have noticed recently that some foods taste different to me. Dishes that i have prepared in the past haven't tasted as good as before .

  18. Twice my big long comment got wiped out. I'm trying one more time, shorter. After years of extremely low energy as a result of horrible diet for years after losing 80 pounds and maintaining it, I started drinking fermented vegetable juice and have been transformed. My energy is high, I can walk fast for miles, I'm a different person. I'd been eating well with fermented vegetables for at least a year or two. This juice seems to have done something the vegetables didn't. What do you think, Tim? And Happy New Year!

    1. Debbie, do you make this yourself or there is a brand you recommend?

  19. here is a 100% buckwheat bread recipe that uses no wheat,youn ferment the dough for 12-24 hrs ,it is very easy to make,,buckwheat is very high in rs2,,,,,, http://consciouscatering.ca/nama-bread/

  20. Test Post for Ashwin Patel:

    Very informative and well written article, Tim. Thank you.

    I also believe that “The perfectly formed stool” is a marker of Good health and a sign that you are consuming the correct balance of Foods that contain “food” for the gut microflora. Make an effort to create the perfectly formed stool and everything else will fall into place!! I have dedicated a whole website on this subject!

    The perfectly formed Stool


    What are the properties of the perfectly formed stool?


    How and where are Faeces made?


    Your Colon and the Healthy Stool


    Short chain fatty acids and Butyrate:


    Some really good articles on the functional properties of dietary fiber:

    A review of gastrointestinal physiology and the
    mechanisms underlying the health benefits of
    dietary fiber: Matching an effective fiber with
    specific patient needs

    Fiber and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders


    Raw Psyllium Seed Flour, made by grinding Psyllium Seeds contains the Husk as well as the Resistant Starch contained within the seeds. I believe this source is even better than Raw potato Starch as a source of Fermentable fiber and Resistant starch. Better than Psyllium Husk on it's own.


  21. My seventh attempt at posting. I have saved the post in MS WORD. Will send it by email

    1. All I can think is that the links you included had some HTML code that Blogger didn't like.

      Hey, I was going to ask you after looking at your website...were you really talking about RS and raw potatoes back in 2012? Did you get many people to try?

      How have the squatty loos done?

    2. @Ashwin, I have clicked on "Notify me" for comments on this thread, and I received multiple emails/posts from you. Something must be buggy!

      I saw the recipe on your web site for the blended vegetables. Raw potato, raw carrot, apple, etc. This seems like another good option for getting in enough soluble fiber and resistant starch without too much effort.

  22. Tim,
    I wonder what happened to poor old Konstantin M? Did he ever recant? Must have made a pile of money from giving people very bad advice. Kind of makes me think of Micheal Eades et al. At least Mark Sisson had the grace to change his tune, But then he hadn't dug quite so big a hole for himself had he?

    Confess, you sorry fools, confess

    Also, the section you added clarified things for me considerably. So colon bacteria will survive on just glycans in food. But they won't produce many SCFA's without fermentable fiber as well?.
    Or are glycans fermentable? But won't produce the same microbiome raft of benefits as other fermentable fibers?

    1. From what I hear, KonMon is still alive and kicking and making a killing off of Russian immigrants in Canada. Last year, he showed up in the blog of The Healthy Home Economist. He said he was going to write guest blogs for a year, and at the end, turn it into a book that the commenters helped to review.

      Well, his tone was so insulting to the mainly women readers and the comments started actually getting hostile to him. He only made about 5 or 6 posts and then no more. I guess he changed his mind about writing a book about "Why We Get Fat." You could tell that he is very stuck in his ways of thinking and didn't want to hear about thyroid problems or adrenals...it was all about eating too much and getting too much fiber.

      On the SCFAs. We were batting this paper around today. Please open and have a look.

      SCFA Metabolism, 2013

      This is what we are up against!

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

      It explains the paradoxical lowering of SCFAs when going on a high fiber diet:

      " It is important to note that fecal SCFA concentrations do not reflect their concentration and production rate in the intestine as most SCFAs are taken up by the host and therefore fecal SCFA excretion provides little information about actual intestinal SCFA metabolism."

      Fecal SCFA and even microbes are a poor representation of what's going on in the gut, sad to say. Fecal levels of SCFA can drop as the colon gets healthier and utilizes more of the SCFA instead of wasting it. I wish it were easier, so I think it's probably best to learn what personal health impacts eating pre/probiotics have on yourself.

      Even this says a lot:

      "Studies of human fecal microbial communities showed that at pH 5.5 the butyrate-producing bacteria such as Roseburia spp. and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, both belonging to the Firmicutes phylum, comprised 20% of the total population (53). When fermentable dietary fibers become limiting in the more distal parts of the large intestine, the luminal pH increases to 6.5, the butyrate-producing bacteria almost completely disappear, and the acetate- and propionate-producing Bacteroides-related bacteria become dominant (53)."

      I've always thought that proper food and a resulting proper pH of the gut are the biggest factors, and ones we directly control. I just wish it were so simple for everyone to implement, and also there are certainly factors that confound any general rule we could come up with.

    2. Tim,
      Thanks. It will certainly be interesting to see how they solve the challenge of accurately sampling microbe, pH, and SCFA concentrations at various points in the human colon. I suppose it will be micro testing units that can test and then transmit that data to some pocket borne logging gizmo along with accurate position at time of transmission.

  23. Tim,
    I began research for the articles on my website in 2010 and became aware of Resistant Starch then. I looked into other sources of RS apart from the synthetic ones being discussed at the time and found Chinese and Malaysian studies which indicated the benefits of Raw Starch, including Raw Potato starch. My own experiences growing up in East Africa in an Indian household where Vegetarianism was practised also reminded me to experiment with Traditional foods such as Mung Bean flour, Corn flour, Millet flour, Tapioca flour, Pounded Yam, Banana flour, Rice flour, Chick pea flour and many others that you can easily pick up in an Asian Grocers. I experimented with Raw Potato Starch after reading Articles that reported experiments in Animals (mostly Pigs and Chicken). The Short chain fatty acid salt Sodium Butyrate is very widely used in Animal husbandry with great results. We can learn a lot from these Animal studies. I can remember a standing joke among friends growing up in Africa, Curried Chick Peas were a popular dish at festivals like weddings and consumption of this dish was guaranteed to cause "fireworks" without the fire!! Lots of farting resulted. This fact made me study Chick peas and Chick Pea flour to discover the cause and I found that it is a very good source of Fermentable fiber, even after cooking (Oligosaccharides, RS3), hence the excessive Gas. If you want RS3, look no further than Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
    All the Articles on my website were "uploaded" as a website in 2012, but I was experimenting with RS in the form of Green Banana/Plantain and Raw Potato Juice for the treatment of Constipation in my Pharmacy Practice well before that, with considerable success. Lots of reports from patients/customers that the Green Banana worked. I came up with my Raw Vegetable Juice blend by trial and error and recommend it to all my patients with GI troubles, especially those with IBD and Diverticulitis. Great reports.
    I do not advertise the SquatLooStool and rely on "Mr Google" to send customers. Not very successful so far, though I have sold 12 pairs to date. Perhaps it is too expensive for people? There is competition out there with cheaper alternatives. I also find that people generally do not want to talk about their Bowel problems (a taboo subject) . At this stage I consider the whole project a hobby and it has lead me to yours and other similar Blogs to learn more. This does not affect my belief that Squatting is the best posture for evacuation. It is possible to create an approximate Squat posture without using any devices. See these articles:
    I recommend the squat posture to patients suffering from inability to completely empty the bladder due to enlargement of the Prostate gland (another Taboo subject). This posture allows the Bladder to be emptied and leaves you without the lingering feeling of wanting to go again soon after. Great reports for this recommendation as well!
    And Yes, I am experimenting with Acarbose to increase the amount of RS3 arriving in the Colon for fermentation. (I am not diabetic). I take 100mg before my main meal in the evening. I plan to send a "sample" to the recently launched British Gut Project in the near future. I am told results can take up to three months to be processed. Will send you the results when they are in for evaluation.
    On the potential of acarbose to reduce cardiovascular disease


    Acarbose enhances human colonic butyrate production.


    Effects of acarbose on fecal nutrients, colonic pH, and short-chain fatty acids and rectal proliferative indices.


    1. @Ashwin Patel

      I can see Raw Potato Juice mentioned in your comment. I can imagine it is extremely therapeutic, do you have anything more to say on that?

      Apart of KYNA, there is also high vitamin C, B, potassium, other minerals, glycoalkaloids... And the fiber of course.

    2. Ashwin,
      Have your heard of the use of the leaves of the white mulberry tree (morus alba)? Apparently it has similar effects to acarbose.

    3. Stuart, I did come across a study in type 2 diabetic patients and the use of Mulberry leaf extract. I have tried Extract of White Kidney Beans as a starch blocker. Did not see much effect (no gas!!). I have Acarbose 100mg. Will experiment taking it with one main meal containing Starch and the send "sample" to British gut Project for analysis. I also take lots of Polyphenols which are known to inhibit Amylase.



  24. @ Gemma,
    Raw Potato Juice has been used for many GI related problems, including Acid reflux. I am aware that INITIALLY, when Raw Potato (as Potato or Starch Powder) CAUSES Reflux, Excess Gut Acid and some Autoimmune flare ups (pain in arms and fingers). All these symptoms disappear after a few weeks of perseverance. I believe this is due to the fact that fermentation products of Raw Potato are available as substrate for the growth of ALL the microbiota in ones Intestines. This suggests it is not directly a prebiotic by the existing definition of a prebiotic. If you already carry some bugs that may be causing GI problems and Autoimmune conditions such as IBD, Eczema, etc you may get an initial Flare. The reason these symptoms disappear after a few weeks of RS consumption may be due to a change in the composition of the Gut Microflora, which may have been initiated by a change in Gut ph and direct antibiotic effects of Butyric Acid against some Bacteria, in addition to its ability to induce Gut epithelial cells (Paneth Cells?) to produce Antimicrobial Peptides. This indirect modulation of the Gut microflora composition by PS may be what we are seeking and it may be beneficial for Gut health as well as Whole body Health. This may mean that Raw Potato Starch is a conditional Prebiotic. (upon ph, motility?) It becomes a "Prebiotic" AFTER it has been fermented into Short Chain fatty acids, which change ph , have antimicrobial properties and Gut motility modulation properties.
    The value of "weeding" using Antibiotics (Banish the thought!!) or Herbs such as Neem Leaf before introducing Raw Potato Starch or any fermentable fiber may lie in the above explanation. Try and reduce the population of disease causing Bugs before introducing the Fermentable fiber to reduce the chances of a flare. Any thoughts?
    What do you think about my suggestion that Milled Whole Psyllium Seeds may be the best source of a cheap RS prebiotic. (Vicous, Fermentable, Soluble) ?

    1. @Ashwin Patel

      I think the Psyllium Seeds must be great too. And the leaves! Concider the usage of many other Plantago species in herbal medicine since ancient times, be it Plantago major or lanceolata (my garden is full of both).

    2. @Ashwin

      My previous question was directed mainly to Raw potato juice, there were people reporting interesting results so I was wondering why. Maybe there is even more synergy, together with the raw starch granules?

      I believe the Neem is very powerful as well, changing the inflammatory state.

    3. @Gemma,
      Perhaps Raw Potatoes are better than Potato Starch? The juice may contain other Potato ingredients such as Alkaloids, Polyphenols (Chlorogenic Acid), Amino Acids that may have a synergistic effect along with the Raw Starch Granules in modulating the Composition of the microbiota?

    4. @Ashwin

      "Perhaps Raw Potatoes are better than Potato Starch? "

      Surely it must be so for some people, the synergy is important. There are also protease / trypsin inhibitors, saponins, lectins in a potato tuber, everybody has heard of chaconine and solanine. These substances are part of the plant defence against pathogens, and they have antimicrobial, antifungal, anticancer effects...
      I suggest that raw potato (juice) is treated as medicine, the content of these compounds may vary, the dose may matter.

    5. @Gemma,
      I suggest that raw potato (juice) is treated as medicine.
      I agree. But not too loudly!! The FDA might hear and Ban it!!

    6. lol, Ashwin, I should have been more clear, sorry. It is no news that it is a medicine. So no that someone overdoses, thinking that more is better.

  25. The Bristol Stool chart is very helpful. But it says nothing with regard to floating or sinking. Does that matter, or indicate anything we should know about?

    1. @elliebelly,
      For yout eyes only!!
      Abnormal Stools and Bowel function


  26. @Aswin - re: "What do you think about my suggestion that Milled Whole Psyllium Seeds may be the best source of a cheap RS prebiotic. (Vicous, Fermentable, Soluble) ?"

    I think this is a very valid idea! Are the milled seeds subject to oxidation like flaxseed is said to be, do you know?

  27. Tim,
    Milled Flax seeds go rancid due to the high oil content. Psyllium seeds are not known to contain much oil (if any). Psyllium Seed is a rich source of Mucilage, Protein starch and Fermentable fiber. However, any seed should be milled as needed, in small batches. I believe milled Psyllium seed flour would make a very good substrate for Saccharolytic fermentation by the Gut microflora.

    1. Nice! I will try two weeks of 2-3TBS/day soon as part of the Stanford study. Do you think that's a good amount? 10-15g/day? Or maybe more?

  28. Tim,
    That amount seems fine, although it will make a pretty viscous solution. It is very important to take it with plenty of water/fluids. I suggest breaking up the dose into two equally divided doses. (Morning and Night) "dissolved" in water and consumed before it gets too thick.

    1. aha! I will play around with them first, then.

      I fell in love with Glucomannan powder, until I bought some and tried to use it. A spoonful turned my yoghurt into clay.

    2. Ashwin, I like the thought of using ground whole psyllium seed, although a preliminary search suggests it is much less available and more expensive than the husks, natch. (hmm, I wonder what the do with the seed after extracting the husk) Do you know if the whole seed was used traditionally?

    3. I am not aware of Psyllium seeds being used Traditionally in "cooking" I will investigate when I go to India next month. I just got the idea of using as a prebiotic fiber after reading on the content of the whole seed.The seeds are available on Amazon.

    4. Psyllium stands for Plantago ovata, native to Asia. I have mentioned before that my garden is full of other related Plantago species, namely Plantago major and P. lanceolata, both widely used in traditional medicine. And it seems the seeds of P. major used to be milled for flour.

      Source: Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods


      Plantain (Broadleaf)

    5. Gemma
      Do you eat the Plantago major from your garden? Which parts of the plant?
      How much and how often? Does it have mucilaginous seeds like the ovata?
      Only one other question. How much bee bread is a good daily dose?

    6. No, I do not eat P. major but reading all that I have realized I could!

      Beebread: one or two teaspoons, not more.

      Honey ad libitum , of course :-)

    7. Ashwin,
      I think I remember you mentioning fenugreek seed flour as a good source of RS2. Could you recap on its benefits? And do you think it's a good thing to include in daily broad range fermentable fiber regimen?

    8. Gemma
      Thanks, and I forgot to ask, being fermented the beebread should keep for a while refrigerated shouldn't it? Just curious,how much honey do you consume typically.

      Wild cucumber,
      Really interesting. I have a few pasture grasses in my paddocks that have really mucilaginous seeds. I suppose it's a dispersal adaption, And I suppose if livestock eat them with relish, they're probably not poisonous to humans do you think? I really like the idea of eating weeds that grow prolifically in your backyard. Even if they're not that tasty, you can just bury them in a smoothie. If it works with spirulina, it will work with anything. Even before I learnt of the recent 'superfood' status of mulberry leaves, I was so impressed with how much my goats and horses liked eating them, that I'd started adding them to my smoothies - just something extra that was green. And silkworms kind of like them too.

    9. Stuart - Mulberry leaves are a superfood now? ha! That's a good thing (for once), we need to eat the invasives and leave the rarer guys alone. I have no idea about your grasses, sorry.

      I'm not a fan of the smoothie for weeds. Chewing them thoroughly releases juices into the mouth that stimulate the digestive processes, something we maybe should take into consideration. The bitters, especially. Also, some, like my beloved stinging nettle, are more nutritionally available to us cooked.

    10. @Stuart the Silkworm

      Store the beebread in a closed jar in a cool place, sure. Or in some honey, to prevent spoilage.

      I eat 1-2 spoonfuls of honey a day, usually. Or none, it depends. Or a bit of molasses.

  29. Stuart, re eating Plantago major (the other "plantain"), I have a lot of experience with this very useful weed. When young the leaves are almost sweet and tender but as it gets older they become stringy and bitter. Not necessarily a bad thing. Slugs also enjoy them, so it can be tricky to find unblemished leaves. That said, the leaves are more often used in teas or ointments. Very healing for skin and mucous membranes. They have plenty of mucilage, as do the seeds. I haven't used the seeds often. Cooked in oatmeal they're okay.Seeds of lambsquarters ( a relative of amaranth) are used similarly.

    The leaves, roots and seeds of lots of other weeds are mucilage rich, too. The evening primroses and the mallow/malva family especially, all parts are edible. I particularly enjoy a root of evening primrose pulled out of the ground, brushed off (not washed) and crunched in early spring.

    1. Thanks Wildcucumber, I had heard plantain leaves were edible. I'm going to try them next spring. Certainly a ubiquitous plant. I had in the back of my mind that evening primroses were toxic.

    2. Kate - there may be confusion with common names in different regions. I'm referring to the Oenothera spp.The flowers have such a hypnotic fragrance I can see how one would eye the whole plant suspiciously!

  30. @Stuart
    Re Fenugreek and Galactomannan

    To avoid repeating myself, I am re-posting from my original post on Animalpharm
    GALACTOMANNAN polysaccharides are found in a fantastic amount and in a ratio of Mannose to Galactose of 1:1 in FENUGREEK seeds!

    Indian cooking involves using Fenugreek in small amounts in most dishes. However, if you want to use it as a "herb" for medicinal purposes, it needs to be consumed in higher doses. My mum used to make a pickle containing Fenugreek seeds and Chick peas and I used to love it growing up (in East Africa). I have started making the pickle recently and its really good. I reproduce my recipe below:

    Fenugreek Seeds......................................150Gram
    Chick Peas(Preferably Red)....................250G
    Lemons (juice of).....................................3
    Salt...........................................................to taste
    Green Chili...............................................2
    Olive Oil....................................As needed..see method
    Whole Garlic Cloves................................3
    Asafoetida (Hing)................................2G
    Pickle masala Powder mix.................10G (see recipe below)

    1. Soak the Fenugreek Seeds and Chick Peas in water overnight. I allow the seeds to soak for a couple of hours and then wash the lot to remove any Bitterness. Replace the water and add the salt at this stage. The salt also prevents the seeds from Germinating or sprouting as this would reduce the store of Galactomannan and Oligofructose in the seeds.
    2. On day two remove the water (I use a large sieve) and dry the seeds using kitchen paper.
    3. Add some of the Olive oil in a Wok (say one tablespoon), heat and add the Asafoetida, Green Chili and the Seeds. Now add the Lemon Juice and Garlic.
    4. Cook for 3 minutes whiling mixing all the ingredients.
    5. Pour the mix into an airtight Glass Jar.
    6. On day three add Olive oil into the Jar to cover the Seeds.
    7. Leave the jar tightly closed in a warm place for 5 days.
    It is then ready.

    Pickle Masala Powder Recipe from India

    100g Dried red chillies
    1 tbsp Dried Fenugreek leaves
    2 tbsp Moong (dried Mung beans)
    1 tbsp Cumin seeds
    1 tbsp Mustard seeds
    1 tsp Turmeric) powder

    I wonder if this pickle could be regarded as a fermented food. In any case, it is great source of Galactomannan and Oligosaccharides.
    I source my ingredients in a local Asian supermarket but do not know if they are Organic. most of them appear to originate from India or Australia.
    For those who may not be keen on pickle, Fenugreek fibre is available as Fenufibre and is claimed to be an aid for diabetics.


    1. Ashwin, where is fenufibre sold?

      I don't know about you, but if I eat fenugreek greens my pee stinks, my poo stinks and my sweat stinks of fenugreek. It's the same as with asparagus. I know it's genetic: I can smell it and lots of people can't.

      Do you notice that eating a lot of fenugreek has this effect? And does fenufibre have a flavour?

    2. @Ashwin

      I tried to post this closer to where it would relevant, but it won't let me. Oh well.

      I have you to thank for making me think a little differently about some things. At your suggestion, I got whole psyllium seeds. They smell fantastic, way more than husk powder. I ground them up with whole flaxseed, and mixed them in with my lunch, which was black eyed peas, okra, collard greens, sausage, tomatoes. I didn't even notice them. I think I am going to work on blending more seeds into stuff, including fenugreek. Thanks!

    3. Gabriella, You might be interested in this.........


    4. Ashwin! What is up with your internet, man! I can see all the comment notiifications, looks like you are having problems again. Here is what Ashwin just posted:


      Febufiber is available in India. I am visiting in February and plan to purchase some. More info here:


      Fenugreek seeds contain sulphur compounds and I have a feeling certain Sulphur reducing Bacteria may be able to ferment these to make Hydrogen Sulphide, which smells of rotten Eggs. Perhaps taking it as one of the ingredients in a comprehensive Prebiotic fiber mix may help create an acidic ph in the Colon and discourage growth of the Causative bugs?
      I find the smell is dose related. Excessive intake of Fenugreek seeds does produce this stink, but small amounts (say one teaspoonful) does not. I do not have this problem though, so it may be down to the Composition of an individual’s Gut Microbiota.
      I do not know whether Fenufiber has this property, but I doubt it does because it appears to be produced by removing the “aromatic” principles , resulting in mainly the Galactomannan content.



      Thank you Wilbur. You are very welcome. Please remember to drink plenty of fluids with meals containing Psyllium Seed flour, it is reported to absorb up to 24 times its weight in fluids. Build up the “dose” gradually.


      Sprouted Fenugreek seeds are also very popular and an alternative way of consuming same and is more palatable Germination does release some sugars and changes the flavour, making it sweeter. But, Germination may reduce the amount of Fermentable fiber which you are seeking.


      The Fenugreek seed pickle sounds “strong” but the other ingredients and fermentation over time seems to make the flavour mellow. Red Chick peas are traditionally used in this pickle and in my opinion, they are healthier than the White Garbanzo Beans (the red colour is due to Proanthocyanidin flavonoids—a bonus!!). Both ingredients are high in Fermentable fiber and the amount of this pickle eaten at any one sitting does not exceed one tablespoonful.


      You are right. Your description of Black (red ) Chick peas and Split Chick peas (Chana Dal) is spot on. Thank you.

  31. @Ashwin

    I sometimes use sprouted fenugreek seeds, rather as salad spice, this looks interesting!

    Which "cumin"? Carum carvi or Cuminum cyminum? Or black cumin?

  32. @Gemma,
    I mean Cuminum Cyminum (Jeera). Black Cumin is really Nigella Sativa (also known as Onion Seeds and Kalonji)

  33. Ashwin,
    That looks wonderful. But it must taste pretty strong. It would be hard to eat a lot of it wouldn't it? Didn't you also rave about chick peas (same thing as Garbanzo beans?) To the effect that they are high in fermentable fiber?

    1. The red chickpeas are also called black chickpeas,they are really dark brown and more wrinkled than white ones.They are kala chana in the whole state and chana dal in the familiar orange split form.These are higher in fibre than the white chickpea,Garbanzo,and mainly grown in India/Pakistan.

  34. So it isn't the RS, it could be even soluble fiber that ferments?
    (thought till now only RS, RPS, does it).

    also here http://www.sciedupress.com/journal/index.php/cns/article/download/3062/1976
    Fiber and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

    pg.2, puts inulin, and Resistant starch at the same catogery (counter Dr.Grace)
    Soluble, non-viscous, readily
    fermented = None at physiologic doses

    so i"m confused.

    1. Fermentable fibers can be just about anything: RS, inulin, pectin, gums...the list goes on. These are sometimes referred to as 'soluble' fibers, but the word 'soluble' only refers to what happens when you mix the fiber in water, not what happens in the gut.

      Some fermentable fibers are fermented by different sets of gut microbes and result in different compounds being produced, ie. butyrate, actetate.

      What used to be termed "insoluble" were thought to be not fermented by gut bacteria, but RS is insoluble, and readily fermented!

      Confused even more now?

  35. Tim,
    My comments are dissapearing soon after publishing. You can re-post, please. I am tired of trying !

  36. I just added this update to the main post above.

    [Updated info! 1/8/2015]

    When reading through these recommendations, keep in mind the amount of prebiotic fiber a newborn human baby ingests. Human breast milk is rich in Human Milk Oligosaccharides. These HMOs are similar in structure to inulin and resistant starch. A man-made substance, GOS, is often used in infant formula. GOS is made by treating cow's milk with certain enzymes that convert it into a prebiotic fiber.

    HMOs are well-studied for their ability to be persorbed into the bloodstream of the baby where they can remove pathogens from the bloodstream and organs. Raw starch granules perform this same function after weaning.

    Human breast milk contains prebiotic HMOs at approximately 15-25 grams per liter, and babies from newborn to 6 months consume about 1 liter of milk per day. A substance known as colostrum that is secreted into the first couple squirts of breast milk has double the HMOs as the rest. Colostrum has approximately 22g HMOs per liter, and the rest of the breast milk has about 12g/liter.

    Some studies show that breast milk available to the newborn is much richer in HMOs and it lessens as the baby grows. All of this HMO rich breast milk is credited with keeping babies "bulletproof" as their guts fill with Bifidobacteria gorging on the HMOs.

    The fact that a baby gets 15-25 grams of prebiotic fiber should put things in perspective as I recommend 25-50g of prebiotic fiber for adults!

    [End update]

    1. Wow. The underdeveloped microbiome of a baby is significantly different than an adult. In fact, I believe I read it can initially look more like some non-gut microbial communities from the mother. Over time, and no doubt with the help of these prebiotics, the microbiome shifts to look more like a typical adult. I wonder if this mechanism could apply to a dysbiotic adult gut and explain why some here really have great success when increasing prebiotics to the levels you suggest.

    2. You are thinking what I'm thinking! I hazard to say, but I feel that any adult gut that is underfed in prebiotics is a dysfunctional gut, in some respects. There may be no outward signs, and maybe some people can get by on less than others, but I think the first step in healing the gut is to ensure a steady supply of prebiotics.

      I was really excited to see the HMO content of breast milk is apparently well-known. Several different papers over many years have measured it at roughly 15-25g/liter, differences being mainly length of time breastfeeding.

      The biggest concern most people have is that 25-50g is too high and not needed. Now that I see a tiny baby can handle 15-25g/day in that tiny little intestine, I have much less issues with 50g for an adult.

  37. Tim - I love these numbers for prebiotics in breast milk! I knew long term nursing of my kids (in keeping with paleo principles they nursed until 4 and 6yo respectively) was benefiting them and reducing their food allergy symptoms/boosting their immunity/reducing the liklihood of autoimmune/feeding them healthy fats etc etc etc**....and now one mechanism is made clear!

    They may have inherited my imbalanced gut flora, but at least long term nursing helped offset that :D And now both of them are on Probiotic 3 and PS - if we can fix their gut flora it will be done!

    **Breast milk is this bizarre miracle substance. It cures pink-eye for example. It's antiviral when applied to the nasal passages. It increases the speed of wound healing by about 200%. The list goes on and on. For the better part of a decade I felt like a walking liquid pharmacy!

  38. It blew my mind as well. To think, breast feeding a newborn provides the equivalent of 3TBS of a prebiotic powder.

    I had no idea there was that much fiber in breast milk.

    In other terms, 1 liter of breast milk is about 700 calories. So if you look at roughly 15-20g of prebiotics per 700 calories eaten in a day, that equates well with 40-60g of prebiotics for an adult eating around 2000 calories.

  39. Amazing. Honestly amazing. That's some quantity, man!

    Some tribal peoples used breast milk to feed the very ill - between the antiviral & antifungal properties AND the prebiotic properties, it makes total sense. The prebiotics helped heal disease at least as much as the easily digestible sugars and fats.

    When I was pregnant with youngest son, oldest son and I got salmonella, a mild case. I was producing nothing but colostrum at the time (due to pregnancy), and *man* did his salmonella clear up fast!

    When you consider the highly dynamic feedback loop between baby and mother, the breast almost certainly produces more or less prebiotics as the baby's body says it needs them, just as the breast does with all other substances it produces.

    You've got your product slogan now Tim :D "Prebiotics - If Babies Can Handle 3TBS [equivalent!] So Can You!"

  40. Tim, that's really interesting. I'll speculate that the upper level equivalent or beyond might be needed for a healing (therapeutic) dose. So 25mg/700 would be 90mg/2500! Maybe that's why I felt better but just wasn't getting there on a dose at the lower end. Right now in the winter I'm not that active, but the rest of the year I definitely consume more than 2000/day.

  41. Kate - that makes a lot of sense. The quantity of fermentable fiber needed by a baby who, mother nature assumes, isn't afflicted by gut dysbiosis but rather *establishing* good flora from the outset, has to be *lower* than the therapeutic dose required by an adult to heal from decades of flora imbalance.

    That initial hit of bugs and fermentable fiber is going into baby as an intestinal blank-slate, as it were. It's east to establish good flora when you're starting from a naive environment. Evidence would suggest it's much harder to correct an adult gut!

  42. And probably even harder to correct an adult gut without a 'shit-ton' of prebiotic fiber.

  43. Agreed indeed!

    (aaaa ha ha ha - I see what you did there!)

  44. So do you think GOS should have a special place in the adult fiber intake spectrum? Or once babies are weaned. other fermentable fibers are just as good?
    Maybe Bimuno is onto something?

  45. @Stuart - GOS is fake HMO, but seems to do the job when added to formula.

    Look at Slide 11: HMO Prebiotics

    GOS has a few of the basic building blocks of HMO, but not all by any means.

    I am intrigued by Bimuno, but I doubt it's worth the expense, and I believe it is quite expensive!

  46. Tim,
    What's the difference between Bimuno and 'ordinary' GOS?
    I'm about to buy non Bimuno GOS , and it's quite cheap (about the same as inulin), but maybe I shouldn't bother.

  47. Do you have a link? I was under the impression Bimuno is all there is.

  48. Tim,
    I'm getting it from China. There are about 20 factories listed on Alibaba that manufacture GOS. Maybe I should ask them how similar to HMO it is? Could be interesting.
    I remember that Wilbur commented recently that he wasn't very impressed with GOS (and I think the one he uses IS Bimuno) - 'a bit player', he said.

    Totally unrelated. It's really interesting hearing the slight variations in colloquialisms you guys use. We say 'shit- load' for 'shit- ton'.

  49. Tim,
    Now that I think of it, Bimuno probably get their GOS from one of the factories who advertise on Alibaba.
    There could be different grades though. I wonder.

  50. I'd be willing to bet it's all exactly the same. That last link will show you how similar it is to HMO.

    I had no idea you could get in a reasonable quantity off Alibaba, I figured you had to buy a metric 'shit ton' or a crap-load, or a boat-load, or whatever.

    If you can get it at the same price as inulin, go for it. It seems to be the closest thing to HMOs which is why it's extensively used in infant formula.

    I guess that opens a whole new line of thought...should adults seek the same prebiotics a baby uses?

    I can't see where there would be any harm, per se.

    Would surely be good to put in the rotation.

    What is the minimum buy?

  51. Just looking at alibabab.com. I found a GOS with min order of 1KG, no price listed. It says:
    (no idea why it says 'animal' and if that is important!)

    Usage: Animal Pharmaceuticals


    Galacto oligosaccharides 80%/90%/95% liquid and powder, Professional supplier in China

    1. The mother's milk prebiotics:

    Low poly galactose is a kind of functional oligosaccharides with natural attribute, is found in human breast milk, baby in vivo bifidobacterium flora based largely depends on the low poly galactose component of breast milk.

    2. Acid resistance, heat resistance,

    Low acid resistance, heat resistance of poly (galactose is better than other oligosaccharides, not because of the low PH value in the process, high temperature sterilization and should have the characteristics of human body stomach acid decomposition and have lost their. Thus, in some special application in the high acid food: such as acidic beverages (carbonated drinks, juice, herbal tea), jam, alcohol (beer, yellow rice wine), spices, etc.

    3. Strong bifidogenic factors:

    In addition to the effect on lactobacillus has a unique value, low poly galactose can appreciation of bifidobacterium five kinds of bacteria, especially value discrepancy bifidobacterium, this is what most other oligosaccharides does not have ability

  52. This link has a really good technical description of how it's produced and the many uses.

    Says the recommended 'per serving' dose for infant formula is 8g. That probably fits with 24g per day, don't you suppose? How many times a day do babies get fed?


  53. Tim,
    Most of them list a minimum buy of 1kg now. If you email any Chinese suppliers, make sure that you couch the inquiry in terms of you trying to decide between different suppliers. And also it's important to stipulate that you get a lot of samples from China, and you find ' EMS' shipping is the most cost effective. It's a bit slower than DHL or Fedex (< 8days compared to 2 days) but considerably cheaper. So just ask for a quote for a 1 or 2 kg sample sent EMS. All the fibers that we've been discussing can be bought from China.
    A few of the larger operations have special 'VIP' DHL (or Fedex) status, and won't use EMS (some contractual obligation thing) but this seems to mean it's even cheaper (and faster) than EMS. The shipping is the biggest cost factor. The fibers themselves are very cheap. And I've always bought 2kg. Which is admittedly a lot of fiber. Perhaps only 1 kg wouldn't be cost effective compared to Amazon.
    Buying stuff on Amazon from here is NOT cost effective- because of the shipping.
    In any case, doing 'a Wilbur' means that 2kg of a particular fiber is in my view, not an unreasonable amount to buy.
    Alibaba now has one of the five largest market capitalizations on earth. It's very reliable. They all want to protect their Alibaba reputation.

  54. "How many times a day do babies get fed?"

    lol, men are discussing breastfeeding... more lol

    High time to re-visit Peter D'Adamo who wrote:

    "Human breast milk is the most fucosylated of all mammals (153 human milk oligosaccharides to a paltry 23 in our bovine breathren) so perhaps John D. Rockefeller, who reportedly hired a wet nurse in his old age to give him breast milk, was on to something after all. Turns out the old boob-snuggler lived to be 98."

  55. @Stuart and Tim--Given the fatal melamine scandal a few years back (infant formula and dog food), how confidant are you in sourcing from China? Although I wouldn't be surprised if most western products source it from there and then repackage.

  56. LOL Gemma - well, nutrition is nutrition by gum!

    Tim - the answer is, as often as they want! Breastmilk is digested much faster than formula (insert entire treatise here on formula - good thing adding bugs to it is helping matters!), so a nursing baby nurses an average of hourly during the day, every 2-ish to 3-ish hours during the night. Actual nursing time is around 10-20 minutes. All of this is highly variable from one baby to the next, but those are round numbers.

    Interestingly, breastmilk composition is not the same from start to finish of a nursing session. Initial composition is tilted more towards water & sugars, the later milk is heavier and fattier. Chances are the good bugs are distributed when they'll do the most good, I'd suppose! It would be very interesting to see :D

    Adding even more fun to the mix, the composition of milk changes with each baby and with each growth stage of each baby. The classic example is reflux. If a baby has reflux, the milk will be much much heavier much fattier. What do you want to be their balance of critters is different, too?

  57. @Gemma - Just wait til I get on the subject of yeast infections and menstruation! Guaranteed lols.

    @Kate - Chinese things always scare me. At least most of these type products come with several documents confirming their contents, safety, and contaminates. It may be that things of Chinese origin are held to higher scrutiny than products of other origin.

    @Terra - Ah! Thank you. So I wonder, what would a "serving size" of breast milk be considered for infant formula, you know for like nutrition label purposes. The GOS specifications said it should be included at the rate of 8g per serving when used in formula.

    What do you guys think of this commenting format? Should I switch it back? Maybe leaving the "robot" thing will help lost comments.

  58. Tim - it's been a long time since I've looked this information up, and there are doubtless much more accurate analyses of breastmilk available today - and you're like 100x the researcher I am LOL! *frantically passes the buck*

    The problem is, every feeding is a different quantity, they are irregularly spaced throughout the day, and because the composition of the milk is different from start-to-finish of each session, different according to baby's needs at that moment, and different as baby gets older....establishing any kind of average is a nightmare :P

    In the decades in which nursing was considered 'unsanitary' and discouraged in hospitals, one of the things that drove the medical staff the craziest was that that they couldn't chart how much the baby ate :P Think how wigged they'd have been if you'd told them how radically the milk composition changed all the time :D

    It's a dynamically adapting food source, that's its strength :)

  59. Aww, any man who will discuss yeast and menses without flinching gets extra Real Man points in my book :)

    Actually, that reminds me - I'd like to ask any other women here (or at FTA) how their hormone picture looks after starting to use resistant starch. Mine is certainly changing. I usually use progesterone in the 2nd half of my cycle and am a mess without it. Strangely, I kept forgetting it (we welcome gut bugs, our new overlords) - and then had an absolutely zero pms, zero emotional-effects, zero misery period. Didn't even know it was coming. Before potato starch if I'd missed progesterone in this way, I'd have been a mess at menstruation!

    I'm kind of dying to know how much our hormones are being regulated by intestinal flora! I mean, it has to be more than 'we have the SCFAs we need to make hormones', because balance is different than quantity.

    Verrrry interesting!

  60. Terra,
    GOS sounds more and more like a mere shadow of HMO's. I wonder how much doing 'a Rockefeller' costs?

    Anthony Colpo is an Australian health blogger who you either love or hate - kind of like Richard Nikoley-who loves nothing better than to demolish untenable low carb and paleo mythology. You may have heard of him. His recent e letter mentioned the 'hormesis files' at FTA, which you drew my attention to a while back :

    ""The Hormesis Files" is a two-part series of posts over at Richard Nikoley's blog, Free the Animal. Both posts do a fantastic job of destroying some of the most cherished nonsense emanating from leading 'gurus' of the low-carb and Paleo camps. Listening to those gurus, you'd get the impression that:
    --All carbs are evil and every drop of glucose entering your bloodstream shortens your lifespan (one even says as much!);
    --Fructose is evil;
    --Ketones are the most awesome energy substrate in the whole wide universe, and;
    --The lower your blood sugar and insulin, the better;
    --Ketogenic diets are the ideal way to reduce advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs)
    Every single one of these precepts is wrong. Learn why, and how the phenomenon of hormesis stands ever ready to throw a spanner in the works of such overly simplistic paradigms ...
    Part 1 ...
    ... and Part 2, where you'll also learn about the "Paleo" carbohydrate source that is so tasty and healthy, hunter-gatherers routinely risked experiencing a world of pain in order to get at it:
    --- "

    You did mention that fructose isn't really evil. I hear honey calling my name...

    1. You'll appreciate this Stuart!

      Raw honey is excellent at killing microbes, but it does contain spores of spore-forming microorganisms. Pretty amazing…

      Honey: a reservoir for microorganisms and an inhibitory agent for microbes

      "Microorganisms that survive in honey are those that withstand the concentrated sugar, acidity and other antimicrobial characters of honey. The primary sources of microbial contamination are likely to include pollen, the digestive tracts of honeybees, dirt, dust, air and flowers. Microbes found in honeycomb are principally bacteria and yeast and come from the bees, the raw materials (nectar) or from external sources [human contamination]… The primary sources of sugar tolerant yeast are flowers and soil… Most bacteria and other microbes cannot grow or reproduce in honey i.e. they are dormant and this is due to antibacterial activity of honey… It is only the spore forming microorganisms that can survive in honey at low temperature…

      ….While honey easily gets contaminated during the process of its production by bees and microorganisms also get introduced into honey by activities of man including equipment, containers, wind and dust, the status of the microorganisms found in honey is dormant. It is the spore forming microorganisms that survive in honey by remaining dormant i.e suspended without growth.

      Non-spore forming bacteria ie vegetative forms are not normally present in honey because they cannot survive. Ten species of non-spore forming intestinal bacteria inoculated into pure honey survived only a few hours (21). It is possible therefore to assert that the microorganisms found in honey undergo gradual extinction in honey due to its inhibitory properties as highlighted earlier in this discourse. It is also recognized that spores are dormant forms of certain microorganisms. The fact that spores cannot transit into vegetative forms and still remain alive in honey persistently is supportive of the inhibitory role of honey on microorganisms [with respect to wound dressings]."

      So, when used as a dressing, not much survives in honey. But the dormant spores would survive once the honey is diluted in the GIT.

      Honey is a spore-based probiotic formulated by bees!

    2. Wow... this study found high antimicrobial activity from the bacteria strains found in honey!

      Antimicrobial Activity of Bacterial Isolates from Honey

    3. Duck,
      I've never doubted that honey contains wonderful stuff as well as all the sugar. And one day soon I hope that I'll be able to savour its delights once again, But after a lifetime spent discovering that sugar (in any form including honey - even the star antimicrobial, Manuka honey) is nitroglycerine for yeast overgrowth as food, I'm still a bit leery of it.

      Before I started upping my fermentable fiber intake, I had actually noticed some real long term progress in the Candida wars by just completely cutting out all fruit ( I haven't added sugar to anything for over 30 years). But I used to eat a LOT of fruit. I was such a walking yeast petri dish that I was constantly hungry. I remember Gemma observing that when you don't give Candida what it wants - sugar- it gets very very angry. That's what it felt like. It was so so difficult to give up fruit. Particularly when I discovered that sugar alcohols like erythritol which I'd been using as a way to still enjoy sweet without the metabolic effect of digestible sugar, goes straight to your liver - like fructose in for example fruit - where it is converted immediately to - you guessed it, FRUCTOSE. When I stopped that too, my scary toenails, and itchy ears, improved markedly faster.
      Adding the fermentable fiber has certainly sped things up considerably. And there's all the oft reported neurological benefits, plus the Bristol four gut prowess - with day after day, after week after now months of the hitherto never experienced clean (TMI) break.
      Now would I have achieved the same results with just the fermentable fiber and keeping eating fruit and honey?. Maybe, who knows? But brain fog has cost me so dearly for so many decades that I'm simply not going to risk it for a couple of years. Still use Manuka honey topically of course.
      And listen adoringly to that siren song of the well remembered taste of leatherwood honey.
      My bacteriologist Mum told me once that one of the best topical antibacterials was jam. Any concentrated sugar will do. That's why it's very difficult to make low carb jam- it goes off too quickly without the antimicrobial effect of the concentrated sugar.
      Not to mention beebread. Hat tip Gemma. I just ferment it with hardly any sugar. So do bees,

    4. Hi Stuart, would you mind giving me a little run down of what you're previous symptoms were, what you tried and where you are now? Also did you do any weeding?

    5. I am loving my bee bread -- thank you Gemma!

      I think I want to make my bee bread with less honey next time. I wasn't exactly scientific about the whole thing, and couldn't even really say what the ratios wound up being. I don't have scales, and honey is such a golden mess it's hard to tell how many tablespoons are in there. The resulting mix is delicious though, and seems pretty potent.
      Stuart - wondering approx. how much honey you used with the water and pollen.
      Or, maybe a better question would be what kind of texture would be best.
      Gemma - you have access to the real stuff, maybe you can advise.
      I probably added too much water as it is quite runny. Can always add more pollen I guess.

    6. Ha!

      The bee bread plot thickens! A new paper published in November 2014 turns upside down everything we have believed about bee bread so far.

      Hive-stored pollen of honey bees: many lines of evidence are consistent with pollen preservation, not nutrient conversion

      "Many studies speculate that prior to consumption by bees, stored pollen undergoes long-term nutrient conversion, becoming more nutritious ‘bee bread’ as microbes predigest the pollen. We quantified both structural and functional aspects associated with this hypothesis using behavioural assays, bacterial plate counts, microscopy and 454 amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene from both newly collected and hive-stored pollen. We found that bees preferentially consume fresh pollen stored for <3 days. Newly collected pollen contained few bacteria, values which decreased significantly as pollen were stored >96 h. The estimated microbe to pollen grain surface area ratio was 1:1 000 000 indicating a negligible effect of microbial metabolism on hive-stored pollen. Consistent with these findings, hive-stored pollen grains did not appear compromised according to microscopy. Based on year round 454 amplicon sequencing, bacterial communities of newly collected and hive-stored pollen did not differ, indicating the lack of an emergent microbial community co-evolved to digest stored pollen. In accord with previous culturing and 16S cloning, acid resistant and osmotolerant bacteria like Lactobacillus kunkeei were found in greatest abundance in stored pollen, consistent with the harsh character of this microenvironment. We conclude that stored pollen is not evolved for microbially mediated nutrient conversion, but is a preservative environment due primarily to added honey, nectar, bee secretions and properties of pollen itself.

      More research like this needed. We want the truth!!!

      The key quote for Stuart: "Given the high concentration of simple sugars (honey and nectar) in corbicular and hive-stored pollen (40–50%), we suggest that ‘bee bread’ has evolved to be a preservative environment."

      The key quote for Duck Dodgers: "Honey with its added enzymes (amylase, alpha glucosidase, invertase and glucose oxidase) represents four of five major food preservation strategies adopted by human society; low water activity, acidic pH, high oxidation-reduction potential (hydrogen peroxide) and the presence of competitive microorganisms like lactic acid bacteria (Leistner 2000; Kwakman et al. 2010). The antimicrobial properties of honey likely operate in synergy to preserve stored pollen."

    7. @Andrea

      I think you need to experiment with the ratio a bit, it depends what kind of honey and pollen you have.

      As you can see some sugars are needed (either nectar or honey or both) to protect the pollen. The more honey and less water you use, the better it will keep.

    8. Nice! So maybe there is no advantage to buying bee bread over pollen granules. I have never seen bee bread at a farmer's market, but always can find pollen.

      Making bee bread as you guys are doing is really just mixing honey and pollen. No fermentation takes place. The bees are just preserving the pollen by placing it in honey.

      So, I guess that means that there is little chance of 'not getting it right'. Just mix some pollen in a jar of honey, or, eat a spoonful of pollen and a spoonful of honey!

    9. Not so fast, Mr. Steele :-)

      The bee bread contains some secretions from salivary glands and added nectar, which is definitely missing in the fresh pollen from the pollen traps.

    10. True! I was just thinking about home made bee bread and worrying that it was not 'fermented' properly. Mixing pollen and honey at home will not produce bee bread. Bee bread can only come from a hive, right?

      I've never seen real bee bread for sale in the US. Can't wait to try it from my own hive!

    11. And this preserved pollen is not the preferred source for the bees after a few days anyway. Go lick some flowers followed by a honey chaser :)

    12. Ok, I will adjust what I've got by adding more in. Thanks!
      Sounds like I need to get my hands on the real thing. Though I am still enjoying the concoction I've got.

    13. Gemma,,
      This is really interesting. One of those first studies you linked to was arguing that bees who tried to eat fresh pollen didn't do so well compared to eating the 'glandular secretions added and fermented bee bread. But what that first study also observed was that the microbial goings on from the addition of these glandular secretions had never been studied. And needed to be. I can't remember the name of the super dooper tough substance surrounding a pollen grain- sporopollenin was it?- that sailed through hundreds of thousands of years preserved in bogs I thought the idea of making the bee bread was to ensure that the bees digestive tract could get at the good stuff inside this shell. Didn't that study show that a far greater percentage of fresh pollen grains end up being expensive bee poop than bee breaded pollen grains?
      Now this study says that bees prefer fresh pollen anyway. So is the first one not getting it right by finding that bees were healthier eating bee bread. You'd think they'd prefer to eat the healthier option. Although that certainly isn't the case with humans. So maybe bees just prefer the yummier stuff, but it doesn't nourish them as well.
      Did anyone else see that short clip showing a Hadza youth deliberately burning honey rather than reward the honey guide bird, because it would continue to lead humans to the hives if it was starving. Why on earth didn't he just give the bird some of it? It had done half the work after all. Humans are so often SO disappointing.

      I don't use any honey. I put a thinly sliced raw potato (with dirt) in some water with a tspn of barley, 2 tbspns of oat bran, and a tspn of pollen grains, Barley seems to be a very fast fermentation starter. Maybe there's lots of L. plantarum in the husk After two days it's a bubbling mess, so it goes into that day's fiber smoothie. I've never tried longer, and shorter than two days it doesn't look or taste very fermented. I also don't want vodka.

    14. @Stuart

      The new information from 2014 paper is mainly the finding that "bee bread baking" does not take weeks but only three days, no microbial action was confirmed, and it refutes the idea of "predigestion" or fermentation. But it does not say that bees prefer completely fresh pollen.

      The 2012 paper said when the bees eat more nutritious bee bread, they live longer.

      Link to that paper in the old comment of mine here.

      Yes, stingy Hadza :-)

    15. Thanks Stuart, what you're making sounds like a different beast altogether.

      So... I guess that my honey, water, pollen mix isn't anything other than dissolved pollen and honey. Perhaps there is little point in making another. It does seem potent, but perhaps that is just the nature of pollen. Hmm...

    16. Even more "Ha!". The plot thickens even MORE!

      Another paper from the same group suggesting, among others, where and what the microbes responsible for beebread and honey properties are. Enjoy!

      Microbial Ecology of the Hive and Pollination Landscape: Bacterial Associates from Floral Nectar, the Alimentary Tract and Stored Food of Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) Dec 2014

      "Lactobacillus kunkeei and similar fructophiles (Fructobacillus spp.) are often undetectable in the crop or food stores, and their abundance in many bee species is sporadic, seemingly associated with flower type or season [26], [29], [33], [69], [72]–[74]. While highly suggestive of floral transmission or acquisition, many species of bacteria are desiccation tolerant, with the ability to remain in suspended animation for long periods or enter into a viable but non-culturable state [75], [76]. Consistent with this hypothesis, L. kunkeei was among the small subset of bacteria revived from pure honey, the most desiccating of hive environments."

    17. A random link on "viable but non-culturable state":

      Formation and characterization of non-growth states in Clostridium thermocellum: spores and L-forms

      "The term L-form is often used interchangeably with other terms such as CWD-forms (cell-wall-deficient), L-phase, L-variants, autoplasts, cysts, round bodies, spheroplasts, and protoplasts [20-22]. The metabolic activity of L-form bacteria has not been widely studied, but previous work has shown that metabolic activity for the L-form is often much lower than vegetative cells [23,24]. Generally L-forms can be recognized by a spherical or pleomorphic morphology which differs significantly from the morphology of the parent cells [25], but as the shape of L-forms can vary considerably, this definition is not universal. They are most frequently defined as cell forms that have a deficient or absent cell wall and retain the ability to divide [26]. The ability of L-forms to form colonies on nutrient rich plates [26] helps to differentiate them from viable but non-culturable cells (VBNCs), another non-growth state which is often induced by starvation or unpermissive growth temperatures and in some cases shares many similar features with L-forms [27]. L-forms are often classified in two categories, stable and unstable, which respectively refer to whether the L-form can revert back to the parent morphology or not [21]. Stressors that have been found to induce or promote the L-form morphology include treatment with β-lactam antibiotics with or without lysozyme[28,29], cultivation in minimal media or exposure to nutrient limitation [30-32], exposure to extreme heat [30] and exposure to high salt concentrations [33]."

    18. A better explanation of VBNCs:

      Current Perspectives on Viable but Non-Culturable (VBNC) Pathogenic Bacteria 2014

      The viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state is a unique survival strategy adopted by many bacteria in response to adverse environmental conditions. When the VBNC concept was proposed some 30 years ago, many issues related to its importance were raised, since there was no demarcation between dying cells and adaptive strategy made by the bacteria to cope with stressful conditions (1). The VBNC state of bacteria was previously referred as a dormancy state. However, several investigations showed that the difference between VBNC and dormant stages is based on their metabolic activity (reviewed in Ref. (1)). In VBNC state, the metabolic activity is measurable, whereas, in the dormant state, this activity shall remain below the detection levels. Extensive molecular studies over the years have resolved most of these issues and now VBNC has been accepted as a distinct survival state of bacteria (2, 3). The physiological consequence of VBNC/metabolically active but non-culturable (ABNC) state could be an adaptive effect that supports long-term survival under unfavorable conditions or an after effect of cellular deterioration, which conserves specific features of viable cells but results in a loss of culturability with available techniques. This state can be thought of as an inactive form of life waiting for revival under suitable conditions. In case of many medically important bacteria, this appears to happen spontaneously either when they are present in environments/foods or in the human body during the infection process. Although what triggers this is unknown, it is established that bacteria in VBNC state can resuscitate under “appropriate” conditions.

    19. Gemma,
      Don;t you think that if the bees did want to just preserve pollen for later use they would indeed mix it with honey (a great preservative but not a good fermenter - unless it's diluted with water. Isn't that wing fanning evaporation thing they do to get the honey dry enough to not spoil AMAZING?) shove it in the wax honeycomb chambers and then cap the chamber with wax?
      But they don't. They don't mix it with any honey, they mix it with bee spit - and wherever else the 'glandular secretions' come from, And then cap that chamber with a dab of honey. Do they also cap these pollen/spit chambers with wax after the dab of honey ? Or just the honey dab? Why isn't wax used do you think? The honeycombs are vertical, so why doesn't the honey dab just fall out? Sorry to pester you with questions. Maybe I need to ask a beekeeper.

      Here's an easy one. How do you make some word or string of words into a link ( the blue words) in a comment? Do you have to write the comment somewhere else and copy and paste it into the comment field? Or can it be done in the comment field on the go? Also for bolding. Sorry if this is obvious.

    20. I think bees do cap some pollen (with wax) to store for winter when there is no chance to get pollen (bee bread as protein source). That is maybe the reason for the findings in the above mentioned papers - from the University of Arizona, experiment were run between November 2011 - October 2012. Is there ever any winter in Arizona?

      The bees mix the fresh pollen with some more nectar, I think, and that bit of honey. There are many papers on different nutritional composition of bee bread and corbicular pollen (bee bread is more acidic, there are more amino acids etc.), it also looks different, it is rehydrated. See:

      Nutritional content of fresh, bee-collected and stored pollen of Aloe greatheadii var. davyana (Asphodelaceae)

      I think some bits can fall out or nectar can leave the combs if an ignorant beekeeper does not know how to handle the frame :-)

    21. @Stuart

      Some HTML basics:
      links: http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp
      bold: http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_b.asp

      You can use the tags directly when writing in the comment field.

    22. Ahh. Yes the plot does indeed thicken.
      I haven't had a chance to properly read these, will review it all carefully in the next few days -- but once again, thank you! Maybe it's not just my imagination that the mix has some extra oomph to it.

  61. Terra

    I was reading a review of this the other day


    I cannot find the review or the full article, but here is a nice discussion of the results.


    The editors have to say in Welcome to the Microgenderdome:

    The gender bias observed in numerous diseases has long been understood as an entirely host-intrinsic factor. It is one of the many puzzling features of some autoimmune conditions (inappropriate immune responses that attack self antigens and destroy host tissue) including type 1 diabetes mellitus, in which sex hormones affect disease susceptibility and severity (1, 2). On page 1084 of this issue, Markle et al. (3) introduce an astonishing twist to this view, suggesting that gender bias may be exercised and/or reinforced by the commensal microbiota of the host. This extrinsic, albeit commensal, factor appears to regulate sex hormone levels and arguably the gender bias observed in type 1 diabetes mellitus. The finding contributes to an expanding field of translational research aiming to convert our growing knowledge of the host-microbiota relationship into therapeutic approaches."

  62. @Stuart

    So you have read Hormesis Files? Duck will be happy to hear!

    Regarding HMOs: Dr. Ayers recently said (when talking breastfeeding vs. formula) something like this: HMOs are informational oligosaccharides, similar to blood group antigens. GMOs are dumb sugars.

    And as to doing 'a Rockefeller': here some reading.

  63. @Terra re: hormones

    Have you ever read anything about high fiber diets or whole food juicing bringing down estrogen levels?

    I have wondered if supplemental fibers helps clear estrogen from the body (vs letting it getting re-absorbed).

    That, and other SCFA surprises.

  64. Gemma,
    "...(Some of the ads appear to ask for more than just nourishment, such as the “Niagara Region gentleman” looking for both breast milk and an “ongoing personal relationship.”)

    Actually I was joking. But it's amazing that it's such a thriving trade.
    I think maybe Wilbur's experience with GOS is instructive. I'll probably still get some, and just use it occasionally.
    Btw. I had no idea Grace had been so intellectually sloppy dissing PS. Very odd episode.

  65. Newbie,
    Have you read the comments in the post at FTA looking specifically at this RS 2 is not good for you issue?


    It will clarify things enormously.
    Hint: it's all in the Pig study.

  66. @Stuart

    lol to Niagara, I had sort of expected you would notice

    Anyway, we talked about the GOS source Wilbur uses here and I am wondering if the effect was due to GOS or beta glucan content.
    Maybe Wilbur can clarify a bit.

  67. @Jin

    Healthier gut flora, healthier hormonal levels and signalling, no?
    The microbiota is listening to our hormones too, and reacting accordingly, or even confusing our hormonal receptors with their own metabolites.
    The most obvious suspect is candida, but there are surely others.

    Communication between Bacteria and Their Hosts (2013)

    "It is clear that a dialogue is occurring between microbes and their hosts and that chemical signals are the language of this interkingdom communication. Microbial endocrinology shows that, through their long coexistence with animals and plants, microorganisms have evolved sensors for detecting eukaryotic hormones, which the microbe uses to determine that they are within proximity of a suitable host and to optimally time the expression of genes needed for host colonisation. It has also been shown that some prokaryotic chemical communication signals are recognized by eukaryotes. Deciphering what is being said during the cross-talk between microbe and host is therefore important, as it could lead to new strategies for preventing or treating bacterial infections."

    Pathogen espionage: multiple bacterial adrenergic sensors eavesdrop on host communication systems (2013)

  68. You guys never cease to amaze with with your thought-provoking, and fun, comments.

    On the GOS issue. The first place I saw it mentioned was at Dr' Lagakos' Calories Proper blog. He is a low carb advocate and also believes in gut health. He wrote a few things about potato starch, but in order to avoid the controversy that this terrible white powder was stirring up, he instead focused on GOS.

    I suspect that Dr. Lagakos did his research from his computer, though, and not by "pulling a Wilbur." People started begging him for a source! There was none. He mentioned, I believe, that the only source was breast milk. But then he found "Bimuno."

    Here is a blog post from Calories Proper that describes his history and finding on GOS, lots of good links. Guts ' GOS

    A snippet:

    "About a year ago I started ranting about galactooligosaccharides & bifidobacteria, but there weren’t any commercially available GOS products, so my focus was on the next best thing: inulin, which usually requires twice the dose and increases bifido by the hundreds to thousands, not thousands to millions like GOS.

    Update: Bimuno is available from the UK, and is reasonably well-priced – about twice the cost of inulin per gram but since you only need about half as much, a pretty good deal."

  69. On the breast milk issue. I should have really dug into this deeper last year. It kept staring me in the face, but I kept missing the obvious connection with the quantity of prebiotics that were there.

    Mark Sisson made this comment last summer after his guest-host, Konstanin Monastyrsky, said there was no fiber in breast milk:

    "Overall, because the health of our gut community is inextricably tied to the health of our minds and bodies, I think attaining fermentable fiber through the fruits and vegetables we eat is incredibly important. Heck, even the only food that’s actually expressly “designed” to feed humans – breast milk – contains prebiotic compounds whose main purpose is to feed and cultivate healthy gut flora in infants, which suggests that the need for prebiotics is innate.

    Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fiber-gut-health/#ixzz3OXFCOslM"

  70. Taking a trip down mammary lane here...

    That quote from Mark Sisson was in relation to some comments I made to KonMon in his most ridiculous MDA guest-post, Dietary Fiber is Bad for Sex, please have a look if you don;t believe me. It was horrible advice!

    I made a comment to KonMon, who was trying to back his claims in the comment section:

    Tim said:
    Human breast milk contains fiber, per definition, in the form of GOS. 100% for certain. GOS can also be manufactured from cow’s milk and is used in making infant formula and coma patient food.

    See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607002/

    “Constipation is a common problem and its prevalence increases with age. Severe constipation requires treatment with laxatives, but nutritional therapy, especially increased dietary fibre intake, is recommended primarily for the prevention and treatment of mild constipation. One alternative may be the use of oligosaccharides, which act as soluble fibre and have a bifidogenic effect. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) resembling oligosaccharides occurring naturally in human milk can be produced from lactose. Several clinical studies reviewed in this paper have shown that the use of GOS (5–15g per day) may relieve the symptoms of constipation in adults and elderly people. In infants, the supplementation of formula with a mixture of GOS and fructo-oligosaccharides can modulate bowel function and stool characters in the same direction as does breast-feeding. Gastrointestinal symptoms may occur as side-effects of oligosaccharides, but 12g GOS per day or less is usually well tolerated.”

    KonMon said:
    Innate colonic flora live off the mucus in the mucousal membrane of the large intestine. That’s why infants (breast milk/formula is zero-fiber foods) don’t suffer from disbacteriosis.

    Tim said:

    No fiber in breast milk??? Are you serious? What is galacto oligosaccharide? Feeding babies milk without prebiotics sets them up for a lifetime of problems.

    Your views on gut microbes says it all–they don’t need any special feeding? Get real, man!

    KonMon said:


    Human milk contains exactly zero fiber: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/96?qlookup=human+milk&fg=&format=&man=&lfacet=&max=25&new=1

    Galactooligosaccharide that you are referring to are added to commercial infant formula. This particular “product” (infant formula, not GOS) has been available since early sixties of the last centuries, while breastfeeding has been “available” for millions of years.

    Somehow, “gut microbes” have survived a diet without fiber or commercial infant formula.

    Larry, who was really Tim (because I got banned from the comments, lol) said:
    Breastmilk contains zero fiber–the nutrition label says. How much fiber in 10g of potato starch? None according to the label, but 8g in reality. Your views on fiber are as outdated as your views on gut flora!

    Yes, I got banned. To this day, I cannot post as "Tim" on MDA. There are probably 50 comments from that thread that got deleted as people started calling KonMon a "dumbass" and much worse. Someone found out that on his own website, Gutsense.org, KonMon actually sells a whole line of super-expense "colon restoration" supplements that CONTAIN FIBER!!!!.

    Yes, his anti-fiber blends are full of things like FOS and Acacia Senegal.

    But you can see, I missed an obvious "smoking gun" with the breast milk issue.

  71. @Wilbur - VERY interesting!

    suggesting that gender bias may be exercised and/or reinforced by the commensal microbiota of the host. This extrinsic, albeit commensal, factor appears to regulate sex hormone levels

    Damn - that's amazing :)

    I haven't paid attention to that particular info, because my issue has always been low hormones, rather than high. The weird thing is, ALL my hormones are too low. Estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, insulin - and no one could ever figure out why. Gut bugs could be the missing factor?? I'm just boggled here :)

    Healthier gut flora, healthier hormonal levels and signalling, no?
    The microbiota is listening to our hormones too, and reacting accordingly, or even confusing our hormonal receptors with their own metabolites.

    It certainly would appear to be so...just amazing info!

    You're certainly chasing down the breast milk info now!

    You know, I can't think of a stronger indicator that prebiotics are vital to overall health, than that they are such a large percentage of breast milk. We have to look at the archeological record to find clues as to what paleo-man ate - but we have right in-your-face information on what humans need to establish overall maximum health right from the word go. When you consider that breast milk isn't just 'food' it's mother nature's very best, gold standard survival package given to a brand new mammal to maximize it's survival...this is very impressive stuff.

    I'm cracking right up reading your account of going off on KonMon - aaa ha ha ha ha ha! Oh my Tim - getting banninated! You rabble-rouser you!

  72. (sorry sorry - that should be *high* insulin, not low)

  73. I seem to have fallen behind here! The GOS in Gemma's post is indeed my source of GOS. It has stayed in my mix since I added it, but it doesn't excite me. It's hard to explain. A worthy addition, but not an important one.

    I am a bit wary of using the prebiotic content of breastmilk to extrapolate to how much fiber an adult should have. The prebiotics in breastmilk are there to build the microbiome, whereas a weaned child faces a broader array of pathogens coming from other foods and water that a baby wouldn't face. I don't know if this argues for more or less since the prebitiotics would be of a different type. Just my opinion.

    In other news, there is research showing that the brain (and hence the gut) can know what the host is eating in real time:


    In the spirit of the above, I have found that things I eat, or fibers that I include in my fart drinks, make me happy. It's almost like someone is guiding me in my choices. If this is correct, then I have made two changes that seem significant.

    First, I have added the HP (long chain version of) inulin. My body seems to like it a lot. But more important is the big hint I got from Ashwin Patel to eat more seeds. Ok, he said to eat more seeds. This has me really excited. I've bought several types of seeds - fennel, psyllium, cumin, coriander, milk thistle, black seeds, maybe more - and I am putting them on everything. My morning omelette. I've made chili twice, curry twice, I can't stop. I feel good every day, but the last few I have felt REALLY good. Somebody is happy.

    1. Very interesting article from Duke on 'neuropods.' It's unreal how much we are learning about the micro-machinery in our guts. I wouldn;t be surprised if neuropods were involved in persorption of HMOs/starch or even in passing T Cells like Peyer's patches do.

      As to fiber in breast milk, I was more fascinated just by the sheer amount. I was talking with Paul Jaminet, the Perfect Health Diet guy, a couple years ago about 4TBS of potato starch and he was really leery to recommend that amount. He didn't think there was any evidence that humans ever ingested more than a few grams of fermentable fibers.

      Paul J. uses the composition of human breast milk throughout his book to illustrate what we should eat, macro ratios, fat type etc... I wonder how he will react to the 15-25g/liter of fiber.

      My point is that if a tiny baby can eat 15-25g in a day, then that amount should not be a problem for adults.

      I'm looking into the weaning habits of H-G/paleo type people, but my instincts tell me that a baby was traditionally weaned onto a diet that contained roughly the same amount of prebiotics as breast milk contained. i was looking at the fiber content of commercial baby foods, and it's a pittance. Maybe like 5-10g/day of total 'fiber.'

      I have to wonder how children's health would benefit if they were weaned onto and fed foods high in prebiotics all throughout childhood.

    2. Been looking, but can't find a whole lot on H-G weaning tactics. I did find this, on Australian aboriginees, which sounds very realistic:

      "It is likely that Aboriginal infants were weaned onto hunted and gathered foods such as “damper” (a bread made from ground grass seeds), honey, wild fruits and vegetables, tubers, birds and their eggs, kangaroo meat, lizards, fish, turtles, and other aquatic foods. “Wet nurses” were often used; this is a practice that still occurs sometimes."

      Also seeing that many societies continued to offer breast milk well past 1 or 2 years.

    3. Woo-hoo! The Google Gods were good to me. Let's all read this and see what we can figure out: Weaned Upon A Time: Studies of the infant diet in prehistory

    4. Well this explains a lot for several people I know:

      "the child nourished on animal milk does not have perfect wits like one fed on women’s milk, but always looks stupid and vacant and not right in the head”

    5. Hmmmm. Just read through the whole thing. Not much on the composition of weaning foods. Just some speculation, but more discussion on social aspects and the contribution of animal milk.

      Oh, well. I'll keep looking.

    6. I guess it's not really all that difficult to figure out what kids were fed at weaning, but we'd have to know exactly what foods were available to the adults.

      If the adult diet was high in fiber, so would the kid's diet, right? You'd feed kids what they could eat. You wouldn't throw them a a big hunk of meat and expect them to start gnawing on it. So it would have to be softer foods, fruit, veggies, whatever, maybe even pre-chewed a bit.

      I'm sure that farming and availability of animal milk was a gamechanger, and maybe not for the best.

      I'll stick by my theory: If a baby can handle 25g of fiber, so can you!

    7. There's a misconception about how much special food would need to be prepared for young children, because we're seeing the problem through the eyes of western assumptions - that children wean between 1 and 2yo. That was not (and is not) the norm for non-industrial humans. The entire scope of childhood eating changes when you realize this.

      The worldwide average of weaning is 4-6 years old. There's a reason they're called milk-teeth - a child cannot handle the fully adult diet until the bigger, deeper rooted teeth come in. Added time spent nursing is directly equated with reduced disease in adulthood across the board. Not to mention the benefit to teeth - nursing that long broadens the palate and thus adult teeth have enough room. Considering how vital teeth are to survival on a truly paleo diet, this isn't an insignificant consideration. The extended nursing time on a non-grain based diet would have extended lactation amenorrhea to years, making for child spacing much farther apart - again, improving survival odds for the babies, and allowing the mother to rebuild her nutrient stores between pregnancies.

      When you're talking about children nursing until secondary teeth are well established, food makes more sense. Pre-fire using humans weren't making baby food, after all! As soon as children were interested in adult foods, they were given pre-chewed foods from their mother (another source of prebiotics both from starches in tough roots they wouldn't be able to chew themselves AND from the mouth of the adult), as well as whatever they could extract from tougher foods they wanted to play with. But it's mostly play for them - practice. The way you see young grazing animals play at lipping and chewing grass while still entirely reliant on mom for milk.

      The transition to adult foods was therefore a slow and organic process, guided by the needs and interests of the child, and the participation of the mother to meet those interests (which, hey, we're well programmed to do :P)

      (needless to say, I got some seriously whacked out assumptions thrown at me when people learned how long I nursed. *snort* Nursing a child that old has healthy boundaries and communication structured around it that emerges naturally as the child matures. A 4yo, for example, nurses for occasional comfort or when very ill. A child in that age range can wait when asked, can occupy himself when nursing isn't available, can be as polite about nursing as about any other interaction with an adult. Social appropriateness was the difference between life and death in tribal societies - if you were a problem person, the tribe had to either help you become socially acceptable, or get rid of you. Nursing until secondary teeth come in happened in such a way that children grew into socially healthy adults. They did it - and we can too :) But man, what a lot of shit I caught for pushing that envelope! )

    8. Well said Terra. Teach it sister!

    9. It's funny - to me, paleo eating has always been embedded in a paleo childrearing style. I make this assumption that anyone who's been eating along paleo lines has the same knowledge base about feeding little hominids, with all that implies, rattling around in their brains. I forget that that isn't the case!

      It's really cool, because while we adults are struggling to mentally re-capture a diet and body-feedback-sensibility that we hope is closer to a pre-agrarian/pre-industrialized food way of life, babies come into the world acting out that paleo-human firmware in real time. All we have to do is 1) pay attention and 2) not deny the truths they're putting right in front of our noses :P

      My kids taught me more about how to live as a mammal than I ever could have learned from study, you know?

    10. @ Terra - great post!

      When my children were small, I remember a similarly intelligent and fired up mum summarising the extended nursing situation as such: "in our so-called modern society, we see a 3 year old drinking out of their parent's Coca Cola and think nothing. We see a 3 year old drinking from their mother's breast and are outraged. One is the perfect food, mind-body-gut preserving and healing. The other is trash." Once I heard that brilliant juxtaposition, it was easier to ignore those who scoffed. Stupid, vacant and not-right-in-the head indeed!

    11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    12. Terra,
      Unfortunately I think most young women like the idea of having children, but would consider the prospect of breastfeeding for four years as horrifying. It's difficult enough now for women to have the career their abilities deserve and somehow find time to have children. Clearly it's going to need a VERY interventionist government to engineer the kind of societal policies which will ensure Mothers are encouraged to nurse their children for that long. One day hopefully 'doing the right thing by your children' will actually mean long breastfeeding. But I wouldn't hold your breath.

  74. It sure does explain a lot!

    "the child nourished on animal milk does not have perfect wits like one fed on women’s milk, but always looks stupid and vacant and not right in the head”

  75. "The child nourished on animal milk..."

    That is hilarious! (my laugh for the day!) It also explains why some of this is above my paygrade... I am not sure if I am adding the fiber I should be but I am adding the fiber. I'm even drinking breast milk when I can get extra from the mama of my recent great nephew!

    Again, my thanks to everyone here who shares.

  76. For additional, and contrasting information on the relationship of fiber to nutrition and health, please consider reading the 5 part series titled "The Fiber Manifesto" contained here:


    Find the links and proceed through them beginning with "Part 1 of 5". This is quite a different point of view from that provided by Tim. I would love to hear from Tim on this other point of view, as I tend to lean more toward the "Manifesto" than his way of thought.

    1. @ Glenn
      It's a bit muddled I'm afraid. Dr Ballantyne correctly makes the point that 'soluble'' and 'insoluble' are just confusing the issue. The important distinction is whether a fiber is fermentable or not. But then she spends the entire five part series talking about soluble and insoluble fiber. The whole thing seemed a bit dated to me Do you know when it was written Glenn?
      Also she seems to make it a kind of 'which is better' competition. If we know anything about fiber it;s that both fermentable and nonfermentable fiber - and the healthy microbiome that results from consuming vast quantities of both- are essential to optimal health.
      This muddleheadedness aside, why do you think her 'approach' is different from Tim's?. Just curious, how would you describe Dr Ballantyne's fiber thesis anyway?. Or Tim Steele's for that matter? Maybe you've just missed the point she is trying to make. I for one seriously hope it is a bit more scholarly than suggesting that one is 'better' than the other - particularly when the distinction she draws between 'soluble' or 'insoluble' is irrelevant.
      But the main impression I got from reading it was that it seemed dated. So much more is known now about microbiome health and the role both fermentable and non fermentable fiber play in achieving it. And it's quite possible that Dr Ballantyne is just better informed now. If she is she certainly wouldn't be talking about 'soluble' and 'insoluble' dietary fiber. She does indeed seem genuinely interested in the subject. Heck, she'd learn heaps by just keeping an eye on this blog.

    2. I read it not so much that one is better but that insoluble is good too. I believe that. It might do better in some jobs (not all). Stuart, you and I have both supplemented with cellulose and other insolubles, and we get them from whole foods, seeds, etc. I can't speak for Tim, but I've never avoided insoluble fiber. I don't see much conflict, but agree with Stuart on the dated feeling of the series.

    3. Reading now...

      Part 1 - Really good, I agree with all of it.
      Part 2 - Really good breakdown of fiber types.
      Part 3 - Strange that discussion turned to 'soluble vs. insoluble' here. In her part 2 she notes that the terms have little to do with fermentability.
      Part 4 - Good discussion of cholesterol/fiber, but again, 'soluble vs. insoluble.'
      Part 5 - OK, it all makes sense now. Good job!

      Here's my take on the series. Dr. Ballantyne is trying to right many wrongs, and did a really good job. After The Fiber Menace came out, many people started demonizing fiber, saying it 'scours the intestines' and other such nonsense.

      Dr. B's manifesto probably needs a couple more parts, I didn't see anywhere a recommended target for fiber consumption other than just to eat more fruit and veggies. My problem with this approach is that most salad veggies and fruits are not all that high in fiber (soluble/insoluble/fermentable/non). A 'big-ass salad' as the Paleo diet recommends is generally only about 10g of fiber (of all types), but mostly the non-fermentable type.

      I think it is great she tackled the myths of 'soluble vs. insoluble' and look forward to hearing more, like 'how much fiber do we need of both types' and 'which fibers produce the most SCFAs.'

      I think also she is trying to get people to see past the "fiber" found in the medicine aisle at Wal-Mart and think for themselves...something that I have been doing as well. The marketing behind "fiber" is strictly about selling powders that contain fiber but don't ferment to the point of causing a wayward fart to escape.

      I'll bet that Dr. Ballantyne would love this series and would be impressed by the unconventional fiber sources we are discovering here and taking alongside a fiber-rich diet.

      Thanks for sharing the Fiber Manifesto!


  77. Chris Kresser has the same opinion as Konstantin. According to his book for GERD Chris said: fiber and GERD is a dangerous mix.