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September 2, 2019

Talk to your patients about dietary fiber and prebiotics

There’s a difference between dietary fiber and commercial prebiotics. AGA offers tips to help you discuss with your patients.
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Liping Zhao, PhD, Eveleigh-Fenton Chair of Applied Microbiology and professor, department of biochemistry and microbiology, Rutgers University, and Yan Y. Lam, PhD, assistant research professor, department of biochemistry and microbiology, Rutgers University, of food science and nutrition science, Purdue University, share talking points to help your patients understand when dietary fiber is prebiotic and why it’s better than commercial.

  • Explaining dietary fiber
  • Dietary fibers are generally considered prebiotics because many of them can promote the growth of a select group of beneficial gut bacteria. Akin to tall trees in a closed forest, this group of bacteria may structure a healthy gut microbiota and keep pathogens at bay.
  • Dietary fibers in grains are more fermentable and therefore may be more effective prebiotics than dietary fibers found in fruits and vegetables. However, fruits and vegetables have other potential health benefits beyond fiber and are important components of a balanced diet.
  • There is currently little clinical data to support the use of commercial prebiotics in the adult population, but ongoing clinical studies will help shed light on their usefulness.

These tips are from “Diet vs. Prebiotics,” the second of a four-part CME series in AGA University titled, “The Microbiome and Digestive Health: A Look at Prebiotics.” Part one, “Prebiotics 101” is also available.

AGA also has educational materials for patients on probiotics, which can be accessed at www.gastro.org/probiotics in English and Spanish. 

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