Oat Bran: The Prebiotic Superfood For Restoring The Gut Flora

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Oat Bran: The Prebiotic Superfood For Restoring The Gut Microflora.

The gut microflora is thought to account for around 70% of the human immune system, so it’s not surprising that alterations in the gut flora can wreck havoc with health and research has now linked gut microbiome imbalances to a myriad of health conditions from autism to chronic fatigue syndrome.

Prebiotic fiber sources such as oat bran are excellent “superfoods” for helping to maintain a healthy gut flora balance.

Prebiotics are currently defined as a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora, that confer benefits to host health. [2]

Simply put, prebiotics are a type of indigestible fiber that the beneficial gut bacteria such as Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria use as their preferred food source.

A diet rich in prebiotic fibers is one of the best tips you can use to maintain a healthy gut flora balance and to help promote optimal digestive well-being.

Prebiotics may be even more important than probiotics when it comes to restoring gut flora balance overall.

There are literally thousands of different strains of gut bacteria which inhabit the colon and most commercial probiotic supplements only tend to contain a few strains of beneficial bacteria. So overall it makes more sense to selectively feed all the many thousands of different gut bacteria strains with a diet rich in prebiotic fibers.

Maintaining the gut flora is especially of importance for individuals who suffer from candida overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome(increased intestinal permeability) and dysbiosis, as it’s the Short-Chain Fatty Acids such as acetate, propionate and butyrate, which the gut flora produce that keeps opportunistic gut microbes such as candida and bad bacteria in balance.

Having had a long history of chronic digestive problems myself from GERD/acid reflux to gastritis and low stomach acid, personally, I have experienced substantial digestive health benefits from adding a few tablespoons of oat bran to my diet. Oat bran significantly reduced my acid reflux, heart burn, bloating, stomach pains and increased stool weight.

Rice bran can also be used as an alternative to oat bran. The typical recommended dosage of oat/rice bran as a prebiotic is one to two tablespoons daily.

Increasing fecal butyrate in ulcerative colitis patients by diet: controlled pilot study.

Oat Bran Prebiotic Ulcerative Colitis StudyA controlled pilot study from 2003 published in the Journal of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases used a dietary intervention of 60g Oat Bran added to the diet of patients with Ulcerative Colitis with the intention of increasing fecal butyrate.

Fecal short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) including butyrate, disease activity, and gastrointestinal symptoms were recorded every 4 weeks.

During the oat bran intervention the fecal butyrate concentration increased by 36% at 4 weeks (from 11 +/- 2 (mean +/- SEM) to 15 +/- 2 micromol/g feces) (p < 0.01). The mean butyrate concentration over the entire test period was 14 +/- 1 micromol/g feces (p < 0.05). Remaining fecal SCFA levels were unchanged.

No patient showed signs of colitis relapse. Unlike controls, the patients showed no increase in gastrointestinal complaints during the trial.

Yet patients reporting abdominal pain and reflux complaints at entry showed significant improvement at 12 weeks that returned to baseline 3 months later.

This pilot study shows that patients with quiescent UC can safely take a diet rich in oat bran specifically to increase the fecal butyrate level. This may have clinical implications and warrants studies of the long-term benefits of using oat bran in the maintenance therapy in UC. [1]


[1] Increasing fecal butyrate in ulcerative colitis patients by diet: controlled pilot study.


[2] Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits


The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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