What the Fructan? – Are you Keeping your Gut Happy and Healthy?
As old health trends are retiring and new ones are growing, I am sure by now you’ve heard of fructans.
In fact, you’ve probably heard of them and thought…
What the Fructan?
(No? Bad joke? I just had to!)
But really, we’ve heard of probiotics, we’ve heard of prebiotics, and now this new term is being thrown around?
How are we supposed to keep up?
Well, that’s why I am here! To help break down trending nutrition info into a more digestible form!
And actually, that is essentially what fructans are, food to be digested by probiotics.
Probiotics are good bacteria that can be found in fermented foods, supplements, and in the bodies microbiome.
They are important for maintaining proper gut function, keeping the immune system healthy, and managing inflammation. As a part of the microbiome, their role is vast in keeping us healthy.
So how do we keep them alive? We do so by feeding them Prebiotics!
Prebiotics are found in foods. Specifically, they are the dietary fibers found in food that serve as an energy source for good bacteria (probiotics).
Prebiotics essentially feed probiotics.
So where do Fructans come in?
Prebiotics are what feed probiotics and fructans are a category of prebiotics.
Fructans are chains of fructose molecules that are broken down and used as fuel by good bacteria. This means fructans feed the good bacteria found in fermented foods and in our gut.
There are two types of fructans, shorter chained and longer chained ones. However, for simplicity sake, let’s just stick to talking about them in general.
Foods High in Fructans
If you pay attention to different types of diets out there, you might recognize a lot of these foods to be food high in FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols).
This is because fructans are FODMAPS. They are fermentable sugars.
From gas to bloating, FODMAP foods have been identified to cause digestive distress in certain people. On the other hand, prebiotics have also been identified to nourish the good bacteria in our gut.
Should You Eat Them?
Nutrition and diet are all about individualization. Our bodies process foods differently and so it’s up to you to decide.
Do eating fructans makes you feel gassy and bloated? Do they seem to have no impact? Are you only affected by certain fructan rich foods? You know your body best.
Something that should be noted is that high-fructan foods that are fermented might be suitable when the non-fermented version isn’t. This is because the probiotics in the fermented foods have pre-digested (if you will) the fermentable sugars, thus making it easier on your digestive system to process.
In fact, it is the use of prebiotics in ferments that allow you to wild ferment. Fermenting with prebiotic-rich foods is what helps get good cultures brewing when culturing food!
The hype is over one small subcategory of prebiotics and there is nothing to get too excited over (unless you’re avoiding FODMAPS).
So eat in peace, knowing you didn’t miss out on this trending food topic.
Dennett, Carrie. “Feed Your Gut with Fiber. (Cover Story).” Environmental Nutrition, vol. 39, no. 4, Apr. 2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost, cscc.ohionet.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,uid&db=a9h&AN=113589783&site=ehost-live.