I’ve written extensively about the INCREDIBLE importance of probiotics as an important kidney care supplement. This is because of the “kidney-gut” connection. Now it is time to dig into another side of the gut health equation: PREBIOTICS.
If you want to understand more about gut health and probiotics you can read any of my previous posts here:
- Gut Health is an Important Part of Kidney Care: A great explanation on how the kidney and gut are vitally connected
- Probiotics for kidneys: Is the extra pill worth it?: Lots of details on why and how probiotics work and help the kidneys.
- Renadyl™: Should you Take this Kidney Care Supplement?: All the details on WHICH probiotic (And why!) you’d want to choose if you’re looking to strengthen your kidneys are all important things to know.
Today I want to get past probiotics as a kidney care supplement and discuss prebiotics as an amazing kidney care supplement and food source.
I’m not talking about general renal diet guidelines. I want to hone in on how you NOURISH good gut health and thereby support your kidney health and slow the progression of kidney disease.
What is the difference between PREbiotic and PRObiotics?
First thing we need to do is get straight the words PREbiotic and PRObiotic. You’ve heard A LOT about probiotics as kidney care supplements. PROBIOTCS are the actual good bacteria that can help our guts.
Probiotics are not like seeds. You don’t “plant” probiotics by eating them and they grow into healthy gardens of friendly bacteria within your gut. They just support for the bacteria you already have in your gut.
PREBIOTICS ,on the other hand, are the foods that your good bacteria like and need. More or less, it is a specific-kind of fiber. For something to be considered a prebiotic fiber it must meet 3 criteria:
PREbiotics are important because they feed the good bacteria in order to help them flourish and grow. You can think of PROBIOTICS like reserve soldiers sent in as reinforcements for an army and PREBIOTICS are like the supplies for an army.
In order for something to be considered a prebiotic it should meet the following criteria:
- Withstand stomach acid and digestive enzymes for the most part
- Be able to be “eaten” (aka fermented) by the gut bacteria
- Nourish the bacteria or help it out in some way (1)
Diets low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and full of processed food, simple sugars, and heavy proteins don’t help your good bacteria flourish.
Having PREBIOTIC foods and supplements in your diet can help your good bacteria flourish, strengthen your gut health, and thereby, in some cases, help with long term outcomes for kidney health.
Research on prebiotics and kidney disease
While there is PLENTY of research on probiotics and kidney disease, there is not as much known about PREBIOTICS and kidney disease. There has been some research that high fiber diets are associated with decreased inflammation in patients with chronic kidney disease, but it is hard to say if that is because of the fiber or if it is because of the higher fruit and vegetable intake (which has lots of other powerhouse benefits such as vitamins and minerals) (2).
Here are a couple things seen in the medical literature right now (not a complete list, but some interesting points specifically related to CKD):
- Fructooligosaccrides (FOS), a common prebiotic, has shown some promise for reducing uremic toxins. (Uremic toxins are basically compounds that are toxic to the kidneys and cause inflammation. This is one of the main reasons gut health is such an important part of addressing chronic kidney disease (3).
- Fermentation of prebiotics by gut bacteria seems to improve the strength of the gut barrier and function. When prebiotics are fermented the end result is something called short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are amazing, but I’m not going to dig into them right now. What you need to know is that when short chain fatty acids are produced in abundance in your gut (from prebiotics) your immune system gets a boost because your whole gut gets a boost (4).
Regardless of what the science says or doesn’t say right now, I am a strong believer in boosting up prebiotic fibers in the diet of all my clients working to keep their kidneys strong and slow their kidney disease. To me it is an inexpensive kidney care supplement that, “likely will help, won’t hurt” intervention.
How can I include prebiotics in my DIET?
I love talking about the power of food first. I think kidney care supplements are very helpful, but making actual dietary habit changes is so powerful for long term benefit.
Including foods in your diet that can “feed” the healthy bacteria in your gut is an easy thing to do to boost your gut health (and thus assist your kidney health). There are many delicious foods that are considered to have “prebiotic” benefits.
Kidney friendly PREbiotic Food Stars:
Here are a few prebiotic foods that I like and fit into any stage of the renal diet as they are low potassium low phosphorus food items.
Garlic is a familiar food to many people as it is a staple flavoring in most cuisine. Including it from the whole clove or a powder can be a great way to include more prebiotics in your diet.
I personally think cooking from fresh tastes best and yields the most benefit, but if you’re in a pinch you can use powder (although I’d leave the garlic salt alone because of sodium!).
Tip: Instead of the hassle of peeling those darn little garlic cloves, pop them in the microwave for 10-15 sec. The cloves will then slide right out of their shell. Sooo easy!
#2 Onions and Leeks
Again, onions and leeks are foods that most people following a renal diet are familiar with – especially onion. Both are low potassium and fantastic ways to add flavor and nutrients to your food.
I use leeks instead of onions in some dishes to mix things up a bit. They also have a more mild taste then onions which I like if I’m cooking a more “delicate” cuisine such as eggs or salads.
Onions and leeks go well with almost any savory dish. They can be sauteed and used in omelettes for a low potassium breakfast, chopped small for use in your tuna salad at lunch, or put into almost any dish at dinner for a low potassium flavor punch.
This is a less familiar root vegetables to many people but one of my personal favorites.
Jicama is a non-starchy root vegetables that can be eaten grilled, sauteed, and fresh. I especially like it fresh! You can read more about jicama here if you’re interested in including it in your diet.
Other prebiotic foods to enjoy
A few other lower potassium prebiotic foods to include in your diet include:
- asparagus (1/2 c cooked = 202 mg potassium)
- chicory root (1/2 c chopped = 131 mg potassium)
- oats -especially uncooked (1/2 c raw = 147 mg potassium)
- dandelion greens (1/2 c cooked = 152 mg potassium)
- barley (1 c cooked = 154 mg potassium)
- snow peas (1/2 c raw = 98 mg potassium)
- sweet corn (1/2 c cooked = 198 mg potassium)
For those without a potassium restriction, you could enjoy some of these high potassium prebiotic foods:
- Jerusalem artichoke
- fennel bulb
- whole wheat
- potatoes (cooked and then cooled (and then reheated if you like) is the best way to get the prebiotic benefit from them)
How do I choose a prebiotic supplement?
Using a prebiotic kidney care supplement is a great idea for many people, especially if they are already taking a probiotic, such as Renadyl™. Using a prebiotic along with a probiotic helps maximize the benefit of your probiotic kidney care supplement.
There are an enormous amount of prebiotic supplements on the market both in capsule, liquid, and powder forms. Here are a couple things to consider:
Choose a prebiotic with a variety of different fibers as it can be helpful to feed different types of bacteria.
Just like people like different types of food, different bacteria like different fibers. Kibow Biotech, who make Renadyl™ (you can read more about why I recommend this probiotic for many of my clients), also make a great multi fiber prebiotic called Kibow Fortis™.
Kibow Fortis™ has seven different well-studied fibers with reported benefits in the medical literature from everything from immunomodulation (meaning strengthens your immune system) to promoting satiety and thus better weight management.
Choose a form that you will take regularly. Like all kidney care supplements, consistency is key to get the full benefits.
Prebiotics supplements come in capsule, liquid, and powder form. Most people find tablets to be the easiest way to take a prebiotic supplement, although this can be quite a few tablets compared to 1-2 scoops of a powder. Kibow Fortis™ is found in both a powder and tablet blend.
Kibow Fortis™ is a great accompaniment to the Renadyl™ probiotic in a kidney care supplement regimen. I often have my clients order them simultaneously to save themselves a trip to the store. You can read more about the specifics of Kibow Fortis™ here.
Important things to think about when starting a prebiotic
Prebiotics should be started slowly and built up slowly over a couple weeks. Starting at a high dose from the beginning, especially if you are not used to a lot of fiber, may cause gas and bloating.
Building up slowly allows the gut and gut bacteria to adjust to the influx of their new food source. While there is not a standard recommended dose for prebiotics as a kidney care supplement, in general I have seen about 12 grams in the medical literature. Again – don’t start with 12 gms, but work up to it.
Kibow Fortis™ has 4 gm of fiber per 3 capsules or 1 scoop of powder. A good way to slowly increase fiber in your diet would be to start with 4 grams of fiber (1 scoop or 3 capsules) for about 3-5 days. If you don’t notice any gas or bloating, then increase it by another 4 grams for a few days and again monitor how you feel. If you feel fine then increase it by another 4 grams for a total dosage of 8-12 gms/day. If you choose to use a different prebiotic, again the most important thing is to work up to an 8-12 gram dose SLOWLY over a couple of weeks.
Your Gut is Powerful
Your gut microbiome is very powerful when it comes to health and disease – including kidney disease. Whether dealing with any stage of chronic kidney disease or any other health condition, the gut health is of paramount importance. One fantastic way to nourish your gut health is by including prebiotic foods in your diet such as garlic, onions, leeks, and jicama. A consistent kidney care supplement regimen with targeted probiotics, like Renadyl™, and prebiotics, such as Kibow Fortis™, can give further support for maximizing gut health and kidney health.
Interested in learning more about prebiotics and kidney care? Email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information. In addition use the code COMBO15 to get free shipping + 15% off a Renadyl™ and Kibow Fortis™ combo pack.