Utilize The Power of Prebiotic Fibre to Enhance Mineral Absorption

Posted November 2022
Hommus, baby spinach, roast capsicum & haloumi on Corn Thins slices

When you enjoy your lunch, you probably take for granted that afterwards you will feel less hungry and full of energy. While the process may appear an easy process from eating to feeling energized, the stages of digestion and absorption of the food you eat is quite complex. There are many factors which are involved and processes which allow you to take in the nutrients from the food you eat. Your gut microbiome is a powerful component of your overall health. Research into the power of your gut microbiome continues to grow. New research shows when prebiotics and minerals are eaten together your body can absorb the minerals more effectively.

Your gut microbiome is unique to you and is made up of the variety and different types of microbes. There are many factors which influence the types of microbes which live in your gut. One major factor is your diet. Health promoting microbes love plant foods as these provide prebiotic fibre.

Prebiotics are a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. It is, however, a favourite food for the health promoting microbes which live in your gut. When these microbes eat prebiotic fibre, they create messages that provide health benefits for your body. One of these health benefits is increasing the ability of your body to absorb minerals.

The minerals which are linked to increased absorptive capacity when combined with prebiotics are calcium, magnesium, and iron. All three of these minerals play many important roles in your body. Calcium is needed to help keep your bones and teeth strong and is also needed for normal muscle contractions.

 Magnesium is an essential major mineral your body needs to function. It is involved in over three hundred and twenty-five different body functions. Magnesium plays many important roles including supporting bone health, promoting healthy blood pressure, helping to turn the food you eat into energy, supports a good night’s sleep, and helps you to reduce stress.

Iron is another important mineral and forms an important part of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the protein in your red blood cells. Red blood cells allow oxygen to be carried throughout your body which every cell needs to survive. Iron also plays an important role in promoting an optimal immune system.

Specific types of prebiotics which have been linked to improved mineral absorption include lactulose, inulin, oligofructose or transgalacto-oligosaccharides (TOS). These prebiotics are linked to an increase absorption of the mineral’s magnesium and calcium. This combination is beneficial for many functions including bone health. These prebiotics play an essential role during adolescence when peak bone mass is being created and for postmenopausal women to minimise bone loss. Including the above prebiotics with calcium and magnesium food sources is both a sustainable and cost-effective way to promote better bone health throughout life.

Inulin and oligofructose are linked to increased absorption of iron in the gut. This link is important as it is estimated that one quarter of the world’s population has anaemia. In addition, the animal source of iron called non-haem iron is inhibited by a number of factors. Having a strategy which promotes an increase in iron absorption is a benefit to many people especially those who follow purely a plant-based diet.

It is hypothesised that the prebiotic-microbe interaction increases mineral absorption in several ways. This includes microbes producing short chain fatty acids which can play many roles in promoting metabolism in the gut including absorption of minerals. Also, the health promoting microbes secrete compounds which optimise the pH of the intestine, supporting absorption of minerals. Also, biomarker modification and creating a level of homeostasis and optimal immune system function. These factors all create an environment in the gut which allows minerals to be absorbed to a greater extent.

Including a diverse range of plant-based foods in each meal and snack will help your body to absorb minerals. Plant-based foods are great sources of prebiotic fibre. This includes foods like whole grains or whole grain containing foods such as Corn Thins slices, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans. Aim to make half of your meals a plant-based food and half of each snack.

Take home message: There are several factors which can promote the absorption of minerals. A cost-effective strategy you can now utilize is the inclusion of prebiotic sources to help absorb the minerals you eat.


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Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…