The Lifebox X Happy Bread Company Gut Health Series…….Part Two


11 May 2016

Welcome welcome welcome to the second part of our Gut Health Series with…..


Throughout the month of May we are posting a weekly blog from the sensational Karen Collins, founder of the Happy Bread Company, to coincide perfectly with the inclusion of her inspirational HBC Happy Tummy Mix into some of our Lifebox range this month!

Over the four week series Karen discusses in detail the link between bacteria and its food of choice to enable optimal gut health, featuring how to best use grain, plant-based foods and meat to treat digestive issues and maximise your overall health and wellbeing.

Part One dived straight into how The Happy Bread Company came about and how Karen herself overcame her own personal IBS and digestive issues through self education, trial and error and a moment of magic where the HBC was born! This week’s segment looks at the real nitty gritty of fibre and bacteria and their vital importance in the journey to optimal gut health.

RECAP: An introduction to Karen Collins, Founder of The Happy Bread Co.


Firstly, full disclosure- I am not a Doctor, I am not a Nutritionist, I am a Baker with an avid interest
in science and eating well as a form of preventative medicine. My Dad was a science teacher and
horticulturist and so I guess it’s unsurprising that science was my best subject in school. Since
then, I have continued to read science papers my whole life to better understand how to treat my
Throughout the month of May I am going to share my accumulated knowledge on this subject in
the hope of raising awareness around the seriousness of IBS and help you clear up yours if indeed
you suffer with it.

Hello wonderful LifeBoxers!

Today we’re going to delve into the relationship between gut bacteria and fibre.

Following a high fibre diet has been crucial to my IBS and weight management.


The real workhorse of the body are the trillions of bacteria we host! They have hugely important
jobs. Mainly, to extract the vitamins and minerals from our food to nourish our bodies. But just like we need energy to do our jobs so do they. Their energy source of choice is fibre. Specifically fibre from plants and grain (more on this later). So our gut bacteria extracts the fibre from the food we eat to nourish itself and in turn feeds us through the products and byproducts of its own digestive activities. Understanding the relationship between us and our bacteria is crucial to our eating choices. It’s up to us to feed our bacteria its food of choice so that they in turn have enough energy to create the enzymes needed for nutrient absorption.
One example of this is in the case of physic acid (found in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds). Phosphorus, an important mineral used in the production of energy is present in food as physic acid (the storage form of phosphorus). Phytic acid is important to our bodies as it acts as an antioxidant beneficial in neutralising free radicals. Phytic acid also has anti-cancerous properties. Because phytic acid is found in high-fibre foods this may partially explain why high-fibre diets tend to be associated with reducing colon cancer risk. However, though beneficial, phytic acid is difficult to break down and solely depends on our gut bacteria to create an enzyme to break it down. If phytic acid isn’t broken down it binds to nutrients like magnesium, calcium and zinc and results in malabsorption.

This is just one example which showcases how crucial it is to feed your bacteria fibre allowing it to work efficiently in creating enzymes to breakdown the many components in the food we eat.
In this case, we can help our bacteria furthermore through putting less pressure on them by eating fermented grains, nuts and seeds. Fermentation helps reduce the phytic acid in the food thereby making it easier to digest. That’s why we ferment all our doughs at The Happy Bread Co. (more on this later).
Bluntly put, we only become properly nourished when our bacteria has enough energy to
create enzymes for optimal nutrient absorption. The wonderful thing about bacteria’s food of choice fibre, is its many other beneficial functions. Not only does it feed our bacteria, it also enables us to excrete toxins, help us poo and help us to stay full between meals.

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There are 3 types of fibre. Soluble, insoluble and prebiotic fibre.

Soluble fibres attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fibre delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. It can be found in grains such as oats, barley, teff, amaranth and rye; fruits like bananas and apples; beans and pulses, like baked beans and chick peas; root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Because soluble fibre soaks up water as it passes through your system, it helps bulk up your stool and guard against constipation and diarrhoea.

Insoluble fibres are considered gut-healthy fibre because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibres do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. Insoluble fibres are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables; cereal foods like high fibre breakfast cereals; wholemeal breads and pasta, brown rice and other whole grains like buckwheat, teff, millet and amaranth; vegetables and potatoes with skins; nuts, and seeds. If you do get constipated, adding more insoluble fibre to your diet will get things moving.


• Insoluble fibre (needed for people with constipation) is in the skin/bran of everything.
• Soluble fibre (needed for people with diarrhoea) is in the flesh, inside the skin of most foods.
* Rule to live by – never ever peel! Just wash. You want to consume A LOT of insoluble fibre if
you’re constipated.

And finally, the third type of fibre is prebiotic fibre.
Prebiotics are a very specific type of food. While many of the food ingredients we consume are
digested immediately, prebiotics are a healthy non-digestible food ingredient. Prebiotics are heat resistant, which keep them intact during the baking process and allow them to be incorporated into every day food choices. Teff which we use a lot of in the bakery contains a type of prebiotic fibre known as resistant starch. Through consuming non-digestible foods we are enabling the growth of bio-cultures by reaching the intestine unaffected by the digestion process. The positive effects prebiotics have by reaching the intestine in an unaltered form is known as the prebiotic effect. A prebiotic effect occurs when there is an increase in the activity of healthy bacteria in the human intestine. The prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut and increase resistance to invading pathogens. This effect is induced by consuming functional foods that contain prebiotics. These foods induce metabolic activity, leading to health improvements. Healthy bacteria in the intestine can combat unwanted bacteria by simply taking up more space! You want to always increase your healthy army. A specific type of prebiotic known as resistant starch (mentioned above) is showing much promise far and beyond gut health benefits. Not only is it turned into energy boosting, inflammation squashing short-chain fatty acids by probiotic bacteria, but resistant starch is also proving helpful for stabilising blood glucose levels, increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing appetite and encouraging weight loss as it’s very efficient at metabolising fat. As previously mentioned teff is a resistant starch. As soon as I introduced teff into my life I noticed all these benefits in a matter of days!

The top sources of prebiotics are-

Chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, Dandelion greens, Garlic, Leek, Onion, Asparagus, Teff, Wheat
bran, Wheat Flour, Bananas.

The difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics

Prebiotics are a dietary fibre that trigger the growth of bacteria having favourable effects on the intestinal flora. Probiotics, however, are live micro-organisms contained in the food we eat. They remain intact throughout the digestive process, and deliver healthy bacteria directly to the large intestine. Since probiotics do not stimulate metabolic activity they provide a different set of benefits than prebiotics. I will often drink a probiotic drink like yoghurt kefir whilst eating my prebiotic Chia Teff Loaf to optimise the benefits from that meal.

Quite possibly you are just grams of fibre away from being in perfect digestive/gut health.

Discovering the right proportions of fibre you need will have a huge impact on your general
well being and tummy!

So we now understand why fibre consumption is essential for a happy, slim tummy, yet 9 in 10
women in the UK are not consuming enough fibre in their diet! It’s not surprising then that 30% of the UK suffer from IBS or constipation with more suffering from both at certain stressful points throughout their lives. If you suffer from bloating, if you feel your energy levels could be better, if you’re not getting to the weight you want to be at, if you don’t poo regularly, if you don’t feel super awesome every day then re-looking at your fibre intake could be the answer! Fibre is the vital nutrient that took me from feeling between awful – average to amazing almost instantaneously! A lot of the time people put weight fluctuation and tiredness down to the possibility of allergens but in most cases it’s probably that you’re simply not feeding your gut enough fibre to keep inflammation down around the body.
To put it in perspective Pre industrialisation we were consuming 50-100g fibre a day and were poo’ing up to 3 times a day. Due to the commoditisation and commercialisation of food we switched to refined carbs like white bread, biscuits, jam etc.. The fact that many of our digestive systems became ill-affected is unsurprising.
The government now recommends that we consume 30g fibre a day.

Now that we know the terms and understand the relationship between our bacteria and its food of
choice, we shall be jumping into sources of each type of fibre next week and how best to consume

Happy tummy day ya’ll!
Until next time…
Karen, Founder of The Happy Bread Co.

To find out more about Karen and The Happy Bread Company or to place an order for her fine fine happy bread then just click the logo below:


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