Perks of the Prebiotic Smoothie — Can it Heal your Skin and Gut?

In trying to replicate the diets of the acne-free peoples, I encountered a problem: I’m sort of lazy. I don’t like fussing around to make every meal perfect. Particularly, I was having a lot of trouble matching the fiber and antioxidants consumption of the Kitavans and Okinawans. I tried eating like a Kitavan for a day. It was a physical feat. There is just too much food and all that fiber made me a bit too “regular.” But I believe these elements (fiber and antioxidants) are the missing link in the dietary therapy for acne. They may be some of the few things that help protect you from acne.


Acne seems directly linked to the bacteria in the gut. I’ve had gut problems for so long, I thought it was normal. I’ve noticed if my gut is doing well, so is my skin. Consistency has always been the problem. How to could I make my gut always happy?

I’ve long been aware of the ability of “resistant starch” and fiber to promote good gut bacteria. But I’ve always taken it irregularly. I have also long been aware of a simple solution — put it into a smoothie (thanks Free the Animal) — but put off actually practicing it. Now that I have, I regret not starting earlier.



Here are some of the benefits I’ve noticed:

  • It’s delicious. I look forward to having it.
  • Easily adjustable fiber levels. So the problem when eating like a Kitavan can be avoided.
  • Adaptable. It is an easy vehicle for probiotics or supplementary oils (I add Brain Octane,  hemp seed oil and deodorized cod liver oil)
  • Filling and provides stable energy levels (resistant starch seems to normalize glucose levels)
  • Easy antioxidant and polyphenol source
  • Best of all, it seems to have healing and protective effect on my skin

If I go a few days without it. I notice the difference.


How to Make It

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Please read the considerations at the bottom or you will almost certainly regret it.


I have different versions for you: a cheap “stripped-down” version, the original, and my version. Mine was adapted to be vegan, cheaper, more fibrous, and have more greens, but stay tasty! My recipe is below. You can see the original recipe here. Don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients. Try the stripped-down version to start! It is cheap.


Blend the following. Have half in the morning and half in the evening. These are roughly in the order I load the blender.


  • 1 tray of ice (about 2-4 handfuls) (varies depending on desired consistency)
  • 1 handful frozen fruit (I like store-bought wild blueberries or fruit that I gathered)
  • 1 handful young spinach (or any type of leafy greens)
  • 1 handful chopped jicama
  • 1 handful unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • ½ peeled cucumber
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of peeled ginger
  • 3 tablespoons chia seed
  • 1 scoop antioxidant fruit/veggie powder
  • up to 4 tablespoons raw potato starch (a.k.a. “Resistant Starch” — see Considerations)
  • up to ¼ teaspoon Inulin (see Considerations)
  • ⅛ teaspoon dirt (the original uses soil-based probiotics, but I can’t afford them…)
  • 2 tablespoons Brain Octane oil
  • 1 teaspoon hemp oil
  • ½ teaspoon deodorized cod liver oil (if it’s deodorized, you can’t taste it)
  • ~2 cups water (depending on desired consistency)


The Fiber!

This shake was designed to contain lots of “prebiotic fiber” (food for gut bacteria). My version has 34g “dietary fiber” (over twice the average US consumption!) and including the resistant starch, it has 74g (almost the amount the Kitavans consumed)! The stripped-down version is less than $1 and still has 40g+ of prebiotic fiber.





My Favorite

4 oz Naked Juice – Costco, $0.38 4 oz Naked Juice – Costco, $0.38 1 cup Spinach – Costco, $0.10
Fruit – Trader Joe’s Banana, $0.17 4 oz Kefir – Local Coop, $0.83 1 stalk Celery – Costco, $0.08
4T Potato Starch – Amazon, $0.32 Antioxidant powder – Amazon, $0.56 60 g Jicama – Costco, $0.17
1/4t Inulin – Amazon, $0.02 Fruit – $1 Trader Joe’s Wild Blueberries 20 g Ginger – Costco, $0.13
Dirt – Backyard, Free 2T Potato Starch – Amazon, $0.16 ½ Cucumber – Costco, $0.14
1T Plantain Flour – Amazon, $0.26 3T Chia Seed – Grocery Outlet, $0.30
1T Banana Flour – Amazon, $0.32 Antioxidant powder – Amazon, $0.56
1/4t Inulin – Amazon, $0.02 Fruit – $1 Trader Joe’s Wild Blueberries
Soil-based probiotics – Amazon, $0.33 2T Potato Starch – Amazon, $0.16
1/4t Inulin – Amazon, $0.02
Dirt – Backyard, Free
2 oz Coconut – Local grocer, $0.39
2T Brain Octane Oil – Upgraded Self, $1.44
1t Hemp Oil – Amazon, $0.10
1t Cod Liver Oil – Amazon, $0.13
Total – $0.89 Total – $3.86 Total – $4.72 ($3.28 w/o Brain Octane)

[Note: that if the price is bold, it means that the link has the best deal I know. Otherwise, the cost is what I pay to buy it locally. Prices and availability will vary.]


In my version, the additional veggies, chia, coconut, and oils make it much more filling. I can easily use the morning half of this recipe as my breakfast. It keeps me fairly full until the afternoon. Even with the decadence of Brain Octane oil, it is still fairly cheap. Especially considering it makes two smoothies!


Upgrading the Smoothie

If you are starting from the stripped-down version, this is the order I think you should take in adding new ingredients for the biggest bang-for-your-buck. Add as many or few as you’d like.


  1. More fibrous / antioxidant rich fruit – like wild blueberries
  2. Leafy greens (spinach)
  3. Antioxidant powder
  4. Coconut / Jicama / Cucumber / Celery / Ginger
  5. Chia
  6. Hemp oil / cod liver oil
  7. Brain Octane



Increase Prebiotics Slowly or You’ll Get Diarrhea and Serious Gas

The first thing to consider is that you might not be able to handle all the fiber right away. That’s what happened to me when I ate like a Kitavan. It is particularly easy to overdo the resistant starches. The first symptom is gas . Oftens lots. Even painful bloating. Don’t be scared. The solution is simple: increase the prebiotics slowly.


I recommend following each step for 4-7 days. If it is going well (that is, stool is well formed and gas isn’t problematic), try to the next step. If it becomes problematic, go back a step for a while.


Step 1: 1 teaspoon resistant starch + only one veggie

Step 2: 1 tablespoon resistant starch + ⅛ teaspoon Inulin + only one veggie

Step 3: 1 tablespoon resistant starch + ⅛ teaspoon Inulin + half of the veggies

Step 4: 2 tablespoons resistant starch + ¼ teaspoon Inulin + half of the veggies

Step 5: 2 tablespoons resistant starch + ¼ teaspoon Inulin + all of the veggies

Step 6: 3 tablespoons resistant starch + ¼ teaspoon Inulin + all of the veggies ← (where I am)

Step 7: 4 tablespoons resistant starch + ¼ teaspoon Inulin + all of the veggies


Eventually, your gut bacteria will adapt and you’ll be able to have lots of prebiotics with little to no gas. Probiotics seem to speed this process of adaptation. It seems that only 4 tablespoons of resistant starch can be digested a day, so that is a good limit.


What is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starch (RS) is a form of starch that isn’t digested normally. The researchers that discovered it saw that a large amount of starch reached the large intestines of animals totally undigested (normally it is absorbed in the small intestine). In the large intestine, it is broken down by our gut bacteria into “short chain fatty acids” (SCFAs) such as butyrate. Researchers studying the health effects of butyrate were so excited about their results, they started giving people butyrate enemas… I prefer to get my butyrate through just eating RS.


Supplemental RS is easily obtained by eating raw potato starch (or plantain/banana flour). Because RS isn’t digested normally, it doesn’t raise blood sugar. In fact, it seems to help prevent blood sugar spikes. The theorized benefits of RS are too long to list here. If you are interested here is some further reading: the Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch and Free the Animal’s Resistant Starch Primer


Kefir? What About No Dairy?

Interestingly enough, fermented dairy (like kefir) doesn’t seem linked to acne. I tested adding grass-fed raw milk kefir (I’m a bit of a hippie) and if anything, my skin improved. This lends support to the hypothesis that dairy causes acne through hormones (discussed in the Quick Start Guide), because IGF-1 (a known acne-causing hormone) is present in milk and is reduced dramatically by fermentation.
However, if you are just starting out, I won’t recommend putting kefir into your smoothies. Experiment with giving yourself a time of no dairy. It is possible dairy affects acne in other ways as well.