Turn on the television or radio at any time of the day and you will get to hear hundred and one advertisements relating to prebiotics and probiotics promising to make our lives healthier. How true is all this promotional information? Do they really have a scientific base?
Health Capsule today thought of doing a brainstorming session on Prebiotics and Probiotics and share with you latest information. We are doing so because the next time you get to hear of a product connected to this health condition you would know to make a wise choice.
According to the Journal of Nutrition (March 2007), a prebiotic is defined as a ‘selectively fermented ingredient, which allows specific changes in both the composition and activity in the gastrointestinal micro flora (human-friendly bacteria) that confers benefits upon host well-being and health’.
In simpler terms these substances stimulate the growth and activity of GOOD microorganisms in your gut, which are responsible in maintain a healthy digestive system.
So, are there GOOD bacteria too? Yes, of course! They act as a protective barrier for the gut wall and carry out several other human-friendly functions, but won’t do any harm to you.
The commonest dietary example is, non-digestible, fibrous compounds which pass through the esophagus, creating a nutrition-rich, warm and oxygen free environment for the healthy bacteria in the gut including bifido bacteria and lactobacilli. This thereby increases the resistance to other harmful organisms which attempt to invade the colon.
Moreover, several research studies have demonstrated a remarkable beneficial effect of prebiotics on absorption of calcium and other minerals, maintenance of a strong immune system, reduction in bowel acidity and reduction of the risk of pathological conditions like hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and colorectal carcinoma.
The commonest prebiotics, which occur naturally include,
Inulin is a soluble dietary fibre, which is known to be contained in over 36,000 different plants, but as the food industry and agriculture developed, the availability of these natural plants has become limited. Five-eighth servings of fruits and vegetables per day is the ideal amount of prebiotics required for an average individual.
Leave aside all these ‘tongue break-ably’ complicated names, look at the Pre-biotic rich food which you get to see every day like bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat food and they top the list.
However, in the modern world where the need for functional food has arisen, prebiotics are also added to everyday choices of food like cereals, biscuits, yoghurt, table spreads and bread which is what you get to hear and see on TV commercials on an hourly basis.
Adding some plus points to this, even though the afore mentioned food items like asparagus, garlic, leeks, banana, wild yam and onions are known to be rich in prebiotics and prebiotic fibres, a person may need to consume a large quantity of these to fulfill the requirements of the body, in order to maintain a healthy gut flora and that is why people tend to choose prebiotic or symbiotic supplements (a combination of probiotic and prebiotic supplement) like Pre-biotin, which contains inulin and oligo-fructose, to ensure the required intake of these compounds.
Probiotics-the good bacteria in our gut
Probiotics are GOOD bacteria or live bacterial cultures which are similar to those, present naturally in your gut, carrying out favourable functions in order to maintain a healthy digestive system. These active cultures help in altering the population of human-friendly microbes in the gut flora and re-balance them in order to maintain the top-tier functional efficiency.
They also help in boosting your immunity and help in reducing the susceptibility or even reducing the symptoms associated with diseases associated with the gut including Irritable Bowel Syndrome and lactose intolerance etc. They are also proven to be beneficial in reducing symptoms of allergies associated with specific exposures.
The most popular Probiotics, we get to hear in our day to day lives include, yoghurt, pickles, Miso etc. You can also increase the naturally existing probiotics in your gut by feeding them properly. In fact, the intake of other essential nutrients, high fibre containing food, green leaves and vegetables will definitely facilitate the growth these gut-friendly probiotics in your gut.
However, if all these activities aimed at reaching a sufficient amount of good bacteria fail, you can think of getting supplements which are available. They are user-friendly.
Additionally, it is highly important to know that some of the activities you engage in can immensely contribute in destroying the population of this friendly gut flora in the body.
- The reckless prescription of antibiotics
- Sugar and sweetened food
- Tap water with chlorine and high concentrations of minerals
- GMO foods (artificial flavours)
- Emotional stress
- Some chemicals you get exposed to
- Certain medications
Prebiotics are like the breakfast, lunch and dinner for probiotics. If you feed your gut flora well, they will definitely do a great job in keeping your body healthy.
You can find certain food containing both Prebiotics and Probiotics, which we call SYNBIOTICS. In fact, a dessert of yoghurt with chopped Banana would do miracles if you stick to a similar combo along with your daily meals.
On a concluding note, Prebiotics and Probiotics which have numerous medically proven benefits, are a must in a healthy diet, where the requirement can either be fulfilled with diet or supplements-which is your choice to go with.