A Word on Prebiotics
A prebiotic is a type of fibre that passes through the gastrointestinal tract undigested and stimulates the growth and/or activity of certain ‘good’ bacteria in the large intestine. However, while all prebiotics are considered to be ‘fibre’, not all fibre has prebiotic effects.
The gut flora can also be kept healthy by consuming prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Prebiotic food items increase the number or activity of bifidobacteriaand lactic acid bacteria, which are known to impart beneficial effects on health. It has been demonstrated that they have beneficial effects on calcium and other mineral absorption, immunesystem effectiveness, bowel acidity, reduction of colorectal cancer risk, inflammatory bowel disease, hypertension and defecation frequency. Prebiotics may also be effective in decreasing the number of infectious episodes needing antibiotics and the total number of infections in children aged 0–24 months.
The food items known to have prebiotic effects include gum arabic, raw and dry garlic, raw and dry onion, wheat bran, raw banana, cooked whole wheat flour, soybeans, potatoes (boiled), potatoes (with skin), and wheat germ. The recommendation for prebiotics is not set yet by any governing body – the ideal recommendations typically range from 4 to 8 grams for general digestive health support.