A Word on Pre­bi­otics

Consumer Voice - - Food & Stuff/ Probiotics -

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.

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