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Posts Tagged ‘prebiotics’

Many of the new buzz words in the health community are not ones that everyone is familiar with.

For instance are you aware of what prebiotics and probiotics are? Before we can delve into this topic it would help to get a little background. For that we must turn to the digestive system.

We all have bacteria living in our digestive systems. Some of these bacteria have the potential to make you ill (bad bacteria). We also have bacteria that are useful and can contribute to keeping you well (friendly, good or healthy bacteria). The good bacteria’s job is to keep bad bacteria and yeast from developing in the intestinal tract and leading to health problems. This friendly bacteria also helps in the production of vitamin K and aids the immune system in working to its highest capacity.

Most of the time there is an abundance of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. However such things as taking a course of antibiotics, stress and making unhealthy food choices can lead to what is known as intestinal dysbiosis. This condition is a bacterial imbalance that leads to the overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria.

Dysbiosis is more common than you might think. However most health issues that result from this problem are called by other names. For instance this condition has been connected to disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), yeast infections and rheumatoid arthritis.

Antibiotic therapy is a common reason that dysbiosis occurs. This is because when you take an antibiotic to get rid of an infection not only does it destroy the bad bacteria but it also affects the levels of friendly bacteria that reside in the digestive system.

This brings us to the topic at hand – prebiotics and probiotics. What are they and how can they help our bodies to function better?

Both prebiotics and probiotics are able to restore the balance of bacteria that exists in the digestive tract. Probiotics can be defined as beneficial or healthy bacteria that are found in a selection of foods and/or can be taken as supplements. There are different strains of probiotics but the two most common families of bacteria include Lactobacillis and Bifidobacterium.

Prebiotics on the other hand are foods that are non-digestible that are able to make their way through the digestive system. The job of prebiotics is to support healthy bacteria to grow and to multiply in numbers. Think of it this way- prebiotics see to it that good bacteria remain healthy and plentiful in order to fight any bad bacteria that they encounter.

Prebiotics:

The prebiotics in your system that is responsible for being a food source for friendly bacteria mainly come from carbohydrate fibers known as oligosaccharides. These fibers are not digested and for that reason they stay in the digestive tract and encourage good bacteria to grow.

The sources of oligosaccharides include fruits, whole grains and legumes. You can also find supplements known as fructose-oligosaccharides that you can consume. Yogurt with prebiotics is made with bifidobacteria which in turn contains oligosaccharides. Check the yogurt label to make sure of this before you purchase it.

Probiotics:

Probiotics or probiotic bacteria such as lactobacilli are naturally occurring in foods that are fermented. Examples of these include sauerkraut and yogurt. There are some types of foods that will have probiotics added. Always check your labels.

You can also buy supplements such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus.

Becca Scott

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