DIGESTIVE NEWS & REVIEW:
Prebiotics by definition are ‘non-digestible food ingredients. These beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or limited number of bacteria. Most importantly, prebiotics improve the colon health of the host.
Where are Prebiotics Found?
Prebiotics are in plants, mostly vegetables. These plant fibres cannot be digested. Instead, they make their way through our small intestine to our colon relatively unchanged. When they get to the colon, they act as food that can stimulate the bacteria. The bacteria ferment them, and that’s why you often hear them called ‘fermentable fibres’.
The Benefits of Prebiotics
#1 These foods are excellent for digestive health; they stimulate the growth of our beneficial bacteria (probiotics). They act as food for the bacteria and stimulate the bacteria that is already in the colon. They balance out the harmful bacteria by lowering the pH of the gut. They also inhibit pathogens.
#2 Once the bacteria has ingested the food, they produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) which help protect the intestinal lining as well as offer fuel to the cells. They play a role in prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome and bowel disorders. They also have a positive effect for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.
#3 As 80% of our immune system is in our gut, prebiotics positively influences how the immune system reacts.
#4 Research shows us that there is an association between mood, anxiety and depression due to the gut/brain connection. Your gut bacteria helps to absorb and metabolise nutrients from the food you eat, which turn into hormones like serotonin (our happy hormone) which plays a role in mood.
#5 A positive impact on bone health as prebiotics enhance the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Studies have shown the increase in these nutrients lead to an increase in bone density.
#6 Prebiotics influence weight and lower the risk of obesity. High fibre intake allows for greater food energy absorption, and this gives you a feeling of fullness and can lower your body weight. It makes you produce less ghrelin (which is the hormone used to stimulate your appetite, increase food intake and promote fat storage).
#7 Consuming high fibre foods can lower cholesterol levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and they can also impact on blood pressure due to their levelling effect on electrolyte and mineral levels.
As you can see from a health perspective, it is worth getting prebiotics into your daily diet. Some of my favourites are Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, green bananas and dandelion greens. You may experience some added gas when introducing these foods into our diet so go slowly.
About Our Digestive News and Review Columnist – Ange Sinclair
Ange Sinclair, founder of Digestive Detective is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist. She has a special interest in Digestive Disorders. She helps you beat the bloat, purge your pain and find the root cause of your problem using nutrition, herbal medicine and supplements.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are the author’s professional knowledge and opinion. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.
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