What Are Prebiotics? What Do Prebiotics Do?
Probiotics have been around for a while and are commonly found in a lot of food items such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. You could even take nutritional supplements that add beneficial bacteria into your gut ecosystem.
In fact, the health benefits of probiotics have been so outstanding that it has inspired many scientists and researchers to delve deeper into this study. As they continued their research, they discovered that there were certain dietary fibers that helped to promote the growth of good bacteria in our very own digestive system.
These fibers are named Prebiotics, and they are here to help you stay healthy and happy!
Prebiotics are relatively new as the term was coined in 1995 and research is still going on about this nutritional supplement. A prebiotic is a special type of soluble fiber that acts as nourishment for the beneficial good bacteria located in your gut.
These good bacteria are then able to grow and maintain the balance of the microbiome ecosystem which allows your body to stay in optimal health.
These good bacteria also serve as a nutrition source for your colon’s own cells. The colon provides a warm environment for these beneficial bacteria to grow. These bacteria, in turn, manufacture the nutrition source for the colon itself.
This is a true symbiotic relationship where both the bacteria and colon depend on each other and promote each others’ health. Of course, the body benefits even more as some, rather remarkable health benefits occur when this system is operating maximally.
Prebiotics are best known as a type of fiber called oligosaccharides, which encompass a vast array of different beneficial chemical compounds such as fructooligosaccharides, other oligosaccharides (prebiotics), inulin and polysaccharides.
In fact, inulin is a remarkable substance that has been around in the plant world for a very long time. It has been found in over 36,000 different plants, so it somehow has been a vital food source for plant-eating animals and humans for a very long time.
Unfortunately, as our food industries and agriculture have developed, the foods in which we get inulin have become limited. This has led way to the uprising of health complications in many individuals.
In short, a prebiotic:
- is a special fiber found in natural food items or nutritional supplements
- is not digested by the small intestine
- is used as fuel and nutrition for beneficial colon bacteria
- promotes gut health and maintains balance
According to some leading authorities, only inulin and oligofructose have fulfilled these criteria. There are only a few others, but none with as much medical research. So, the proven prebiotics fibers are a relatively new discovery. More than this, they have been found by careful research to provide significant health benefits, not only to the colon but to the body as a whole.
Some of the benefits of ingesting Prebiotics include:
- Better Gut Health and Improved Digestion
- Enhanced Immune Function and Cancer Protection
- Lower Inflammation
- Reduced Risk for Heart Disease
- Help with Weight Loss or Maintenance
- Protection of Bone Health
- Hormone Regulation and Improved Moods
You can learn more about Prebiotics and their benefits on Dr. Axe’s article here. He also writes about some of the natural food items you can incorporate into your diet in order to maintain a healthier gut.