What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are found naturally in different types of functional foods, and they are considered nutraceuticals, that is, they contain a positive effect on health. May also be isolated from plants (such as the chicory root) or synthesized (e.g., enzymatically from sucrose). For functional foods to be classified as prebiotics, the following must be demonstrated:
• It is not broken down in the stomach or absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
• It is fermented by the gastrointestinal microflora.
• Selectively stimulates the growth and / or activity of intestinal bacteria associated with health and well-being.
How do prebiotics interact in the body?
It is important to understand the role that prebiotics play in improving health, familiarity with the gastrointestinal tract and the body. Humans serve as hosts for many types of microorganisms on the skin, in the mouth, and in the gastrointestinal tract. The human gastrointestinal environment, including the microflora, has an indispensable role for the health of those who possess them. The normal activity of the intestinal microflora is complex and can be affected by a number of factors.
Characteristics of prebiotics
The main characteristic and effect of prebiotics in the diet is to promote the growth and proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract, and therefore potentially produce or enhance the effect of probiotic bacteria. On the other hand, it has been shown that prebiotics increase the absorption of some specific minerals in the body, such as Magnesium and Calcium, which is important to improve overall health.
Prebiotics can also help inhibit the growth of lesions, such as adenomas and carcinomas in the intestine, and therefore reduce the risk factors involved in colorectal diseases.
Benefits of prebiotics
While some of the beneficial effects of prebiotics on human gut function have been established and their favorable impact on health is widely supported, more scientific research is being conducted to verify their direct relationship to reducing the risk of gastrointestinal diseases.
For prebiotic substances, little data regarding lipid-lowering effects are available and mostly come from studies with inulin and oligofructose. In patients with hyperlipidaemia, the prebiotic effect is reflected in the reduction of cholesterol; whereas in normal subjects, any observed effects were not observed considerable alterations. Let's see some benefits that prebiotics bring us.
1. They improve the intestinal microflora
The intestinal microflora, which includes both potentially beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria, is important in maintaining a healthy intestinal tract so that the small intestine acts as an effective barrier; allowing nutrients to be absorbed, and keeping foreign toxins and pathogens (bacteria or viruses) at bay.
The intestinal microflora breaks down vitamins and also ferments fibers and carbohydrates that are not digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract. This breakdown produces fatty acids that are important for supporting a healthy intestinal barrier (particularly in the lower GI tract) and also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. A healthy intestinal flora is also associated with intestinal (stool) regularity.
2. Help the absorption of minerals
The effects of prebiotics on mineral absorption have been investigated, and recent human studies have confirmed that specific prebiotics, such as indigestible oligosaccharides (NDOs) enhance calcium absorption. However, this effect varies depending on the individual, the particular NDO, and the human population studied. Furthermore, the specific fermentation profile and the quantity consumed are also thought to be influencing factors.
Recent studies suggest that prebiotics may have a favorable effect on the immune system, providing improved resistance to infection.
How to get prebiotics naturally?
According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, there are specific foods that have them, which increases their potential in the intestinal processes in a favorable way. Let's see some examples:
• Whole grains
• Fortified foods and drinks
• Some dietary supplements rich in Inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, Polyols, Lactulose and Lactinol.
These essential compounds for every organism, can improve gastrointestinal health, as well as the adequate absorption of minerals.
Healthy effects for your body
The health effects of using prebiotics are potentially high, generating the balance of the microflora of the body, and directly or indirectly in its improvement of the function of the intestine and the immune system. Although the benefits vary, depending on the type and amount of a prebiotic consumed, experts agree that daily consumption of functional foods containing these components is necessary and they have no substitutes. Furthermore, the results obtained from prebiotics are strain specific and must be demonstrated through appropriate clinical trials.
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