Prebiotics – not probiotics!

Like fertiliser encourages plant growth prebiotics provide energy for probiotics and enable them to flourish in the large intestine.

The surface area of the gut or digestive tract is equivalent to a tennis court, and it contains 70 per cent of the immune system’s cells and more than 200 different species of bacteria. Consequently the health of the gut determines overall health of the body.

In healthy people the composition of flora is relatively stable but it changes over time and is particularly affected by age, diet, medication such as antibiotics, presence of infection, the status of the immune system and stress.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are biochemical compounds, a class of compound sugars which are found naturally in food, particularly certain fruits, vegetables and cereals. Unlike probiotics they are not live but are molecules which reach the intestines intact and provide sustenance for beneficial bacteria.

Prebiotics are stable biochemical compounds which are unaffected by the acidic environment of the stomach. While probiotics can be destroyed by hostile bacteria, prebiotics are great survivors which pass through unaffected into the intestines. Therefore prebiotics are essential components of a healthy digestive system, which ensures a strong immune system equipped to fight infection.

They are a preferred food source of several species of beneficial bacteria and stimulate their growth, but can also bring about healthy changes in the large intestine. They stimulate certain metabolic pathways such as the production of short-chain fatty acids which are essential for the production of fuels for the cells in the gut.

Taking prebiotics makes people more regular but it also protects them against infectious diarrhoea.

Food sources of prebiotics

Prebiotics occur naturally in food and are non-digestible ingredients. They are present in:

• Chicory roots
• Jerusalem artichokes
• Garlic
• Leeks
• Bananas
• Onions
• wheat, barley, rye and oats
• Agave – the Mexican plant from which a natural sweetener is made and it is also used in making tequila!
• Whey, made from milk contains lactic acid

Prebiotics are a relatively new concept in health terms and that’s why most people haven’t heard much of them. Advertising campaigns have brought probiotics and the ‘healthy bacteria’ into the public’s awareness, but prebiotics which are fundamental to a healthy digestive system aren’t well understood yet.

• Supporting friendly bacteria
• Improving the internal environment of the intestinal tract
• Allowing good bacteria to thrive
• Supporting probiotics

A. Vogel’s (Bioforce) Molkosan Vitality is a prebiotic drink made from whey (remember the nursery rhyme!), green tea extract and maize starch. It comes as a powder and mixes with water. Available from Nutricentre – just click on the ad on the left hand side of this page.

Featured product
Molkosan Vitality A. Vogel (Bioforce) 275g powder £11.26
FOS Viridian Nutrition 285g £11.85
***Please click here to order from the Nutri Centre***

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