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In order to maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, nutritionists have proposed two interventions: Direct addition of live bacteria (probiotics) or supplementation with growth stimulants of the digestive tract. These bacteria (prebiotics) to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, limiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Today, probiotics and prebiotic products have been widely used, and are often used as a treatment and prevention method for intestinal diseases.
What are prebiotics?
The concept of prebiotics was first introduced by Glenn Gibson and Marcel Roberfroid in 1995. A prebiotic is a form of food that is indigestible by itself but has a beneficial effect on the human body by stimulating the growth of good bacteria. Prebiotics are considered the food of healthy live bacteria.
Prebiotics are soluble fiber that serve as a food source for beneficial bacteria, helping them to thrive in the gut . Since then, the ability to digest and absorb nutrients is significantly improved. Prebiotics are considered the food of healthy live bacteria. Common prebiotics added to food today include two types of fiber, especially inulin and oligofructose, which are found in milk for babies from 6 months old, and in cereals for weaning babies.
These are two types of natural fiber that are not digested when entering the body, extracted from artichoke tubers or lettuce roots. When reaching the intestines, inulin and oligofructose work to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) that bring certain benefits to children such as strengthening resistance, preventing constipation, strengthening absorb nutrients .
What foods contain prebiotics?
Many foods naturally contain prebiotics. That’s because prebiotics are types of fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and many legumes . These fibers cannot be digested, but the good bacteria in the gut can eat them.
Foods high in Prebiotic fiber include: Legumes, oats, bananas, berries, chrysanthemums, asparagus, dandelion, garlic, leeks, onions.
Good bacteria in the gut turn the prebiotic fiber into a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the colon . It can also affect genes, stop the growth of cancer cells, and help provide fuel for healthy cells so they can grow and divide normally.
Effects of prebiotics
In addition to feeding the good bacteria found in your gut, prebiotics can also:
Helps the body absorb calcium.
– Change the rate at which food is converted into sugar, limiting the spike in blood sugar.
– Makes food ferment faster, so it spends less time in the digestive system, making bowel movements more regular.
– Keep intestinal cells healthy.
Differentiate between prebiotics and probiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics offer similar health benefits because both accomplish the goal of increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria and yeast in the human body . The beneficial bacteria can form a protective shield in the digestive tract, preventing harmful bacteria and viruses from infecting the body. The presence of beneficial bacteria also keeps the immune system primed and ready to deal with any threat. Probiotics and prebiotics are especially helpful in replenishing beneficial bacteria after a period of interruption such as infection or antibiotic use.
Although they appear to be similar in benefits, each has some differences. Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for human health. However, they have different roles
Probiotics: These are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods or supplements that provide numerous health benefits.
Prebiotics: Prebiotics are types of fiber that help feed friendly bacteria in the digestive system . These substances come from carbs (mainly fiber) that humans cannot digest. These types of fiber provide nutrients for bacteria that support healthy digestion and immune function.
Probiotics differ from prebiotics in that they contain different strains of bacteria.
Probiotics differ from prebiotics in that they contain live organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria. You’ll be adding probiotics directly to the healthy probiotic population in your gut by taking probiotics, from foods, live yeast yogurt, and supplements. The most popular probiotic is yogurt. Other probiotic fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha tea, and kimchi are also good sources of probiotics. Probiotic tablets such as nuggets or ampoules in liquid form are also an option for probiotic supplementation.
Meanwhile, prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those containing complex carbohydrates such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbs are not digested by the body, so they go to the large intestine and become food for the good bacteria in the gut.
The secret to a healthy microbiome is a balance between the nearly 1,000 different species of bacteria in the gut. There are two ways to maintain this balance: either you add live bacteria directly (probiotics) or “feed” existing probiotics by eating foods that feed them (prebiotics). Although these are two different concepts, the same purpose is to protect your digestive system, remember!
See also: What are probiotics? Benefits and foods rich in probiotics
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