Over the past few years, the relationship between the general health of an individual and prebiotics has been as in the issue of interest. Therefore, it is natural for the confusion on prebiotics and probiotics. If you are yet to catch on, here is a comprehensive guide on what you should know on prebiotics.
What is prebiotics?
Typically, prebiotics can be described as food for the healthy bacteria that is found in your digestive tract. They function by inducing the activity or growth of the microorganisms. The compounds cannot be digestive by the human gut and are mostly carbohydrates in nature. A compound needs to have specific qualities to be classified as a prebiotic and has to follow particular criteria:
1. The compound cannot be broken down by the acidic pH of the stomach. It should be resistant to hydrolyzation by mammalian gut enzymes. Furthermore, it should not be absorbable by the gastrointestinal tract.
2. Microbiota should be able to ferment the compound
3. The compounds can selectively stimulate activity & or the growth of intestinal bacteria to improve the health of the host.
Since not all prebiotics are carbohydrate compounds, the criteria for distinguishing fiber prebiotics are as follows:
1. with polymerization equal or higher than 3, fibers are carbohydrates
2. they cannot be hydrolyzed in the small intestines by the endogenous enzymes
What are the types of prebiotics?
Even though there are numerous types of prebiotics, there are a few significant groups that have proved beneficial to humans:
1. Fructans–This group is made up of fructooligosaccharides (oligofructose) and inulin. The chain length of the carbohydrate determines the kind of bacteria that can break down fructans. Thus, fructans can directly or non-directly promote other species of bacteria.
2. Galactooligosaccharides–These are the result of lactose extension and are divided into two sub-groups: GOS as a product of enzymatic trans-glycosylation of lactose, and GOS with extra galactose. This group is responsible for highly stimulating Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
3. Glucose-derived and starch oligosaccharides–This Starch is highly resistant to digestion in the upper gut. Resistant Starch produces high levels of butyrate, thus enhancing better health. An example of glucose-derived oligosaccharide is polydextrose. It is comprised of many glycosidic links and a lot of glucan branches.
4. Non-carbohydrates oligosaccharides–Some compounds are classified as prebiotics, even though they are not carbohydrates. An excellent example of this compound is the cocoa-derived flavanols. Vitro experiments have proved that the compound stimulates lactic acid bacteria.
5. Other oligosaccharid–Some oligosaccharides originated from pectin, a type of polysaccharide. The structures of these compounds differ substantially based on the source of pectic oligosaccharide.
What are the sources of prebiotics?
Prebiotics are naturally found in the foods you consume every day. By diversifying your diet, you increase your prebiotic intake. Popular foods include artichokes, onions, bananas, garlic, dandelion greens, asparagus, and grains.
Also, supplemental fibers are another popular source of prebiotics. Chicory root is a common source for inulin, and it is used as a flavor enhancer for cereals and high fiber bars.
If you feel the need to increase your daily intake of prebiotics, you can take supplements. They are fiber powder that can be easily added to drinks or your favorite meal. The supplements are available at drugstores, health food stores, or online.
Prebiotic supplements consist of fermentable fiber. They are incredibly stable and can’t be affected by acidity or heat.
When starting on supplements, start with small dosages and gauge how your body reacts to cut your intake by half should you experience bloating or gas. Research extensively and make sure to get high-quality supplements from reputable companies.
What are the benefits of prebiotics to my health?
Consuming prebiotics increases the population of protective microorganisms, thus enhancing immunity. Prebiotics also act to reduce the population of bacteria that is harmful, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. Prebiotics improve the absorption of magnesium and calcium in the body. They reduce the extreme symptoms of the flu or a cold
Reduced colon-wall inflammation
Prebiotics regulates electrolytes levels and balances the minerals in the body. This helps in regulating your blood pressure. They help in absorbing nutrients that aid in building hormone chemicals. Thus, mood regulation is dependent on the state of our guts. According to some studies, prebiotics can help in reducing anxiety.
They decrease the chances of coronary diseases
Daily consumption of recommended doses reduces glycation. This is the cause of increased free radicals. Also, the hypo-cholesterolemic effects of prebiotics help to fight cardiovascular diseases.
Prebiotics help in weight loss
By consuming a lot of foods rich in fiber, you are satiated longer and helps you maintain balanced energy levels, thus keep track of your weight loss. Some studies have linked prebiotics to having direct involvement in preventing obesity.
How much prebiotics should I take?
According to research, the body can still benefit from as miniature as three grams of prebiotic daily. Nonetheless, you do not have to narrow down, since prebiotics occurs naturally in foods—the recommended daily dosage for prebiotics averages between 4-8 grams.
Your physician can also determine your daily intake of prebiotics through a prescription.
The form and your tolerance also determine the amount of prebiotics you consume. Too much fiber consumption will lead to abdominal pain and bloating.
Does prebiotics have side effects?
Even though prebiotics has a lot of medical benefits, they are not for everyone. A lot of individuals do not experience complications from taking prebiotics. However, for some people, there are certain effects associated with the intake of prebiotics, such as increased bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. If the prebiotics is yeast-based, a person may experience increased thirst and constipation.
How long does it take for prebiotics to work?
Compared to nootropic supplements, prebiotics does not take effect immediately. The digestive tract will take some time to adapt to changes and begin cell replacement. Therefore, your prebiotic intake should be consistent. Most individuals will experience initial prebiotic effects four days into supplementation. The longer you keep at it, your body will start to experience long-term changes, such as enhanced metabolism and a better immune system.