The Health Benefits of Prebiotics and How They Can Improve Your Health
Bodies deficient in nutrients and overloaded with toxic waste are creating an epidemic in the United States where 65% of Americans are chronically ill and 20% of teenagers are suffering from premature aging.
– 1994, Dr Edward Howel
Why all the hype?
Prebiotics aren’t anything new. They aren’t a diet fad either. They’re simply nutrients that are in many of the foods available for us to eat. Mainly carbohydrates such as whole grains, raw vegetables, and a variety of fresh fruit. The new and exciting information regarding prebiotics is how this group of nutrients affects the existing probiotics that already exist and live in our digestive system.
Although probiotic supplements have been talked about a lot over the recent years, they are a group of beneficial bacteria that live in our intestines. Probiotics are not self-supporting though, and research has recently been showing us more and more benefits because of the way prebiotics feed and support probiotics.
How it works
The good bacteria and bad bacteria in our gut are constantly battling for food to survive and reproduce. A general healthy ratio is 80 / 20 in favor of the good guys. To keep it this way the good bacteria must win out when it comes to getting the required nutrients from the food we eat. This is where prebiotics come in with important nutrients such as fiber, enzymes, and phenolics to feed probiotic bacteria and the results have been amazing:
Prebiotics kill bad bacteria
The bad guys, also called pathogens have a nasty habit of sticking to the wall of our intestines and set up shop there to reproduce and carry on with bad things that can manifest as painful digestive symptoms for you and me. New finding say that prebiotics are stopping pathogens before they can do that.
Keeps cholesterol levels low
Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how prebiotics are doing this but one explanation is that sticky gel produced by a prebiotic nutrient known as soluble fiber, absorbs cholesterol and bile acids in the intestines and because bile digests fats, which is made from cholesterol by the liver. Normally any excess is recycled by the body but when fiber absorbs bile acids the body removes them as wastes. This whole process forces the liver to produce more, which uses up more cholesterol.
Helps prevent colon cancer
The insoluble fiber from prebiotics, some experts believe, are actually doing a part in preventing colon cancer. This type of fiber, also known as “roughage” works like a “mop” in our digestive tract by sweeping up carcinogens and other dangerous toxins before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream where they can do damage.
Keep us regular
Prebiotic fiber, insoluble fiber in particular, stimulates the intestines which keeps the food moving through. Regular doses of this fiber we also know as “roughage” will prevent constipation and other conditions caused by straining in the colon such as diverticulosis and hemorrhoids.
Appetite suppressant for weight loss
Both types of prebiotic fibers help with keeping your weight low. Insoluble fiber is bulky and will give you a feeling of being full and satisfied longer, but has zero calories. Soluble fiber acts as an appetite suppressant as well by forming a sticky gel which releases food sugars out slowing into the bloodstream, keeping you feeling fuller longer. People pay money for appetite suppressants that work on this basis but you can achieve it using natural prebiotic foods.
There is a lot of positive evidence being discovered in how prebiotics are affecting our health with their role in our digestive tract, especially the large intestine, which is the colon. Obviously, any new and positive discoveries in this area will be very beneficial because of the alarming numbers of colon related cancer we have in our society today.
Our diets have slowly gone down the drain with more and more processed foods. Doctors stopped doing “colon cleaning” in the middle of the last century, it was a duty relegated to their nurses but even they eventually stopped doing it. It’s something we just don’t think about until their is a problem in that area, an area of vital importance not only to our digestive health but to our survival.
Regardless of which new claims are substantiated or not, we all should realize by now that our collective diets need a lot of help since almost everyone of us suffers at one time or another with digestive-related symptoms. Following the advise of experts and at least add more quality prebiotic nutrients to our diets is a step in the right direction for getting a well-balanced digestive system, and that’s what it’s about.
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