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You may have heard about probiotics and their role in digestive health. Probiotics are known to be live beneficial bacteria that are created by the natural fermentation process in foods such as yogurt, kimchi and others.
But have you heard of prebiotics? Though probiotics and prebiotics may sound similar, they have different roles in the digestive system.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fibre compound. Just like other high-fibre foods, prebiotic compounds pass through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and remain undigested. Once they pass through the small intestine, they are selectively utilised in the gut to increase healthy bacteria. They aid digestion and enhance the production of valuable vitamins. They also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria without feeding the ‘bad’ types. The good bacteria play a significant role in regulating your immune system.
Why are prebiotics beneficial to your body?
Researchers have found that prebioticsare helpful in increasing the helpful bacteria already in the gut that reduce disease risk and improve general well-being. Prebiotic fibre is not as fragile as probiotic bacteria because it is not affected by heat, stomach acid, or time. We share with you some of the benefits that prebiotics offer.
1. Better gut health and improved digestion
Prebiotics are an invaluable part of a healthy diet and of course, a happy gut. They help to balance harmful bacteria and toxins living in the digestive tract, which have numerous health implications, including improving digestion. Research has shown that higher intakes of prebiotic foods can increase numerous probiotic microorganisms. As our gut bacteria metabolise the non-digestible fibres from prebiotic foods, they produce fatty acids that help us in many ways such as improving the health of the intestinal lining and regulate electrolyte levels in the body, including sodium, magnesium, calcium and water. These are important for proper digestion, producing bowel movements, preventing diarrhoea and so on.
2. Enhanced immune function and cancer protection
Prebiotics help to reduce the risk of gastroenteritis and infections, improves general well-being and reduces allergic symptoms. Since prebiotics enhance our ability to absorb important nutrients and trace minerals from the foods we eat, they boost the immune system as well, which include offering prevention or treatment of urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, digestive disorders, colds and the flu, cognitive disorders, and even cancers, including colon cancer. Many studies have shown a reduction in the occurrence of tumours and cancer cells after consuming specific food products with a prebiotic effect.
3. Lower inflammation
Prebiotics can help lower inflammation, and those who consume more prebiotics tend to have healthier cholesterol levels and lower risk markers for cardiovascular diseases. It also appears that a healthier gut environment turns off autoimmune reactions, helps the body metabolize nutrients including fats, and modulates hormonal and immune functions that control how and where the body stores fats.
4. Aids weight loss or maintenance
Recent data from studies support the beneficial effects of prebiotic food products which help to lower body weight gain. Higher intakes of all types of fibre are, in fact, linked to lower body weight and protection against obesity. Prebiotic foods promote a sense of fullness, so that people will not eat more than they should. As a result, obesity is prevented and helps to spur weight loss. Their effects on hormone levels are related to appetite regulation, where it reduces the body’s signal to the brain that it’s time to eat.
5. Improved bone health
Prebiotics enhance the absorption of minerals in the body, including magnesium, possibly iron and calcium. All of these are crucial for retaining strong bone bones and preventing fractures or osteoporosis. An increase in the uptake of calcium in the body can lead to an increase in bone density.
Cheryl W is excited to share that our new and improved drinks, which will be launching in stores soon, will contain prebiotics. Do keep a lookout for these new drinks and embark on your journey with us towards a healthy lifestyle!