Just when “probiotics” became a household term, prebiotics came on the scene!
Prebiotics are nondigestible nutrients that are used as an energy source by certain beneficial bacteria that naturally live in your intestines. They are sometimes known as fermentable fiber, and they serve as a food source for the friendly bacteria, helping probiotics be more effective.
Stress, a poor diet, some medical conditions, medications, and other factors may decrease the number of healthy bacteria. Eating a diet that includes prebiotics and probiotics may help restore these friendly bacteria.
The role of prebiotics in the treatment of disease is controversial, and more studies are needed to determine their usefulness. But preliminary evidence shows that prebiotics may have a role in:
- Improving antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- Improving traveler’s diarrhea
- Improving gastroenteritis
- Normalizing bowel function
- Improving colitis
- Reducing irritable bowel problems
- Aiding calcium absorption
- Boosting your immune system
Prebiotics occur naturally in a variety of foods, especially high-fiber foods, including certain fruits, vegetables and grains. Prebiotics also are added to some dietary supplements and some processed foods, such as yogurt, drink mixes and meal-replacement bars. Read food labels and claims or seek out manufacturer Web sites to help identify which products contain prebiotics. But keep in mind that not all products with naturally occurring prebiotics are labeled that way. Prebiotic supplements can be sprinkled on your food, stirred into beverages, or taken as capsules or tablets that you swallow or chew. There’s no specific guideline on how many grams of prebiotics to consume. Some studies suggest that you should get 3 to 8 grams a day to get the full benefits.
Adapted from information by Klaire Laboratories. ACN is in not affiliated with Klaire Labs, a leading provider of probiotics and prebiotics.