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You might have seen ads on TV and wondered what are biotics, and why they’re so important. While probiotic gets most of the attention, another type of biotic, prebiotics, are vital to digestive health as well. Here’s some information on what they are and why you need them in your system.

Prebiotics

When considering the question of, “What are biotics?” it’s very important to consider the role that prebiotics can play. These are plant fibers that are not only found in several different types of foods, but also in supplements. While probiotics are beneficial microbes, such as bacteria and yeast, prebiotics is their food source. The body can’t digest them, but microbes such as the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains of bacteria use them as fuel.

Where Do I Find Prebiotics?

You can easily find a lot of foods that are rich in prebiotics on your grocery stores shelves, such as bananas, asparagus, garlic, onions, and oats. Some of them, however, you might only find at a health food store, because they’re a bit more obscure. These include chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, and Chinese chives.

If you don’t have that adventuresome of a palate, you can also obtain prebiotics through supplements. Many manufacturers offer capsules, drinks, and powders that not only contain beneficial probiotic bacteria but prebiotics as well.

How Do Prebiotics Benefit the Body?

There are several studies that show probiotics can help reduce the symptoms associated with a wide range of conditions, such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, and others. Unfortunately, far too many of us follow a diet that not only keeps beneficial bacteria from thriving in the digestive system, it also actually helps harmful bacteria proliferate.

As a result, prebiotics is extremely important, because they help us maintain a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria. Prebiotics, which are naturally found in human breast milk, can also help inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes 

Here are just some of the other ways that prebiotics can help us.

Hormone Regulation

Evidence is building that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or gut, can have a major influence on hormone-related disorders such as anxiety, depression, and others. There are structures in the brain known as neurotransmitters that play an important role in controlling emotions. When these neurotransmitters are disrupted, that can lead to emotional issues. When there is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the GI tract, that can lead to neurotransmitter disruption.

Research shows that prebiotics can have a major effect on how the brain functions, particularly through the production of a specific hormone known as cortisol. The body tends to produce cortisol in stressful situations, and it can lead to increased anxiety.

In one study, 45 people between the ages of 18-45 were given either a product containing prebiotics or a placebo on a daily basis for three weeks. The subjects then completed a variety of computer tests designed to assess how they processed information that evokes an emotional response. The study showed that during one of the tests, the subjects were not as responsive to negative information, paying more attention to positive stimuli. The placebo group, on the other hand, showed the opposite reaction.

Inflammation Reduction

One of the main causes of many health problems is inflammation. The evidence is growing that prebiotics plays a key role in reducing inflammatory responses within the body. The reason, studies indicate, is that both prebiotics and probiotics have an impact on the way that several inflammatory diseases metabolize. Prebiotics has also been shown to affect fat storage in the body.

Bone Health

It is very important that the body be able to properly absorb nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and iron, in order to maintain strong bones. This helps reduce the risk of developing brittle bones (a condition known as osteoporosis), as well as suffering bone fractures. Research indicates that ingesting as little as eight extra grams of prebiotics daily can significantly increase calcium production and strengthen bones.

Boosting the Immune System

The immune system helps protect the body from several different illnesses caused by harmful microbes, such as viruses and bad bacteria. These illnesses include the flu, colds, digestive issues, severe infections, and others. The stronger the immune system, the better protected you will be.

Studies show that increasing prebiotic intake can strengthen the immune system by helping us absorb critical nutrients from the food we eat. In addition, they help inhibit the growth of pathogens by lowering the amount of acid in the gastrointestinal tract.

Digestive Effects

Beneficial bacteria break down prebiotic substances into short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid. This helps make the lining of the intestines stronger. But prebiotics also helps in the formation of other short-chain fatty acids that perform other important functions, such as helping to ensure our bowel movements remain regular. Research also shows that when you increase your intake of prebiotics, you increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract – specifically, the Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bacteria. These have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease.

While a great deal of research is being performed regarding the benefits of probiotics, research into prebiotics is basically in its infancy stage. It’s very likely that as more studies are done, researchers will uncover many more benefits. So when you’re wondering, “What are biotics?” remember that prebiotics, as well as probiotics, are critically important.

Sources:
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094966/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12088524
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9323613
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410136
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410136/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5148622/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036413/
  • http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/dissertations/AAI3506195/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023613/
  • http://jmm.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jmm/10.1099/jmm.0.017541-0
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