Prebiotics: what they are, health benefits and rich foods

What are prebiotics?

The prebiotics They are a type of special dietary fiber, which consumed at certain times, offers interesting health benefits. They tend to be framed within the group of those named as Functional Foods, although before speaking of their qualities we must explain what they are.

In the particular case of prebiotics, we are faced with foods made up of large molecules, mostly carbohydrates (both oligo and polysaccharides) and which are part of the food fiber. Of course, it should be noted that not all fibers present or possess an activity with prebiotic benefits.

Deepening a little more in its composition, consist basically of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides not starch badly digested by different human enzymes, which means that they are actually poorly absorbed.

In this way, being non-digestible substances from our digestive system, they help in a very positive way when promoting both the growth and the activity of the beneficial bacteria for our intestines, modulating both the activity and the composition of the microbiota.

Among other interesting aspects, they help positively when it comes to increasing the population of "good" bacteria (such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria).

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What are its most important functions?

Precisely because of this main issue, to know what benefits and properties they have the prebiotic foods for the organism and, therefore, for the health of those who take it or eat it, it can be really useful.

As we already mentioned in a very summarized way in a previous article, prebiotics are components of foods that are not themselves absorbed in the small intestine, but when they reach the colon, they tend to favor the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

Therefore, some of the most used prebiotics are linked to the genera of the strain L. Casei (DN-114 001), Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus.

One of the most natural examples of food that contains these bacteria is the breastmilk, which in fact is considered the functional food par excellence, and which is the recommended food during the first six months of life.

What benefits do they offer?

Between the Benefits most important of the prebiotic foods, they emphasize for example the existence in these of fundamental components, as they are the proteins, the fats and the carbohydrates.

They also contain a high amount of oligosaccharides, which play an important role as favoring a bifidogenic intestinal flora, since they act as prebiotic agents, being resistant to digestion of the digestive tract, and reaching the colon where they are fermented by the resident microflora.

For example, medically prebiotics have been used to reduce diarrhea, or for the treatment of constipation. While probiotics have been used for the purpose of increasing the population of beneficial bacteria in the intestines after an episode of diarrhea by antibiotic use.

In addition, they help in a positive way when it comes to increase the body's defenses against pathogens, reducing the risk of suffering certain intestinal infections.

What are your differences with probiotics?

As we have mentioned, we must differentiate foods with prebiotic functionality from those considered as probiotics, given that their functions and benefits are certainly different.

The main difference is found in its composition. And is that while probiotics contain live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts tend to have a beneficial effect on health, Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber, not containing living organisms.

Both offer interesting health benefits, although as mentioned by Infosalus, at the moment the scientific evidence regarding the positive effects of this type of food or food products is still small. However, that has not prevented its consumption has spread enormously since a few years ago.

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In what foods can we find prebiotics?

We can find prebiotics in many foods, in fact, probably in more quantity than you can suspect or think at first. We highlight you fundamentally the following:

  • Inulin-rich foods:artichokes, chicory, bananas, wheat, barley and oats.
  • Foods rich in raffinose and stachyose:legumes, sweet potatoes and potatoes.
  • Foods rich in fructooligosaccharides:garlic, leek and onion (they are also rich in inulin), and asparagus.

As we see, following a varied and healthy diet we will contribute to the organism the sufficient amount of prebiotics that we need regularly. CONSULTED MEDICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Prebiotics; concept, properties and beneficial effects. Hospital Nutrition (2015). Available at: //
  • Roberfroid, M., Gibson, G., Hoyles, L., McCartney, A., Rastall, R., Rowland, I.,. . . Meheust, A. (2010). Prebiotic effects: Metabolic and health benefits.British Journal of Nutrition, 104(S2), S1-S63. doi: 10.1017 / S0007114510003363. Available at: //
This article is published for informational purposes only. You can not and should not replace the consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist. ThemesFiber

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