Balance is imperative to good health and the way to achieve digestive health is through the introduction of microflora or probiotics to our systems. Prebiotics will increase the probiotics in your intestines and increase your ability to absorb calcium and other important minerals. This new field of nutritional research boasts promising results for the heart and the immune systems. This link between our health and our diet is a new awareness to promote well-being.
Derived from carbohydrate fibers called oligosaccharides prebiotics stimulate the good bacterial growth to keep you healthy. These fibers can be found in such foods as fruit, whole grains, yogurt and whole grains. Yogurt also contains bifidobacteria which are known as fermentable fiber that is very beneficial as well. This fiber can protect the body against food poisoning.
Supplements can be added to your foods and drinks that contain prebiotics and if you pay attention to labels you can find them already added into foods you purchase. If you like you can take them in a pill or capsule form or eat some yogurt. A probiotic cannot be broken down by the body or absorbed in the GI tract. If you have a blood sugar imbalance or are prone to stomach aches or bacterial vaginosis you can benefit from prebiotics.
Certain vegetables contain prebiotic fiber like bananas, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks and onions. If you suffer from blood sugar imbalances it will help to produce acids to balance the sugars. Stomach aches, ulcerative colitis and thrush have all been shown to be improved on this type of diet.
Try to get the freshest fruits and vegetables, don’t keep them for very long as they will lose their nutritional value and their prebiotic efficacy will diminish. Eat high-fiber foods like barley and berries and whole grain such as oatmeal. 4 to 8 grams a day is considered a good serving size of these foods, 15 grams is suggested if you have a particular problem in your GI system. Some people can experience bloating and gas so start on a small amount per day and work your way up gradually to eliminate these complications. The good bacteria will build up and the bloating and gas will stop occurring.
Creating a slightly acidic environment in the colon reduces the hydrogen sulfide gas and short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s that are produced to aid in the health of the colon walls. You may experience some bloating and gas and an increase in bowel movements when you first start eating this type of diet but as your system balances these symptoms should subside.
Treatment of disease is controversial but initial studies have shown that prebiotics can improve antibiotic-related diarrhea, gastroenteritis and improve bowel functions. Mineral absorption is increased and the immune system is enhanced. Intestinal irregularity, ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer have all shown improvement. Colon cancer in it’s early stage has been shown to have been either prevented and even stopped from the effect of SFCA’s.
Balancing your body with good bacteria, feeding your digestive system with the foods that help it help you is the path to staying healthy and feeling your best. Stress, drugs such as anti-biotics and a diet filled with processed foods and sugars as well as unhealthy lifestyles are all contributors to reducing the good bacteria in our guts. Eat the right foods and maintain a healthy balance.
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