Prebiotics are frequently confused with probiotics, but they are completely different.
While probiotics are types of ‘good’ live bacteria people consume, prebiotics are the preferred food for the ‘good’ bacteria already in your digestive system, helping them to grow and multiply.
Prebiotics (literally meaning ‘before life’) are selectively fermented in the gut meaning they increase beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, without feeding the ‘bad’ types. These friendly microbes play a significant role in regulating your immune system, inhibiting the growth of pathogens (disease causing bacteria), digesting food and producing valuable vitamins.
Importantly, not all prebiotics are the same. They can vary markedly in their structure and effectiveness, with the latest generation offering some profound benefits.
Scientific and healthcare professionals may be interested in finding out more about prebiotics here.
Prebiotics are selectively fermented in the gut to increase healthy bacteria. They help to prevent disease, aid digestion and produce valuable vitamins.
What makes some prebiotics so good?
One of the biggest advantages of prebiotics is that they are highly stable, being unaffected either by temperature or long term storage.
Consequently, they can be added to almost every type of food, drink or supplement without compromising their effectiveness. They are also resistant to the body’s enzymes and acids, which means they are not destroyed, digested or absorbed as they travel through your digestive system; they reach the colon intact and unaltered.
Why use prebiotic supplements?
While prebiotics occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables, you would have to eat large quantities of even the richer sources, such as garlic, leek and onion, in order to see appreciable benefits.
Fortunately, prebiotics can be extracted and concentrated from these natural sources. Examples include inulin from chicory and FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides), which can either be extracted from plant sources or produced commercially.
A newer, much more advanced form of prebiotic is now available, known as GOS (Galacto-oligosaccharides). GOS prebiotics are produced by combining the sugars found in milk in a way that mimics the structure of the highly beneficial prebiotics naturally present in breast milk.
For more information about prebiotics and how they work, click here to watch Professor Glen Gibson, international expert in gut health, explains the important role they can play in digestive and immune function.
A lesson from nature
Infants are born with a gut almost devoid of bacteria. Special prebiotics called Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOS) present in mothers’ milk are essential in helping to establish a healthy balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of bacteria that develop. Research has shown that establishing this healthy balance has long term benefits for the health of the infant in childhood and in later life.
The gut microflora in adults represent a history of the diet, disease, stress and medications you have encountered throughout your life. Just as in young infants, advanced nutrient fibres like Bimuno® can play a valuable role in helping to increase the preferred types of bacteria in the gut, ‘resetting’ the gut microflora.