Medical news for those who suffer from indigestion, gas, or other dietary unpleasantries: Do you know about probiotic and prebiotic foods? As Dr. Bruce Hensel reported, they're all the rage; but do they help?
"Some experts believe probiotic and prebiotic foods could help fix the problem. They even argue they can combat illness when combined," Dr. Hensel said.
Yogurt contains live active cultures - what experts call friendly bacteria 'probiotics'.
Dietician Debra Boutin explains: "A probiotic is any food that contains actual live bacteria, beneficial bacteria, that support our intestinal health so that when we consume that food product, we actually take those good bacteria into our body for our best use."
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The human digestive tract has over 400 species of bacteria; some are good, some bad. Stress, antibiotics and a poor diet can sometimes cause an imbalance in favor of bad bacteria
"If someone does have a lot more harmful bacteria in their system, they typically have a lot of gas, a lot of bloating, possibly pain with digestion, possibly altered constipation or diarrhea symptoms," Boutin said.
Many experts say adding live, good bacteria to your diet isn't enough because 'pro'biotic foods need the help of 'pre'biotic foods - like Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, bananas, even maple syrup.
"Prebiotic is just the opposite of probiotic, it is a food that contains ingredients that support the growth and development of those good bacteria. So it actually is enhancing their livelihood, it's helping them to produce and to colonize and then supporting their function in the intestines that way," Boutin said.
For a perfect balance of pre- and probiotic food, try a bowl of yogurt, a banana and a little drizzle of maple syrup.
"Some nutritionists claim keeping pro and prebiotics in your diet wards off illness and may even help recovery from some conditions. There are no long term studies on that subject but those who believe say include pro- and prebiotic foods in your diet about three or four times a week. Of dairy products, only yogurt and kefir, a yogurt-like drink, are probiotic. Eat chicory root and dandelion greens if you want foods high in prebiotic power. For less, try wheat, rye and barley. You can also take dietary supplements for both," Dr. Hensel said.
The human body carries about 100 trillion bacteria. Most of them live in the colon.
Probiotics are microorganisms that help the body stay healthy.
Prebiotics support the growth and activity of probiotics.
We should eat foods with probiotics and prebiotics three to four times a week.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.
For general information:
International Food Information Council, http://www.ific.org
International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, http://www.isapp.net
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov