Nigeria Newspapers Online

Let us talk about prebiotics (1)

Must Read

vitamin C in Chrysophyllum albidum  (agbalumo/ Udara) is about 100 times that of orange and 10 times that of guava or cashew.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) cannot be synthesised by humans and other primates. It has to be obtained from diet.

Let us take the advantage of the high content of vitamin c in Chrysophyllum albidum now that it is in season.

We just concluded discussions on probiotics. What is keeping those friendly bacteria alive? How can you get the bacteria to work better for you? The answer is prebiotics.

Prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibres that nourish the good bacteria (probiotics) in your digestive system, helping them grow and flourish. Once consumed, they travel to your digestive tract, where they act as a food source for the healthy gut bacteria, stimulating their growth and resulting in health benefits.

Humans are not able to digest these types of fibres but your good gut bacteria can digest them. They can be found in plant-based foods that make up a healthy diet such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Prebiotics allow your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which leads to a healthier digestive system. Some of these nutrients include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate and propionate. These fatty acids can be absorbed into your bloodstream and improve metabolic health.

For clarity, probiotics are beneficial bacteria while prebiotics are food for these bacteria.

Prebiotics and probiotics can support our gut microflora and bring things back into balance. While they work in slightly different ways, both offer a wide range of health benefits.

The definition of prebiotics and the food ingredients that can fall under this classification has evolved since its first definition in 1995. In its earliest definition, the term prebiotics was used to refer to non-digestible food ingredients that were beneficial to the host through their selective stimulation of specific bacteria within the colon.

Further research has suggested that selective stimulation has not been scientifically demonstrated. As a result of research suggesting that prebiotics could impact microorganisms outside of the colon, in 2016 the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics produced the following definition of prebiotics: a substrate that is selectively used by a host microorganism to produce a health benefit. In 2021, The Global Prebiotic Association (GPA) defined a prebiotic as a product or ingredient that is utilized in the microbiota producing a health or performance benefit.

In a research recently presented by San José State University, one of the researchers, Cassandra Boyd said ‘Prebiotics are healthy precisely because they have been indicated to improve the microbiome. They are substrates that beneficial bacteria can use directly to confer health benefits on the host, as these bacteria perform functions that are advantageous to human health.”

In addition to supporting probiotics, prebiotics are also known to:

  1. Improve digestion and metabolism
  2. Help regulate bowel movements
  3. Improve calcium absorption and increase bone density
  4. Regulate blood sugar and insulin resistance
  5. Stimulate the production of hormones that aid in appetite suppression
  6. Lower inflammation in the body
  7. Strengthen the immune system
  8. Help balance and maintain hormone levels
  9. Reduce risk of allergy
  10. Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
  11. Regulate moods and reduce stress hormone levels
  12. Lower cholesterol level
  13. Reduce risk of colon cancer.

 Let us look at foods that are rich in Prebiotics:

  1. Dandelion greens

Dandelions are a great source of fibre.

A high portion of this fibre comes from inulin. The inulin fibre in dandelion greens reduces constipation, increases friendly bacteria in your gut and boosts your immune system.

The botanical name for dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. It is native to Eurasia and North America.

If you are an online reader of this column, you will be familiar with a green plant on my logo. It is Launaea taraxacifolia, known as ‘efo yanrin’ in Yoruba. It is a West Africa tropical herb.

Both Taraxacum officianale and Launaea taraxacifolia belong to the family Asteraceae. If you cannot get dandelion to buy in a supermarket, you will find our own ‘efo yanrin’ in the regular market.

Dandelion greens are also known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer effects.

Garlic is a flavourful herb linked to various health benefits due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering properties.

Garlic acts as a prebiotic by promoting the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut. It also helps prevent disease-promoting bacteria from growing.

Research shows that different compounds in garlic reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, have anti-tumour effects and lower blood glucose levels.

According to an animal study, garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties may even protect against the effects of asthma.

Onions are a tasty and versatile vegetable linked to various health benefits. Similar to garlic, onions are rich in inulin and Fructo-oligosaccharides.

FOS strengthens gut flora, helps with fat breakdown and boosts your immune system by increasing nitric oxide production in cells.

Onions are also rich in the flavonoid quercetin, which gives it antioxidant and anticancer properties.

Additionally, onions have antibiotic properties and may provide benefits for your cardiovascular system.

Bananas are more than a delicious fruit. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. They contain small amounts of inulin.

Unripe (green) bananas are high in resistant starch, which has prebiotic effects.

Barley is a popular cereal grain. It contains 2–20 grams of beta-glycan per 100 grams.

Beta-glycan is a prebiotic fibre that promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract.

The beta-glycan in barley has also been shown to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also help lower blood sugar levels .

One study found that barley beta-glycan improved metabolism in mice through both suppression of appetite and improvement of insulin sensitivity.

Barley is rich in selenium. This helps with thyroid function, provides antioxidant benefits and boosts your immune system.

Apples are a delicious fruit with fibre. Pectin, a type of soluble fibre, accounts for much an apple’s total fibre content. The pectin in apples has prebiotic benefits.

A 2016 study found that pectin from apples could promote healthy gut microbiota, decrease inflammation and suppress weight gain and fat accumulation in rats with obesity.

Pectin increases butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and decreases the population of harmful bacteria.

Research shows that in addition to their prebiotic benefits, apples can improve heart health and may even reduce your risk of asthma and other pulmonary disorders

Cocoa beans are actually seeds from the Theobrama cacao tree.

Cocoa and its products are rich sources of polyphenols such as flavanols, which exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

These compounds also help grow beneficial gut bacteria while reducing the growth of harmful bacteria

A study titled Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications by Dorna Davani-Davari et al concludes that

Prebiotics exert a remarkable influence on human health, which makes them alluring attractive agents to improve the quality of human life against cancer, vascular diseases, obesity and mental disorders.

Nigeria Newspapers Telelgram
Nigerian Gospel Radio
Nigerian Gospel Radio

You may 've missed...

Latest Updates

See More Stories Like This