Did you know that over 7 million people die each year of heart disease? Apart from that, most of us also suffer from one of indigestion, acid reflux, gas or constipation at some point.
The answer to reducing heart disease, boosting your immune system and digestive health is Prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially foods that facilitate the growth of probiotics (bacteria that help with digestion, also known as Microflora) that are usually found in the large intestine. Properly functioning probiotics help keep you strong and healthy by ensuring proper digestion of food.
Pretty much anything with sugar can be a prebiotic. One of the main types of prebiotics is Inulin. Inulin is found in abundance in over 36,000 plants and fruits. Some examples are sweet vegetables, herbs, fruits, Fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Modern research shows that dairy products are also considered to be prebiotic due to the presence of lactose.
How can Prebiotics benefit your health?
Prebiotics have been known to reduce and maintain good cholesterol levels – which is the main cause for heart disease. A lot of studies have done to show that prebiotics also reduce hardening of arteries by almost 30%.
Research has also shown that a healthy consumption of prebiotics boosts your immune system by helping generate more white blood cells and T cells, which fight the pathogens that enter your body. It also helps improves how our body responds to vaccinations. To take a step further, prebiotics have also been use to cure IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Crohn’s disease.
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The Role Of Probiotcs
Microflora or probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that feed on prebiotics (foods). Probiotics are anaerobic and don’t like oxygen. Inside your body, prebiotics nourish probiotics and make them work more efficiently.
Importance of fiber
It’s a well know fact that for you to benefit from prebiotics, fiber intake must be increased. Most people here in the United States have poor diets that don’t include much fiber. For the microflora (probiotics) to thrive inside your gut, a healthy amount of fiber must reach your colon on a daily basis. The effect this has is that it makes your colon walls stronger and doesn’t allow a lot of toxic substances to enter your liver from the gut.
Increasing the amount of fiber intake also has other benefits. For example, it also lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoid diverticular disease. A diet that is high is fiber also helps keep your weight in control. This is because a high fiber diet makes you feel like you are “full” for a longer time. Your hunger is reduced by a significant amount and this will help you control your weight. Another benefit is that prebiotics have known to stop the development of colon cancer, especially if the patient is in the early stage.
Most people find it difficult to choose a good source for prebiotics. In our day and age, where most foods you eat are processed and not organic, you need a good prebiotic supplement to help your digestion.
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Lactobacillus Acidophilus – A Natural Probiotic
Have you read about this recently? Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a beneficial bacteria that is found naturally in the gastrointestinal tract. It’s claimed that this bacteria helps in digestion and is necessary for optimal utilization of the nutrients in your food.
But before we talk about its benefits, first a little more information on Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This bacteria ferments sugars into lactic acid and thrives on a temperature of 37 °C (99 °F).
Some strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus are believed to have probiotic qualities anre so are used in producing some yogurt, kefir and other dairy products. Some studies habe shown that this bacteria can help relieve chronic constipation and improve digestive health. Lactobacillus acidophilus can also be used to treat diarrhea caused by infections or antibiotics. Some of the brand names of lactobacillus acidophilus are Bacid, Flora-Q 2, Acidophilus, Novaflor, RisaQuad, Floranex (obsolete), Superdophilus, and Acidophilus Probiotic Blend.
Other similar probiotics include Saccharomyces Boulardi, and Bifidobacterium Breve.
Saccharomyces boulardi helps the body protect against antibiotic associated diarrhea, infections of Clostridium difficule, and other specimem of clostridial. Saccharomyces boulardi can also treat acute diarrhea in both children and adults. Diar Safe is the most common brand name for the saccharomyces boulardi strain of probiotics.
Bifidobacterium breve promotes a healthy bowel function and can be found under the brand name Bifiene.
Importance for Your Health
Fact is, while digestion may seem like one simple benefit probiotics give you, its effects are many and far reaching. When your digestive tract is not functioning the way it should be, you can suffer from back pains, abdominal cramping, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, acid reflux disease, precancerous polyps, constipation, leg pains, lack of energy, neck pains, bad breath, smelly stools, bloated feeling, heartburn, allergies, and skin breakouts. In addition, you have a higher susceptibility to being infected with colds, viruses, and bugs.
So keeping you digestive system running as smoothly as possible is imperative for enjoying good health. While the naturally occurring probiotics in your stomach do try, they are not always successful in extracting all the nutrients out of your food.
When this happens, most people turn towards commercial probiotic supplements. This is really not an effective strategy. Instead of adding in more probiotics in your stomach, you need to nourish the existing ones by providing them with Prebiotics.
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Taking a good probiotic will do a lot more for improving your digestion than a probiotic pill would do.