Prebiotics for Health
Robert Rastall, Ph.D., head of the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading in the U.K. reports on how the current focus on nutrition may shift to consuming food ingredients designed to nourish the healthful bacteria living in the human body. According to him, these non-human cells comprise a major part of a typical person, and consuming prebiotic foods encourage their growth in the gut.
Speaking at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Rastall explains that a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that good bacteria in the gut play a role in promoting health and preventing disease. In contrast to probiotics (foods that contain healthy bacteria, like yogurt), prebiotics are indigestible foods that nourish the good bacteria but not the person himself. These foods support the growth and activity of 100 trillion friendly microbes living inside the human gastrointestinal tract.
Foods with prebiotic effects are already found in the European Union market and Rastall predicts that prebiotics will gain a greater popularity in Europe and the United States. A major advantage of prebiotics is that they do not require refrigeration, unlike probiotic yogurt and other dairy products, and they can be incorporated into a wider range of foods.
Rastall states that people get small amounts of prebiotics like inulin, which is commonly found in wheat, onions, garlic, and other foods. Rastall’s team and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service are now finding ways to make prebiotics from plant carbohydrates like pectins, mannans and xylans, in the hope of including them in the diet. They believe that prebiotics may prove to be helpful especially for people with gastrointestinal diseases, Type-2 diabetes and travelers’ diarrhea.
American Chemical Society (ACS). In your future: More healthful foods to nourish the non-human you. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
Tags: friendly microbes, gastrointestinal diseases, gastrointestinal tract, good bacteria, good bacteria in the gut, healthful bacteria, no refrigeration required, probiotic yogurt, travelers' diarrhea