Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Prebiotics are a non-digestible type of fibre found in fruits, vegetables & whole grains. They feed, strengthen, & increase the number of friendly gut bacteria. Studies found that taking a daily prebiotic supplement promoted the growth of the healthy bacteria.
Prebiotics promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (main nutrient source for the cells in your colon) They can be absorbed into the blood, where they promote metabolic and digestive health, reduce inflammation and can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Short-chain fatty acids also regulate hormones and signals involved in regulating the appetite.
TYPES OF SUPPLEMENTAL PREBIOTICS
- FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides)
- GOS (Galacto-oligosaccharides)
- MOS (Mannan-Oligosaccharides)
- XOS (Xylo-oligosaccharides)
- Another excellent prebiotic is Chlorella >, which has demonstrated its ability to tripple the growth of probiotic bacteria!
All prebiotics stimulate the growth of intestinal Bifidobacteria, without leading to a rise in serum glucose or stimulating insulin secretion.
XOS is believed to be a highly desirable prebiotic due to the small effective dosage required, which minimizes gastrointestinal side effects.
BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS
- Feed probiotic bacteria and promote their growth
- Promote production of short-chain fatty acids (key gut cells nutrient)
- Reduce fat, including fat around internal organs (visceral fat), which contributes to insulin resistance
- Reduce excess insulin (help prevent Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, PCOS, etc.)
- Increase satiety (help control appetite)
- Lower blood cholesterol levels
- Help improve mood
POSSIBLE MOOD BENEFITS OF FOS & GOS BASED ON RESEARCH
- Antidepressant & anxiolytic-like (anti-anxiety) effects in adult mice
- Reversed the behavioural effects of chronic psychosocial stress in mice
- Reduced acute and chronic stress-induced corticosterone release
- Reduced chronic stress-induced elevations in pro-inflammatory cytokines levels thus improving mood and reducing depression (brain inflammation contributes to depression)
Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) are defined as prebiotics or non-digestible type of fibre that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the colon. The increased activity of these health-promoting bacteria results in a number of health benefits such as stimulation of immune function, improved gastro-intestinal health, syntheses of certain vitamins, or enhanced absorption of essential nutrients. These positive effects are created by the bacteria themselves or by the organic acids they produce through fermentation.
GOS are currently regarded by experts as the most potent and beneficial among prebiotic fibres that nourish beneficial bacteria residing in human intestines. GOS is naturally found especially in lentils and beans but also in human milk.
According to the recent findings GOS supplementation was associated with increased number of beneficial bacteria including bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, and decreased number of pathogens such as clostridia. Enriching bowel flora in bifidobacteria strains has been linked to decreased blood insulin levels and improved mood. GOS also helped reduce colic, had beneficial influence on human immune system and inflammatory responses. According to the 2014 study supplementation with the same prebiotic reduced the adverse effects of the antibiotic, amoxicillin, on bifidobacteria populations. By nourishing Bifidobacteria GOS indirectly help to produce other important compounds, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is beneficial in weight management and diabetes prevention.
FOS – GOOD OR BAD?
Some websites claim that Inulin and FOS encourage growth of not only good bacteria but also certain type of potentially harmful bacteria. However, when we take into consideration all available studies we can draw a conclusion that although it is true prebiotics may feed some pathogenic bacteria yet this is greatly outweighed by the rate at which they feed friendly bacteria. It means that although FOS and Inulin may slightly increase growth of some unfriendly bacteria while at the same time they greatly benefit the growth of friendly bacteria.
For example, according to one study Inulin caused the Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium to flourish, and also caused a slight increase in Enterobacteriaceae bacteria.
Pantipa Chatchatee, Way S. Lee, Eugenia Carrilho (2014) Effects of Growing-Up Milk Supplemented With Prebiotics and LCPUFAs on Infections in Young Children. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Apr; 58(4): 428–437.
Giovannini M1, Verduci E, Gregori D, et al (2014) Prebiotic effect of an infant formula supplemented with galacto-oligosaccharides: randomized multicenter trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014; 33(5): 385-93.
Williams T, Choe Y, Price P, et al (2014) Tolerance of formulas containing prebiotics in healthy, term infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Nov; 59(5): 653-8.
Savignac HM1, Kiely B, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. (2014) Bifidobacteria exert strain-specific effects on stress-related behavior and physiology in BALB/c mice. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014 Nov;26(11):1615-27.
Jelena Vulevic, Alexandra Drakoularakou, Parveen Yaqoob, et al (2008) Modulation of the fecal microflora profile and immune function by a novel trans-galactooligosaccharide mixture (B-GOS) in healthy elderly volunteers. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/5/1438.full
Ladirat SE1, Schoterman MH2, Rahaoui H3, et al (2014) Exploring the effects of galacto-oligosaccharides on the gut microbiota of healthy adults receiving amoxicillin treatment. Br J Nutr. 2014 Aug 28; 112(4): 536-46.
Park HS1, Ryu JH, Ha YL, Park JH. (2001) Dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) induces apoptosis of colonic mucosa in 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-treated rats: a possible mechanism of the anticarcinogenic effect by CLA. Br J Nutr. 2001 Nov;86(5):549-55.
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