By now many of you have heard about the remarkable health benefits of probiotics. In fact, the good-for-you bacteria seem to be making headlines everywhere these days—especially as we head into another cold and flu season. And as awareness increases about just how good probiotics are for optimal digestion and immunity, there’s another “p” word you might be wondering about: prebiotics.
In technical terms, prebiotics are often defined as “non-digestible food ingredients” that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. So what does that mean? Quite simply, prebiotics are a food source for probiotics. So as they travel through the digestive system, they nourish all those good bacteria along the way and help them grow and multiply. The result? More good bacteria in the gut, which means better digestion and a stronger natural defense system.
So where do prebiotics come from? Well, mostly from soluble fiber sources such as oats, legumes, flax and almonds—and that’s where the “non-digestible” part comes into play. Dietary fiber—including both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber—really just refers to the parts of plant foods that our bodies are unable to digest and absorb, which is why it’s sometimes called “roughage”. Because prebiotics are not digested, they remain in the digestive tract where they can do their job of feeding their probiotic partners.
In addition to obtaining prebiotics through the diet, nowadays many probiotic supplements will actually include prebiotics to help you get the benefit of this dynamic duo (i.e. probiotics and prebiotics). For example, you may see something called FOS on the label. Short for fructooligosaccharide, FOS is extracted from soluble fiber foods such as chicory root and will help to feed and stimulate the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
So there you have it! Two powerful “p” words that can go a long way toward better digestion and a stronger natural immune system—talk about a winning combination!
Prebiotic Food Sources:
- Chicory Root
- Whole Grains
In the new issue of First for women, a magazine read by more than 4 million busy women each year, Dr. Mehmet Oz talks about a goal many of us have in common: healthy weight loss. And don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face—ReNew Life Organic Clear Fiber!
In the cover article, titled Heal your gut to heal your belly, Dr. Oz explains that our ability to lose weight and keep it off has a lot to do with changing the nature of the bacteria in our digestive tracts—and one way to do that is with healthy diet changes such as adding more foods rich in prebiotic fiber to our daily eating plan.‡
“Prebiotics [are] the food that probiotics, or healthy gut bacteria, feed off of,” says Dr. Oz, and he recommends boosting our daily intake of prebiotic-rich foods—including a tablespoon of ReNew Life’s Organic Clear Fiber (made from 100% organic acacia fiber) to start the day.‡
He says acacia fiber, in particular, is a natural prebiotic fiber source that makes his list of 7 Belly Blasters That Really Work.‡ He calls it a “diet pill without the chemicals” and also suggests sprinkling it on meals to help fill you up so you eat less.‡
Want to know more? The new issue of First for women is on newsstands now, so be sure to pick up a copy!