Have you Fed Your Good Bugs Today?

Most consumers have heard of probiotics and know that they are foods containing live, beneficial bacteria. Foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, miso or kefir are the most recognized foods providing 'good' bacteria for the gut.

But are you aware of the health benefits of prebiotics? In a nutshell, prebiotics are the food to help the probiotics grow and multiply. They are the food for your 'good bugs'.

A quick review of probiotics will help in understanding prebiotics. The advantage of beneficial living organisms in food, particularly lactic acid bacteria, has been known for centuries. In fact, the Roman historian, Plinius, in 76 BC, recommended fermented milk for treating gastroenteritis. In the early 1900's, a Russian zoologist, Elie Metchnikoff, wrote about the health benefits of "friendly bacteria" and hypothesized that consumption of fermented milk products were responsible for the long, healthy lives that Bulgarian peasants enjoyed.

Probiotics means "pro-life". The digestive tract is home to over 400 species of microorganisms. Some are 'good bugs' and are 'bad bugs' or unhealthy bacteria. Probiotics are the 'good bugs'. Two of the most common strains are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. It is believed that if a positive balance of good bacteria is maintained, the bad bacteria are less able to cause disease and irritation.

Here are some health benefits to taking probiotics:

  • inhibits growth of 'bad bugs', or bacteria that cause disease

  • synthesizes vitamins, primarily B vitamins

  • increase availability of nutrients

  • decrease lactose intolerance

  • decrease symptoms of GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)

  • decrease prevalence of allergies

  • boosts the immune response

As mentioned earlier, prebiotics are food for probiotics. Consequently, the more you can feed and care for your 'good bugs', the healthier you can be!

The Japanese have known the benefits of prebiotics for years. In fact, a commercially prepared prebiotic ("Neosugar") is currently used in over 500 Japanese food products, from infant formulas to health products. The two most common prebiotics are inulin and oligofructose. As a supplement, it will be listed as either inulin or FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Inulin or oligofructose are present in over 36,000 plant foods as plant storage carbohydrates. Excellent food sources are chicory and Jerusalem artichokes. In fact, most commercially prepared inulin comes from chicory, or else synthesized from sucrose. Other food sources include wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic and leeks.

Because flatulence, bloating and abdominal cramps can be an undesirable consequence of taking prebiotics (and even probiotics), it is recommended that anyone considering taking these in supplement form contact a healthcare professional familiar with such products for individualized recommendations. Those who could benefit from taking probiotic and prebiotic supplements include:

  • People taking antibiotics which kill off the 'good bugs' in the intestinal tract.

  • People who suffer from diarrhea, constipation, gastrointestinal distress, and/or irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Women who suffer from chronic yeast and/or Candida infections.

    Probiotic supplements are available as freeze-dried, powdered, capsules, wafers and liquids. Doses of Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria are expressed in billions of live organisms and a typical dose, unless otherwise recommended, is between 3 billion to 5 billion live organisms. Because probiotics are living organisms and are fragile, they should always be refrigerated. Products found on a shelf, therefore, are not going to contain live organisms and not be as effective. The product label should guarantee a certain number of live organisms by the expiration date of the product. There should always be an expiration date.

    Prebiotics can be found either with a probiotic product or separately, because FOS and inulin are food for the probiotics. If purchased separately, they can be taken together. Some people, because of the high number of 'bad bugs' in their gastrointestinal tract, cannot handle the two products taken together in the beginning. This is where an experienced healthcare professional can be beneficial. The suggested intake of FOS is 2-3 grams per day. Products containing vitamin C, whey protein, or cysteine may improve the effectiveness of probiotics.

    This information is not intended to substitute for medical advice or care that you would receive from your healthcare professional, so always check with your provider. If you are taking medications, or have health issues, make sure you start these products under the care of a professional. Some people will notice no harmful effects and these products are generally very safe, but individual sensitivity can alter the effects of such products.

    If something as simple as providing and feeding your 'good bugs' in the intestinal tract can improve subtle or severe health issues, it's certainly time to start feeding our 'good bugs' today!

    About The Author

    Marjorie Geiser has been teaching health, fitness and nutrition since 1982. She is a nutritionist, registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and life coach. As the owner of MEG Fitness, Marjorie's goal for her clients is to help them incorporate healthy eating and fitness into their busy lives. You can learn more about Marjorie from her website, www.megfit.com, or contact her via email to margie@megfit.com.

    In The News:

  • pen paper and inkwell

    cat break through

    Pa-Kua Feng Shui Basics

    FENG SHUI BASICSFeng Shui (literally "Wind and Water" in Chinese),... Read More

    Hypnosis and the Treatment of the Agoraphobic Eleven

    Agoraphobia: fear of the market place.?not, as many people imagine,... Read More

    Natural Remedies For Treating a Cold

    Sometimes it can be hard to escape that shivery feeling... Read More

    Herbal Remedies to the Rescue!

    Since the dawn of civilization, man has always turned to... Read More

    The Sense of Smell

    Disturbed vibrations occur in the body as a precursor of... Read More

    Herbal Medicine for Diabetes

    Herbs used in traditional Indian medicine to treat diabetes seems... Read More

    Pendulum Dowsing: Easy To Learn Techniques

    Pendulum Dowsing is a very fun and simple way to... Read More

    Have you Fed Your Good Bugs Today?

    Most consumers have heard of probiotics and know that they... Read More

    Quit Smoking

    Consider this:Already since 1972, over 60 million people in the... Read More

    Empowering Ourselves with the New Energy Dynamic

    The chakras are an important part of our energy anatomy.... Read More

    Snoring - A Small Change Can Make A Big Difference

    We all know how annoying snoring can be, both for... Read More

    Treat Cold, Flu, and Ear Infection the Natural Way

    With or without medication, the cold or the flu can... Read More

    Migraine Headaches And Chronic Pain: Essential Oil Of Lavender, A Natural Remedy

    If you suffer migraines or chronic headaches, you are not... Read More

    What Disorders Can Acupuncture Treat and How Does It Work?

    How did acupuncture start?The story was met with widespread disbelief.During... Read More

    Feng Shui for Your Health and Vitality

    How many of us wake up in the morning feeling... Read More

    The Origins of Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy, which involves the use of essential oils to treat... Read More

    Working with an Intuitive Counselor: Opening the Door to Yourself

    "Oh, I've had a psychic reading before. They read some... Read More

    Mercury Detoxification

    An interesting area of alternative medicine that is advancing rapidly... Read More

    Holistic Methods: Color Therapy and Aura Soma in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

    The human body is recognized as a series of colors,... Read More

    How to Best Use Your Summer Energy

    Summer EnthusiasmAccording to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are five... Read More

    Going Back to the Basics: Revival of Traditional Treatment through Herbs

    Herbal medicine has its origins in ancient cultures including those... Read More

    Alternative Fibromyalgia Therapies

    Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disease that is effecting more and... Read More

    Laxatives You Find In The Drugstore

    A laxative is defined as,A substance that is used to... Read More

    Not Now, I Have A Headache

    Home Remedies - Facts or Quacks?That's what I recently asked... Read More

    I Want To Be Able To Function and Not Be Stopped by My Pain

    Why Your Subconscious May Be Able To Give You a... Read More

    How to Beat the Winter Blues

    Those who revel in the winter season delight in visions... Read More

    Once You Discover and Act on This ?Secret? to Health and Energy, You May be Changed for the Better

    I discovered something completely, 100% amazing about 5 years ago.... Read More

    Bad Breath and Gingivitis

    Does this sound familiar to you? My dentist and hygienist... Read More

    MSM: Enhance Your Overall Beauty, Your Hair, Nails, And Skin While Reducing Allergic Reactions

    Welcome to another exciting issue of "The Home Made Medicine... Read More

    What Is Herbal Medicine? Is It Safe?

    Herbal medicine is the use of plant and herb extracts... Read More

    The Natural Way To Whiten Teeth

    No patience for bleaching? There may be another way to... Read More

    The Tribrain and Trauma Therapy

    When someone experiences a trauma they go into immediate shock.... Read More

    How To Use Cascara Sagrada as a Constipation Remedy

    Cascara Sagrada comes from the bark of the buckthorn tree.... Read More