Food supplements & nutritional products are mentioned with Prebiotics & probiotics’ label, ingredients & content in prominent & bold fonts. It gives rise to the curiosity that what are they?. Is it so important to be mentioned at the front? Do they increase the cost of food supplements or not?
Prebiotics & probiotics are terms that we hear since our childhood. Commercials about any food product, either milk or any nutraceutical product, are incomplete without them. These are the most important topic in the field of nutraceuticals & for nutrition. They play an important role in human health by influencing the gut health of an individual & imparts good effects on the overall health of a person.
Prebiotics & probiotics are reported by the source to have a significant increase in clinical trials to explore their uncovered health benefits for human health. It is expected that clinical trials will prove more advanced.
Prebiotics & Probiotics. What are they?
These two terms sound so similar & leave an impression on readers that they are almost the same things & posses the same characteristics & benefits. However, in reality, these both are quite different & food supplements are based on them are too distinctive from each other with different effects on human health. Here we go with their definitions first to mark the difference between them.
These are the indigestible parts of our food most commonly fiber that is undigestable for humans but used to provide nourishment to good bacteria present in the human gut. The bacteria in the gut also known as microbiota or gut flora utilized these fibers for their nourishment.
The live bacteria & yeast present in certain types of food products & supplements are called probiotics. Probiotics help to maintain `enough strength of healthy bacteria in the gut to imparts their pleasant benefit to human health.
Prebiotics benefits for human health:
1. Aid the absorption of minerals:
Prebiotics are the food additives that enhance the absorption of minerals like calcium & magnesium that inturn improves bone mineralization. Prebiotics produced short-chain fatty acid ( SCFA) that increase acid production by the lumen of the gut to increase mineral solubilization. This prebiotics additionally aids in increasing the expression of calcium-binding proteins in the large intestine.
2. Effects on serum cholesterol level:
The shot chain fatty acid ( SCFA) produced by prebiotic is mainly responsible for its effect on lowering the serum cholesterol level. These SCFa ae metabolized in the liver after being absorbed by the portal vein. Prebiotics lowers the cholesterol level by speedy removal of low-density lipoprotein ( LPL) from the body.
3. Provide relief in constipation:
Intestinal dysbiosis that is a microbial imbalance in the gut is the major cause of constipation that can easily be recovered by the intake of Prebiotics. Prebiotics restore the normal strength of microflora in the gut & thereby gives relief in constipation. Another way of Prebiotics to provide relief in constipation is to increase intestinal motility that inturns increase blood flow & facilitate the process of excretion.
4. In the prevention of collateral cancer:
Prebiotics tends to modify the activity or composition of collateral microflora. Prebiotics are still under research for its anticancer property, but preclinical trials have proved its activity in the prevention of collateral cancer & not for its treatment.
5. In the prevention of IBS:
Inflammatory bowel disease ( IBS) is another common disease that commonly occurs due to disturbance in the normal microflora of the gut. Prebiotics provide nourishment to the mucosal wall by producing SCFAs. Prebiotics are also supposed to be effective in ulcerative colitis by reducing the number of sulphates producing bacteria that produce hydrogen sulphide gas. These bacteria cannot survive in the acidic environment produced by bt SCFA.
There are only two types of prebiotics that are officially registered as prebiotics. These are galactooligosaccharides & fructo-oligosaccharide. Few companies also sell other chemical compounds by claiming that these compounds serve as prebiotics having the same effects. These compounds are
Probiotics benefits for human health:
1. Improves digestion:
Probiotics are the good bacteria that improves digestion by increasing good bacteria in the gut that fight with bad bacteria. The consequences that result from an improper balance of microflora involve inflammation, obesity & digestion problems. Probiotics tend to resolve most of the issues linked with digestive systems.
2. Ensure a healthy heart:
Certain probiotics Keep heart-healthy & cardiovascular system by lowering LDL level & by reducing blood pressure. Research reports the role of probiotics like lactic acid-producing bacteria that breaks bile in the intestine. Probiotics make absorption of bile unavailable by breaking them & thus lowers the cholesterol level.
3. Improves mental health:
Studies from both animal & human studies favor the positive role of probiotics in maintaining a healthy mental state. The research revealed that intake of 100gm of prebiotics yogurt daily helps to stay away from stress, anxiety & depression. The results of this research involved 40 patients who have got benefited from probiotics to manage to fight with their depression.
4. Reduction in chronic allergy & eczema:
Probiotic reduces the severity of allergies & eczema in infants & children. A study from the research reveals that the intake of probiotics by women during pregnancy have lower the risk of eczema in their infants with two years of age. Probiotics are also reported by research study to lower the inflammatory response exhibited by people associated with milk or dairy product’s allergies, however, and it needs more study & research to prove it with strong evidence.
Probiotics supplements are marketed & purchased by people as dietary supplements which don’t need any specific approval by FDA or prescription. Many brands o& types of probiotics are available that varied from state to state. Therefore we are mentioning some general types of probiotics supplements.
- Probiotics supplements based on strains of Lactobacillus.
- Probiotics supplements based on stains of Saccharomyces boulardii, which is yeast, not bacteria.
- Probiotics supplements based on strains of Bifidobacterium find in dairy products.
Food that contains prebiotics & probiotics:
Food containing prebiotics:
Prebiotics are undigestable food that mainly includes oligosaccharides & polysaccharides. Prebiotics are marked as functional foods & must satisfy the following physiological properties that are mentioned as follows.
- Exhibit resistance against gastric degradation
- Show fermentation is selective bacterial species like LActobacilli & bifidobacteria.
Here is the list of food that is considered as prebiotic & an alternative source of serving same functions without any dietary supplements.
- Acacia gum
- Raw Jerusalem artichoke
- Raw chicory root
- Raw garlic
- Raw or cooked onions
- Raw asparagus.
Food containing probiotics:
Fermented food is considered a rich source of probiotics or has additionally added with probiotics. Prebiotics food contains live bacteria that enhance your gut activity b& promote better gut health. Here is the list of food containing probiotics probiotic.
- Cultured condiments
- Fermented meet
Can we take both prebiotics & probiotics together?
Intake of one dietary supplement at a time will be more beneficial. It is highly recommended to use one thing at a time. Using both prebiotics & probiotics will interact with each other. The functions of both are almost the same; therefore, it is enough to utilize one type of dietary supplement at a time.
Which time is more suitable for taking probiotics?
You can take your probiotics supplements in the morning or at night with different specific conditions. It is recommended to take your probiotic supplement 20 minutes before you eat anything in the morning. Well, as in the case of the night, you ave to take probiotic supplements at bedtime right before sleeping.
Should I take prebiotic or probiotic?
The decision of intake of either prebiotic or probiotics depends on your need & physical state that what type of advantage you want to get it. The health problem that you face makes this decision easy & helps you to make the right choice. If you are still confusing that consult with your family doctor or pharmacists.
Prebiotics & probiotics are essential supplements with lease side effects & have a natural background. The addition of these agents in your daily life helps you to prevent many common diseases. For safer side must consult your doctor & pharmacist to choose the right type of product for your health & well being.
A student of Pharm D from University of Karachi. She has keen interest in all the attributes towards pharmacy especially community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy with an objective to make medications sound and safe. She loves to provide information about Pharmaceutical Analysis and Pharmacology in a best way so people with no medical background can understand.