While the term probiotics refer to the bacterial strains that are beneficial for our health, the word prebiotics (or prebiotics) refers to the food that these bacterial strains, which are so important for our health, need for an active and long life.
Prebiotic deficiency starves gut bacteria
In contrast to probiotics, prebiotics (or prebiotics) are not living microorganisms, but rather include certain substances that serve as food for the bacteria in the intestinal flora. Prebiotics, therefore, maintain a healthy intestinal environment by providing beneficial microorganisms with sufficient and ideal nutrition.
In particular, the soluble dietary fibers are among the prebiotics, e.g. B. pectin, pears, and quinces, the gel from psyllium and linseed, inulin from Jerusalem artichoke, parsnips, chicory, artichokes, black salsify or from pectin from apples and the so-called. FOS (fructooligosaccharides), the z. B. stuck in the yacon root.
If foods rich in prebiotics are not eaten or only rarely eaten, the “good” intestinal bacteria suffer from hunger. In a hungry or weakened state, however, they can easily be pushed out by pathogenic bacteria. The intestinal flora gets out of balance, a so-called dysbacteria develops and people can become ill.
Digestive problems such as flatulence or irregular bowel movements are the first short-term symptoms. In the long term, however, they still represent the least of the possible consequences of dysbacteria.
Eat high in prebiotics instead of high in protein
Dietary fibers serve as prebiotics, which provides food for the “good” intestinal bacteria. If these dietary fibers are missing and instead a protein-rich diet is practiced, then instead of the positive fermentation of the prebiotics, the fermentation of the proteins takes place.
This protein fermentation leads to metabolic products that are harmful to health, such as hydrogen sulfide acid, a gas that can have negative effects on the intestines. In addition, ammonia, amines, phenols, and indoles are formed during protein fermentation.
According to the researchers at the Dutch Wageningen University for Life Sciences, they all irritate the intestinal cells, are possibly mutagenic, or can have negative effects on the immune system in high concentrations.
In contrast, during the fermentation of bifidogenic prebiotics (i.e. that prebiotics that nourish and activate the particularly useful bifidobacteria), no metabolic products that are harmful to health are formed. On the contrary.
Short-chain fatty acids and lactic acid are very important for both the intestinal flora and the intestinal cells. Both reduce the pH value in the large intestine, thus ensuring the desired acidic environment there, which in turn does not appeal to the pathogenic intestinal bacteria, making it more difficult for them to settle. Short-chain fatty acids also serve as an energy source for the intestinal cells.
So the goal is to encourage the fermentation of prebiotics in the gut (by eating more prebiotics and fiber) and minimize protein fermentation (by reducing animal protein consumption). This happens for three reasons:
What does prebiotics do?
Firstly, the formation of the aforementioned harmful metabolites of protein fermentation should be prevented, secondly, the number and activity of beneficial intestinal bacteria should be increased, and thirdly, the number and activity of harmful bacteria should be reduced to a tolerable level.
A diet rich in prebiotics or a prebiotic in the form of a high-quality dietary supplement (e.g. inulin) can increase the number of intestinal bacteria that are beneficial for us, such as bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria, and at the same time make them stronger and more active.
The particular importance of these bacterial strains is that they ensure increased absorption of nutrients and better digestion, as well as help, strengthen the immune system.
When the balance of the intestinal flora is restored, in most cases the health problems caused by the dysbacteria automatically disappear.
Where are prebiotics found?
For a food to be classified as a prebiotic, it must be shown that it is not already broken down in the stomach or absorbed from the digestive tract. In addition, it must be able to be fermented by the intestinal bacteria in the digestive tract and it must be proven to stimulate the growth and activity of the positive intestinal bacteria.
The prebiotic dietary fiber inulin is particularly found in the following types of vegetables:
- Chicory root (the root of chicory)
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- dandelion root
The prebiotic fiber pectin is found here:
- Apples, pears, quinces, blueberries, and persimmons
The prebiotic fiber FOS is found here:
The prebiotic fruits and vegetables should be as fresh as possible since long transport routes and storage times can not “only” reduce the nutrient content, but also the quality of the prebiotics. The prebiotic inulin can also be isolated from chicory, for example, and taken in the form of a dietary supplement. With the help of inulin, it is easy to make your daily diet rich in prebiotics and healthy for your intestines.
Get the gut used to prebiotics
Sometimes eating these foods can cause bloating. However, this is only the case in the transition phase, until enough desired intestinal bacteria have formed, which gratefully use the food supply.
To be on the safe side, start with a low amount of fiber and gradually increase it. With the continuous multiplication of the good bacteria in the intestine, the intestinal wind eventually settles.