General Practice 2022

Prebiótics: what are they, what are they for (and differentça from probiótics)

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Prebiótics: what are they, what are they for (and differentça from probiótics)
Prebiótics: what are they, what are they for (and differentça from probiótics)

Prebiotics are substances present in some foods, which serve as a substrate for certain microorganisms present in the intestine, favoring the multiplication of bacteria beneficial to digestion.

Prebiotics that demonstrate he alth benefits are fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and other oligosaccharides, inulin and lactulose, which can be found in foods such as wheat, onions, bananas, honey, garlic, chicory root or burdock, for example.

How they work

Prebiotics are food components that are not digested by the body, but that are beneficial to he alth, because they selectively stimulate the multiplication and activity of bacteria that are good for the gut.In addition, studies prove that prebiotics also contribute to the control of the multiplication of pathogens in the intestine.

As these substances are not absorbed, they pass into the large intestine, where they provide substrate for intestinal bacteria. Soluble fiber is normally fermented quickly by these bacteria, while insoluble fiber is fermented more slowly.

Generally, these substances act more frequently in the large intestine, although they can also interfere with microorganisms in the small intestine.

What they are for

Prebiotics contribute to:

  • Increase of bifidobacteria in colon;
  • Increased absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium;
  • Increased stool volume and frequency of bowel movements;
  • Decreased duration of intestinal transit;
  • Regulation of blood sugar;
  • Increased satiety;
  • Decreased risk of developing colon and rectal cancer;
  • Reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.

In addition, these substances also contribute to strengthening the immune system and the formation of the newborn's microbiota, helping to reduce diarrhea and allergies.

Foods with prebiotics

Prebiotics currently identified are non-digestible carbohydrates, including lactulose, inulin and oligosaccharides, which can be found in foods such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, onions, bananas, asparagus, honey, garlic, chicory root, burdock or green banana biomass or yacon potato, for example.

See more foods rich in inulin and learn more about the benefits.

In addition, prebiotics can also be ingested through food supplements, which are usually associated with probiotics, as is the case with Simbiotil and Atillus, for example.

What is the difference between prebiotic, probiotic and symbiotic?

While prebiotics are fibers that serve as food for bacteria and favor their survival and proliferation in the intestine, probiotics are those good bacteria that live in the intestine. Learn more about probiotics, what they are for and what foods they are present in.

A symbiotic is a food or supplement in which a probiotic and a prebiotic are combined.

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