Friday, January 1, 2016

What are Prebiotics?

Today we are bombarded with so much information and new terminology can get confusing. By now most people have at least heard of the term "probiotic". Yogurt companies have been able to get the word out to the masses about probiotics. Although the exact information is not clear to everyone what probiotics really are, at least people now know that probiotics are "good" for you. Once you start looking into probiotics you will start seeing the term "prebiotics" pop up here and there. Well, what are prebiotics? What do they do? Do you need them?

What Are Prebiotics?
Again, this is an area where the definitions vary. It seems most prebiotics are referred to as compounds (fibers and non-digestible sugars) that we cannot digest. One of the most common compounds you'll find are fructooligosaccharides, or FOS. The "fructo" stands for fructose, as sugar found in many fruits. It is often used as a sweetener in commercially processed foods. They are naturally found in onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, banana, artichoke, and several other foods. "Currently FOS are increasingly included in food products and infant formulas due to their prebiotic effect stimulate the growth of nonpathogenic intestinal microflora." (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20119826).


Another prebiotic is inulin. WebMD has a nice overview of inulin...and it sounds very similar to fructooligosaccharides: 
"It is a starchy substance found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including wheat, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus. The inulin that is used for medicine is most commonly obtained by soaking chicory roots in hot water.

Inulin is used for high blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also used for weight loss, constipation, and as a food additive to improve taste." WebMD: Inulin
How does inulin work?
Inulin is not digested or absorbed in the stomach. It goes to the bowels where bacteria are able to use it to grow. It supports the growth of a special kind of bacteria that are associated with improving bowel function and general health. Inulin decreases the body's ability to make certain kinds of fats." WebMD: Inulin
There are other known prebiotic compounds: Galacto-oligosaccharides , Soya-oligosaccharides, Xylo-oligosaccharides, Pyrodextrins , Isomalto-oligosaccharides. For more information on these, please see: 

S. MACFARLANE, G. T. MACFARLANE & J. H. CUMMINGs: "Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract".


A newly discovered type of prebiotic is known as a probiotic extract. While “probiotics” are known to optimize the gut flora and regulate several bodily functions, “probiotic extracts”, the metabolites produced by beneficial bacteria, are getting quite a bit of attention in Japan and are still virtually unknown in the West. Our EM-X Gold product is a probiotic extract using EM Technology. It is made in Okinawa, Japan by EM Research Organization.
Ingredients in EM-X Gold

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