As the potential health benefits of probiotics and prebiotics have come to light over recent years many people have become interested in learning what they are, how they work and is there evidence to support the claims. It seems strange to be considering taking a tablet that contains billions of live bacteria but we want to reassure you that not all bacteria are bad – there are some that help to keep you healthy and fight disease.
Probiotics are cultures of living “friendly” bacteria considered to be the most beneficial of the hundreds of types that normally inhabit the intestine.The most common types of probiotic are strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria which are found in yoghurts and other cultured dairy products. Consumption of probiotics is thought to increase the number of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract whilst inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria
Probiotics have been found to be effective in many aspects of digestive healthcare and there is much research interest in their action and some of these are outlined below:
- Many trials have shown that probiotics reduce the risk of diarrhoea associated with the taking of antibiotics and may also reduce the severity of gastro-enteritis symptoms especially when travelling abroad
- There is some evidence of anti-carcinogenic properties with lower rates of colon cancer being noted in population who consumed large quantities of fermented dairy products
- Animal studies have shown evidence of reducing serum cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure
- People with a lactose intolerance appear to be able to tolerate more lactose when taking probiotics
- Children of women who took probiotics in pregnancy have a lower incidence of eczema
- Probiotics have been found to beneficially regulate the immune system especially in children. There is work in progress to confirm the feeling that if probiotics are given to babies it can reduce the likelihood of the child developing allergies
- Probiotics seem to be particularly helpful in fighting yeast infections such as Candida
- Probiotics have been found to be useful in controlling the distressing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory bowel conditions and to encourage a regular bowel habit
Prebiotics are “living” non- digestible products that stimulate the growth of probiotics when in the intestine and act essentially as “food” for probiotics. Prebiotics are found naturally in many foods such as whole grains, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks and artichokes and can also be extracted from plants. Many prebiotics are added to processed foods and beverages and are available as food supplements. Although their main function is to promote the growth of probiotics there is increasing evidence that some increase the absorption of calcium and others have a favourable effect on the immune system. A mixture of probiotics and prebiotics is known as a symbiotic.
Why don’t you look at our range of supplements to ensure your digestive system is as healthy and balanced as possible and to assist in minimising symptoms from an existing health condition – there are products to suit the whole family and claim to give you a “happy belly” and leave you feeling on top of the world !!