- Prebiotic (nutrition)
Prebiotics are a category of
functional food, defined as::"Non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improve host health". [Gibson GR, Roberfroid MB. "Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics." J Nutr. 1995 Jun;125(6):1401-12. PMID ]
This was updated by Roberfroid in 2007 J. Nutr.; 137:830S to: "A prebiotic is ‘‘a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health.’’ Today, only 2 dietary nondigestible oligosaccharides fulfill all the criteria for prebiotic classification." Those 2 being fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides. Use of the term other than in that manner is incorrect, since all oligosaccharides do not fit this definition, i.e. mannanoligosaccharides (MOS). They may confer other positive benefits, but are minimally utilized by the comensural bacteria.
Typically, prebiotics are carbohydrates (such as
oligosaccharides), but the definition does not preclude non-carbohydrates. The most prevalent forms of prebiotics are nutritionally classed as soluble fibre. To some extent, many forms of dietary fibreexhibit some level of prebiotic effect.
The prebiotic definition does not emphasize a specific bacterial group. Generally, however, it is assumed that a prebiotic should increase the number and/or activity of
bifidobacteriaand lactic acid bacteria. The importance of the bifidobacteria and the lactic acid bacteria (LABs) is that these groups of bacteria have several beneficial effects on the host, especially in terms of improving digestion (including enhancing mineral absorption) and the effectiveness and intrinsic strength of the immune system. A product that stimulates (or claims to stimulate) bifidobacteria is considered a bifidogenic factor. Some prebiotics may thus also act as a bifidogenic factor and vice versa, but the two concepts are not identical. [ [http://www.food-info.net/uk/ff/prebiotics.htm Food-Info.net] Wageningen University]
Traditional dietary sources of prebiotics include
soybeans, inulinsources (such as Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, and chicory root), raw oats, unrefined wheat, unrefined barleyand yacon. Some of the oligosaccharides that naturally occur in breast milkare believed to play an important role in the development of a healthy immune systemin infants, but these are not considered prebiotics, as they do not act through the intestinal microflora.
Prebiotic oligosaccharides are increasingly added to foods for their health benefits. Some oligosaccharides that are used in this manner are
fructooligosaccharides (FOS), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), polydextroseand galactooligosaccharides (GOS). Some monosaccharides such as tagatoseare also used sometimes as prebiotics.Fact|date=January 2008
In petfood also
mannooligosaccharides are being used for prebiotic purposes.
Studies have demonstrated positive effects on calcium and other mineral absorption, immune system effectiveness, bowel pH, and intestinal regularity. Correlations have also been made with other positive health factors, but more research is required.
The immediate addition of substantial quantities of prebiotics to the diet may result in a temporary increase in gas, bloating or bowel movement. It has been argued that chronically low consumption of prebiotic-containing foods in the typical
Western dietmay exaggerate this effect.
* [http://www.gutfeelingcolumn.com/ Intelligent Nutrition]
* More reading on prebiotics: [http://www.food-info.net/uk/ff/prebiotics.htm Food-Info.net on prebiotics and bifidogenic factors]
* [http://www.isapp.net/ International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics]
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