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Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics

Updated on September 5, 2014
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What do probiotics claim to do?

In the US it is common to multitask at mealtime. While other cultures delight in a long, easy meals, Americans proceed to a lunch meeting, with a sandwich on one hand and a statistics on the other. At dinner, the usual scene we see is cell phone juggling, children and staring at the evening news while having a meal. It's no surprise then that Americans become serious about improving their health while they eat their most preferred foods. Perhaps we drink the juice promised to give additional vitamins or a snack bar claiming of its full-day supply of fiber. That's some solid multitasking - eat different foods anyway and get a health benefit. Market study has found that people would prefer to eat food with added health benefits than taking supplements, because of these functional foods, or food with an added function (mostly aim to promote health and disease prevention), have become a profitable business.

Let’s talk about Activia, a probiotic-yogurt. In the first year that Activia was introduced in the market, it gained $100 million in sales in the US. Activia is certainly one of the popular example of a product enriched with probiotics, and Activia's success indicate a great deal of popularity of adding probiotics into other functional foods.In Europe and Japan probiotics are still very popular for some time now. But what are probiotics, and why need to we are interested in a yogurt loaded with live microorganisms?

Although most consumers may have been attracted by Activia’s product endorser Jamie Lee Curtis, they surely have the support of the Bulgarian folks. In the early 1900s, Russian microbiologist Elie Metchnikoff found that a diet of fermented dairy products gave the Bulgarian peasants an active and healthy life. Probiotics, which means for life in Greek, became the term for the microorganisms that was present in those fermented foods. The microorganisms have a very technical meaning provided by the World Health Organization; they are "live microorganisms which, when used in suitable amounts, provide a health benefit on the host.”

Practically this can be totally confusing as Bulgarian to an English speaker Essentially, people who support a probiotic diet say that probiotics are "good" bacteria that are considered necessary in the gut, and that their presence could contribute to a whole variety of beneficial effects, starting from controlling lactose intolerance to treating yeast infections. Critics of the probiotic practice, however, insist that there's no proof available for these claims, and what's more, although test did reveal some benefits, it is actually not possible to put the right amount of these microorganisms into a food product. So who' right? Should you buy probiotic products the next time you go to the supermarket, or do they totally do nothing?

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What is a probiotic bacteria?

In Europe and Japan probiotics have always been popular; these beneficial bacteria are now making its way to North America in food products and health supplements. But it's not only about taking random bacteria. The two major types of bacteria classified as probiotics include strains from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera (other taxonomic category , such as Escherichia, Enterococcus and Saccharomyces have also been classified as probiotics, but to a lesser and more unproven degree). The bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are composed of different strains, each of which show different health function. To find out the various benefits to your body, you need to research the main difference between Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Generally, though, probiotics defend against a wide range of ills, everything from bowel problems to certain cancers. Scientists believe that probiotics work by populating the gut with good bacteria, which can be flushed out along with bad bacteria when having antibiotics medications. Also, probiotics are believed to provide the ability to resist pathogens and harmful toxins, and also improve the gut wall that will eventually must do battle with the bad bacteria.

Concerning irritable bowel syndrome, probiotics tend to have the good effect of both improving you when get constipated or when you have diarrhea. With respect to Activia, Dannon's research shows that Activia can accelerate the amount of time it requires for waste to get out of the system by around 40%, if a person with irregular bowel movements were to consume one container a day.

Regarding rest of the claims, the evidence is hardly there. While several studies have shown success, more tests are necessary to support the claims with regards to the effect of probiotics on children;'s allergies ; urogenital infections including urinary tract infections (UTI) , bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast vaginitis, upper respiratory tract infections, breast and colon cancer and lactose intolerance (Lactase Deficiency).

If the tests are not complete, then how do probiotic manufacturers already have their products on the market with these issues? The package doesn't always match the product.

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Are prebiotics good for you?

Prebiotics are non-digestible, oligosaccharides (different types of sugar molecules linked together) food additives that are the food sources for probiotics. Taking prebiotics alone may help digestion, as they provide food and nourishment for the growth of probiotic bacteria.

Prebiotics, are naturally present in oats, flax, chicory , berries, bananas , onions, legumes and some honey, showed to improve the immune system in early tests. You might like to try to cover all your needs with a synbiotic method, or a combination of probiotics and prebiotics, though, just like other things in this field, additional studies on this process are necessary.

Prebiotics offer health advantages beyond the beneficial effects on digestive flora. Some animal research studies have shown they may have a preventive value against early-development of colon cancer. Different studies have indicated that prebiotics can help reduced triglycerides, but in what way is unclear. They may also help control blood sugars, and records now is available showing that a number of prebiotics may help reduce appetite, enhance satiaty, and thereby lower the level of energy consumed after a few weeks of regular use.

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Probiotic Product Packaging

To actually produce some good result in your body, probiotics will need an exclusive travel on the process that is your digestive system. They have to be packed up in a thing strong enough to get through the acid-filled stomach, but not so strong that they don't dissolve in the digestive tract, where they work best. The bacteria can be harmed by air and moisture, so significant care must be taken in making food products with probiotics. These products may not have long shelf life.

To complicate the problem is the fact that sometimes, scientists aren't conclusive of the right dosage of bacteria that will provide the good results, and given that we're dealing with live bacteria here, it's difficult to figure out how many you add to a product while receiving the expected health benefits. Moreover, the only approach to determine how many probiotics actually survice the gastrointestinal tract is to analyze the waste matter of people who taken the probiotics, a research study that definitely doesn't seem eye-catching any writer. And even that number would be cautious, because as the fecal matter would show how many bacteria made it down the tract, it wouldn't explain the amount of probiotics that actually did their good activity in the gut.

You will find these details on the packaging. Critics of probiotics food products should be concerned that labels don't often indicate which bacteria offered or the amount of the ingredient is there. Some manufacturing companies may just slap the probiotic ingredients list on a product that doesn't have an adequate amount of bacteria to produce any specific difference. As it stands, consumers won't obtain any support from the FDA, either. While the FDA has strict guidelines for selling products that promise to get rid of disease, they don't include regulations for products that talk in really general terms relating to bodily health, which explains why you'll see Activia selling its products as something to improve the digestive system, rather than being a cure for constipation.

These types of vague assurances can easily lead a shopper to think that probiotics must be added to a regular, daily diet. But are there health rewards for people who are actually in good health? There are some tests on how probiotics affect the natural immunity of a healthy person. The side effects of probiotics are temporary, though, making sure you keep consuming them, and if you're planning to add a daily part to your schedule, it usually is more advisable to think about steps with confirmed benefits, for example dieting and exercise. Actually nutritionists are concerned that consumers may add these items to their diet, and not substituting them for some other item that are more nutritious, eventually resulting in much more unhealthy calories.

On the other hand, what if you just love the flavor of Activia, or you're currently serious about your probiotic supplement? Though you can find no conclusive evidence of the health benefits so far, there are also a few cases where you're doing harm to your body, either. Gassy stomach and abdominal pain are the only serious negative effects that have been documented. Even so, one crucial exception exists: In a survey group of about 300 patients with pancreatitis, the patients who been given probiotics instead of a placebo were more prone to need intensive care and surgical treatment, although the seriousness of disease was roughly the same before the research. In the group taking probiotics, 24 people died, more than double the number of deaths in the placebo group.

Therefore do probiotics actually work at all? Presently, the answer could possibly be a huge, large maybe. However with many people curious about organic health and manufacturers willing to trade on the functional food trend, we can expect to get more scientific studies that will shed a light on the subject.

Great Info about Probiotics

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