Prebiotics – compounds of non-microbial origin, stimulating the growth and reproduction of beneficial microflora in the body. These substances are not digested in the digestive tract, but are fermented by beneficial microorganisms of the large intestine. Consider, in more detail, what are prebiotics, their mechanism of action and types.
When ingested, prebiotics become food for beneficial bacteria. During the restoration of microbial biocenosis, these substances stimulate complex biochemical reactions. They supply “friendly” microorganisms with energy, deliver the necessary substrates to the bacteria (vitamins, amino acids, anti-stress peptides), and maintain optimal conditions for the growth of microflora. In addition, prebiotics “acidify” the environment in the intestinal lumen, which creates an unfavorable background for the propagation of pathogenic microorganisms.
- Stimulate intestinal peristalsis, increase the volume of fecal masses.
- Neutralize the harmful effects of antibiotics on the microflora.
- Accelerate the regeneration of the mucous membrane of the colon, preventing the occurrence of colorectal diseases, including adenomas and carcinomas.
- Stimulate cellular immunity, increase the activity of protective antibodies.
- Strengthen the intestinal walls, reduce the permeability of the mucous membrane to the penetration of bacteria, toxins, food debris.
- Reduces the concentration of stress hormone (cortisol) in the blood.
- Maintain proper acid-base balance in the intestinal tract.
- Reduce flatulence, reduce bloating.
- Suppress the growth and development of pathogenic microorganisms (staphylococci, streptococci, cholera vibrios, yeast fungi, campylobacter).
- They bind and excrete heavy metal salts, toxic substances, toxins, bile acids.
- Stimulate the production of vitamins K and B.
- Improve the absorption of essential macronutrients (calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper).
- They stop the development of malignant tumors in the colon (at an early stage).
- Reduce serum cholesterol.
- Prevent the throwing of gastric juice into the esophagus.
- Thin and accelerate the withdrawal of mucus that has accumulated on the intestinal walls.
In addition, prebiotic cultures dull excessive appetite, which helps to reduce body weight.
Prebiotics are low molecular weight carbohydrates. The polymer molecules are interconnected by one or more beta-glycosidic bonds. Moreover, the simpler the saccharide, the faster it is fermented by intestinal microflora and acquires pronounced bifidogenic properties.
Systematization of prebiotics along the chain:
- monomeric (single-unit molecules);
- dimeric (in the molecule there are two monomer units);
- oligomeric (the molecule includes 3 – 10 units);
- polymeric (more than 10 links).
Monomeric prebitics exhibit a bifidogenic effect already in the oral cavity and esophagus, dimeric – in the stomach and small intestine, oligomeric – in the upper sections of the large intestine, polymeric – throughout the colon. The combination of carbohydrates of various types of complexity creates a balanced “feeding” for good bacteria.
If you take a single row of prebiotics for a long time, microorganisms are activated in a limited part of the gastrointestinal tract. At the same time, other strains of probiotics do not develop in proportion. As a result, the positive effect of beneficial flora on the body is reduced several times.
The main representatives of prebiotics:
- lactulose (a component of dairy products);
- inulin (a natural polysaccharide present in the asteraceae plants);
- breast milk oligosaccharides;
- soluble fiber (pectins, psyllium, plantain seeds, guar gum, chitosan);
- antioxidants (carotenoids, selenium, vitamins C, A, E, glutathione, ubiquinone);
- sugar substitutes (sorbitol, xylitol, raffinose);
- insoluble dietary fiber (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, bran);
- oligofructose (inulin component);
- galactooligosaccharides, including lactose;
- para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin B10);
- plant and microbial extracts (potato, carrot, corn, pumpkin, rice, garlic, yeast);
- polydextrose (polysaccharide formed by glucose residues);
- amino acids (valine, arginine, glutamic acid);
- acacia gums (gum arabic)
- unsaturated fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid);
- resistant starches;
- algae extracts;
- enzymes (saccharomycete proteases, bacterial beta-galactosidases).
- lectins (protein structures capable of binding complex sugars).
These compounds are part of natural prebiotics, and are also used as components of drugs and biologically active complexes.
To maintain the health of intestinal microflora, include in the day menu food sources of prebiotic substances. The minimum average daily portion is – 25 – 35 grams (of which, on a mandatory basis, lactulose accounts for 4 grams, pure inulin – 6 grams).
Products containing prebiotics:
- Jerusalem artichoke (earthen pear);
- chicory root;
- dairy products with lactulose;
- fruits, including citrus;
- rose hips;
- dandelion leaves;
- Red currant;
- dried fruits (prunes, dried apricots);
Given that the diet of people, in 80% of cases, is depleted in fiber, pharmaceutical companies produce special complexes enriched in prebiotics. Natural raw materials for such products are waste products of food industry (shell and bran of cereals, sugar cane and beet pulp, fruit pulp, potato squeeze, oilcake, plant cell walls).
Among pharmacological agents, the most popular prebiotic is lactulose (a synthetic disaccharide). This compound is characterized by a pronounced bifidogenic effect. In this regard, drugs based on it are produced, both in pure form (under different trademarks), and in combination with other substances.
List of drugs containing lactulose:
- “Good luck”;
- “Livolyuk – PB”;
Indications for the use of these drugs: intestinal dysbiosis, putrid dyspepsia, hepatic encephalopathy, chronic constipation, salmonellosis, dysfunction of the digestive tract. In addition, lactulose is used to normalize stools during pregnancy and lactation (under the supervision of a gynecologist).
Other prebiotic complexes:
- Psyllium Husk Seeds (Psyllium Husk Powder, Source Naturals). The composition of the drug includes soluble dietary fiber, characterized by powerful absorption properties. With regular use of psyllium, evacuation function of the intestine improves, microcracks heal on the mucous membrane of the colon.
- Apple pectin (Apple Pectin, Solgar). The supplement contains soft soluble fiber, which removes bile acids, biogenic toxins, xenobiotics, cholesterol, urea from the body. In addition, pectin activates intestinal peristalsis, forms the necessary amount of feces, prevents the absorption of cholesterol.
- Natural inulin concentrate (PIK, Siberian health). The drug contains the powder of Jerusalem artichoke fruit, which in 20% consists of prebiotic substances. Inulin composition has a detoxification, adaptogenic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, bifidogenic, antispasmodic, mild laxative action.
- Nutriclins (Vitamax). Powerful prebiotic based on white psyllium seed. Biocomplex is taken to normalize the intestinal biocenosis, improve stool, detoxify the body. The supplement contains plantain, stercuria, platanolic, cayenne pepper, garlic, beta-carotene, toaster, aloe vera, senna pods, rosehip, chlorella, rice gamma-oryzanol, rosehip, papain, acidophilic bacteria.
- Toxfighter Suite (Art Life). Natural complex sorbent to improve the functional state of the digestive tract. The supplement includes: plantain leaf extract, apple pectin, wheat bran, knotweed, yarrow, linseed, volodushku, red clover, birch leaf, chlorella, spirulina, licorice root, papain, beetroot, milk thistle, bromelain, burdock, pumpkin seeds , burdock leaf, alfalfa, St. John’s wort, dandelion, lactobacillus.
- Laxopectin (Altera Holding). A multifunctional tool for normalizing intestinal microflora, cleaning the body of toxins, optimizing blood sugar levels. The bioconcentrate includes apple pectin, apple peel extract, brandy root glucomannan, oat bran, ginger root, fennel seeds, anise fruits, guar gum, hesperidin, fructose, citrus bioflavonoids, peppermint leaves, tomato and broccoli concentrates.
- Complex fiber (Multiple Fiber Formula, Solgar). The active ingredients of the supplement are rice bran, flax flour, psyllium husks, apple and citrus pectins.
- Drink Prebioroz (Health Spring). Composition of natural origin containing a balanced mixture of prebiotic substances. The drink accelerates bowel movement, stimulates the growth of beneficial microflora. The ingredients of the concentrate are inulin, soy protein, pectin, lecithin, guar gum, L-carnitine, wheat fiber, maltodextrin, dextrose, beets, fructose.
Remember, in order not to fall prey to unscrupulous distributors, carefully study the ingredient composition before purchasing supplements.
Prebiotics in baby food
The intestinal microflora plays a pivotal role in the correct ontogenesis of the newborn child. The first bacteria enter the children’s organism when passing through the birth canal of the mother. However, the dense colonization of the intestinal flora occurs when the baby is first breastfed.
The main representatives of the microflora of babies are lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, Clostridia, enterobacteria, gram-positive cocci. In addition to probiotic strains, the composition of breast milk includes “feed” for bacteria (oligosaccharides). Moreover, a liter of maternal concentrate contains 1,5 grams of prebiotic substances. Receiving the necessary “nourishment”, the useful colonies of bacteria multiply, and the harmful ones die.
If the infant is bottle-fed, the flora of the newborn suffers (in the intestinal tract there is a scant concentration of beneficial microorganisms). Such children often have gastrointestinal disorders (dysbiosis, constipation, colic, gas formation), infectious invasions, and food allergies. To prevent these problems, infant formula for infants is enriched with prebiotic components.
Popular baby food containing oligosaccharides:
- Milk formula “Humana 3 with apple and prebiotics.” The composition is intended for infants from 10 months. The drug does not contain gluten, so it can be used in complementary foods for children who are intolerant to this component. To prevent the development of anemia and rickets in children, the composition of the mixture includes elevated concentrations of iron and calcium.
- Baby food “Nenny 1 with prebiotics”. It is a concentrate for newborn babies (0 – 6 months) on artificial or mixed feeding. The mixture contains goat milk powder, nucleotides, polyunsaturated lipids (omega-3, omega-6), prebiotic substances (oligofructose, inulin), amino acid complex (taurine, tryptophan, carnitine). It is advisable to use complementary foods for feeding babies with a lack of body weight, food allergies, intolerance to cow or soy protein.
- Dairy-free buckwheat porridge with prebiotics from Bebi Premium. The mixture does not contain allergenic substances (gluten, sugar, milk), therefore it is ideally suited for the first feeding of a child (from 4 months). The product includes buckwheat, inulin, vitamins of group B, tocopherol, retinol, cholecalciferol, ascorbic acid, iodine and iron. Buckwheat composition is advisable to give babies with lactase deficiency, allergic reactions, constipation, intestinal dysfunctions.
- The dairy mix Humana Bifidus enriched with prebiotics. This food is used for the prevention and treatment of digestive disorders in children (dysbiosis, gas, constipation, colic). The product is suitable for feeding babies from birth to 12 months. The mixture contains the necessary compounds for the baby: vegetable fibers, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, trace elements, prebiotics, amino acids.
HiPP buckwheat milk porridge with prebiotics. This is a great alternative to milk powder. The composition of the food includes an adapted infant formula, lactose galactooligosaccharides, buckwheat flakes, maltodextrin, whey powder, vitamins, and trace elements.
- Dry milk formula Nutrilon 1 with prebiotic complex. The product is used for artificial or mixed feeding of babies from 0 to 6 months. The mixture consists of prebiotic substances (lactose, fructooligosaccharides), polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish oil, vegetable oils), vitamins, trace elements, nucleotides, amino acids (taurine, carnitine), whey protein concentrate.
The complex is used to increase the population of beneficial microflora in the intestine, the correct formation of the visual apparatus, strengthen the immune system, prevent digestive dysfunctions.
- Infant formula for children Frisovom 1 with prebiotics. Good nutrition for babies of the first half of life. The composition of the product introduced natural prebiotic (locust bean gum), which fights regurgitation, constipation, colic. In addition, the mixture contains docosahexaenoic and arachidonic fatty acids, nucleotides, galacto-oligosaccharides, vitamins, and microelements that positively affect the baby’s body.
- Allergy-free rice porridge with prebiotics from Bebi Premium. The product is intended to eliminate intestinal dysbiosis, normalize daily stool, strengthen immunity. The mixture contains no sugar, gluten, milk protein, which allows it to be used for artificial feeding of children from 4 – x months.
Before introducing baby foods containing prebiotic cultures into the infant’s diet, consult your health care provider first.
Prebiotics are a source of nutrition for “friendly” bacteria (probiotics). In addition to stimulating the growth of beneficial microflora, the compounds inhibit the development of pathogenic microorganisms, improve cationic metabolism, accelerate bowel movement, adsorb poisons and toxins, and increase the absorption of essential substances.
The leaders in the content of natural prebiotics are Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, onions, dandelion leaves, bananas, dried fruits. With a balanced diet, the compounds in sufficient quantities come with food. However, with intestinal dysbiosis, constipation, acute intoxication, diseases of the digestive or urinary systems (including infectious), along with natural saccharides, it is important to use prebiotic complexes (in combination with probiotics).
Due to the widespread refining of food, fiber-depleted daily menu, 70% of the population of the country are experiencing an acute shortage of plant fibers in the body. As a result, intestinal peristalsis weakens, constipation occurs, the metabolism is disturbed, allergic reactions develop, the absorption of nutrients slows down. To prevent these problems from occurring, make sure that your daily diet contains vegetables, fruits, root vegetables, cereals made from whole grain cereals.