- Prebiotics are important for a healthy gut
- Lentils and legumes are rich in prebiotics
- Prebiotics help in reducing the number of bad bacteria in the gut
Probiotics and prebiotics are important for a healthy gut. Microorganisms make for 2.5% of our body weight. Among these, there are 500 types of these bacteria which reside in our digestive tract. This bacteria helps in maintaining good health in infants and young children, who are more prone to infections and digestive problems and allergies. Getting proper nutrition is important for health, well-being and strong immunity of young children. Breast milk is considered to be the primary source of nutrition for infants. It contains components that modify the immune system of infants.
Prebiotics: What they are and why they are important for you
One such component is oligosaccharides, which are the third largest component of breast milk after carbs (lactose) and fat. Oligosaccharides are also known as prebiotics. The concentration of prebiotics in breast milk is more than proteins and this is what draws attention of scientists across the world.
Prebiotics are essentially non-digestible fibres which can promote growth of healthy bacteria (found in probiotics) in the intestine.
We ask nutritionist Nmami Agarwal about importance of prebiotics and some food sources of prebiotics. "Prebiotics are fermentable carbohydrates that help nourish the gut bacteria. It is a type of indigestible carbohydrate (dietary fibre) that passes undigested from the stomach and small intestines to provide nutrition to gut-friendly bacteria," she says.
Prebiotics health benefits
1. As mentioned above, prebiotics facilitate growth of healthy gut bacteria. A healthy gut plays an important role in digestion and absorption of minerals.
2. This can help in boosting immunity and preventing lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and colon cancer.
3. Prebiotics are effective for treating diarrhoea, irritable bowler syndrome.
4. Including them in your diet can prevent obesity, colorectal cancer, and diabetes.
5. They may also help in reducing the number of bad bacteria in the gut.
How are probiotics different from prebiotics?
"The major difference between prebiotic and probiotic is that prebiotics are like "food" for bacteria while probiotics are the bacteria itself. Probiotics are essentially live colonies of friendly bacteria that help to enhance their number in the gut when consumed through food. When a food contains both pre and probiotics- it's called symbiotic," Agarwal explains.
Prebiotics: Food sources
- Kidney beans
- Dandelion greens
- Chicory root
"You should be to include 25-30 grams of fibre in the diet every day to get sufficient prebiotics," says Agarwal.
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.