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Prebiotics: what are they, what are they for and foods

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Prebiotics are substances present in certain foods, which serve as a substrate for certain microorganisms present in the intestine, favoring the multiplication of beneficial bacteria for digestion.

These foods have several health benefits: fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and other oligosaccharides, inulin and lactulosa; They can be found in foods such as: wheat, onion, yacon, plantain, millet, ajo, chicory root or burdock.

how do they work

Prebiotics are food components that are not digested by the body, but they are beneficial for health because they selectively stimulate the multiplication and activity of bacteria that are good for the intestine. Asimismo, studies confirmed that prebiotics also contribute to the control of the multiplication of pathogens in the intestine.



As these substances are not absorbed, they pass into the large intestine, where they serve as a substrate for intestinal bacteria. Soluble fibers are normally fermented quickly by these bacteria, whereas insoluble fibers are fermented more slowly.

Generally, these substances act more frequently in the large intestine, although they can also act on microorganisms in the small intestine.

what are they for

Prebiotics contribute to:

  • Increase of bifidobacteria in the colon;
  • Increase in the absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium;
  • Increase in the volume of heces and the frequency of evacuations;
  • Decreased duration of intestinal transit;
  • Blood sugar regulation;
  • Increase in satiety;
  • Decreased risk of developing colon and rectal cancer;
  • Reduction of cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood.

In addition, these substances also contribute to strengthening the immune system and the formation of the microbiota of the newborn, helping to reduce diarrhea and allergies.



Foods with prebiotics

The prebiotics currently identified are non-digestible carbohydrates, including lactulosa, inulin and oligosaccharides; They can be found in certain foods, such as wheat, barley, rye, oat, plantain, onion, asparagus, millet, ajo, chicory root, burdock or green plantain or yacón biomass, for example. See other foods rich in inulin.

Likewise, prebiotics can also be ingested through food supplements that are generally associated with probiotics and can be purchased at the pharmacy such as Zirfos, Provioptal, Dubiotic, Pro-simbiotic for example.

What is the difference between prebiotic, probiotic and symbiotic?

Although prebiotics are fibers that serve as food for bacteria, which favor their survival and proliferation in the intestine; The probiotics are those good bacteria that live in the intestine. Learn more about probiotics, what they are for and what foods are present.

A symbiotic is a food or supplement where probiotics and prebiotics are combined.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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