Prebiotic Health Benefits
Health Benefits of Prebiotics
Consuming prebiotics in the form of functional foods has already been proven to offer a number of health benefits. Furthermore, many scientists believe there are even more health benefits associated with prebiotics that have yet to be proven. Ongoing research in this field continues to find new health and wellness advantages associated with prebiotics. Below are just some of the health benefits that have been concluded in the scientific community.
After consumption, prebiotic fibre reaches the large intestine completely intact. At this point, healthy bacteria can grow. This bacterial growth leads directly to an increase in intestinal biomass. As a result of this rise in fecal bulk material, the weight of stools increase, and therefore the fecal frequency also increases. These improved bowel functions allow for better regularity. Even sufferers of constipation have noticed a significant improvement in regularity.
Dietary calcium intake has an important impact on bone metabolism and bone health. A deficiency in calcium intake and absorption leads to a decrease in bone mass and osteoporosis. Therefore, it is important that calcium is consumed all throughout life. Moreover, it is important that the calcium consumed is absorbed into the body. Adding inulin to oneís diet can positively influence calcium absorption. In the absence of prebiotics, limited calcium absorption usually occurs in the colon. Here, prebiotics work by enhancing the more flexible paracellular transport system and allow for increased calcium absorption. Therefore, consuming functional foods using inulin as an ingredient can have a significant influence on the bodyís uptake of calcium.
There has been a significant amount of research that indicates that inulin may have several cancer preventing properties. Although research is ongoing, there is agreement in the scientific community about this potential. Bifidobacteria digests inulin in the gut flora and produces short chain fatty-acids: acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. Within the intestine, it is believed that these acids can help prevent certain forms of cancer. Butyric acid, which is produced in the gut flora, suppresses the survival of human color adenoma cells. These cells are often seen in older people, and are very close to cancer cells.
Consumption by Diabetics
For diabetics, extra precaution must be taken when ingesting many fructans and carbohydrates. However, this is not the case with inulin. Since inulin is not absorbed at any point after consumption, when ingested orally it has no effect on blood glucose levels, insulin secretion, or glucagon secretion. However, diebetics must be aware that the food products containing inulin may contain other carbohydrates that are of concern.
Furthermore, dietary fibres can improve the health condition of diabetics. Dietary fibres slow the rate of nutrient absorption, sparing the pancreas from peak insulin secretion. This allows for gradual changes in blood sugar levels. Additionally fructans have additional health benefits of particular use for the population of diabetics. Diabetics known to be vulnerable to a number of cancers will gain advantages from inulinís cancer prevention properties. Intestinal short-chain fatty acids show health benefits on immune function, as well as on lipid and cholesterol metabolism. Research indicates this could provide a direct benefit for diabetics.