It is generally believed that prebiotics provide "food" to probiotics, which can be decomposed and absorbed by beneficial bacteria in the intestines, and promote the growth and reproduction of beneficial bacteria. The familiar bifidus factor is a prebiotic that promotes the growth of bifidobacteria in the intestine.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that can have a beneficial effect on the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of one or several bacteria, thereby improving the health of the host.
Synbiotics refer to preparations in which probiotics and prebiotics coexist and play a synergistic effect.
Types of prebiotics
Prebiotics mainly include various oligosaccharides or oligosaccharides (composed of 2 to 10 molecules of monosaccharides), and more generally, functional oligosaccharides.
Functional oligosaccharides include isomalt-oligosaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, lactulose oligosaccharides, lactulose, soybean oligosaccharides, xylo-oligosaccharides, palatinose, coupled fructose and the like. Among them, gentian oligosaccharides are not sweet but have a soft refreshing bitter taste, and the others all have varying degrees of sweetness, which can be used as a functional sweetener to replace or partially replace sucrose in food. So far, there are more than 1,000 kinds of functional oligosaccharides known, and only a few foods in nature contain natural functional oligosaccharides, such as onions, garlic, mango husk, asparagus, etc.
Prebiotics also include non-carbohydrate substances. In theory, any substance that can reduce harmful bacteria and promote the proliferation of healthy bacteria or increase beneficial metabolism can be called a prebiotic. Therefore, some organic acids and their salts, such as gluconic acid and calcium gluconate, and some Chinese herbal medicines such as ginseng, wolfberry, astragalus, etc. or tea extracts, can also act as prebiotics.
The role of prebiotics
Oligosaccharides are difficult to digest by the human body. At the same time, tooth decay, obesity, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, etc. are closely related to excessive sugar intake. The effect of this prebiotic is mainly reflected in helping to improve the intestinal flora. The main side effects of oligosaccharides are flatulence and bloating in people who are sensitive to oligosaccharides.
1. Promote the proliferation of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and play the role of probiotics. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus ferment prebiotics to produce short-chain organic acids (mainly acetic acid and lactic acid) and some antibacterial substances, thereby lowering the pH of the intestine.
2. Inhibit pathogens and diarrhea, prevent or reduce constipation. Through the increase of the proliferation of beneficial bacteria and the decrease of intestinal pH value, the growth of harmful bacteria is inhibited, thereby achieving the purpose of adjusting the intestinal flora and promoting the health of the body. Acidic substances can stimulate intestinal peristalsis, increase fecal moisture and maintain a certain osmotic pressure, thereby preventing constipation.
3. Reduce the production of toxic fermentation products and harmful bacterial enzymes and protect the liver. The fermentation of carbohydrates generally produces harmless or beneficial end products, whereas the fermentation of proteins leads to the production of potentially harmful substances. Enhancing carbohydrate fermentation can inhibit protein fermentation, reduce the production of toxic substances, and protect the liver, the detoxification organ.
4. Lower serum cholesterol and blood pressure. This is an indirect effect through the proliferation of probiotics.
5. Strengthen the body's immunity and fight cancer. Prebiotics have no effect on the immune system, but they may affect the immune system by changing the intestinal flora. Bifidobacteria multiply in the intestines and can play an anti-cancer effect. This anti-cancer effect is attributed to the cells, cell wall components and extracellular secretions of bifidobacteria. Protein fermentation products increase the risk of rectal cancer. Increased carbohydrate fermentation and inhibition of protein fermentation reduce the possibility of rectal cancer.
6. Produce nutrients, low or no energy and will not cause tooth caries. Promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and produce more nutrients (vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B4, vitamin B12, niacin and folic acid). Functional oligosaccharides are difficult or not to be digested and absorbed by the human body, and the energy provided by them is low or not at all, so they can play a role in low-energy foods. Dental caries is caused by the erosion of oral microorganisms, especially Streptococcus mutans. Since functional oligosaccharides are not suitable substrates for these oral microorganisms, they will not cause dental caries.