(NC)—Eating a healthy, balanced diet is getting easier for people on the go. With innovations in food manufacturing, many products are now enriched with vitamins, minerals and nutrients — adding an extra boost to the foods you already eat.
But with so many nutrients available, it can make it difficult to know what to buy — and with terms like Omega-3, antioxidants, lutein, probiotics and prebiotics – it almost sounds like another language! To help clarify ingredient labels, here is a quick guide to interpreting prebiotics and probiotics — two terms that are becoming increasingly common on the grocery store shelf.
Bacteria: The Good and the Bad
Before we look at how prebiotics and probiotics can enhance our diet, it's important to remember that our bodies contain millions of bacteria — both good and bad. We all know that bad bacteria can make us sick. Good bacteria help our stomachs with the digestion process, and can prevent the growth of more harmful bacteria. So, it's important to encourage and feed the good bacteria, because they can improve our overall health and wellbeing.
Pre vs. Pro – how do you know?
Probiotics are live microbiological cultures that can be added to foods to replenish levels of good bacteria that live naturally in our bodies. They are used by the body once they have passed through the stomach, and into the intestines. Derived from lactic acid bacteria, yogurt is the best source of probiotics. Naturally fermented products like miso (fermented soy) and sauerkraut also contain probiotics.
Prebiotics are not bacteria – instead, they feed the good bacteria that already exist in the digestive system. Passing through the gastrointestinal tract until they reach the large intestine, prebiotics promote the growth of helpful digestive bacteria. In other words, prebiotics give your body the natural building blocks to manufacture its own healthy bacteria for good gut health. Prebiotics can be found in products such asGroundbreaking study: Excess body fat causes cancer Beatrice Vitalité and Lactantia Vitalité milk beverages, which are enriched with a prebiotic fibre called Inulin, sourced from chicory root. Onions, shallots, artichokes and garlic also contain prebiotics.
By encouraging the growth of good bacteria, prebiotics aid digestion. A 250 ml glass of Beatrice Vitalité and Lactantia Vitalité milk beverages, for instance, contains four grams of prebiotic fibre. Fibre is an essential component of good digestive health, as it slows digestion, ensures regular bowel functions, and can even help remove toxins from the body.
Packing a powerful nutritional punch, prebiotics and probiotics add dietary value to foods you already eat on a regular basis. Essential for keeping your digestive system in working order, pre and probiotics are excellent tools for building a better, more balanced diet — which in turn can improve your overall health and wellbeing.
(Note: Beatrice Vitalité is available in Ontario and Lactantia Vitalité is available in Quebec. See what is available in your area)