Prebiotics: benefits, contraindications, where they are found

 , Nutritionist


The term prebiotic indicates organic substances capable of promoting the growth of intestinal bacterial flora. Contained in fruits and vegetables, they are divided into OS (fructo-oligosaccharides) and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). Let's find out better.

> What are prebiotics

> Lack of prebiotics

> Contraindications


What are prebiotics

Prebiotics resist enzymatic degradation of the gastrointestinal tract and represent the nutrient substrate of microorganisms. They are generally referred to as FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) e GOS (galatto-oligosaccaridi), contained in fruits and vegetables.

FOS are short chains of fructose molecules, among them inulin, a fiber, is the best known and most studied. It is extracted from grasses, liliaceas and composites. Foods rich in prebiotics are:

  • onions,
  • asparagus,
  • artichokes,
  • wheat,
  • soy,
  • leeks,
  • banana,
  • garlic,
  • chicory,
  • Belgian endive.

Inulin is fermented by intestinal bacteria, which thus produce lactic acid and short-chain carboxylic acids, which, in turn, enter the Krebs cycle as carboxylic acids, succinic acid and pyruvic acid. produce energy at the cell level.

This fermentation is extremely useful since it has a dual function: it leads to a selective stimulation of the growth of important strains such as lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, and has as a waste product substances that produce cellular energy that the body needs, considering that inulin is a fiber that would remain digested by man.


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The same goes for GOS, formed by short chains of galactose molecules.

Furthermore, inulin-like substances, contrary to what is thought about fibers and their effect on the reduction of absorption of mineral salts, are able to increase the absorption of minerals through an osmotic mechanism that draws water into the intestine with a consequent increase in the fluids in which the mineral salts dissolve.

Finally, with fermentation the intestinal environment becomes acidified and the concentration of minerals in ionized form such as Ca⁺⁺ and Mg⁺⁺ increases.

Numerous scientific studies confirm the ability of FOS to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.


Deficiency of prebiotics

The lack of prebiotics leads to an impoverishment of the "good" bacterial flora leading to intestinal dysbiosis. Its introduction with natural nutrition through seasonal or specific fruit and vegetables supplements it is therefore essential for the proper functioning of the intestine and the related immune system. 



There are no contraindications for taking prebiotics.


The properties, use and contraindications of probiotics


Other articles on prebiotics:
> The benefits of lactic ferments
> Prebiotics for the bowel cleansing diet
> Do you know live lactic ferments and do you know where to find them?
> How to take care of the intestinal bacterial flora



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