Friday, September 30, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Probiotics and Prebiotics

I have a class called Meal Design & Management. In this class, we are assigned a population with some sort of problem, such as diabetes, cardiovascular or irritable bowl disease. For the last few weeks, we have been studying DM: diabetes mellitis. We have chosen recipes, designed a meal, determined the nutrient content for each ingredient and, finally, yesterday, we cooked, served and ate the meal. We had pasta with chicken and a salad.

Pasta with Chicken in a Light Tomato Sauce 

Frisee Lettuce with Feta Cheese and Low Cal Raspberry Vinegrette

While we were eating one of my classmates asked me how I manage my Crohn's disease - you know, from a nutritional perspective - 'cause her sister-in-law was just diagnosed (with Crohn's).

I felt a little awkward - it's never fun talking about an irritable bowl disease in front of anyone while they are eating - and there were five of us!

Meal Management & Design Group#2

I figured, 'Hey, it's cool - we're all nutrition majors - I'll just talk about probiotics and prebiotics.'

But, this is what I got:
What? What's a probiotic? What's a prebiotic? And what's the difference?
Are you guys for real?

Yeah, they were asking me what the difference was between probiotics and prebiotics.
And if they were confused, it is worth sharing, here - on Half-Crazed.

Prebiotics are non-digestible components of food (carbohydrates called oligosaccharides), which stimulate the growth and activity of good bacteria in our gut - large intestine, aka colon.

Okay, I mentioned gut, bacteria, intestines and colon...

These guys were not phased...
They were still eating! 
And I, was amazed! 

They wanted to know, "Like what?"

Okay.....prebiotics include stuff like 
  • Garlic and onions, mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus (even though it makes your pee smell - it's still a good prebiotic)
  • Oats, bananas and maple syrup, 
  • Beans and red cabbage
  • BEER - Since half of them are in their early twenties - their faces lit up with that honorable mention! 
Someone mentioned they heard dandelion greens were good, too. Yes, good mention - they can add a nice flavor to a salad - a little bitter, but a good bitter!

They weren't as confused about the probiotics - they knew that probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, help colonize and increase the good bacteria in our gut.

Then I mentioned how the probiotics (good bacteria) compete for growth in our gut, for example they secrete antimicrobial chemicals that prevent harmful bacteria, like E.coli, and yeast from taking over - This is a 'good to know'  because this will  also help in the prevention of urinary tract infections.

I paused - waiting for signs of disgust...nope...

Still eating!
And I was (still) amazed! 

The probiotics also enhance our immune system. I asked them if they remembered learning how 50-60% of our lymph system surrounds our GI tract... again, I got:
I guess soo...
Yeah, well, it makes sense to keep your gut healthy because your lymph system surrounds your gut - since our digestive system & our lymph system is so connected, it makes sense that a healthy colony of probiotics in our gut will also improve our immune system and our immune system responses.

Then, I mentioned that probiotics (deep breath girl, just say it really fast) decrease mucus secretions.
Held my breath, waited for an, "Ewww" Nope, they were good - and...

They were still eating! 
And I was still, so very amazed! 

Yogurt with Bananas (Blueberries & Strawberries) and Oats

So, you don't want to just eat foods 
with probiotics (good bacteria)
such as yogurt, 
milk enriched with acidophilus, 
or miso 
pairing them up with
foods the probiotics like to eat: the prebiotics. 

If your going to have yogurt, mix in some bananas and oats. 
If you are eating a salad, put some beans on top and make a miso salad dressing with honey:

Other benefits of having good intestinal bacteria include:
  1. Increase in production of Vitamin K, B2, B6 and folic acid, 
  2. Decrease in inflammation (who doesn't want/need this?) 
  3. Regulate pH of intestines (helps to prevent runner's trots)
So keep your digestive system healthy 
by eating the prebiotics and probiotics together and...

Train Smart Today!

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