Prebiotics: An Essential Part of a Healthy Lifestyle?

Here’s the skinny: Everybody has bacteria in their gut to help digest food. It is important to maintain these friendly bacteria because not only do they provide the body with Vitamin K and Biotin, but they also protect our digestive system from harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Healthy bacterial by-products are essential to the body in many ways from making your skin and hair beautiful to providing energy and building muscles.

 So what do we call these friendly bacteria, anyway? They are called probiotics.

And how do we provide a good environment for healthy bacteria to grow? The answer is in prebiotics.

Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics or the healthy bacteria. But not all carbohydrates are prebiotics – they have to be able to withstand stomach acidity and enzymes in the small intestine as they make their journey to the large intestine where the healthy bacteria live.

Where do I get the prebiotics from? The two common prebiotics are: Inulin and fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS). They can be found in asparagus, artichoke, garlic, chicory roots, onions, banana, garlic, and leek. Many food items such as yogurt, breads, breakfast cereals and supplement bars are fortified with prebiotics.

Fun FactWheat is ranked number one for prebiotic food in the American diet. Onions are ranked number two.

How much do I need? According to clinical studies and research, we should eat 4-8 grams of prebiotics a day to help our healthy intestinal bacteria grow.

What about prebiotic supplements? Do I need them? I believe that taking prebiotic supplements are not necessary because prebiotics can be found naturally occuring in foods such as whole grains and vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, jicama, onions, leeks, garlic, spinach, dandelion greens and tomatoes. Fortified products such as yogurt and breakfast cereal are also good sources of prebiotics.

Sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad – over consumption of prebiotics can have side effects like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Scent based weight loss programs: do they really work?

Sensa, Aroma Patch, and SlimScents are few products that claim to help lose weight by reducing our appetite. These products enhance our sense and taste receptors and signal our body to stop eating! Do they work?  Some short-term studies did show weight loss in participants but its long-term effects are not proven. Also, it is not clear if the participants controlled their diet and incorporated physical activity in addition to using these products.

It is true that our chemosenses play a role in our eating habits. When we eat these receptors send messages to our brain that we are full. Also, it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to send a signal to the brain. So if we eat fast, by the time our brain gets the message from the chemosenses and the stomach, we have already over eaten.

Healthy Advice: Eat slowly enjoying the taste, texture, aroma, and flavor of the foods and you may be able to see the effect of these products for free.

Is dieting the answer?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “diet”?

Well, personally, I think restrictive, temporary, and burdensome. All of these words have a negative connotation and you cannot change with a negative attitude. You have to have a positive attitude to bring about a positive change in your life!

Diet is temporary – we start a process of losing weight and then we stop when we have reached our desired weight. Many people, once they stop, even end up regaining the lost weight. Eating healthy and staying physically active should be part of our daily routine – our new lifestyle! It is important to have a healthy lifestyle not just to stay fit and look good, but also to reduce the chances of diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and obesity.

Eating healthy does not mean one has to avoid eating desserts and fried foods. The key is to eat in moderation. There is nothing wrong with enjoying these delicious treats once in a while.

So what works? It is proven that a healthy diet and regular exercise will help one lose weight. It is a balancing act: If your “Calories in” = your “Calories out” then this will help you maintain weight. If you burn more Calories than you consume then you will be able to lose weight.  I will be discussing more on this in my later posts.

Balancing Act

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