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29 October 2014
Truth About Food

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Prebiotics Vs Probiotics


Can vegetables help you resist infection?

Within the colon there are over 500 bacterial species, making up about 95% of cells in the body. In effect, we are living, breathing, bacteria-carrying monsters!

Good bacteria in the gut break down carbohydrates to create 10 % of our daily energy. They also help the body fight infection and disease by combating the effects of the bad bacteria.

"The prebiotic group managed to increase their good bacteria numbers by 133 million"

We took 8 hard-working cowboys, and divided them into two groups. Half of them were put on a diet of probiotics - cultures containing good bacteria found in foods such as yoghurt. The other half we put on a prebiotic diet - substances found in certain vegetables such as leeks and bananas, which make the pre-existing good bacteria in the gut healthier.

Then we got down to the dirty work. Their poo was examined daily to measure the change in bacteria. If the good bacteria are fed well they should multiply in number and make the ranchers healthier.

The cowboys’ poo showed that the prebiotic group managed to increase their good bacteria numbers by 133 million, small in bacteria terms, but an encouraging effect. The probiotic group saw little change over the week, but over a longer period there’s evidence that they can make a difference.

It seems from our investigation the best thing you can do for your bacterial health is treat your good bacteria to a prebiotic meal. The best vegetables to feed good bacteria are artichokes, garlic, leeks and onions.

See an example of the five day prebiotic diet our cowboys took.

The study and recipes were devised by Gemma Walton PHD, School of Food Biosciences at University of Reading.

Suggested recipes from BBC Food

Prune and leek saute

Banana and dried Figs recipe

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