Friday, August 05, 2016

Probiotics; Are they necessary? - Full Article

Probiotics are common in today's equine industry and even human health. They are heavily marketed for supporting gastrointestinal health on many levels, but are they really needed and are they really beneficial? There are many types of probiotics promoted in various products, but unfortunately, they are all lumped together and promoted as being beneficial, which can further muddy the waters. So how do we know if we need to use them and if so, what types are most beneficial? The answer to this question lies not only within research but also through clinical experience.

To open the discussion, we must first apply some basic definitions:

1. Probiotic: Live microorganisms when administered in adequate amounts provide health benefits to the host

2. Prebiotic: A chemical or food ingredient which can promote the growth of microorganisms, which can be anywhere including the gastrointestinal tract.

The two main groups or classifications of prebiotics include specific sugar molecules and fiber, which not only provide energy sources for the bacteria but can also assist in creating a more favorable environment for their growth. Specific oligosaccharides and inulin are the two main accepted prebiotics by most authorities. In other cases, we also have nutrients provided through various foods that may also serve as direct substrates for bacterial growth. Natural sources of prebiotics include chicory root, artichoke, dandelion, onion, garlic, oats and bananas. The use of prebiotics in the diet have been found to be beneficial in numerous human health conditions helping to reduce risk of hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, immune related conditions and even colorectal cancer...

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