Monday, November 10, 2008

Honey Promotes Growth of Healthy Bacteria

Probiotics, Not So Friendly After All?
New research indicates that many probiotics are ineffective and some may even cause harm. Now scientists say we should switch to prebiotics
By Peta Bee, The Times (UK), 11/10/2008

Over the past two decades, it seemed that our guts had never had it so good. Probiotic products claiming to rid the body of the bad bacteria that causes illness burst on to the market and two million of us now swallow their promise of improved digestive health, provided by so-called “friendly bacteria”. We spend almost £350 million a year on drinks, yoghurts, powders and capsules, in the hope of improving our gut health. But is it money well spent? A growing number of experts think not. While they do not dispute that a balance of gut flora is beneficial, many believe that probiotics are not as helpful as was once thought.

According to some experts, the new bugs on the block - prebiotics, naturally present in food and easily obtained in the diet - are what we should have been taking all along. “Whereas probiotics provide new doses of bacteria, prebiotics nourish and feed the friendly bacteria already present,” Denny explains. Found naturally in breast milk, prebiotics are also present in foods that contain non-digestive carbohydrate (see box). “Substances such as inulin, a non-digestible part of carbohydrate, and oligosaccharides sail through the digestive system and are fermented to boost the immune system.”…

Some honey has prebiotic properties, says the University of Reading and the Instituto de Fermentaciones Industriales in Madrid. Manuka honey from New Zealand has been shown in trials to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria.

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